Not-for-profit sector turn to staff cuts amid slump in revenue

Toronto Star
By Jason Miller, Staff Reporter
Fri., April 17, 2020

It has been a tough month for charitable organizations, as agencies across the sector, which rely heavily on donations, collectively shed hundreds of jobs and are bracing for the loss of millions in revenue.

Several organizations have announced major reductions in their workforce, as they restructure their bottom line, amid a drastic reduction in donations and the postponement of flagship fundraisers key to their revenue stream.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation cut more than 200 staff (45 per cent of its workforce) and the MS Society of Canada let go of more than 100 people.

“It’s been a really tough couple of weeks for the charitable sector,” said Pamela Valentine, the MS Society’s president and CEO. MS Canada did a mixture of layoffs and permanent cuts, which impacted about a third of its staff.

She said organizations which stage many of their high-profile events throughout the spring and summer months, are now hard-pressed to find alternative means to generate funds.

“We anticipate this has a potential impact of up to $25 million this season,” Valentine said.

Over the last five weeks, the Canadian Cancer Society has adapted many of its cancer support programs and has cancelled in-person fundraising activities.

The pandemic, which Cancer Society CEO Andrea Seale called “the greatest financial challenge that the society has faced in our 80-year history.” will result in an estimated financial loss between $80-100 million out of a total budget of $180 million.