Philanthropy as a Vehicle for Regional Development?

Philanthropy, especially through the community foundations, is a powerful catalyst for strengthening communities in Canada. Community foundations and their board members are interested and engaged in finding ways to make their communities a more vital place to live, work, and play. Community foundations strive to build stronger communities through philanthropic leadership. The goal of this project is to examine how community foundations can influence and participate in regional development in Newfoundland and Labrador. Regional development, for the purposes of this project, is conceived in a holistic manner encompassing social, cultural, humanitarian, community development, and capacity building.

Newfoundland and Labrador is a unique region when studying the effectiveness of community development through charitable giving. For at least 10 consecutive years, the province has held the highest charitable giving rates above all provinces and territories across Canada, with 92% of its population 15 or over partaking in philanthropic initiatives. As a region that heavily relieves on support from one another, it comes as no surprise that residents are willing to give back what they consider home. Ironically, the province has one of the lowest annual average donations per individual. This project digs deeper as it determines what may be attributed to these striking statistics.

How does the Community Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador rank when compared to other community foundations throughout Atlantic Canada? As part of this project, researchers have administered surveys to each Atlantic Canadian community foundation to analyze the positive and negative virtues each foundation has, and to see what a common theme of community foundations is in the Maritimes. By determining what strengths and weaknesses are present throughout these community foundations, regions are able to contribute to community development more efficiently and effectively.

Over the past few years, there have been numerous cuts to regional development throughout Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador has suffered the loss of the Regional Economic Development Boards in the past two years, and Nova Scotia’s Regional Economic Development Agencies lost their funding in 2013. With government cutbacks, communities are seeking for a more sustainable solution, and philanthropy may be the answer they are looking for. By analyzing St. Anthony and St. John’s, researchers are using these two case studies in an effort to determine if philanthropy is making way for the future of regional development in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Funding support for the Philanthropy as a Vehicle for Regional Development is provided through the Applied Research Fund of the Leslie Harris Centre for Regional Policy and Development. This project runs from June 2012 to March 2014.

Project Resources