A non-profit organization based in Canada that has been testing toys for children for over 60 years will close its doors at the end of June due to a lack of secure financial backing.
In operation since 1952, the Canadian Toy Testing Council has published an annual Toy Report, released prior to Christmas, which ranked toys and books by age group according to durability, safety, and ability to hold a child's attention.
The council used the help of families who would volunteer to take the toys home with them for 6-12 weeks. The toys would be played with by family members and given a rating. Donors, corporate sponsors and volunteers were all counted on for funding of the testing program.
The toy testing program and annual report were not released last year however, as the organization faced a number of funding challenges.
Council members voted last month to close after an unsuccessful search for new sponsors left the organization facing increased financial pressure.
"Over the past year, as part of our efforts to secure operational funding, we engaged an experienced funding consultant who conducted an exhaustive search of opportunities for funding, partnership and support," the group's board of directors wrote on its website. "Members of the board and other CTTC supporters also pounded the pavement in search of backing that would enable us to keep our doors open and our program running," the statement said. "Unfortunately, our efforts were not successful."
According to Canada Revenue Agency filings, the organization has shown a decrease in revenue by about 50% between 2011 and 2012, from $98,743 to $52,328, and the group was unable to recover. Reported revenue in 2014 totaled $46,101.
While some funding was received from the federal government, and revenue was received from toy sales, the organization lost a major sponsor in 2011. Meanwhile, a Trillium grant came to an end, causing the agency to lose about $45,000 per year. The organization needed to let go of its staff, including part-time workers who ran the toy testing program. Volunteers were unable to take on the large task of running the program, looking for funders and putting together the annual publication.
It is unclear what recent changes made it so the charity could no longer find donors or qualify for funding.
Supporters of the organization quickly took to the council's Facebook page to make their reaction to the news known.
"Very sad news for the Canadian Toy Industry Association and Canadian consumers," wrote Kirsten Anderson-Pochodaj of Coquitlam, B.C.
The council is planning to hold a sale at their Ottawa headquarters in order to get rid of all the children's items they have in stock.