To read more about the ECSF data, key learnings for Community Foundations of Canada (CFC), and the impacts of the Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF), we encourage you to read CFC’s reflection: Looking Back to Look Forward.

Many things slowed down when the pandemic hit, but community foundations sped up. From the beginning of the pandemic, charities experienced significant declines in revenue and strains on their resources. As early as May 2020, 73% of charities reported that donations were down. These declines were significantly greater than during the 2008/09 recession—30% of charities had already laid off staff, and additional layoffs came throughout the pandemic. The ECSF funding provided resources to these charities as they responded to communities in this great time of need. 

To meet the urgent needs of the moment, community foundations kicked into action moving capital, creating emergency funds, hosting local conversations and collaborating with local United Ways and municipalities to seek solutions. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, CFC saw the impact on the ground in communities and provided the Government of Canada with community data that illustrated the vast effects of the pandemic. CFC, alongside leaders across the nonprofit sector, communicated with the Government of Canada that an unprecedented response to face this crisis was needed. 

When the Government of Canada came forward with the opportunity to be a part of the ECSF, CFC and the network of community foundations responded. Over 175 community foundations stepped up. It was a scale of mobilization that CFC had never seen. 

People came together to serve their communities at an unprecedented moment. Through the Government of Canada’s $350 million ECSF, communities have worked in new ways and adapted frontline services to meet people’s needs better. Community foundations from coast to coast to coast have supported almost 5,000 incredible projects. 

These projects served people who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. 

  • 497 projects that supported caregivers
  • 2,563 projects that supported children and youth 
  • 1,051 projects that supported people living with disabilities
  • 1,637 projects that supported seniors and elders 

Many other projects supported Indigenous communities, racialized communities, people living in poverty or experiencing homelessness, people struggling with addiction or mental health issues, women and girls, people experiencing domestic and gender-based violence, and veterans.

These projects demonstrate how the best solutions are led and created by community. By placing trust in communities, the ECSF has helped strengthen communities, shift power, and build communities where everyone belongs.

This program has also demonstrated the value of doing the right thing over the easy thing and the need for philanthropy to keep challenging traditional processes. 

CFC knows that there is still work to do, now and into the future. But the ECSF has inspired CFC by demonstrating what communities can accomplish. For CFC, the ECSF has provided an opportunity to reflect on philanthropy’s current practices; though the outcomes have been incredible, there are always opportunities for growth and CFC aims to use this experience to learn and make changes.

The ECSF has been a vital step in the journey of recovery, resilience, and rebuilding a stronger and more equitable future that is driven by community.