October 18, 2021
From the President

Developing a position on the disbursement quota, and what’s next for PFC

Jean-Marc Mangin is the President & CEO of Philanthropic Foundations Canada

PFC’s members are at the heart of our work.

As a national charitable organization focused on advancing the common good, PFC takes the long view on the important issues affecting our sector. We advocate for a strong civil society – part of which we believe is a diverse, forward-thinking and responsive philanthropic community. And we centre this work on listening, learning, and working in partnership with our members, alongside other leaders and decision makers. 

This is why this year we led our most comprehensive member and partner consultation in our history on the Disbursement Quota (DQ) and sector regulatory reform. 

The DQ has been at the top of our policy and advocacy agenda since December 2020, when I responded to a Globe & Mail op-ed on the DQ in my President’s Blog. Disbursement regulation speaks to the very essence of what defines a foundation in Canada, and so when PFC learned about the government’s interest in the disbursement quota in early 2021, we quickly sprang into action.  

We began by striking a special member-led working group to develop an evidence and values based position to recommend to our board of directors. We also partnered with universities and other research experts to conduct empirical analysis on the impacts of policy changes on foundations and philanthropy more broadly.  

Overall, our efforts included two surveys, two Q&A workshops, a CEO retreat, nine long-form interviews, and three focus groups with members, along with dozens of one-on-one conversations with members and sector leaders and two public webinars. In total, at least 70% of members engaged on the issue with PFC.  

Over the course of extended weekly meetings, the working group reviewed our research, participated in all of the wider organizational consultation efforts, directly consulted with over a dozen additional experts, and considered the findings and views in an effort to inform the process and the position. Together they recommended a comprehensive position to our board, which was adopted and which culminated in our submission to the Government of Canada on its Boosting Charitable Spending in Communities consultation on September 30.   

Subsequent to our submission, on October 6 we hosted a webinar featuring representatives from our working group so that that we could verbally share more about our process and answer questions as to why we landed where we did.   

Because of our early attention to this issue and our determination to understand what’s at stake so fulsomely, it became clear that PFC played a leading role on the DQ issue for the entire sector. So we are doubling down on public engagement to ensure stakeholders understood where we are coming from and why sector reform with the common good as its north star is critical and warrants the attention of policymakers.  

Building on the herculean efforts over the past year carried out by our small staff team and corps of dedicated volunteer board members, our work in this space is really only beginning.  

PFC will be working hard to steadfastly advance a greater awareness of the inimitable contributions of foundations on Canada’s nonprofit landscape. I look forward to sharing with our members and the wider sector our plans and our work to this end as it progresses. 

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