Five Good Ideas Archive
Conventional fundraising wisdom still applies in the digital world, but some of it needs to be turned on its head. Have you ever been told to be a better storyteller to become a better fundraiser? Learn why that’s not a good idea in the age of social media, and why fundraising needs to connect with its roots, before it became a true profession, to flourish in the era of online engagement. Stop hiring major gift officers, and learn what it means to become truly donor-centered. In an era of new knowledge, you can become truly wise about your fundraising by relying more on the accessible data, than on intuition and instinct. Everything old is new again – are you ready?
We are in an era of tremendous change, where everything is being disrupted: governments, institutions, personal lives and the workplace. Innovation expert John Seely Brown calls it the Cambrian Moment. Things are thrown up but they eventually settle down. It is during that time of settling when small moves – smartly and intentionally made – can make a big difference. Hamlin Grange believes this is the Cambrian Moment of diversity and inclusion. We need to rethink our positions and attitudes about old concepts and approaches to create more inclusive workplaces, livable and workable cities and productive and relevant institutions. It’s a time when we need to stop asking old questions to new audiences. Leaders must be more inclusive, individuals must get out of their comfort zones, and we all must become more interculturally competent.
The involvement of charities in political activities was a major story in 2012. The 2012 Federal Budget introduced new reporting requirements for charities for 2013 but does not fundamentally affect the ability of charities to engage in political activities. Any charity considering conducting any activity that could be construed as political should be familiar with the rules under the Income Tax Act. Registered charities can engage in allowable political activities as long as they are non-partisan, related to their legal objects, and limited resources are used, which generally means less than 10% of resources.
Engagement translates into resources (e.g., donor attention, donor time, and donor money). As such, engaged donors represent a strategic asset for nonprofit organizations. Using long established marketing principles, Ashwin Joshi identified five ways in which your organization can develop a mutually fulfilling relationship with donors. He provided a framework and conducted a workshop to put the framework into action.
Navigating your way through a lease negotiation isn’t easy. Often a review of lengthy and complex documents is required in order to get from the offer to lease to the standard form commercial lease. Once you have the executed lease in place, there are a whole host of issues that can arise between landlord and tenants. Everything from how to interpret the payment of operating costs or the determination of rent free periods to relocation rights or when a tenant has the right to assign or sublet its premises. In this session we will start with the basics of what makes a valid and binding lease and then move on to discuss specific clauses in the lease agreement where interpretation issues often arise after the lease has been signed.
This event is made possible by the generous support of McMillan LLP.
Social media is the shiny new toy that everyone seems to love but few have figured out how to play with safely. Even fewer know whether it’s worth the investment. However, not playing with this toy could have a negative effect on your brand. Getting your non-profit message retweeted or having numerous Facebook “likes” is one aspect of social media – but how can it be effectively used across functional areas within your non-profit? Who are the innovative users of social media? How can non-profits learn from for-profit approaches? In this session, Bhupesh addressed these questions and shared insights on the why’s and how’s of curation, challenges of using social media, and current and future trends.
Many of us who serve the public face some difficult questions. How can we deliver our services in a digital and global world? How can our services be sustained with shrinking budgets and staffing? How can we ensure that our work is relevant and connected to the communities we serve? There is perhaps no area more relevant to consider these questions than the relationship between our communities and our police services. In this Five Good Ideas session, Deputy Chief Peter Sloly will explore the “Business of Policing” and provide some answers from Toronto Police Service. In particular, he will look at how policing can manage the complex social justice issues of Canada’s democracy and how it can engage the full capacity of Toronto’s youth and diverse communities.This session will provide participants with insights, perspectives and the opportunity for direct input into how the business of policing can be more effective, efficient, economical and equitable.
The purpose of policy work is to improve the quality of life for all citizens. As part of that overall goal, it seeks to reduce poverty and inequality, and to promote the inclusion of individuals who typically are underrepresented in the social, cultural, political and economic life of a community – and of a nation. Policy work generally seeks to shift the way in which resources and opportunities are distributed in a society. This change could involve, for example, the provision of higher benefits or the reduction of income taxes. Policy work may also enable access to opportunities, notably advanced education or paid employment. It may build capabilities, such as literacy or skills development, to promote self-sufficiency in the long term. All policy work shares a common goal: to effect some form of change deemed to be in the public interest. But policy efforts can also affect the people who do this work. Each attempt at reform comes with lessons that can be applied not only to future policy initiatives but also as guidance to the non-profit world.
Measuring our progress in achieving our goals and fulfilling our missions is more important than ever. In a world of economic volatility, government constraint and increasing transparency, funders and their grantees need more effective ways to demonstrate their individual and collective impact to a broadening array of interested stakeholders. Blair Dimock will share the steps they have taken at the Ontario Trillium Foundation has taken to re-invent how they measure the impact of their granting, what they measure, and why. Through a focus on balancing accountability with an action learning agenda, using mixed measurement methods, increasing engagement with grantees, staff and volunteers, and experimentation, you, too can improve how you map your progress towards achieving your organization’s mission.
More and more non-profit organizations are recognizing the importance of engaging the communities they serve in a meaningful way. But what exactly is meaningful community engagement? What are some of the ways in which your organization can do this? What are some first steps for you to begin the process of changing the message of “service users” and “clients” to people feeling that they are “community members” and active participants. How can you embed this approach in all aspects of your organization, programming and staff? This session will address these and other questions as Deena Ladd shares her experience and ideas on building community participation in your organizations.
The purpose of social innovation should be to substantially improve social and economic justice, otherwise it’s not worth it. Social innovation challenges traditional assumptions and it should strengthen the problem solving capacity of future generations. It is not just a new law or program or funding stream, and new techniques, technologies and methodologies don’t in themselves guarantee profound change. Social innovation profoundly shifts cultural attitudes, habits, norms, relationships, hierarchy, values and the story we tell about each other.
Nonprofit organizations facilitate social change through education, outreach, advocacy and mobilizing. How do we engage more people in this process? How do we create effective messages that help shift public opinion and policy? What obstacles lie in our way, and what role does our aging democratic structure play? This session addresses these and other questions as Dave Meslin shares his views and ideas about successful campaigning.
Registered charities are conferred a variety of benefits under the Income Tax Act (Canada); the most important of which permits them to issue charitable receipts in respect of eligible donations. While the economic benefits to a donor associated with such charitable receipts can encourage donations, the associated loss of tax revenue has led the fiscal authorities to create a myriad of laws and regulations limiting the scope of activities in which charities may engage. Organizations applying to become registered charities will be subject to scrutiny from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and, in certain situations, the Public Guardian and Trustee of Ontario (PGT), on receipt of an application and will be subject to continuing oversight from the CRA and PGT if their application is successful. Accordingly, directors and officers of charities and non-profit organizations considering an application to become a registered charity will need to be familiar with these rules. This session will convey tips and insights into the application process for new organizations and non-profits, while also offering suggestions to existing registered charities to comply with their ongoing regulatory obligations. Presenter Andrew Stirling is an Associate with McMillan LLP.
To diversify a board, you should look beyond traditional skills and knowledge for a competency-based board. You should deliberate not only what your board’s current gaps are, but what the future needs will be. A well articulated strategic plan with broad stakeholder engagement sets the direction for the organization and the priorities you want to focus on over the next number of years. This will inform you of the necessary mix of sector/industry knowledge/skills to move the organization forward. The governance structure and membership is a dynamic process that requires foresight and insight before you can exercise oversight. Presenter Helen Hayward is a Director at Western Management Consultants.
Social media affects our organizations more than we realize it. This is no different for Human Resources. While many employers continue to struggle with how they can use social media, candidates and employees are flocking to social networks to talk about organizations and find their next job. Harpaul shows how social networks are impacting an organization’s capability to recruit, retain and engage its staff. He illustrates how social media affects all areas of your organization, from policy writing, recruitment, organizational development, talent management, leadership development, and communications. Get an inside look at real-life examples of success and failures of organizations using social networks.
The issue of privacy of personal information should be considered carefully by all charities and not-for-profit corporations. Privacy is good for business, and, as such, it should be viewed as a business issue more than a compliance issue. Charities and not-for-profit corporations should observe and follow privacy laws, industry best practices and fair information practices in respect of personal information. This session focuses on strategies for privacy compliance for charities and not-for-profit corporations operating in Ontario.
We are all constantly selling – ourselves, our ideas, our recommendations and our organizations – to colleagues, bosses, direct reports, clients, politicians, bureaucrats, strategic partners, corporate sponsors and donors.
This presentation provides you with a number of innovative ways to become more influential, by understanding:
- The importance of answering “Why should I choose you?” – the single most important question in your job – in seven words or less
- Why you need to distinguish between what you are selling and what people are buying
- Why you need more than facts and logic to be convincing
Launching an organization requires a compelling idea and a burning passion, but as importantly, the right funders, partners and advocates to help bring the vision to life – and keep it afloat. This session discusses the various stages of starting a new entity or re-energizing an existing one – engaging others to seed an idea, building a track record to attract supporters, diversifying the funding base, finding the right partners to help plan and execute sustainable growth, and the critical importance of communication and media outreach.
We are always asked to tell stories about our agencies – to our funders, to our boards, to our staff, to ourselves. We need to build a case, motivate, provide a reason to donate, help our clients see that we are serving them in the best way we know how. Numbers are really just another way to tell the story. Come and listen to five good ideas about finance in our sector. See why it is important to get behind, inside and through the numbers so that the story you tell is one that will really be heard.
It’s a fact – 70% of new business and 60% of jobs are attained through some sort of networking or relationship marketing. With statistics so compelling, how can you not spend time honing your networking skills? Lisa Mattam, an entrepreneur, consultant and trainer, delivers an impactful and insightful presentation that will enable you to take your networking skills to the next level. In her five good ideas she explores the traditional channels for networking, as well as newer ones, such as social media. She also provides concrete tips and tools so you will leave an impression that lasts.
As a director or officer of a registered charity or not-for-profit organization, there are a myriad of laws and regulations that you need to comply with in order to manage risk for your organization. You need to be aware of the corporate law that governs your not-for-profit organization, the income tax law that governs a registered charity if you are also a charity, and Ontario provincial law that governs the operations of charities in Ontario, among others. This session focused on risk management for charities and not-for-profits operating in Ontario.
Nick Saul shared Five Good Ideas gleaned from his work in transforming a small, local food bank into a thriving community food centre: a place where people come together over food to build health, hope, skills, self-confidence, environmental sustainability, community and greater equity. The Stop’s story has lessons and inspirational ideas for everyone interested in building healthy community organizations, inclusive public space and creating social change. Today, The Stop serves up dignity and empowerment to a large community by bringing together people from all socio-economic backgrounds and helping make connections through eating, growing, sharing and advocating for good food for all.
What is the difference between a trade-mark, copyright, patent and industrial design? How can I protect my company’s intellectual property? What do I do if someone sends me a cease and desist letter? When can I use ™ or ®? What do I do if someone is using my name/trade-mark on their website?
Some of the most creative problem-solving in Canada is going on in non-profit organizations. But the public seldom hears about these efforts. As a journalist who has been covering the non-profit sector for more than decade, Carol Goar attempts to explain why some of the best initiatives don’t show up on the radar screens of reporters, editors, broadcasters and producers.
Why do important ideas to improve public policy seem to rarely get implemented? Is signing another petition going to achieve the results you want to see? Free and democratic societies need the active and vigorous participation of individuals and non-governmental organizations in order to thrive. We all benefit from greater involvement by civil society in the public arena of ideas in an increasingly digital world. Most of us have experienced the fact that impacting public policy requires more than just a passion for a cause and good research.
While it sounds trite, the hallmark of any successful relationship is communication. Sometimes we forget that the employer-employee relationship is no different; disputes that arise in the workplace are often the result of poor communication on both sides of the relationship. Employers have to realize that in order to effectively manage their employees, they have to get out in front of issues that could arise and understand that their employees are looking to them for answers.
Most non-profit organizations rely on volunteers to not only enhance their programming, but run day-to-day operations. At Daily Bread Food Bank the job of distributing over 15 million pounds or food to over 200 food programs would not get done without the hard work of volunteers. Last year, 15,521 volunteers helped Daily Bread with over 107,259 hours of work. Volunteers at Daily Bread do great work, and the organization is constantly looking at ways to improve its programs and volunteer opportunities.
Are you one of those people who rarely forwards emails? Yet on that rare occasion, something strikes you as special – and you are inspired to “pass-it-on.” Something about it clicked with you. Perhaps you can’t even explain it; a certain je ne sais quoi. That “something” is often described by marketers as “stickiness.” When we connect with a message, a video, a website – we automatically engage with it, and want to share it. We don’t even have to be asked, because it’s automatic.
An influenza pandemic raises difficult questions for organizations: How might an outbreak affect staffing capacity, the safety of clients, the viability of programs and services and the stability of funding? How can organizations make decisions and communicate to stakeholders in an environment of changing or conflicting information while dealing with high rates of management absenteeism? How can organizations match their response to the severity of the situation? While many guidelines exist for corporations and for hospitals, precious little has been established for small and medium-sized non-profit organizations – particularly those without a health focus.
Non-profits spend a lot of time securing funding, with a good portion of that going to pay employee salaries. We invest a lot in human capital as opposed to physical capital, yet we don’t always think and act strategically to ensure that we have the right people, doing the right jobs, at the right time. While ‘passion for the cause’ is an essential ingredient for working in this sector, it is no longer enough. How do you ensure that your organization has the best combination of people with the skills, knowledge and attitudes to achieve organizational results? How can your organization better integrate the skills and knowledge of both paid staff and volunteers? What are successful organizations doing to recruit and retain top talent? What do you do when you don’t have the right people? Lynne Toupin makes the case for investing in your organization’s human resources.
Board leadership in diversity is an essential precondition to organization-wide diversity change. Most organizations, however, forego this important opportunity as they reduce diversity leadership to mere metrics. This session will look at some key components for making board diversity leadership happen in meaningful ways that go beyond the conventional norms of representation and compliance measures. First, there is the recognition that leadership in diversity must start at the top to be fully effective. Once that is in place, leaders must participate in their personal development by continuously cultivating their own cultural competency. In order to be aligned with diversity values, leaders need to be deliberate in setting a personal example and as a group. Not only must leaders demonstrate diversity but they are charged with challenging systemic barriers on an ongoing basis. Above all, leaders can facilitate the process of the self-organizing system by paradoxically taking themselves out of focus as the designated leaders of the organization.
The venue is booked, the invitations are out, and all the detailed arrangements are made. However, you’re still worried that your fundraising event won’t be a success! Although important, there is more to planning a successful event than ensuring that everything is according to a schedule. Some big picture thinking, as well as some creative, technical and logistical strategies will help ensure you’re using your budget wisely and your objectives are being met.
Change is a constant in many corporate, government, and not-for-profit organizations. Change management is one of the most written about, yet least understood aspects of leadership. While many change leaders follow existing models and perform requisite rituals, too many continue to rely on hope as a strategy for success. The focus on managing change may itself be one of the sources of the continued challenges of strategizing and implementing change. Rather than studying the change, leaders may want to study their employees, customers, and other stakeholders to learn about where they can have the most influence. This session will consist of five ideas about influencing change through a focus on the people affected by the change. We will begin with the premise that no one can predict the future and build on the ways leaders and stakeholders construct their ideas of change. Then we will examine some of the psychology of resistance to change and discuss some tactics for influence against this resistance. Finally, we will talk about the power that external stakeholders have to influence change within your organization.
Your use of the internet should be connected to the work you do every day. But, on the Web, what do we mean by “conversation”? Who are we trying to talk to? What are we trying to say? Is technology most effective when used to enhance an existing relationship? Can technology really help us connect with people we may never see or talk to? If we define our community broadly, how does that impact our conversations with them? Of course, you should be asking these basic questions whether or not you are using online technology to engage the people you work with, serve, help and build community with. Building on Jason Mogus’ presentation last year, Reaching Out in a Web 2.0 World, Chris and Marco will further demystify online communication and help you take the next steps in making practical, daily use of the Web in your community engagement, client service and public campaigns.
Governments have the ability to profoundly impact the work of not-for-profits. Changes to funding, policies or regulations, or changes that can have a significant impact on your organization or your constituency, are often made with little consultation or in isolation by governments. With so much influence resting with governments, it is critical that not-for-profits articulate their positions and interests to politicians and civil servants as early and often in the process as possible. This presentation will provide you with hands-on tips and tactics that you can use to create your own government relations program and speak on behalf of your organization. Topics include: how to increase your organization’s profile with government; how to establish and build relationships with government; how to establish your “thought leadership” credentials and how to engage key stakeholders and media as well as political and bureaucratic influencers.
Remember the last time you “listened” to a public speaker with your head bent over your BlackBerry? You managed to get some work done, but imagine how the speaker felt! Don’t let that happen to you! Learn to use your voice to captivate your audience and deliver your message effectively. Bonnie Gross will lead this interactive session, offering tips and tools to ensure that your next presentation won’t be delivered to a sea of bowed heads. Bonnie is a speech language pathologist and a professional trainer focusing on fearless public speaking, voice, language training and communication skills.
How can you work with your board, donors, staff and other stakeholders to introduce significant change without alienating long-term supporters? How can you shift from seemingly endless consultative processes towards action and results? How do you ensure that new visions for your organization honour the past, but are not constrained by it? For example, in the corporate world, turnarounds are often achieved by hiring a new leader, firing staff, and changing the board. Here are the five good ideas that can help social purpose organizations take practical action to achieve meaningful organizational change. Paul Davidson has held leadership positions in the public, private and voluntary sectors. He shares his experience and lessons learned from leading turnarounds in each sphere.
Finding the right person for your team is incredibly important. The success of a non-profit organization, or any organization for that matter, depends upon the strengths and talents of its employees. They are the thinkers, the creators, and the innovators that drive an organization. They deliver the services, build relationships with stakeholders and become the organization’s link to the community. Hiring the right person requires a careful investment of time and effort – a tall order when you are pressured by a lack of time and resources. A successful hire opens up the potential to promote and enrich your organizational culture and enables innovation and growth. On the other hand, a mistake in hiring is costly and exhausting for an organization in the long run. In an environment where our budgets are stretched and our HR resources are scare, a creative and intentional look at how we are hiring our people could be just the ticket!
In today’s world, collaboration, partnership and ‘adding value’ are important to any recipe for success of a non-profit organization. But you can’t do it alone. In order to achieve results and impact, organizations and their leadership must expand beyond their traditional partners and stakeholder groups in order to create synergistic and innovative relationships that energize, excite and lead to change. By developing broad based networks, leaders of organizations can increase their influence, relationships and ability to deliver on their organization’s mission. Building a network can be daunting for many. This presentation will help you to develop a framework for building your own network, and in doing so you will see that building a network is not the same thing as networking, that it really is better to give than to receive , and how two “no’s” do, in fact, make a “yes”.
Building a movement for social change takes passion, energy and resources. Social movements have a life cycle: they are created, they grow, they achieve successes or failures and eventually dissolve and cease to exist. In this session Mary Rowe will highlight this lifecycle by examining a variety of tools to encourage innovative, holistic approaches to building a movement. Mary’s long and productive career has focused on facilitating solutions to complex problems in the public realm. In particular she played an instrumental role in advocating for a new deal for cities in Canada as Director of Ideas that Matter and currently works with a US philanthropic initiative fostering self-organization in urban communities.
Do you know what is meant by ‘Web 2.0′? And, more importantly, are you ready to live it? Many people mistakenly believe that the web is simply about reaching more people, publishing more information and targeting a wider audience. In truth, this is only a tiny part of how the web is helping change society for the better. Traditional institutions are becoming weaker; consumers are more informed; people have higher expectations of services, charities and governments. Jason Mogus understands that the internet now reflects this change and represents a culture shift impacting upon us all. He reveals how and why Web 2.0 can help organizations working in social change interact more with their audience, listen and learn, share stories and develop greater transparency.
Everyone’s heard the refrain: ‘Institutional change takes time. Be patient.’ This notion is perhaps one of the greatest sources of conflict and mistrust between organizations and seekers of change. While it is true that real, lasting change is time-consuming, there is no formula or model to quantify or predict the time required for an institutional change process. At the same, the issue of time and patience poses a challenge for volunteer boards that typically have a limited period of office and are anxious not to be dismissed as ineffectual or irrelevant. Alok Mukherjee identifies and explores concrete ways in which a volunteer board committed to genuine institutional change can achieve significant results within its finite term of office.
In the competitive and fast-paced world of nonprofits, the challenge of being one in thousands trying to make your voice heard is difficult. It’s not enough to simply be good at what you do – you have to find a way to differentiate yourself with a clear identity that supporters can relate to. Branding is a big word and can mean many things but approached thoughtfully with some basic understanding, it can be an important tool in raising funds, building support for programs and boosting public profile.
The nonprofit sector is increasingly looking to successful business strategies to achieve operational efficiency and effectiveness. Motivated by the need to ensure that scarce resources are devoted to the mission of the organization, and with ever clearer accountability to boards of directors and donors, nonprofits are exploring shared services strategies for front and back office functions.
Today, many active community leaders argue that no single sector – public, private or nonprofit – is capable of solving our modern day challenges on its own. A new dialogue is needed, and a more powerful focus on citizen involvement is required to collectively address these issues. Anil Patel provocatively explores the role that volunteerism plays in the context of the ‘greater good’. A newly coined concept of ‘Citizenship 2.0’ explores a more holistic approach to the challenges and opportunities relating to civic responsibility through the lens of volunteerism.
Deal with the issues at a local level. Do good reconnaissance. Who is the elected or advisory level person that has interest at a policy level regardless of what part of the country they are from? Get to know these people and the people that know them. Open lines of communication and maintain a flow of creative material between yourself, the politicians and public servants. Always have a “plan B” in case your primary strategy doesn’t work. Talk to the other political parties. Understand who the “door keeper” is and once you get in understand who is sitting at what table. What kind of materials do they need? Understand that aspects of your issue may be more attractive than others (as well as the solutions) and don’t start with the most difficult material. “Low-hanging fruit” (simple, easy fixes) often provide common first ground.
There are many definitions of risk and generally these definitions relate to the negative consequences of actions or events for organizations and individuals. This is increasingly reinforced in public service environments in terms of elaborate risk management frameworks and a focus on risk-preparedness for organizations.
In March 2005 an Ipsos Reid Survey indicated that four million Canadians or one out of every six adults had been the target of racism. According to Statistics Canada, by 2017 for every 100 visible minorities that will leave the workforce, there will be 142 visible minorities ready to join the workforce. These statistics illustrate the long-term challenges that face Canada’s increasingly diverse workforce and the need to challenge racism in organizations.
I’m going to talk about giving yourself the permission to be selfish. I believe, fundamentally, that if you’re going to renew yourself as a leader and if you’re going to have the energy that you need to make the changes to lead people in your organizations that you have to be selfish. It’s very much like when you’re in the airplane and the stewardess says, “In case of depressurization the mask comes down. But before you decide to put a mask on anybody else, make sure you reach for the oxygen and you put it on yourself.”
Most people, even experienced leaders, fear standing up in front of an audience as much as they fear writing exams. Even born conversationalists somehow get stiff, dry mouthed and uninspired facing dozens of eyes bearing down on them. Below are some practical tips to help you to connect with your audience, use PowerPoint more effectively, and deliver your presentation with confidence and flair.
The necessity for community-based agencies to operate on a shoestring often collides with trade unions seeking increased compensation for their members whose salaries are lower than similar jobs in other sectors. The long-term answer is for both parties to convince funders that core, sustainable funding is required. In the short-term, the interests of community-based agencies are served by having knowledgeable, skilled negotiators on both sides of the table.
Embracing the values of inclusiveness within an organization is a long-term proposition; the process of altering attitudes and practices does not happen overnight. Creating an inclusive organization requires more than just hiring new faces. It requires opening minds and doors to new perspectives and worldviews. It is an on-going process of rethinking the work we do as well as the relationships we build with the wider community. This session provided practical tips on how to embrace the principles of inclusion.
Useful social invention and innovation should have at its core: a need, problem or issue that it is addressing. It should also be aligned to a powerful vision and key guiding values. And, for the purpose of social innovation, it should have positive change as its end goal.
Media relations exploded into my life ten years ago, when I was winding up a long career at the CBC. Before that, as a hard political and international news correspondent, I had very little contact with public relations (PR) people. We did speak with people in organizations who handled our requests for interviews and research, but frankly, it was usually the reporter making the call out, not the other way around.
The current philanthropic environment in Canada is one of great opportunities and challenges. While Canadian corporation give away a lot of money, securing corporate funding can be challenging. More than ever, companies are professionalizing their approach to philanthropy and sponsorship and seeking to align their community investment with their business objectives. At the same time, the number of registered charities in Canada keeps growing. In addition to these traditional charities there are many emerging small agencies and they are all looking for corporate dollars. How do we all stake our claim and get noticed – not only to secure funding but maintain on-going support?
The key to successful board – management relationships is timely and effective communications between the executive director of your organization and its board of directors. It sounds simple enough but done poorly, it can become of the leading causes of discord in nonprofit organizations. How do these problems arise and how can we structure and organize nonprofits to capitalize on effective communication skills? How should executive directors conduct themselves at board meetings and how can we enhance the flow of information between the organization and the board within the time constraints that each is operating under.
Over the last year I have had an opportunity, partly triggered by being out of the media for awhile, by teaching journalism at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, by reading and by working with a number of voluntary organizations and nonprofits, to reflect on the state of the media and on a particular approach to publicity and communications which I call a “public affairs” approach.
Accounting and accountability – we hear these words a lot, but do we know what they mean? Accounting refers to the activity of keeping track of things in orderly ways, and of measuring them over time. This activity can become obsessive – it fits nicely into a mechanistic and control-obsessed view of the world. We must never forget that there are lots of things, often the most important, that cannot be measured in any meaningful way. It is fairly easy to keep track of financial things denominated in monetary units but there are also many non-monetary things that can usefully be accounted for, monitored and measured. A good example would be the contribution made by the volunteers in your organizations. Finally, some things really cannot be measured – the quality of relationships developed within your organization and by your activities with clients, for example.
Sean Moore, Partner/Public Policy Advisor, Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP
The ability to effectively influence decisions of government is a major challenge for small nonprofits as well as large organizations. However, there are specific steps which nonprofit organizations can take to improve their relationship with governments and their effectiveness in lobbying them.
Bright people working together to achieve laudable goals in nonprofit organizations would seem to be a recipe for harmony. Yet, all too often these organizations fall victim to energy-sapping internal disputes. Governance, the ‘g’ word, is very much on people’s minds. Everyone is seeking a silver bullet that will make the policy and decision-making processes of these organizations work well. Yet, there is no ‘single’ answer that will work for all organizations. Rather, there are a series of guiding questions that will assist individual organizations to develop governance processes that work, can be adapted to new realities and that meet the standards of accountability, transparency and responsible partnership.
Paul Born has spent most of his adult life developing ideas that raise funds. The vast majority of these ideas, which have received more than $30 million in funding over the last 20 years, were conceived as partnerships with donors, funders and the people who delivered and/or received the service. Paul used examples and stories to provide insight into developing ideas that raise funds from private, public and foundation partners.
Social marketing began about thirty years ago with the adoption of business marketing principles to social ideas. Over that time there has been many adaptations in the discipline and its reputation has been transformed in the social sector. However, there are also a number of misperceptions: social marketing is not advertising. Social marketing is a tool for understanding how to move your organization forward and a ‘scorecard’ to keep track of what’s working in your organization and what needs to happen next. Phil Kotler, a professor of business marketing, says that “marketing takes a day to learn and a lifetime to master” and that’s true of social marketing as well. Social marketing does not require tremendous resources; in fact, the less money you have, the more powerful social marketing can be for your organization.
The City of Toronto plays a large role in the life of its residents, delivering a wide range of services and programs from police and fire services to housing, parks and social services. There are also new opportunities and priorities from a new relationship with other orders of government, to the rejuvenation of Toronto’s waterfront, to a city-wide architectural and cultural renaissance. Everything hinges on reinvesting in the public realm, including transit, affordable housing, and programs that build strong, safe communities. There are a number of ideas of how you can enhance your organization’s ability to engage the new administration.
There’s more to applying for a grant than filling out a form! Good ideas include strategies for understanding the expectations and priorities of a funder. Are the goals of the funder compatible with the mission and priorities of your organization? Will the pursuit of the funder’s money take you off that mission? Can you put yourself in the grantmaker’s shoes? It’s important to consider the “fit” from the start.
Fundamentally a consultant should be someone who is helping your organization become more successful. However, in order to ensure that you are receiving the best work possible, you need to understand the parameters of the consultant/client relationship and to provide a structure that avoids common pitfalls and produces concrete results.
Employer/employee relationships in the nonprofit sector are become increasingly complex. The legislation governing employers and workplaces is constantly changing, and in recent years many nonprofits have been unionized. Employers want to be fiscally and operationally responsible, but they also want to be lawful and fair. In a unionized environment, it is essential that the relationship between employer and union work.
Technology…we love it; we hate it! Some very impressive advances have been made for nonprofits through technology; some very disappointing failures are well known. Technology is here to stay but technology for technology sake doesn’t make sense. Technology is best used to enable better: fundraising, communications and community building.
The ability to effectively and consistently keep your organization top-of-mind and visible to all of your stakeholders – including funders, donors, and service recipients – is a critical component of success. A strategic approach to all of your communication activities, both for internal and external audiences, is essential and will positively impact your “bottom line”.
Is it always necessary to strategic plan? While strategic planning is useful, it is not essential to every organization. New organizations, organizations with a strong or charismatic leaders, or busy organizations which are too successful to slow down can survive with unarticulated strategies that respond to day-to-day emerging issues. It is also important to note that strategic planning has opportunity costs, because valuable energy, time and resources can be wasted. Therefore, it should not be used indiscriminately. Even a good strategic plan can end up in the ‘bottom drawer’ without an effective implementation plan.
As the nonprofit sector struggles to deliver more services in the face of diminishing government support, the need for effective private sector fundraising has never been greater. This session will provide practical guidance on important aspects of fundraising and “friend-raising” including telling your story effectively; selecting an efficient fundraising vehicle; identifying your best prospects; asking for financial support; and following up and building a relationship.
Most nonprofit organizations have a great deal of experience in the funding cycles of their immediate charitable funders but fewer are knowledgeable about how government budgets are created and managed. Understanding the annual cycle of how government ministries prepare and evaluate their spending proposals can help nonprofit organizations plan and implement their own activities and ultimately co-ordinate these activities to maximize their effectiveness in approaching governments for funding.
Human Resources within a nonprofit organization includes paid staff and leadership as well as volunteer recruitment. Nonprofit organizations must marry good business practices and resourcefulness with a clear cause or vision. Challenges (and opportunities) in the area of human resources come from the small size of many organizations, perceived lack of career opportunities, limited professional development funding and the insufficient focus of boards of directors on human resource management.