COVID-19 has shone a light not only on the dedication of frontline workers, but also the importance of community support for our local businesses as they find new ways to navigate these unprecedented times.
It’s equally important that we not lose sight of the value of Greater Victoria’s civil society sector – those local charities supporting everything from food security and social services to the arts and youth sports. Without them, our community would look very different indeed, both socially and economically.
Consider, for example, the findings of 2018’s Civil Society Impact report from the Victoria Foundation and the University of Victoria, exploring the impacts of the charitable sector in the Victoria Capital Region.
Beyond the social impact of the charitable sector, the total economic activity of registered charitable organizations in the Capital Region is just over $4 billion, a level of spending that supports the equivalent of 63,000 jobs, which in turn support over $300 million in municipal taxes. With induced multiplier effects, the economic activity of the region’s registered charities reaches more than $6.8 billion, including funding distributed to clients or other donees. This level of spending supports the equivalent of 122,000 jobs and $584 million in municipal taxes.
“If our charitable sector disappears amid the financial impacts of this pandemic, the implications will reach every corner of our community,” says Sandra Richardson, CEO of the Victoria Foundation. “This sector is not a ‘nice to have,’ it’s an essential part of society. In addition to providing vital services to families, seniors, those living in poverty and others, civil society is a critical driver of economic growth and employment – especially among women, who account for 70 per cent of those working in the sector.”
Rapid Relief to frontline services
In support of these vital local organizations and the people they serve, partners from across Greater Victoria came together quickly to create the Rapid Relief Fund through the Victoria Foundation, an immediate response to the impact of COVID-19. After surpassing $1 million in its first 36 hours, by press time, the fund had reached an amazing $5,152,715.75. Grants continue to be distributed on a rolling basis to support urgent community needs.
Looking to the future
“Greater Victoria has stepped up to meet many of these acute needs presented by COVID-19. As we look toward the long-term rebuilding, we must ensure that our charities remain a critical part of the discussion,” Richardson says.
To learn more about the Victoria Foundation’s support for the region’s charitable sector, and how you can help, visit victoriafoundation.bc.ca