Our goal is to examine the history of state funding for social movements in Canada and how the relationship between state funding and social movements differs across movements, regions, and time periods. One of the project’s primary deliverable is a database on grants for NGOs (non-governmental organizations) across Canada since 1960.
NGOs have a long history in Canada of dependence on public funding. But there is little evidence on the extent of state funding for NGOs. Our goal is to document how state funding has shaped Canada’s social movement sector. Phase I was extracting grants from Public Accounts – a government budget published annually that includes a transfer payments section. The transfer payments section includes a comprehensive list of grants to NGOs. It is the most reliable and comprehensive source for identifying grants to NGOs. The primary obstacle to using Public Accounts is that it is dense – the federal records alone include 12,000 to 15,000 entries each year. Normally, it would be impossible to use this source except for researchers concerned with only a handful of years or following a few specific organizations. New technology, however, enables us to use this source in ways that allows a comprehensive analysis of thousands of groups over multiple decades.
Our team has digitized and processed over 20,000 pages using digital cameras and Book2Net scanners, AbbyFineReader (optical-text recognition software), Google’s OpenRefine and FileMaker Pro. This project demonstrates, among other things, the immense potential of applying new technology in historical and sociological research. It is now viable for a small research team with modest funding to create a large dataset from historical materials and or contemporary big data sets.
Phase I was, which is complete, was to collect data on grants to NGOs from the Federal government, British Columbia and Nova Scotia since 1960 (from Public Accounts) for the following sectors: Aboriginal peoples, the environment, human rights and women. Phase II, which is in progress, is to secure large datasets from federal, provincial and municipal governments on grants to all NGOs. We have also partnered with the University of Alberta Library to expand our scanning of Public Accounts to include most Canadian provinces.
To learn how to use the database or more about this issue, see the links below.
The database is currently under construction and will be available in 2020. To view our test version of the database that is currently under development, click here.
All information sources from statefunding.ca and the database should be acknowledged by the User and cited as follows:
- Clément, Dominique. “page title or document title.” State Funding for Social Movements. www.statefunding.ca (date accessed).
Dominique Clément. [year] State Funding for Social Movements Database. Retrieved from http://www.statefunding.ca