The Evaluating Sustainable Governance for Non-Profit Organizations in Rural Canada study is funded by a partnership between the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation (CRRF) and the Mitacs Accelerate Program.
There are diverse realities for Canadian rural communities. These complex realities range from prosperous and rapid growth in some regions, to systemic capacity challenges affected by aging population, declining public services, shifts in political influence, employment and investment. Rural Canada has experienced changes in government support that has altered roles in development processes. Keynesian economic interventions of the 1960’s-1980’s increased government presences in rural development through investment, initiatives and programs. However, a neoliberal shift in the 1990’s initiated a different, less involved role of government in community development, altering the landscape of rural communities and dismantling much of the institutions that once supported rural development.
The neoliberal shifts in government restructuring led to an increasingly critical role of non-profit organizations and charities presence in rural communities. These organizations are integral to the social, cultural, economic and environmental fabric necessary to the resilience and revitalization of rural communities. However, they experience systemic organizational capacity and human capital challenges, as well as precarious funding and heavy administrative reporting burdens. These challenges impact the long-term sustainability of non-profit and charitable organizations and the ability to deliver their mandate.
The overall objective of this project is to identify and understand the critical factors that contribute to successful governance of non-profit organizations and charities in rural communities and what strategies and practices have been successful in other places.
In addition, this project has three sub-objectives:
- to create an understanding of current landscape for rural charities operating at the national and provincial levels,
- to conduct in-depth case study analysis of leading/lagging innovations in rural charity governance in rural Canada, and
- to disseminate findings from this research initiative to provincial and national audiences of charities, policy analysts, and rural community leaders.
The methodologies that will be used to achieve the research objectives include a comprehensive literature review and case study analysis. The project will include three to five case studies on rurally based non-profit organizations across Canada, with aim to identify strategies for successful governance, and lessons learned that can be potentially transferred to other cases. Knowledge will be mobilized through three newsletter articles, the creation of a peer-reviewed manuscript, presentations, as well as a literature review and case study summary report. The outputs of this project will benefit non-profit and charitable organizations across Canada, by providing and understanding and analysis of innovative governance models that address systemic challenges of the sector within a Canadian rural context.