How to read this report

In creating a landscape report, PFC challenged itself to the next level of research. Some readers may want to enjoy the full report; for others, the Executive Summary. All readers are invited to dip in and out of the areas of most interest.

For example, readers may choose to read the answers to “What do we know” (Chapter 1) and “What are the purposes, approaches, and roles of Canadian foundations” (Chapter 2) separately. They may review literature and findings addressing regulation, assets, or grantmaking. They may want to skip to the end and review the key takeaways for stakeholders.

However you chose to read this report, we welcome your interest, conversations, and future research questions.

Why create a “landscape” report?

Philanthropy is a quintessential component of Canadian life. In the past decade, the nature of philanthropy, including its wealth and impact, has been questioned. Research conducted in the US and the UK has often been extended or applied to the Canadian jurisdiction. Over this same decade, significant contributions have been made to build our understanding of the Canadian experience specifically. These research efforts have yielded important perspectives on individuals, institutions, and the field of Canadian philanthropy.

As research has asked more questions, more research gaps have been illuminated. Canada is fortunate to have robust data from the Canada Revenue Agency’s T3010, the annual form all charities must submit to the Government of Canada. It provides the broadest view of foundations’ structures, purposes, assets, and grantmaking. Yet, researchers working with the T3010 data will divulge the challenges with data quality, the time-consuming act of cleaning and verifying data, and the limitations of the CRA’s questions. As the T3010 is designed with charity regulation in mind rather than research per se, not every research question can be answered with T3010 data, meaning that resourceful research designs and partnerships are required to advance Canada’s philanthropic research.

In this report, PhiLab and PFC partnered to create a post-doctoral role. The research project was managed through PFC and designed collaboratively with PFC staff and the researcher. The opportunity was to create a “landscape” report to combine academic and practice-based research and perspectives. The task was large, and for PFC, this report marks a first edition, not a final edition. In future years, PFC’s landscape reports will continue to seek to capture the breadth of the sector and the depth of its complexity.

In this first report, a qualitative exploratory design draws together previous literature and new empirical data through ethnography, desk research, and semi-structured interviews. This report draws attention to what is known and points to changes in Canada’s philanthropic foundation field. Regulation, asset investment, and grantmaking are highlighted and connect to a broader conversation about Canadian philanthropic foundations’ purposes, approaches, and roles.