The sixth edition of the Study of philanthropic trends in Quebec has arrived. For over 10 years, Épisode’s team of consultants, in collaboration with Léger Marketing and the National Bank, examine the trends of Quebec’s philanthropic sector and publish them around National Philanthropy Day. This year, for the first time, the study is available for free on Épisode’s website. Épisode is thus showcasing their coherence with their mission, which is to accompany their partners’ philanthropic and community investments as well as those of different social players. By providing tools to thousands of organizations and companies concerning philanthropic trends, they provide equal access to clear information concerning this vector for social change.
I strongly encourage those who study or work in philanthropy, either specifically or peripherally, to read and digest the contents of this study. However, I also encourage research in the sector to dig deeper concerning organizational and professional structures.
The thorough study of a complex phenomenon
But first, why read Épisode’s study? First of all, because it is scientifically well done. Second of all, because it covers the habits and behaviours concerning individual donors, large corporations as well as from SMEs, who all influence our social ecosystem with their decisions in the here and now.
The study focuses on and describes the conditions that significantly influence individuals’ decision to give as well as the size of their donation according to their sociodemographic profile, more or less in detail. The presentation of donors in 5 generational segments also allows for the uncovering of people’s different attitudes towards philanthropy at distinct periods in their lives, as of the age at which they can participate in social transformation through the act of donation.
Beyond seemingly factual information and statements, the study invites us to witness the establishment of the philanthropic culture, generation after generation. It is important to note the ‘2020’ novelty of this study. This Fall, Épisode’s study explores corporate philanthropic culture more in-depth, while properly separating that of SMEs from that conveyed by large firms. From there, they will be but one step away from exploring the managerial philanthropic trends depending on their generation and the corporate tools available to them. Of course, the study documents the phenomenon without making a critique of the donation habits of one or the other. This remains true for the donation habits of large corporations, whose political, commercial or environmental choices could be examined. Readers must keep in mind that the study reports the facts, without discussing them.
Now, what will come of it?
Épisode’s study has played an important part throughout the years and is proving their utility once again this time around. With ever-evolving data, the understanding of philanthropy also requires the inclusion of facets other than the donor’s when studying the phenomenon. A few examples are questions of infrastructure and of the space we are willing to give to ensure the actions concerning philanthropic culture are put in place within organizations and in the public sphere. While donor habits and dynamics are well known, the environmental conditions which favour the maintenance of a philanthropic culture are less explored. Who are those who develop, stimulate and make the effects of the implementation of a philanthropic culture possible? What are their tools and how do they act upon the development of donations? What strategies and tactics do they use to follow a seemingly clear objective: create an equitable and inclusive civil society, through the contribution of all. We don’t often talk about the importance of training qualified professionals whose work will consist in facilitating and structuring, through best practices, donors’ philanthropic momentum. All of this in the objective of improving the size of donations and the quality of their impacts. Basically, everything that is necessary to the operationalization of this professional activity that supports our social fabric is often hidden. The actions of philanthropic management professionals are rendered invisible in this system and are equated with the “other related tasks” that are necessary to the survival of the organizations in which they work.
Recently, a representative of a private foundation in the healthcare sector was mentioning how, while the Quebec population was very supportive of organ donation, the healthcare system had a hard time making the intentions of these generous donors possible. The element that would hold back the number of lives saved is a lack of essential infrastructure around the basic processes that render these generous donations possible. By infrastructure, they meant both the organizational structure of hospitals and those that surround healthcare professionals, who must both be involved to make these donations possible. The same situation occurs within organizations who host fundraisers to succeed in their social mission. A better understanding of the needs and expectations of each party and an increase in awareness of the work of philanthropic professionals stems from the study of the infrastructures that make this work possible.
By getting to know better and better understanding the infrastructures essential for philanthropy, strategic philanthropic action can be implemented, while both respecting the resources and limits of our community. This could also guide the reflection being done on the sector while avoiding comparison and judgment traps around the issue of different levels of generosity.
2018 Giving Report, Second annual report by Canada Helps, https://www.canadahelps.org/en/the-giving-report/ , Website consulted on November 27th, 2018.
Giving USA 2018, https://givingusa.org/, Website consulted on November 22nd, 2018.