Strong charities build strong communities

Beauty Night Society founder, Caroline MacGillivray (L), poses with friends at a recent Beauty Night event in Canada. Ken Villeneuve photo

About 10 years ago, Gary Pharness, a major contributor to literacy in the workplace and community, did a feasibility study. The study indicated that if government and community invest in young people now, it saves money in the future. Pharness found that the government and community could save over $100,000 per youth by eliminating the need for services for at-risk youth, including social workers and institutions. This goes to show that proactive community investment can work.

It's the work of non-profits that decrease governmental and societal costs. Now, the government wants to pass Bill C-470, which limits the salaries of Executive Directors of non-profits. Imagine if the government passed a law that business owners could only make a set amount or that a professional athlete could only make $250,000 a year? But I digress.

 We live in a society that believes that good doing is an activity for your spare time, if you have it, or have the pocket book for it. But here we are. I can just squeeze by this month (thank goodness) and who really wants that stress?

My friend and fellow social change agent, Caroline MacGillivray, founder of Beauty Night Society, and I were recently having a chat about Bill C-470. She said, "I don't think the true value of what charities do can be measured in dollars and cents. What we do improves the fabric of society. It is hard to measure community building in money." Caroline started Beauty Night Society 10 years ago and she received her first pay check in 2009. Her salary for over 50 hours of work a week was $24,000 a year.

Non-profit work is a business. It's a business of helping people. How can we change society’s way of viewing non profits, especially when it comes to executive directors who often wear 4 or 5 hats? A financial investment from donors may not result in an immediate outcome or growth in material wealth but it may very well lead to the future prosperity of a community.

"Imagine if you could afford to run Passion full time instead of in between everything else? Communities would change." I’ve had many people tell me this about the foundation I run that helps girls in need.

I imagine what it would be like to gain enough funding to pay my salary so I could train more people, provide more services, and operate the way I know a good business could run. Our volunteers are amazing but there are so many other areas to fill all of which takes time.

We are working on it. I won't stop running programs for girls. I hope you don’t vote for Bill C-470. In order to have stronger communities, we need stronger charities. Strong charities need strong leaders but the market is not giving free breaks to non-profits. The best talent costs money. The more support we have from the community and government bodies to help us grow, the more our communities will change. 

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