There's definitely a problem that charities have right now. To the enterprising charities that have created smart modes of operation, a lot of their funders will say, “You're doing really well, so I'm not going to give you any more.”
It's kind of perverse. Successful organizations, if they were in a marketplace, would get more capital attracted to them because they were successful, as opposed to the non-profit sector where, if they're successful, they can have less capital. That's one of the anomalies of the current system.
Again, I wouldn't want government to say that because this is happening we should be cutting back on non-profits. Our non-profit sector is sorely underfunded. Most organizations have been cannibalizing their core assets. The maximum that non-profits spend on technology, for example, is something like 2.4%. The minimum that businesses spend is something like 2.5%, up to 8%.
The non-profit sector is not spending on itself right now. It needs the money. So I wouldn't be advocating that if they were able to succeed by doing this, government should cut back. What we'd be seeing is a more effective, more competitive, more innovative non-profit sector able to meet the needs of communities. That's what this model would help people move towards.
I did a study a decade ago on enterprising non-profits across Canada. Where you have a non-profit that is thinking about employing market means, it has a cultural impact on the way the non-profit operates. It lets people think more strategically about their organization. It builds in more sensitivity to the economics of how the organization works.
I've never really understood why non-profits operate on the basis that they create a budget, fundraise for it, spend it through the course of the year, and at the end of the year reach zero, and then start the whole thing all over again. Somebody has described this to me as the cha-cha-cha version of non-profit survival, as opposed to creating ideas whereby non-profits have the ability to build up assets, just like families, individuals, and companies do. They should be encouraged to take on these kinds of strategies to create a more resilient and diversified sector serving Canadians.