(December 20, 2021) When we look back on The Charity Report Top 10 Stories of 2021, we are like most people and view the year through the prism of the Covid pandemic … still the pandemic.
The Charity Report will always remember how old we are because we are the same age as the pandemic—21 months—launching two days after the prime minister closed the country to outside travel. Who knows what we would be writing about if the pandemic had never happened? We had tons of ideas, of course, all written down. They went out the window, most of them. And what flew in were aching stories of inequity, not just in society but especially within the philanthropic sector and inequities baked into an entire philanthropic structure. A spotlight was shone, not on the charities who do daily work, and who have been the subject of a variety of entities whose job it is to ‘rate their impact’, but of but on the charitable structures, such as foundations and donors advised funds, how they are operating, and they impact they are having.
Who knew we’d know so much about the DQ? About the racism that exists in the philanthropic world? And the relationship of philanthropy to the most intransigent of world problems?
Muriel Lester, an active pacifist during the Spanish Civil War and friend of Mahatma Ghandi said, once your eyes have been open, you can’t unsee what they have seen. “You may bitterly regret the fact that you happen to be one of the tiny minority of the human race who have caught this angle of vision, but you can’t help it.”
The top 10 stories are selected based on the number of unique page views they received. Many are serious, but people just can’t help having a bit of fun too. Here are your Charity Report Top 10 Stories of 2021:
1. Feature: Ethics complaint filed against fundraising thought leader Tom Ahern
(March 26, 2021) Liz LeClair, current chair of AFP Global’s Women’s Impact Initiative and major donor fundraiser based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has filed a formal ethics complaint with the Association of Fundraising Professionals against Tom Ahern, a copywriter based in Rhode Island, a regular on the fundraising conference circuit and author of several books about writing donor-focused fundraising copy.
2. News: Is the Green Party of Canada racist?
(June 17, 2021) In October 2020, 47-year-old Toronto lawyer, Annamie Paul, became the leader of the Green Party, the first Black party leader in the history of Canada. She is also Jewish. Paul beat seven leadership challengers, with her closest rival being Dimitri Lascaris who took 42.2% of the vote to Paul’s 50.6% on the 8th ballot. Paul’s path was never going to be easy.
3. Feature: Calls to increase the disbursement quota growing louder: ‘Foundations are hoarding wealth’
(February 17, 2021) Canada’s most organized and vocal campaign to increase the disbursement quota (DQ) for public and private foundations is gathering steam. Well-known names in the sector are among the initiative’s most passionate advocates. The effort, dubbed the Increasing the Grants campaign, is calling on the finance minister to “significantly increase” the disbursement quota. Foundations are currently required by the Income Tax Act to spend 3.5% of their assets.
4. Photo Essay: #movethemoney: Community organizing to protest hoarding by charitable foundations begins
(November 4, 2021) Justice Fund Toronto made its position on philanthropic reform clear today as it pulled an 18-wheeler up in front of Toronto City Hall with the unmistakable message “Charitable” Institutions in Canada are Hoarding $85,000,000,000 festooned on its big-rig side and parked it there for the entire day. The word charitable was in quotation marks.
5. Feature: Fundraising during a pandemic: Boom or bust
(February 2, 2021) For the past ten months, the debate about fundraising during a pandemic has focused on duelling ideas that fundraising would become so difficult some charities would perish versus the notion that the pandemic would unleash an outpouring of unparalleled generosity. The discussion has played out in the mainstream media, on Twitter and in Zoom meetings.
6. News: Woodsworth College withdraws invitation to have editor speak about the charity sector
(March 31, 2021) In a baffling turn of events, Woodsworth College at University of Toronto has rescinded its invitation to Gail Picco, editor in chief of The Charity Report, to speak about the charity sector and a book she has just published, Collecting Courage: Joy, Pain, Freedom, Love about anti-Black racism in the sector.
7. Photo Essay: Yulia Ustinova the Russian artist and her ladies resonating in the west
(February 15, 2021) Yulia Ustinova, the Russian artist, uses ‘tetki’– a Russian word for “uneducated, ungroomed women’ as a foundation for a rich world of women and half-animal creatures.” In an interview with an Australian gallery in 2013, she says she now refers to them as ladies, or ‘plumpies.’
8. Feature: Top 20 Private Foundations accumulate 40 billion in wealth spend pennies on the dollar
(September 24, 2021) A new report released by The Charity Report today, Pennies on the Dollar: Private Foundation Giving in Canada, outlined just how much Canada’s 20 largest private foundations increased their gross asset value over the 15 years from 2006 to 2019 and compares it to their giving. The 20 largest foundations make up 63% ($44.5 billion) of the entire gross asset value of 5,800 private foundations, $74.5 billion in 2019.
9. Feature: Liz Leclair: ‘This is the apology we deserve’
(March 26, 2021) Liz LeClair is the current Chair of AFP Global’s Women’s Impact Initiative and a major gift fundraiser based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She has recently filed an ethics complaint with the AFP Ethics Committee regarding the behaviour of Tom Ahern, a copyrighter, AFP conference circuit regular and author. The complaint is based on a three-week tirade Ahern mounted against Community-Centred Fundraising (CCF), an organization based in Seattle, Washington.
10. Literary Circle: Lucy Bernholz and how we give now: The most important book on philanthropy this year
(October 14, 2021) Dr. Lucy Bernholz has written the most important book on philanthropy this year. Bernholz, Senior Research Scholar and Director of the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford University, conducted research for the book on what she calls the givingscape to discover that giving money—a modern definition of philanthropy—misses a large swath of what people are doing to make the world a better place. Her simple question “how do you give?” provides a flurry of answers that shakes our transactional definition of philanthropy to its core.
And that’s your Charity Report top 10 stories for 2021. We couldn’t have imagined them at the beginning of the year. And as we enter 2022, we are more ready than ever to be your eyes and ears. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year.