Exceptional board members, clear expectations

May 28, 2019

Exceptional board members, clear expectations - It’s a typical scenario. Your freshman board members start with enthusiasm, but once the initial excitement of being part of your organization fades, they begin to lack follow-through or initiative. A board that is not living up to your expectations or simply not performing can quickly degrade the overall board member experience.

The Canada Council for the Arts and CBC/Radio-Canada to invest in Canadian digital content creation and distribution

May 28, 2019

Today, the Canada Council for the Arts, together with CBC/Radio-Canada, announced plans to launch a new $1 million catalyst tool to amplify digital creation in Canada. This initiative, called the Creation Accelerator, will support projects in a sequence of production stages. Successful applicants will receive an initial grant to work with a producer, along with the mentorship of CBC/Radio-Canada, on the development of an original idea. Following this incubation stage, the Canada Council and CBC/Radio-Canada will select concepts for production and potential distribution on CBC/Radio-Canada's platforms.

The Creation Accelerator is the first initiative of its kind for the Canada Council for the Arts, which—as part of its commitment to amplify the quality, scale and sharing of art through digital technology—has made a strong investment to increase the digital literacy of the arts sector with its Digital Strategy Fund. This pilot project will be open to artists and arts organizations across the country, in all fields of practice, including early career artists. No prior digital experience will be required. The Canada Council for the Arts will share full guidelines and details for the Creation Accelerator in late June, when the initiative opens for applications on the Council's online granting portal.

Number of working Canadians who need time off for disability on the rise

May 28, 2019

The majority of working Canadians (68%) have some experience with time off work due to a disability, whether for themselves or a family member, or they know someone who has taken a disability leave. Moreover, the number of Canadians who need time off work due to a disability is on the rise, yet disability coverage continues to decline, according to a recent RBC Insurance survey. The study found that half (50%) of working Canadians say they would have liked to have taken time off work for a disability but felt they couldn't afford it, up 5 points from 2018. Despite the increase, the number of Canadians who have disability coverage either through their workplace benefits or personal insurance that they've purchased declined by 5 points from 55 per cent in 2018, leaving half of working Canadians without any disability coverage at all.

More than 200 philanthropists have now joined the Giving Pledge

May 28, 2019

Today the Giving Pledge announced that 19 philanthropists have joined the Giving Pledge since the previous year, bringing the total number of Giving Pledge signatories to 204 from 23 countries. Now in its ninth year, the Giving Pledge continues to expand internationally with the addition of philanthropists from China, Norway, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, as well as the United States. Founded by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett in 2010, the Giving Pledge is a global, multi-generational commitment by some of the world's wealthiest individuals and couples to give more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes, either during their lifetimes or in their wills.

Survey: Majority of workers save vacation time for summer

May 28, 2019

As temperatures climb, many workers are stocking up on sunscreen and booking summer travel. A recent Accountemps survey found more than half of Canadian workers (56%) save their vacation time for June, July and August, and plan to take an average of 11 days off this summer. When asked how many days they plan to take off this summer, most popular was 6-10 days (34%), followed by 1-5 days (22%). Rounding it out was 11-15 days (20%), 21+ days (9%) and 16-20 days (9%). A full 8% had no plans to take any time off this summer.

The nine most annoying email habits every office worker deals with

May 23, 2019

The nine most annoying email habits every office worker deals with - Do you love your inbox? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably a definitive ‘no’. But there’s one thing that makes all this worse — the frankly appalling etiquette of our email contacts.

Personal achievement and interpersonal relations driving Canadian workers

May 22, 2019

Here's the good news for Canadian employers: More than four out of five (83%) Canadian workers are satisfied with their work, according to an extensive study on the Canadian workplace conducted for Hamster by Léger. Most are also very engaged (90%) and motivated (81%) by their job. Three in four (75%) report that their work is fulfilling because they achieve personal goals. However, the survey also shows employers need to be prepared for generational change as Baby Boomers age out of the workforce, meaning they will need to shape workplace culture to new generations' preferences, including Gen X-ers, Millennials.

The study reveals that the soon-to-retire Baby Boomers (now all over 55) say they are more satisfied with their work (89%) than younger workers. They are also the most committed to their job (95%) and the most motivated (89%). However, Generation X workers (now age 35 to 54), who will replace the retiring baby-boomers, is over-represented among those who are dissatisfied with their work (19%) and is also the least motivated segment (21% being not very motivated and not motivated at all). This difference could be explained by the fact that workers aged 35 to 54 are generally experiencing a particularly busy period in their lives, including often both parental responsibilities and care for their own parents as they age.

13 meeting minutes templates to help you ace your nonprofit board meeting

May 22, 2019

13 meeting minutes templates to help you ace your nonprofit board meeting - It’s not surprising that nonprofit board meeting minutes are often either overlooked or under-utilized. After all, whether you’re working at or serving as a board member for a small NGO or a large-scale international organization, there are dozens (millions?) of tasks on your plate.

Volunteer Canada requesting feedback on this year's National Volunteer Week activities

May 22, 2019

What did you think of Volunteer Canada's National Volunteer Week theme this year? National Volunteer Week (NVW) 2019 has come to a close! Volunteer Canada would like to thank all organizations who participated in celebrating The Volunteer Factor - Lifting Communities. Volunteer Canada wants to know what you thought of this year's theme, campaign and resources. The results of this survey will be used to assist Volunteer Canada in planning future NVW campaigns.

Women's Executive Network nominations for Canada's Most Powerful Women now open

May 22, 2019

Women's Executive Network (WXN) created Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards to recognize the incredible accomplishments of women, develop a community of support, and increase the visibility of strong leaders in order to inspire future generations. Honourees span the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, with the initial candidates selected by WXN's Diversity Council. The deadline for nominations is July 1.

Creative Manitoba's Careers in the Arts youth mentorship program accepting applications

May 22, 2019

Creative Manitoba’s Careers in the Arts youth and young adult mentorship programs provide opportunities for youth and young adults to be exposed to careers in arts and culture. Participants are mentored by someone working in an arts or cultural career through group workshops, individual consultation, volunteer work experience and participation in career development workshops. Creative Manitoba’s Careers in the Arts Mentorship Program is made possible by the Province of Manitoba. Individual mentorship pairs (for 19-29 year-old residents of Winnipeg and surrounding area) will start in September 2019. The application window for 2019-20 is open until July 7. Applications are assessed as they are received.

Six months later, is cannabis still a workplace concern?

May 22, 2019

Six months later, is cannabis still a workplace concern? - The legalization of recreational cannabis was a hot topic for Canadian employers prior to Oct. 17, 2018. Six months later, it appears much of that hype was overblown — just as it was with Y2K, according to Jason Fleming, strategic adviser at Cannabis at Work in Toronto.

Career detours – for good, better, or worse

May 22, 2019

Career detours – for good, better, or worse - Have you ever been on route somewhere and found yourself on a detour? Maybe you got lost or intentionally saw an interesting ‘curve off the road’ and decided to check it out. Sometimes detours turn out to be the best part of a trip or excursion.

Social media for nonprofits in 2019: Why defining your key messages is the first step

May 22, 2019

At first glance, posting on social media seems so easy.

Come up with something witty or inspirational to say.
Find a relevant photo.
Bask in the success of your posts!

Once you actually start posting on social media, you realize it’s not as simple as you might have initially considered.

Your posts get little, if any, engagement from your donors, volunteers, and followers.
Where are all the likes and shares?
You run out of ideas in a few weeks or a few months.
You have to admit you’re wasting time and money on this marketing strategy.

Though you have all the right tools at your disposal, you just don’t know what to post. So you drop out of the social media world. And you lose a key opportunity to market your nonprofit and spread awareness.

Social media is often taken for granted. It can be one of the best—and most cost-effective—ways to increase the visibility of your nonprofit. But if you’re not following social media nonprofit best practices, it’s no wonder you’re not getting the results you were hoping for.

So, let’s go back to the beginning. Forget everything you thought you knew about social media. Let’s start from scratch so you can get it right this time around.

Defining your core messages

I’ve worked on over 500 nonprofit projects, and I can tell you there are many common social media mistakes nonprofits make.

Posting on the wrong platforms.
Not adding photos or videos.
Posting too much about yourself.
Posting infrequently.
Posting adorable cat videos non-stop (cute, but irrelevant).

But, by and large, the biggest mistake nonprofits make is not defining their core messages before posting on social media. Why is this so bad? It leads to confusing, inconsistent messages that don’t resonate with your audience.

Key messages are the main points your audience need to hear, understand, and remember about your nonprofit. They consist of your core messages, such as what you do and who you help, and your supporting messages, which are more specific statements, such as the issues you want to discuss and the actions you want people to take.

Social media nonprofit best practices will tell you that key messages are focused on the basics of your organization, are succinct, are clear, and are segmented by audience. Key messages are mostly used internally to ensure everyone in your organization knows which version of your story to tell to who and when.

To begin creating your key messages, start with the master key message:

  • Who does your organization serve?
  • What do you do for them?
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • Where is your impact focused?

One of your key messages may be, for example, “We help children with X disease across Canada live longer and happier lives.”

Know your audience

Once you’ve written, fleshed out, tweaked, and perfected your key messages, it’s time to create variations based on stakeholder groups. Your donors will need to hear and understand a slightly different message than your local authorities, and you’ll need to change your message again to engage volunteers.

Build persona avatars to find out what your different audiences want and need, what they’re interested in, and how you can support them.

Create an overarching content strategy

Don’t go rushing to post on social media just yet. There’s one more step to take first: Creating an overarching content strategy based on your key messages.

To do this, layer your content out in different formats, including:

  • Blog posts
  • Curated content
  • Inspiring quotes
  • Tips
  • Stories

When creating a content strategy, think bigger than social media. Then, create a process for sharing content based on what’s going on in your organization.

For example, every time you have an event, there are specific things that are always going to be the same:

4 weeks prior to the event, you interview the keynote speaker, maybe in a video format.
From the video, you create snippets of content that you can use to create awareness for the event. You can ask questions or share five interesting facts.
During the event, you do a FB live and interview other people.
Then, you post thank you messages.

Creating a process for key events will ensure everyone posts consistently in your organization, everything you say is aligned to your key messages and vision, and the posts you share resonate with your audience. You can even use a social media tool to make posting easier.

Don’t get lost in the trenches

It’s easy to get lost in the trenches, to focus on the details of every message you post and every photo you choose. But when you’re stuck in the details, it’s all too common to lose sight of your key message. When you’re struggling with social media, take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

This might mean starting your social media strategy from scratch, but it’ll help improve the role of marketing and communications in your nonprofit.

Kerstin Heuer is the founder of Non-Profit Today and the creator of the “365 Days Done for You” Social Media Calendar for small nonprofits. Since 2008 she has used the trifecta of branding, marketing, and design to help nonprofits communicate the heart of their organization, connect with their audiences, and achieve their missions. With over 25 years of industry experience and lessons learned from work on 500+ non-profit projects, Kerstin is skilled in collaborating with NPOs to make sure they have a clear message and the traction they need to spread it. Connect with her on Linkedin or email her at:

Island Savings accepting nominations of inspiring volunteers for volunteer awards

May 22, 2019

Island Savings, a Division of First West Credit Union, is celebrating and recognizing amazing volunteers! Throughout the year, they’re selecting 40 volunteers who are devoted to developing positive and vibrant communities. It's easy to get involved. Nominate an inspiring volunteer and they could be eligible to make a $1,000 donation, courtesy of First West Credit Union, to the non-profit or charity of their choice. When completing your nomination form, explain what makes your nominee great:

  • Where do they volunteer?
  • How long have they been volunteering?
  • How do they spread Simple Generosity in our community?
  • What makes them an exceptional volunteer?

Self nominations are accepted, and qualifying communities include Brentwood, Chemanius, Duncan, Ladysmith, Lake Cowichan, Mill Bay, Nanaimo, Pender Island, Salt Spring, and Victoria.

Survey shows nearly one in four Canadian professionals renege on job offer after accepting

May 22, 2019

Employers take note: The hiring process doesn't necessarily end when a candidate accepts the offer, new research from global staffing firm Robert Half shows. In the survey, nearly a quarter of Canadian workers (23 per cent) said they have backed out of an offer after initially saying yes. Reasons cited included: for a better offer (pay) from another company (38%); heard bad things about the company after accepting (21%); got a counteroffer from current employer that convinced me to stay (16%); and other (24%).

How and why you should diversify food-based celebrations in your workplace

May 22, 2019

The story goes that we eat together to show trust, that we demonstrate by sharing food that it is not poisoned. Of course, that story doesn’t take into account allergies, cultural differences, and personal needs when it comes to food. Denise Lloyd, chief engagement officer, Engaged HR, observes, “There are so many food requirements now that it’s harder and harder to meet all needs and not ostracize people by what you serve. This can isolate people.”

Isolation is precisely what eating together is supposed to prevent. Food can also provide an opportunity for enjoyment: Early 20th century Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott said of a Midwinter Day feast, featuring the eating of forty-five sheep, plum puddings, mince pies and champagne, “With such a dinner, we agreed that life in the Antarctic Regions was worth living.”

While nonprofits are more likely to serve boxes of Timbits rather than sheep and plum puddings, they have long followed the custom of using food to bring people together and to celebrate work well done. But, as we become more aware of the diversity of our colleague’s needs, it also becomes clear that something may have to change with the monthly potluck or birthday lunch celebration.

First of all, most agree that we don’t have to do away with food-based celebrations altogether. Ary Maharaj, outreach & education coordinator, National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC), says, “Although we are a staff with lived experience working among in-patients with disordered eating, we have pizza parties here. Food-based celebrations are not about to go away and we don’t think they should.”

Eileen Chadnick, principal of Big Cheese Coaching, agrees. “’Let’s break bread together’ has always been an expression of the desire for a communal gathering. It isn’t just functional, that we all must eat, but it’s a time to bond. Eating with colleagues is a chance to connect in a less formal moment and an opportunity to connect a bit differently. It will always have its place.”

It’s also important to remember that for some people food at a meeting or event may provide nourishment they might not otherwise have. This is particularly true with clients in social services, but could even be the case for nonprofit employees: only 4.8% of participants in the recent “Women’s Voices” report by the Ontario Nonprofit Network said that they are able to sustain themselves and their families on nonprofit wages.

But because our relationship with food is shifting, it does require changes to how we approach food in nonprofit workplaces.

Think about why

“Food is used all the time in nonprofits,” says Lloyd. “It used to be really easy to just bring food and get together. Now as people are more and more food-aware, there’s more work involved. But because it’s more challenging, it means we need to think about our purpose in eating together. It also means we can do something other than eating together.”

Just as it did for the Antarctic explorers, Lloyd says, food is often used to bring people together, to have something to do together, and to celebrate. Before simply defaulting to buying a fruit tray or making a batch of cookies, though, she encourages people to think about the specific reasons and purposes for the event. “If you’re using food as recognition but not everyone is eating the doughnuts you bring, you’re not actually achieving your goals. You can build a stronger culture of appreciation in different ways. Think about what you’re trying to achieve and keep inclusivity in mind.”

Make space for everyone at the table

Inclusivity can include making space for a wide variety of needs, from those whose religions and cultures play a role in food choices to those dealing with allergies and intolerances, as well as those for whom disordered eating is a reality.

This both requires being aware of who is at the table, so to speak, but also being sensitive to those who may be at the table. Maharaj says, “The national prevalence of diagnosed eating disorders may sound small at 3% of the general population, but that’s a million people, or the equivalent of the population of the entire province of Saskatchewan.” It should also go without saying that some food allergies can be deadly, while foods considered haram in Islam are forbidden, so it is important to exercise responsibility for those who attend events where food is served or shared.

Maharaj says, “This is a practical way of demonstrating our values, mission statements and equity statements.”

Talk nicely about food

Conversations about food can be more loaded than a baked potato, but there are good practices to ensure the inclusion and well-being of all.

Rather than labeling food as healthy/unhealthy, for instance, NEDIC uses the terms “fuel food” and “fun food” or suggests not labeling food with judgment labels at all. They also discourage conversations that shame (or even self-shame) around food, such as saying, “Ooh, I ate a piece of cake so I should walk home” or “You’re so skinny – you should have a bigger piece of cake.” Such comments implicitly make people feel judged.

On the other hand, it is helpful to ask those registering for an event to disclose their dietary preference, and then to include options for these preferences and to label food for ingredients. This also can be a cost-savings measure for an organization. Maharaj further suggests communicating as specifically as possible about food in advance of an event so that people can plan proactively to meet their own needs.

Access resources

A number of nonprofits in Canada offer good education and support about food-related issues:

NEDIC also offers remote and in-person webinars, interactive workshops and other presentations for organizations wanting to know more about the prevention, recognition and treatment of eating disorders.

Get creative with alternatives

Whether the occasion at which you might previously have just brought a bag of cookies is a celebration, a milestone, a meeting or another event, it’s a chance to get creative, says Lloyd. “It’s nice to get together and have food together,” agrees Chadnick, “but you could also miss the opportunity to actually link the strategy with your purpose and goal. For instance, a slice of cake is nice, but if you really want to acknowledge a job well done, other rewards might be even better.”

Here are ten alternatives to serving food or innovative ways of including food as ways of achieving your purposes:

1. Experiences are increasingly preferred, says Lloyd. “I see teams doing common experience events where you do something together and can participate on your own terms, whether you are quiet or outgoing. Food can be part of such an experience, but it isn’t central.” Experiences could include volunteering together at another organization, says fundraising consultant Lori Guenther Reesor, who suggests packing school kits or tying comforters as good group activities. The Hamilton Arts Council in Hamilton, Ontario suggests arts-based adventures. They offer monthly ArtBus adventures and different types of classes, but also say that a nonprofit team could go to a movie or concert together.

2. Sometimes people do like to be given something tangible and lasting. Years later, Chadnick has a small plaque that was given to her at a milestone gathering. “It can be nice to have something that lasts beyond the afternoon,” she says. She suggests even a small loot bag of inexpensive items can serve to accomplish your purposes. Some offices mark milestones by giving an employee flowers or a potted plant.

3. Rather than a potluck lunch, a team might be encouraged to exchange cuttings from their own plants or gardens if they have them. Others give people on their team a book, combining professional and personal development with recognition.

4. During Ramadan — when most Muslims are not eating during daylight hours — one organization thoughtfully provides takeaway containers for food for fasting employees to enjoy later that evening.

5. Don’t underestimate the power of words. Chadnick says at the end of a campaign, a letter from the executive director or a major donor or a kind comment on a LinkedIn page can be an excellent reward and recognition strategy.

6. Use food as a way to understand and learn about others, says Lloyd, who has seen teams build understanding by having each member bring in their favourite comfort food or food from their cultural background, and then to explain it to their colleagues, and offer a taste of the food. “This can be very meaningful, and becomes more about the shared experience and the story than about the actual food,” she says. “Even if people choose not to sample the foods, they are still connected together around food.” (This strategy is one of 101 strategies for engaging employees available through Engaged HR’s website)

7. “People do this work for the soul reward so replenish the soul,” says one nonprofit staffer who says this can be done in diverse or even opposite ways such as fun activities that build group memories and rapport, or by giving extra time off as a reward.

8. Remember that not everyone drinks alcohol or consumes caffeine when planning events or beverages.

9. Work out the knots, says Chadnick, who has seen organizations partner with a massage school to make 15-minute massages affordable rewards, while other organizations rent a massage chair for employees.

10. Whatever you do, says Christie Lake Kids volunteer coordinator, Adam Janes, “Centre your recognition on the work being accomplished, the successes and the people, and invite them all into more achievement and engagement.”

“People are building community differently today,” says Lloyd. “It used to be all about raising the barn and bringing the food, but today we are encouraging people to come together more creatively and use food only as it truly promotes inclusivity for all.”

Susan Fish is a writer/editor at Storywell, a company that helps individuals and organizations tell their story well. She has written for the nonprofit sector for more than two decades and loves a good story.

Please note: While we ensure that all links and email addresses are accurate at their publishing date, the quick-changing nature of the web means that some links to other websites and email addresses may no longer be accurate.

Ten truths every board member should know

May 15, 2019

Ten truths every board member should know - Let’s say you’ve just joined a nonprofit board. You’re flattered. You really love the work the organization does. You have a general sense of the role of a board member – something about ‘governance’ and yes, you probably heard the word “fundraising.”

Canada Revenue Agency requests feedback on communications and outreach

May 15, 2019

As a member of the charitable sector, you know best how the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can serve you better. The CRA invites you to share your voice through their online consultation tool. They will use the information gathered through this consultation to inform the direction of future communications and outreach products and to allow the CRA to more efficiently reach the charitable sector. The findings from the consultations will be shared in the fall of 2019. You will be notified if you have opted to recieve notifications that new content has been posted.

Volunteer Alberta accepting applications for Youth @ the Table governance initiative

May 15, 2019

Is your nonprofit organization interested in mentoring a young leader? Supported by Canada Service Corps, Youth @ the Table is a province-wide initiative seeking to engage youth ages 18-30 in shaping their communities. Participants will spend at least six months from September 2019 until March 2020 collaborating with a nonprofit organization to explore and impact a social issue they care about. Volunteer Alberta will match youth participants with a nonprofit where they will be engaged at the governance level on a board, committee, or council.

Submit an application to host a Youth @ the Table participant who is interested in learning more about your work. Your board will identify a mentor who will involve and support the participant in understanding nonprofit governance so they can provide youth perspectives on outreach, operations, and strategic directions. This partnership will help improve your capacity to engage young people and strengthen the future of your nonprofit’s leadership. We will provide you with a curriculum that will guide you in establishing a sustainable plan for youth engagement. This is your chance to equip the next generation of nonprofit leaders with the skills and knowledge required to move the sector forward! Application deadline is May 30, 2019.

Previous First 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Last Next