Calling all Cars

Your Working Girl was clearly dreaming when she imagined this blog a forum for her own thoughtful musings while she took a break from the hurly-burly world of a day job to think about a suitable situation to see her through her golden years.   The charitable world has been, uncooperatively, hurling and burling all around her and is now careening off in such a catastrophic direction that she must raise a hand in gentle protest.    

The catastrophe, Bill C-470, a private member’s missile aimed squarely at whatever shred of dignity and independence the charitable sector has left requires, among other things, that a charity be de-registered if it pays an employee more than $250,000 in a single year. 
Your Working Girl has always believed in a strong central government cheerfully seeing to the common good, but a salary cap anywhere other than major league sports seems a tad excessive, even to her not-so-libertarian self. 

The brainchild of the Otherwise Admirable Albina Guarnieri, Bill C-470 is a shockingly naïve and pandering piece of legislative folly that personifies of the poverty of debate surrounding the charitable sector in this country. Does a cherished donor really need a Charity Measures Act to protect her from the causes she chooses to support? 

And what kind of climate are Canadian charities operating in when Liberal finance critic, John McCallum, said C-470 would help to “restore credibility in the charity business.”  Restore credibility? Has Lady Charity fallen so far from grace that a politician is seeking to restore her credibility?  And can you please tell me how Lady Charity’s friends at Imagine Canada and AFP have rallied to her defense? (Hint:  Should the character of Your Working Girl be impugned in such a way, she would not content herself with writing letters, FAQs and talking points.  She would understand, even with her considerable ability to persuade, that the situation called for more than well-reasoned argument.)

Just like the Ontario Medical Association has done with their latest series of feel-good ads:  Your Life is our Life’s Work  or Ontario pharmacies have responded to the McGuinty government’s dispensary fees cuts by mounting the Stopcuts campaign. You must, and Gentle Reader, I know you know this, mount a campaign to influence public opinion.  Take your case to the street.  Talk to people.  Tell your side of the story.   Put up your dukes for goodness sake.

That Ms Guarnieri’s own churlish defense of the bill on is largely driven by the indefatigable Dan Pallotta’s valiant (and solitary) attempt at opposing the legislation is a stark reminder of the ineffectual communications coming from our side. 

And the failure of AFP and Imagine Canada to invest in a public campaign that could potentially stop this legislation and restore some sanity (Thank you Jon Stewart) to the charitable world is a stinging metaphor for how charities that do not invest in fundraising and communications end up not able to control their own destinies. 

“Hey, hey, hey, hold your horses there Your Working Girl, that’s just not fair,” AFP, Imagine Canada or any number of charities who spend their working days playing it safe might whine, “Where are we going to get the money for that kind of campaign? Who’s going to do it?  Television ads cost a lot.  And to set up online, that’s expensive too!”

To which she has one deserved and withering reply:  You’re fundraisers, aren’t you?

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  1. Great commentary on our industry.I am sure you have received many comments about this week’s comments, which I can’t say I heard from our own industry advocates about this Bill. I think that if the government wants to legislate charities instead of allowing them to regulate themselves through policy governance, then I think they should provide the funding needed to complete their work. A colleague of mine always lamented that charities should not be raising money for capital projects as this was a government’s responsibility and the more charities do this, the more government will offload their responsibilities. Now government is not only offloading, but they are now directing charitable operations. In the November 5th Globe and Mail the article Candy and Charity: Not so sweet a deal, were critical on charities developing partnerships for programs not supported by the government. This time it is a salary cap and candy, next time it could very well be what countries deserve Canada’s charitable support.Stand up Canadian fundraisers and donors and act as true philanthropic investors.

  2. Gail,You are right on target with this commentary!We pay corporate executives millions of $$$ per year and no one complains. But when the charitable sector seeks to receruit the best talent possible to help it be as cost effective as possible the government keeps putting roadblocks in our way. Which is more gross paying a corporate CEO $10 million a year or paying a charitable sector leader $400,000 a year. You be the judge. And you are right why aren't our voices at AFP and Imagine standing up and aggressively fighting back?

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