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Rising demand has Alberta non-profits bracing for a tough 2024: Survey

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Alberta's non-profit sector is bracing for a tough 2024 with rising demand for services along with community and environmental challenges.

The Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO) released its annual State of the Sector Survey on Wednesday, providing insights into how nearly 1,500 Alberta non-profits are faring.

“In the 30 years I've been working in this sector, I've never actually seen this kind of pressure before,” said Karen Ball, president and CEO of CCVO.

According to Ipsos Reid, 83 per cent of those are accessing the services for the first time, in some cases including non-profit staff members themselves.

“We’re four years in on what’s essentially a cost of living crisis, we’re starting to worry a little bit that we’re not going to be able to continue at this pace,” said Melissa From, the CEO of Calgary Food Bank.

She added that population increases are one factor, but demand growth is mostly due to affordability.

The high cost of groceries, housing and other expenses have many people stretched thin, including the organizations trying to meet the gaps.

“We’re not immune to that as an organization. Everything is costing us astronomically more and we’re trying to feed more and more people with the same resources essentially,” From said.

CCVO says it had a record-breaking response to the 2023 survey, which suggests some of the biggest concerns non-profits are facing, including an increase in the need for their services, increased hate and anger, and unprecedented effects of climate change.

According to the CCVO survey, nearly one in three Albertans are expected to access charitable services to meet their basic needs in the next six months.

The survey also found 74 per cent of respondents felt climate change had impacted their operations in 2023, as wildfire smoke led to cancelled programming and fundraising events.

The CCVO says the sector contributes $5.5 billion to Alberta’s economy annually and employees nearly 285,000 Albertans.

“We continue to see a very strained sector that is really facing what we think is a new normal for how non-profits and charities work in the province,” said Ball.

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