Charity necessary during economic uncertainty

December 24, 2008
Daniel Francavilla

Today, innocent children are dying due to poverty around the world – one every two seconds. Yet, on Black Friday, a Wal-Mart worker in the United States was trampled to death by consumers rushing to retail sales.

The impending financial disaster is creating a perfect storm for non-profit organizations trying to aid those in poverty, as donations decline while the need for help rises.

ShareLife, the Archdiocese of Toronto’s charity, is one group stepping forward with programs responding to the increased social services demand.

“The Catholic organizations in the Archdiocese are very involved in helping the most needy,” says Archbishop Thomas Collins. “I’m particularly aware of their great need of resources to help the poor in need. I encourage people in the Archdiocese to support them more than ever.”

Charities face the same stress as many companies, banks and businesses.

The Vancouver Foundation is the largest of Canada’s 165 community foundations and supports about 600 charities per year.

The organization’s president, Faye Wightman, says that “many of these non-profit (organizations) are the last stop for thousands of people … who get hit by larger economic forces and find themselves teetering on the edge.”

Unfortunately, while need increases, economic uncertainty creates a large barrier.

“These charities are hit with reduced donations, corporate sponsorships that dry up, and often reduced funding from government and even foundations,” says Wightman.

Despite today’s economic uncertainty, there are organizations that continue to fund projects both locally and overseas. Long-term planning and new strategies can help organizations survive.

Perhaps the economic crisis will spur people to see that our consumer culture has skewed priorities. At the Conference on Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Waterloo this past November, Marc Kielburger offered a simple yet challenging notion: “if we want to change Africa, we have to change North America.”

As affluent people also begin to suffer financially, perhaps their empathy will trigger social change to benefit humanity worldwide.

Daniel Francavilla is currently a university student in Toronto at the Ontario College of Art + Design. From Brampton, Daniel founded a non-profit organization, ACCESS: Allowing Children a Chance at Education, and Speak Up for Change, a youth blog on poverty and education-related issues.

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