…Oxfam Canada and Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc […] were told they cannot work for the “prevention of poverty,” which is considered political, but can “alleviate poverty,” which is charitable. Source: CBC News July 3, 2016
It has long intrigued (and bothered) me that, in Canada at least, preventing poverty is not considered charitable.
When a group of us set up a nonprofit to implement the steps we know can stop people from falling through the cracks into abject poverty, we also applied for charitable status. As reflected in the quote from CBC news today, the government did indeed respond to say that as the agency would focus at least equally on activities to prevent poverty in the most vulnerable populations, it could not receive charitable status.
We had a choice to make: let people fall all the way into poverty so our work could be funded more, or do the work we know can end poverty but probably receive insufficient funding. We chose the latter route, doing what we could while we could, until the lack of funding ended our work.
In making donations or volunteering, consider not only what activities are highest profile, seem most enjoyable, or result in a tax credit, research what works in your community to change lives long term. In my opinion, this includes case advocacy, financial literacy, dense nutrition, and matching grants in restricted accounts. Despite what the CRA says, it does not include handing out stale donuts.
By moving our donations and collective energy to things that work, we can end poverty once and for all.