Fair Exchange: Public funding for social impact through the non-profit sector
Marilyn Struthers

As civil society organizations emerge as critical solution-generators to some of the most complex problems facing us today, funders must continually ask: how can we best support the unique work of these organizations?

Fair Exchange: Public funding for social impact through the non-profit sector, provides a thoughtful response to that question.

The paper is for public funders — municipal, provincial and federal — and those in the non-profit sector who share an interest in how money from public treasuries flows to approximately 165,000 non-profit organizations across the country. In addition to providing an in-depth overview of public funding practices, the paper is also an insightful examination of what it means to fund well.

This paper begins with a short history of public funding reform in Canada. This is followed by an overview of how the non-profit sector is changing and its growing importance in achieving outcomes of mutual interest with governments. It also examines how to evaluate the mechanics of funding processes.

The second section of the paper examines the funder’s tools and suggest ways we can actively design funding processes to best support results. It looks at lessons learned from the intense examination of federal funding programs and the sector critique of funding practices generated over the last decade.