Our Letter to City of Vancouver

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Dear reader,

We are asking not-for-profit and charitable organizations to endorse our letter asking Vancouver City Council to preserve its critical funding support for the sector. Please take a moment to add your first and last name, position title, and organization in the comment section of this page. Thank you.

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Council members, City of Vancouver
Vancouver City Hall
453 West 12th Ave
Vancouver, BC
V5Y 1V4

April 24, 2020

Subject: Maintain Funding of Not-for-Profits in Vancouver - They are a vital part of sustaining our communities.

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Council Members,

We acknowledge the remarkable work the City is doing to support our communities during the unprecedented and rapidly changing environment of the COVID-19 crisis. We commend you for the thoughtful actions you have taken to protect individuals and families in the region and for advocating on their behalf with higher levels of government.

In BC, as in the rest of Canada, charitable and not-for-profit organizations are currently seeing an increased demand for their services, increased operating costs, and have lost major sources of revenue. We employ over 86,000 people across the province. We also contribute up to $6.69 billion in programs and services per year. Beyond the essential services and support we provide for our most vulnerable, our sector is also a critical engine of economic prosperity and jobs.

As we rebuild our communities, our sector's role cannot be overstated. Consider the work of:

  • WISH - supporting women in the downtown eastside who are disproportionately affected by violence, extreme poverty, and ill health. WISH is the line between life and death for some of the most vulnerable women in our community.
  • Potluck - acting as a manufacturer and distribution centre for healthy meals to residents in need in the downtown eastside.
  • All the neighbourhood houses - connecting residents who are isolated with key supports to keep seniors, families, babies, and people with disabilities healthy - and doing it in multiple languages.
  • Community-based choral societies like Highs and Lows, connecting people struggling with mental health challenges to the healing art of singing.

As a sector, our work is crucial to mitigate the evolving hardship and loss of life associated with COVID-19.

Vantage Point's commitment is to continue working with government, businesses, and our community partners to ensure the vital services we provide are available during this emergency. We want you to know this sector is currently disproportionately impacted by overlapping risks which threaten our ability to continue working to support public wellbeing and resilience.

Results of our recent province-wide survey of the sector estimates that, without a targeted investment strategy to bolster the sector, up to 22,000, and likely more, of not-for-profit employees are likely to lose their job by the end of June. Many of those in the Vancouver area. As a response, Vantage Point and our community partners have launched several initiatives to help not-for-profit organizations access federal and provincial government supports to make sure they keep their doors open and their services available.

We understand the pressures on the City to manage the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on our communities. However, ending the supports you offer to your not-for-profit partners will only exacerbate the crisis we are currently experiencing. City of Vancouver grants in Social Planning and the Arts are an essential core support to keep key organizations open and functioning. Without our organizations, and without the funding support of the City, Vancouver would not be the resilient community it is. To this end, we urge your government to consider the following recommendations to address these crucial needs of the sector:

1. Maintain funding of not-for-profits in Vancouver and ensure emergency relief programs and funds made available to businesses also include clearly defined mechanisms to support the not-for-profit and charitable sector.
Not-for-profits and charities are seeing the same or greater revenue losses and challenges as private businesses - even their non-governmental funders are losing money and staff, creating a ripple effect. After years of dwindling funding sources and limited alternatives for undesignated funding, few organizations have cash reserves on which they can draw during a crisis.

The programming our sector provides is an essential factor to public wellbeing and there are strong financial arguments for maintaining, even increasing, your funding and other supports to the sector. The City supports not-for-profits which attract financial and human resources far beyond the dollars the City investment spends on grants.

2. Leverage mechanisms the Province recently announced to address cash flow and revenue loss challenges faced by municipal governments.
We were pleased to see the Provincial Government has offered local governments greater flexibility to borrow and carry deficits to help pay for operating expenses, such as employee salaries and other civic services. Sound financial thinking also supports investing directly in the not-for-profit sector in challenging times. Every contributed dollar supports the attraction of more dollars. The number of employees hired in Vancouver by the sector - employees paying rent, mortgages, city fees, etc. - are estimated to be in the tens of thousands. This crisis is not a time for austerity. Our sector looks forward to our continued partnership with you to maximize public wellbeing benefits through the thoughtful allocation of your investments.

3. Relax funding restrictions and provide greater flexibility to the allocation of funds.
Not-for-profit organizations experience additional pressures due to the ways they are funded. Funding agreements may stipulate outcomes for the number of participants, and these might not be met during a health crisis. There are serious implications for not-for-profits if governmental and non-governmental funders and donors reinforce expectations for outcomes or outputs, which may not be manageable, or even possible. We urge your government and municipal departments to continue to flow funds through grant and contribution programs and to emphasize flexibility in program delivery timelines and the use of these funds. We also request administrative burdens related to reporting and renewal to be minimized. Clear communication around flexibility measures would provide essential assistance for not-for-profits.

4. Ensure further measures - which provide employee assistance and help to retain employment - address the unique needs of charities and not-for-profits.
We have been pleased to see various levels of government implement mechanisms to mitigate job losses and support those who have been laid-off. However, employees in the not-for-profit sector have unique needs. Therefore, while mortgage deferrals have been a welcome respite for households affected by job losses, most not-for-profit employees are renters with average salaries 13.8% less than the provincial average. We urge you to consider how you can leverage municipal facilities and redeploy resources in ways which allow charities and not-for-profits to maintain operations, sustain facilities and infrastructure temporarily closed, and ensure capacity to reopen during the recovery period.

5. Ensure communications about emergency funds and programming refer to employers rather than businesses.
Charities and not-for-profits employ over 86,000 British Columbians. Governments' language should recognize this fact so it is clear to your staff, the public, and not-for-profits. Not-for-profit voices will ensure the needs of the not-for-profit sector, including their volunteers, workers, and constituents, are explicitly addressed in emergency preparedness response and recovery.

Your investment in not-for-profits is an investment which will save lives and aid our city in the recovery efforts. As your partner is public wellbeing, the not-for-profit sector has an unwavering pledge to work together to support your local government and our communities through this crisis and beyond.

Sincerely,

Alison Brewin
Executive Director
Vantage Point

 

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Please submit your first and last name, position title, and organization in the comments section if you would like to endorse this letter to Vancouver City Council. Thank you!

About the Author

We are a team of passionate and dedicated not-for-profit professionals dedicated to providing not-for-profits with high quality leadership training. We are here to set you up for success. Learn more about our team at www.thevantagepoint.ca/our-people

Comments

James (Jim) Smith's picture
James (Jim) Smith (not verified) on
Representing: Company 605, DanceHouse, Kidd Pivot, Vancouver New Music, Vision Impure and Wen Wei Dance.
Nancy McRitchie's picture
Nancy McRitchie (not verified) on
thanks
Anthony Kupferschmidt's picture
Anthony Kupfers... (not verified) on
The West End Seniors' Network endorses this letter.
Satbir Cheema's picture
Satbir Cheema (not verified) on
PICS Society supports this request.
Zahra Esmail's picture
Zahra Esmail (not verified) on
South Vancouver Neighbourhood House and Marpole Neighbourhood House endorse this letter. We are being called upon more than ever before to help vulnerable members of our community; we need your continued and ongoing support. Non-profit services are an essential component to any Healthy City - we need to work together with you to rebuild.
Alison Clancey's picture
Alison Clancey (not verified) on
Alison Clancey, Executive Director SWAN Vancouver Society
Yuliana Nugroho's picture
Yuliana Nugroho (not verified) on
Boat Daycare Society supports this letter
Patrick May, President, The Vancouver Chopin Society's picture
Patrick May, Pr... (not verified) on
Non-profit societies contribute, each in their own capacity, towards the vibrancy of our city. Cutting funding to non-profit to non-profit organizations would be detrimental towards these organizations that provide services or culture to our city.
Brunella Gaudio's picture
Brunella Gaudio (not verified) on
The Italian Day Festival Society, which organizes Italian Day on The Drive, fully endorses this request and letter!
Heidi Taylor's picture
Heidi Taylor (not verified) on
Heidi Taylor, Artistic & Executive Director, PTC Playwrights Theatre Centre
Valerie Methot's picture
Valerie Methot (not verified) on
Some Assembly Arts Society fully endorses this letter.
Laura Barron's picture
Laura Barron (not verified) on
Instruments of Change, whose Women Rock, Street Beats, and Binners Symphony projects have all been generously supported by City of Vancouver funding, strongly endorses this letter.
Alvin Erasga Tolentino 's picture
Alvin Erasga To... (not verified) on
Co. ERASGA Dance
Alvin Erasga Tolentino 's picture
Alvin Erasga To... (not verified) on
Co. ERASGA Dance
carla Bergman's picture
carla Bergman (not verified) on
carla bergman, Director/Curator: EMMA Talks/ Arts in Action Society
Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg's picture
Tara Cheyenne F... (not verified) on
Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg Artistic Director-Tara Cheyenne Performance
Leticia Sanchez's picture
Leticia Sanchez (not verified) on
President of the Board of Trustees, Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society
Gini Bonner's picture
Gini Bonner (not verified) on
It is critical for the well being of Vancouver families that community programs are maintained and that children receive the early childhood development supports to aid in the recovery of trauma and developmental delays that may be the result of Isolation and lack of peer interaction.
Rowan King's picture
Rowan King on

You're right, Gini: The City's grants are often the financial lifeline for a large number of organizations that keep our communities healthy and connected. We know people who have strong social connections live on average 10 years longer than people who are isolated, and of course we want our children to live long, happy, healthy lives. Thank you for adding your name and your voice!

Gini Bonner's picture
Gini Bonner (not verified) on
Gini Bonner Executive Director Mount Pleasant Family Centre Society. We endorse this letter and sincerely hope the City continues to support the NPO sector!
Olga Stachova's picture
Olga Stachova (not verified) on
MOSAIC supports this request for continued investment in building resilient communities at this unprecedented time.
Mirna Zagar's picture
Mirna Zagar (not verified) on
On behalf of The Dance Centre, Vancouver's primary resource centre for dance we endorse this letter and request seeking continued support of Vancouver's arts and cultural community, attesting to the extreme conditions that many artists and organization continue to work in due to lack of appropriate funding of the arts. For Vancouver to retain its lead among desirable places to live and to retain its focus to be the greenest city in Canada surely arts and culture will be at the forefront of all these efforts, supporting them and paving the way to future success. But without funds this all is in jeopardy. This endorsement is on behalf of over 37 dance organizations and over 175 individual dance professionals operating in Vancouver today and members of The Dance Centre, and on behalf of over 87,000 visitors - dance enthusiasts that attend events at Scotiabank Dance Centre.
Rowan King's picture
Rowan King on

Thank you for providing those numbers, Mirna! This should definitely be taken into consideration as we move forward as a community, and as the City plans next steps in funding.

Michelle Sewell's picture
Michelle Sewell (not verified) on
On behalf of PHS Community Services Society, I support and endorse this letter. Michelle Sewell, Fund Development Manager
Bonnie Nish's picture
Bonnie Nish (not verified) on
I am in full support of this request. Now more than ever we are in need of our non-profits including those in the arts. At a time when life is so precarious and how we go about our day to day activities have changed so drastically, people need support to find some kind of balance. Along with other non-profits. arts organisations can give that needed support. Whether it is through a reading, a choir or a workshop, in times of need these organisations have always stepped up to the plate often with limited funds but dedicated staff. Whether it is to deliver a meal, dry clothes or a kind word, big and small gestures can go a long way in making a difference in someones day. This is crucial now. Please continue to support those who often support the most vulnerable, those who support people in need both mentally or physically and those who support people no matter what their financial circumstances. In these difficult times everything we do to ease peoples pain should count.These organisations need to know we are behind them just as they are behind others. Personally as an Executive Director of a non-profit, I understand how far the support of the City takes us. We appreciate this continued support that allows us to continue to program. I have seen first hand how much people need to feel apart of community right now, to be engaged in the arts to be able to express their fears, or to hear the words of others to relate to someone else in what they are going through or to simply lose themselves in something else for a moment. We need to be able to continue to laugh and cry and be together in community. The City's support allows for this to happen. I thank you for your time. Bonnie Nish Executive Director Word Vancouver.
Rowan King's picture
Rowan King on

Thank you so much for providing your heartfelt comment, and adding context to the situation. The human connection provided by programs like yours goes a long way when it comes to healing, something which will be imperative as we move forward from this crisis. I encourage you to submit exactly what you wrote here as a letter document to City Council and the Mayor at this link: https://vancouver.ca/your-government/contact-council.aspx. Thank you again for adding your support. 

Wendy Simon's picture
Wendy Simon (not verified) on
Wendy Simon, Dean of Student Services, NEC Native Education College, Unceded Coast Salish Territories
Kim Bartley's picture
Kim Bartley (not verified) on
The Alano Club of Vancouver, supporting those struggling with and recovering from addictions, fully endorses this letter. Kim Bartley, President
Colleen Lanki's picture
Colleen Lanki (not verified) on
NFP organizations are Social Profit Businesses. Large and small they are a critical part of the social and economic ecology of a city. Tomoe Arts Society supports this request.
Emiko Morita's picture
Emiko Morita (not verified) on
Powell Street Festival Society
Meagan Kus's picture
Meagan Kus (not verified) on
grunt gallery supports this request
Nicole LeMire's picture
Nicole LeMire (not verified) on
REACH Community Health Centre supports the content of this letter.
Diane Elliott-Buckley's picture
Diane Elliott-B... (not verified) on
West Side Family Place strongly endorses this letter. As an agency that serves vulnerable families, support is needed now more than ever.
Sharon D Kallis's picture
Sharon D Kallis (not verified) on
I support this letter, and want to stress that like other non profits- the money we bring into our municipal communities from provincial, federal, and non-govt. funders often doubles (or more) the investment the city makes through grants. These city grants are often the core base money in which we can then apply for other funding. Without these city grants, organizations can lose their eligibility for other grants requiring matching funds. Non-profits do core, front-line work in our communities often more efficiently and with a higher level of accountability due to jury process and reporting commitments. Because of this, granting funds should be increased in times of financial restraint, not reduced. Sharon Kallis, executive director, EartHand Gleaners Society
Elaine Carol's picture
Elaine Carol (not verified) on
Dear City Council Members and Staff: please understand that Vancouver is one of the internationally-recognized centres of community-engaged artistic practice because of our sophistication, efficacy and very low recidivism rates in using the performing arts as a tool to train, prepare and council culturally and socially representative, at-risk and experiential children and youth. If we did not have City funding, we would not have been able to establish ourselves as leaders in our field in the local, national and international arena. We have empowered more than 20,000 Vancouver-based marginalized children and youth through our programs offered in schools, community centres, multicultural centres, Friendship Centres, reserves and at The Dance Centre. We have established a local, national and international reputation since then all over Europe, the US, Latin America and Asia. Due to COVID, we just had to cancel a trip to Ireland to present our work, we were in France last year and Catalunya the year before. We worked on the front-lines with Northwest African youth in Paris and Brussels before, during and after the Paris and Brussels attacks. We were in Barcelona and the Catalan Pyrenees during their November 2017 revolution. We have some amazing stories to tell. We have put Vancouver “on the map” in youth and arts communities globally. Please continue to fund our activities as we can prove we have kept social service and policing down as a result of our direct engagement with marginalized, inner-city children and youth.
Brenda Lohrenz's picture
Brenda Lohrenz (not verified) on
Eastside Family Place endorses this letter.
Merryn Singer's picture
Merryn Singer (not verified) on
I endorse this letter and the sentiments it represents as a Board Member of West Side Family Place, a not-for- profit organization working to support children and families in the community.
Astrid Sars's picture
Astrid Sars (not verified) on
Pal Studio Theatre endorses this letter
Julia Taffe's picture
Julia Taffe (not verified) on
Representing Aeriosa Dance Society and the Vancouver International Vertical Dance Summit
Rosario Ancer's picture
Rosario Ancer (not verified) on
Please Support Maintaining Funding to Non-Profits in Vancouver, they are vital part of sustaining our communities
Lalia Fraser 's picture
Lalia Fraser (not verified) on
Lalia Fraser, General Manager, Pride in Art Society
Ingrid Mendez/Executive Director/Watari 's picture
Ingrid Mendez/E... (not verified) on
We are very thankful to the City of Vancouver for their support of our programs and community over the past few years. We strongly encourage City Council to consider their continued support to social and community services
Matthew Smedley's picture
Matthew Smedley (not verified) on
Matthew Smedley, Executive Director & CEO, Mission Possible
Kellie Carroll's picture
Kellie Carroll (not verified) on
The Network of Inner City Community Services Society endorses this letter
Amrit N's picture
Amrit N (not verified) on
Amrit N, Vancouver resident and Board member of West Side Family Place supports this letter
Raylene Marchand's picture
Raylene Marchand (not verified) on
The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre Society endorses this letter.
Andrew Sakamoto's picture
Andrew Sakamoto (not verified) on
The Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC) endorses this letter.
Joezen Apolinar's picture
Joezen Apolinar (not verified) on
Joezen Apolinar, Interim Chairperson for Kababayang Pilipino. We fully support this letter to the City - thank you!
Vincent Tan's picture
Vincent Tan (not verified) on
Vincent Tan (Board member, Early Music Vancouver) supports this position, and particularly endorses continuing support for the arts, which are essential to lay the groundwork for community wellbeing and future economic recovery.
Heidi Waechtler's picture
Heidi Waechtler (not verified) on
Executive Director, Association of Book Publishers of BC

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info@thevantagepoint.ca
t: 604 875 9144
f: 604 875 0710
1183 Melville Street
Vancouver, BC V6E 2X5

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