Thursday, November 19, 2009

No free ride if you want a civilized Canada

Charities and other nonprofit organizations are the delivery system for civilization in Canada.

This sector includes our universities, our hospitals, our food banks, our amateur sports, our museums, our arts groups, our substance abuse clinics, our refuges for abused women, our animal shelters, our environmental watchdog agencies, our poverty safety nets, our places of worship, and much more.

Consider what life here would be like without these organizations. It would not be the Canada that we proudly enjoy, yet many of us take for granted that they will always be there for us.

A few years ago, there were 161,000 such organizations across the country. There are undoubtedly more now. They are fuelled by dollars and people. Some of the money comes from taxpayers, via government, and the rest comes from donations. The people include an army of volunteers who believe that the quality of life for Canadians, in all of its dimensions, is worth giving some of their time. You already know all this.

The need always exceeds this sector's resources, but now it is a particularly bad situation. The need for these services has spiked at the very time that donations have slumped and governments are cutting spending.

The result will be fewer people doing the work that needs doing.

A civilization is not defined primarily by the sophistication of its technology, by the elegance of its edifices, nor by the quantities of material goods possessed by its citizens. The fundamental measure of civilization is the decency and care with which people treat each each other, especially the most vulnerable.

If you're one of the lucky ones who has escaped the ravages of this recession, and you think what we have is worth preserving, please don't wait. Invest what you can, both time and dollars, in an organization that is doing work you think is important.

If you need help finding one, click here.

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