- What does USC Stand for?
- In which countries does USC support projects?
- How does USC select the projects that it supports?
- How do I volunteer with USC Canada?
- How is money spent by USC Canada?
- What government money does USC receive?
- Does USC work in a country with the agreement of that country’s government?
- How does USC use the Media?
- What information do I get about where my donation goes and how it helps?
Although USC Canada started out as the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada, we are now registered simply as USC Canada. The organization was founded in 1945 by Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova, with strong support from Unitarian Congregations in Canada. While USC has no formal link to the Unitarian church today, we enjoy and value the support of Unitarians across Canada, as well as the support of people of all faiths.
We currently support projects in 10 countries, including Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Bolivia, Cuba, Ethiopia, Honduras, Mali, Nepal, Senegal, and Timor Leste. While there is a variety of programming in each of those countries, much of our work there continues to focus on building sustainable communities by promoting agricultural biodiversity.
USC Canada works with the most marginalized people in some of the poorest countries of the world. The people USC works with are often overlooked by other, larger development projects. USC has a Global Strategy which guides our program directions. These strategic priorities are based on an analysis of the economic, political, social, and cultural context, and of the policy, regulatory, and institutional environment in each program country. The program supports our partner organizations and communities in their efforts to address the root causes of poverty and inequality.
From its earliest days in the late 1940s, the philosophy of USC Canada has always been to work in partnership with country-based staff. Within this partnership, USC Canada is responsible for:
- Charting the organization’s global strategic direction
- Ensuring the achievement of anticipated programming results
- Maintaining accountability to our donors.
The country offices determine the shape and direction for their programs with advice and guidance from their local Boards and/or Advisory Committees. They are responsible for program management and project implementation including planning, monitoring, evaluation and decision-making.
International Volunteering: USC Canada is not a volunteer-sending organization. In our partner countries, USC employs only nationals from those countries. All projects are locally led and locally initiated. This ensures that development activities are sensitive to local needs and conditions. It also assures valuable career opportunities are available to local staff. Many Canadians are interested in volunteering overseas in international development projects. Check out a list of some of those organizations on our links page.
Volunteering In Canada: Volunteers work with staff, making important contributions towards fulfilling our mission and vision. Volunteers are part of our team, lending their skills, time, and expertise to USC in such areas as public education, campaigning, fundraising, and administration. Check out the What you can Do section of the website for a complete list of current volunteer positions.
Raising Funds on USC Canada’s Behalf: USC Canada is grateful to have supporters across the country who raise funds on our behalf, through dinner events, teas, bazaars, and sales. Because of the Canadian Government’s requirements around tax receipts, fundraising can be tricky business. Anyone considering organizing a fundraiser on behalf of USC Canada should get in touch with us first, so we can offer advice, help and promotional support.
Approximately $0.70 of every $1 donated goes to our overseas activities. Of the remaining $0.30, $0.10 is spent on our Public Engagement and volunteer programs here in Canada, $0.07 on fundraising and $0.13 on administration. USC Canada’s administrative costs are well within the acceptable standards as determined by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
USC Canada operates on an annual budget of approximately $5.5 million. The principal sources of revenue include the Government of Canada (CIDA) at about 60%, and private donations from individuals and foundations at about 40%. Money raised from the public and spent on overseas programs is matched by CIDA. The exact amount of the match varies depending on the country in which the money is spent, and for what particular project. The ratio can vary anywhere between a 1:1 match and a 3:1 match. In other words, a donation from the public of $1 might turn into a donation of up to $3 when matched by CIDA.
USC has also actively pursued funding from multilateral and other institutional funding sources. Current institutional donors include the Global Environmental Facility (Nepal), the Community Biodiversity Development and Conservation Program (Mali), the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (Timor Leste), DANIDA and Konrad Adenauer Foundation (Indonesia). USC also receives contributions from some provincial governments. Last year, the governments of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba offered support. The total amount received from these provinces came to just under $38,000.
Yes. USC does not want to break any regulations or laws in the countries where we work. This would not only jeopardize the effective implementation of the programs USC supports, but it could jeopardize the safety of our local staff. In many countries, USC has a very positive reputation as an organization doing good work, leading to a favourable working relationship with many governments.
As a non-profit organization, USC Canada is grateful for the generous support we receive in the form of donated airtime and column space from radio and television stations, magazines, and newspapers across the country.
Donors receive a thank you letter and an update on how their money contributes to USC Canada’s mission. Donors can also choose the number of mailings they would like to receive, and have the option of receiving our bi-annual newsletter, Jottings. Our Annual Report, published early in the fall, also includes program highlights and financial statements based on the year’s achievements.