Newsbytes

Enter the Volunteer BC National Volunteer Week photo contest

March 20, 2019

National Volunteer Week is around the corner - April 7 - 13 , 2019. This year’s theme is: “The Volunteer Factor – Lifting Communities.” The Volunteer Factor celebrates and recognizes the exponential impact of volunteers and how they lift our communities. Our friends at Volunteer BC are hosting a photo contest - do you have photos of volunteers that celebrate and recognize the importance of ongoing contributions that volunteers make every day throughout our communities? Send Volunteer BC photos that reflect the unique qualities of your volunteers and the strong contribution they make in their communities! The deadline is April 1. Click here for more details.

NextGen Leaders: Why you will never "become" a leader

March 20, 2019

NextGen Series: This is the third article of five in our new series focused on the next generation of leadership in the nonprofit sector. Read the firstsecond, fourth and fifth articles. There is also a corresponding webinar for new & aspiring leaders - please click here for information and to register.

When I first became an executive director when I was 31, I was insecure and intimidated by the older leaders around me. Luckily, I ran a youth organization and felt very confident about my ability to help my staff to work with youth effectively, or I may have let the fear drive me out of the role. I didn’t have anyone to tell me how to be a leader or what it meant to be an Executive Director so I just made it up as I went along. For years I felt like other people must know more than I did and yet I put a brave face on it, often feeling like I was pretending to know what I was doing. Now, many years later, I realize that my view of leadership was too simplistic and that other leaders did not necessarily know the ‘secret’ of being a leader. Leadership is a journey rather than a destination and we are all making it up as we go along. No two situations are ever exactly the same and we just have to do our best to manage them.

Recently, I came across a way of looking at leadership that I think is helpful for all leaders but particularly for new and aspiring leaders that may worry about not knowing ‘enough’ to step into leadership.

I am currently finishing my Master’s in Education (three more weeks - YAY!) and I am learning about learning. In one of my recent readings, the authors critiqued how we talk about professional learning. We often use metaphors like ‘acquisition’ and ‘transfer’ when they don’t really apply to how humans learn. ‘Acquisition’ applies to gaining something, but it’s external. We acquire a new car or a new sofa. ‘Transfer’ is the movement of something from one place to another. ‘Transferring knowledge’ is actually more information sharing than it is learning. We have effectively tried to make learning more linear in how we talk about it because it’s a complex subject. So, when the authors of my reading introduced me to the concept of ‘becoming’, I was sold. ‘Becoming’ in learning is about recognizing that learning is not linear. It’s messy. It’s unpredictable. It’s ongoing. It does not sit tidy in a box or a framework or even a standardized training program.

And it is the same with leadership. When we think about leadership, we think that we ‘become’ a leader when someone else gives us the title. We don’t. There are plenty of people who have a title that gives them permission to lead but they are not doing it. We think that knowledge will somehow be ‘transferred’ to us by other leaders or perhaps an envelope will arrive by owl in the night inviting us to a secret leadership academy where we will ‘acquire’ a magic wand. There is no owl coming. There is no magic wand.

And this is because leadership is also not linear. It’s messy and confusing and full of wonderful moments of accomplishment and joy. There is no perfect starting place. You have to just step up and start. You have to start ‘becoming’ a leader. And, there are three main things that you need to do to help you to ‘become’ a great leader.

Be willing to learn

It’s important to have an open mindset about leadership and what it means. Be willing to learn informally from others, including the people that you lead, and formally through leadership programs, articles and courses. The more information that does come in, the more you have to work with in the ‘becoming’. For example, the more you know about leadership theory, the better you might understand the kind of leader you are in certain situations. And, the more tools you have for communicating better or supervising others, the faster you will ‘become’ the kind of leader you want to be.

Be willing to experiment

It’s scary becoming a leader. We get a new title, more money, more power, and along with all of these things, higher expectations from more people. Not only do we feel our bosses are watching us but so are the people we are leading. It’s tempting to try to retreat into perfection. But as mentioned earlier, there is no such thing in leadership. It’s messy and complicated. So, commit yourself to trying things out and seeing what happens. That is how you will see what works and what doesn’t.

Be willing to pay it forward

To be a true leader means having an impact on others. It’s about guidance. It’s about coaching. It’s about helping others to bring their best selves to the work. We could even say that leading is about helping others to ‘become’ too. So, pay it forward. Foster a culture of learning and experimentation. Give your people room and permission to get it wrong. Help them to understand how they could have done better. And in time, you will have a whole team of leaders that are performing to their best ability and are engaged and excited by the work.

So now you know why you will never ‘become’ a leader. You will always be ‘becoming’... Don’t wait until you have the ‘perfect’ resume to step up. Do it now and start your journey!

Until next time,
Lianne

Lianne Picot is a leadership coach, trainer and speaker that helps new & aspiring leaders to become INSPIRING leaders. Lianne has worked in the nonprofit sectors in the UK, Ireland and Canada for over 25 years as a practitioner, Executive Director and CEO. She is a Certified Executive Coach and a Part-time Instructor at The Chang School, Ryerson University, teaching in the Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Management Certificate program. Lianne is also the creator of ‘The Leadership Leap’, a 12 week online leadership program that helps new & aspiring leaders to develop a leadership mindset and key competencies. Connect with Lianne at lianne@bluemorpho.co or find out more about her services at www.bluemorpho.co and www.theleadershipleap.net.

Playing politics with charities: Is unfettered political advocacy by charities a good thing?

March 20, 2019

On December 13, 2018, the Canadian government passed new legislation for the Income Tax Act that would allow charities to conduct unlimited political activities, provided those activities remained non-partisan and in service to the charity's mission.

This action came about three months after a landmark decision was made in an Ontario Superior court in the case of Canada Without Poverty v the Attorney General of Canada. The ruling gave charities the right to advocate beyond the old 10% limit that was previously the standard for political activities. The federal government made some initial noise about appealing the ruling. Then, it suddenly decided not to. CharityVillage covered that story in depth and you can read about it here.

Some experts and leaders in the sector were concerned that allowing what could amount to unfettered political advocacy by charities on government, could lead to a U.S.-style system wherein more established, deep-pocketed nonprofits could use their resources and connections to influence policy makers and tilt the charitable landscape in favour of larger, more organized entities.

The arguments for and against rage on, and the government is now taking all sides into consideration.

P-P-D-D-A-C, spells... confusion

On January 19, 2019, in order to move this file along and get to a resolution, the CRA issued Guidance Reference #CG-027. Though it sounds like the numerical designation of a droid class from the Star Wars fictional universe, in plain English, this is called the Public Policy Dialogue and Development Activities by Charities (PPDDAC) draft guidance document. It is, in all actuality, a pivotal file that is being analyzed by charities across the sector. The CRA has put it out there and solicited feedback from all interested parties, who have until April 23, 2019 to do so. Still, it is the current interpretation being used by the CRA in how charities can conduct their activities.

So how does it work?

According to the CRA draft guidance, a PPDDAC activity is described as "activities a charity carries on to participate in the public policy development process, or facilitate the public’s participation in that process. A charity can also transfer resources to another qualified donee to support the recipient’s PPDDAs. As long as a charity’s PPDDAs further its stated charitable purpose, the Income Tax Act places no limit on the amount of PPDDAs a charity can engage in." It’s unclear whether this could include or exclude certain political advocacy.

In a recently-released FAQ about the new changes, the CRA clarifies how, in their interpretation, this all pertains to charitable organizations activities going forward. The Agency states in its second bullet:

"The rules governing the political activities of charities have been amended to remove the quantitative limits on the resources a charitable organization or charitable foundation can devote to political activities that do not directly or indirectly support or oppose a political party or candidate for public office.* Similar amendments were made to the rules governing Canadian amateur athletic associations. The definition of 'charitable organization' in the Income Tax Act was also amended to clarify that, as is similarly required of a charitable foundation, a charitable organization must be constituted and operated exclusively for charitable purposes.

"Furthermore, the Income Tax Act was amended to specify that charitable activities include public policy dialogue and development activities that further a charitable purpose, and to ensure that public policy dialogue and development activities carried on by a charity in support of its stated charitable purposes are considered to be in furtherance of those purposes and not in furtherance of any other purposes.

"As a result of these changes, charities may now pursue their stated charitable purposes by carrying on unlimited public policy dialogue and development activities in furtherance of those purposes.”

[*Note that the rules prohibiting charitable organizations, charitable foundations and Canadian amateur athletic associations from devoting any part of their resources to the direct or indirect support of or opposition to a political party or candidate for public office remain in effect.]

It’s important to remember that this guidance isn’t law. However, it is guidance that is now usable for interpretation by courts. The fact that it was adopted as language at all by the CRA has irked some and pleased others.

On the "pleased" side...

In November 2018, Imagine Canada published a Q&A bulletin addressing concerns it was hearing from the public about the possibility that the CRA's new guidance would open the floodgates for the Canadian version of powerful lobby groups (or US-style so-called "super-PACS") that could unduly influence government and help elect politicians sympathetic to their causes.

Imagine's document assures readers that no such thing could occur.

"[T]here is no reason why a lobby group should obtain charitable status after these changes are made compared to before, if this group has political purposes, not charitable purposes," the organization writes. And with reference to "Super-PACS" it states:

"Super-PACs are organizations that have raised and spent billions of dollars in the US around elections to support or oppose political parties or candidates. They are not registered or organized as charities. The proposed [CRA] rules do not open the door to charities as Super-PACs in Canada because Canadian charities:

  • are not allowed to engage in any partisan activities;
  • face the same election spending limits as other organizations;
  • must dedicate all their activities to advancing charitable not political purposes.

"Election spending limits are imposed by the Elections Act. This will not change," according to Imagine Canada.

But some aren't so sure.

On the "none-to-pleased" side...

Canadian charity lawyer Mark Blumberg has spent considerable time and effort since last year, critiquing the guidance and the notion that charities should be able to spend unlimited resources toward advocacy and influencing policy around the nonprofit sector.

On both his Globalphilanthropy.ca blog and at appearances giving testimony in the Standing Senate Committee on Finance's Review of Political Activities for Charities last year, Blumberg has been blunt about his views on this seeming loosening of restrictions on charities and political activities. In a recent interview with CharityVillage, he reaffirmed comments he made to the committee.

"For over 30 years, we had rules that allowed charities to spend up 10 percent of their resources on non-partisan political activities connected with their objects," Blumberg told the Senate Committee. "The debate about charities and political activities has consumed a lot of space since 2011. The Liberal government has put forward legislation on October 25, 2018 that I think is quite dangerous [by allowing] Canadian charities to conduct unlimited political activities as long as they are non-partisan and connected with the objects of the charity. Unlike donations to candidates, which are capped, there are no caps on amounts that can be donated to a registered charity.

He continued: "I am afraid that allowing charities to spend 100% of their resources on political activities is not going to empower average Canadian charities to be more involved in political activities because they had the opportunity to spend up to 10% of resources under the previous rules but 99% of them did not even spend 1%. My concern is that this change is going to help a few very wealthy individuals or large companies with some very peculiar views to essentially dominate the political discourse in our country as has happened in the US”

Up for interpretation

It’s anyone’s guess as to how this new guidance will impact the sector and its activities long term. Time will tell, but in the meantime, the arguments for and against its adoption continue.

Andy Levy-Ajzenkopf is a professional writer living in Toronto. He can be reached at aajzenkopf@yahoo.com.

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 web sites and email addresses may no longer be accurate.

Why and how rituals build resilience in the nonprofit workplace

March 19, 2019

Why and how rituals build resilience in the nonprofit workplace - Last week I presented a session at the Nonprofit Technology Conference called “Activating A Culture of Resilience for Sustainable Impact,” with fellow NTEN board members, Ananda Leeke & Meico Whitlock as well as Carrie Rice. We each tackled a different aspect of resilience. I presented and facilitated a small group activity on rituals.

Career resiliency – building a better future

March 19, 2019

Career resiliency – building a better future - When I think of career resiliency, I think of my friend Molly, who applied nine times before she was promoted from a Customer Service Representative to a Learning Specialist. In the first interview, Molly was told she didn’t have the necessary education or experience. Instead of giving up, she asked for suggestions and immediately enrolled in the recommended university program.

New report shows pay equity problem persists in Canadian workplaces

March 19, 2019

Compensation for working Canadians still favours men, according to a new study by Leger Research commissioned by ADP Canada. Based on self-reported figures, men say they earn an average of $66,504 per year – 25.5% more than the reported average of $49,721 for women. This gap widens as it relates to additional compensation like bonuses and profit sharing, where men report annual earnings averaging $5,823 and women report an average of $3,912 – a 32.8% difference. The workforce also appears to be divided when it comes to the perception of their employer's practices around pay equity. Nearly 80% of men believe that men and women are compensated equally within their workplace, while less than two-thirds of women (62%) believe the same.

Although a gap – actual and perceived – persists, the Canadian workforce continues to apply pressure within their organizations to achieve parity, with nearly half of all workers (45%) saying they would leave their current employer if they found out that a colleague of equal standing received preferential compensation based on gender. With only 63% of executives indicating they believe men and women are equally compensated, it is clear that senior leadership teams recognize there is a pay gap issue; however, only 31% indicate pay equity is a priority within their organization.

Almost half of Canadian applicants don't meet skills requirements, but companies willing to train

March 19, 2019

In new research from global staffing firm Robert Half, HR managers in Canada said 45% of resumes they receive, on average, are from candidates who don't meet job requirements. In a separate survey of Canadian workers, 76% admitted they would submit for a role when they don't match all the qualifications. Luckily for applicants, 86% of HR managers reported their company is open to hiring an employee whose skills can be developed through training. In fact, 58% of employees have been offered a job when they didn't match the exact qualifications.

CRA announces changes to reporting requirements on political activities

March 19, 2019

The Canada Revenue Agency has annouced that, as a result of new rules on public policy dialogue and development activities (PPDDA), reporting requirements related to political activities have changed. Charities now have less to report for PPDDAs than they had for political activities. To reflect this change, the annual information return and the application to register will be revised for November 2019. Until then, the Canada Revenue Agency has posted detailed instructions to guide charities and applicants on how to report PPDDAs on these forms. As the legislative change is retroactive, the changes to the reporting requirements apply immediately to registered charities filing their information return for any given fiscal period-ends.

Government of Canada launches consultations on the National Strategy for Sustainable Development

March 18, 2019

In September 2015, Canada and all other 192 United Nation member States adopted the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which is a blueprint towards ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring equal opportunity for everyone by 2030. From March 15 until May 15, 2019, Canadians are invited to contribute their ideas to help shape the development of Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy which will create a common vision for Canada’s path forward. The Government of Canada wants to hear from Canadians on what sustainable development means to them, what they are doing to build a more sustainable, and equitable Canada, and what can be done to advance progress on the 2030 Agenda. Canadians are encouraged to take part in the online consultation by submitting their views, taking a poll, or voting on ideas.

The Small Nonprofit Podcast: What to expect in the philanthropic sector with Marina Glogovac

March 18, 2019

What are the trends affecting the philanthropic sector in Canada? How can we prepare our organizations to weather changes and thrive in the future? Guest Marina Glogovac, President and CEO of CanadaHelps joins the podcast to talk about their 2018 Giving Report and its implications for our sector. Together we rant about the challenges we are all facing and offer some ways to move forward.

Introduction to the Giving Report

CanadaHelps recently released their 2018 annual Giving Report, a public education tool designed to inform Canadians about trends and issues affecting the charitable sector. This year the report was focused on the “imminent funding crisis” for our sector.

CanadaHelps hopes both those in the charitable sector and the general public will pay attention to the alarming trends of giving in Canada so that we can take action now before it’s too late.

For instance, 30% of donations are at serious risk of exiting the charity over the next 10 years. You might be thinking, 10 years? Who cares right now?

When you combine this with an increasing need for services based on consumer and demographic trends, you’re faced with a collision of less funding that won’t satisfy the demand. Less available service means longer wait times and more stress on the organization - especially if they are dependent on direct giving from donors. These charities will feel stretched out thin to deliver, maintain and keep up with this demand.

Understanding the crisis our sector is facing

Giving is down across all age groups, in average gift amounts and the number of people donating.

Back in 2015, one in four people donated, then in 2016, one in five people donated. Just in those two years, participation went down from 25% to 20%. In addition, the average annual donations in Canada has decreased from $365 CAD to $343 CAD. Donors aged 55 and over are giving more money than the average donor - but this group is shrinking.

The next cohort, aged 45 to 46, replacing them is experiencing the largest decline in participation. Once you get into younger demographics, there is a completely different reality where they aren’t donating as much as their parents do. Add in your total annual revenue and you might start realizing that this doesn’t look too good for the future.

When we are faced with a crisis, most people “fight, flight or freeze”. The same is true of charities, and right now, most are just frozen. We can’t expect to get new results without doing new things. And we can’t prepare for the future by staying stuck where we are. This also rings true for our risk tolerance in charities and our need to focus on capacity building. We cannot be afraid to invest or things will never change.

The younger demographic is the future

Today the giving environment is complex and filled with younger people who value user-experience and have a different set of expectations we haven’t really seen before. Younger demographics need to be communicated with on different channels and are structured around influence and what causes they can relate to.

Millennials want to feel good and achieve a social good - and non-profit organizations can help them by making their case through effective storytelling on social media.

Charities were the original experts at storytelling to drive participation and resonate with the public, especially when it came to crowdfunding. Many corporations are copying and appropriating this language of storytelling and advocacy and using it for internal marketing purposes and employee engagement. Charities need to get better at storytelling again and rethinking their strategy around different online channels.

Let’s get digital

The fact is that we live in an era where younger people have fundamentally different preferences and that they are becoming the next target cohort.

The solution starts from within: charities need to invest with a huge sense of urgency into their own capacity. Everything and everyone is now online and mobile. Charities need to invest in digital literacy and digital transformation technology where they can take advantage of free access to technology and reach these younger demographics where they are.

Charities need to learn how to optimize their websites, systemize online donor acquisition and retention through their email strategy, enable Google and create a framework of key performance indicators. Nonprofits can leverage these new tools and technologies once they invest not only in the ability to deliver on the mission but in the staff who constitutes the charitable sector. When organizations build talent and expertise around these areas, they also improve their business skills and strategy as well as succession planning and too!

Listen to the full episode now on our Small Nonprofit Podcast landing page!

Subscribe & Review in iTunes

Are you subscribed to the podcast? If you’re not, we want to encourage you to do that today. We have even more great interviews coming and we don’t want you to miss an episode. Click here to subscribe in iTunes!

Now if you’re feeling extra inspired, we would be really grateful if you left us a review over on iTunes, too. Those reviews help other people find our podcast. Just open the podcast in iTunes, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let us know what your favorite part of the podcast is. Thank you!

Also listen at:

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Resources from this Episode

The Good Partnership Guide
CharityVillage Fundraising Articles
CanadaHelps
Giving Report
Imagine Canada's Charities, Sustainable Funding and Smart Growth Paper

Listen to more episodes of the Small Nonprofit Podcast

You are going to change the world. We can help. Running a small nonprofit is not for the faint of heart. With limited resources and fueled by a combination of caffeine and passion, small charity leaders are unsung heroes. The Small Nonprofit podcast, by CharityVillage and The Good Partnership, gives you down-to-earth, practical and actionable expert guidance on how to run a small nonprofit. From leadership and law to fundraising and finance, we’ve got you covered. Forget comparing your organization to the big shops, we’re creating a community of nonprofit leaders who are going to change the world, one small nonprofit at a time. Click here for more episodes!

Your Hosts

Cindy Wagman spent 15 years as an in-house fundraiser at organizations large and small before founding The Good Partnership – a boutique fundraising firm focused on small nonprofits. She has worked in social justice, health, arts, and education organizations. She has overseen and executed everything from annual campaigns to multi-million dollar gifts. She became a Certified Fundraising Executive in 2009 and received her MBA from Rotman at the University of Toronto in 2013.

With more than ten years of experience in development, staff and stakeholder management, strategic thinking, partnerships, board governance, and program development, Aine McGlynn is a diversely talented, self-starter committed to finding creative solutions in unexpected places. Aine holds a PhD from U of T and has a history of academic publishing, along with her decade of nonprofit sector experience. She is a practitioner-scholar focused on how to help nonprofits build their capacity to be successful at fundraising.

Fifteen strategies for nonprofits to recruit and retain millennial leadership

March 13, 2019

Nonprofits face unique challenges. Charitable giving is “down.” And competition for dollars has become far fiercer. Add to this the fact that they are competing with private industry for top leadership talent and the picture can begin to look mighty grim.

It need not be so. The newest generation entering the workforce over the past several years, the millennials, represents a great deal of talent, including leadership abilities, and may just comprise a pool of recruits that find nonprofits attractive.

The attraction of nonprofits for millennials

While many decry the values and work ethic of millennials, the truth is they have the potential to become highly valuable employees, if they find a work environment that fits their core beliefs and needs. Nonprofits have the potential to meet many millennial needs:

  • They want to work for companies and organizations that have more than just a profit motive as their top priority.
  • They value organizations that exhibit social responsibility. In fact, as consumers, they patronize companies that have committed to environmental sustainability and to making contributions to “causes” - elimination of poverty, social equality, diversity, etc.
  • They want to merge their work with their lifestyles, and nonprofits can often support this more than private industry.
  • They want their opinions to count and to be recognized for their contributions. And that recognition need not always be money.
  • They want to earn enough to live comfortably, but salary is not a top priority.
  • They want opportunities for growth and development in order to grow in their careers.
  • They want to work differently – and that includes flexibility of hours and even work space, something that may be difficult in a corporate environment with its bureaucratic policies and “rules.”
  • They want to see real purpose in the work they do. Nonprofits can often provide greater purpose than for-profits.

But the fact remains that nonprofits have a harder time recruiting and retaining millennials in a competitive market. So, just how can they recruit and retain the best and the brightest for the leadership roles they need?

Here are some strategies that may help.

Recruitment

1. Have a social media presence, especially on Facebook and Instagram. LinkedIn is a given, but the competition with private industry is stiff. It’s not necessarily that you will recruit on these platforms, but you do need a strong presence that can be viewed once a potential recruit is aware you have an opening. Millennials will check you out on social media.

2. If you are recruiting on college campuses, avoid the elite schools. Again, competition is rigorous.

3. Develop a strong volunteer/internship program. This will allow young talent to get to know your organization well and to participate in collaborative work with your other staff. Assign “mentors” who can develop and “groom” the most talented interns. In addition to demanding social responsibility, millennials want opportunities for professional (and personal) growth and development. If you are looking for millennial leadership, the best pace to begin is when they begin a relationship with your organization.

Hiring and onboarding

Once you have a pool of recruitment applicants, the interviewing and hiring process begins. There are two activities going on here. First, you are attempting to determine if the candidate has the skill set you need and is a “fit” for your organizational culture. Second, the candidate is sizing you up to see if you meet his needs and demands.

Presenting your organization to a millennial

You will want to speak to the following, if you can offer them:

  • The potential for growth within the organization and your commitment to promote from within.
  • Flexibility of working hours and spaces, if you are authorized to offer that
  • Benefits beyond retirement and health insurance. Do you offer optional benefits as some private organizations do? Perhaps a gym membership?
  • Millennials are social. They value working in collaboration with others where they can express their ideas and opinions openly. Emphasize the collaborative work and decision-making processes that you employ. The hiring manager for Pick Writers says, “We evaluate translation agencies and provide reviews for public consumption. Our processes require teamwork and lots of collaboration. What we find is that our millennial hires love working in teams and appreciate the fact that we allow them to write reviews that express their own evaluations and opinions.”
  • Speak to your professional development programs and activities. Millennials place a high value on working for an organization that will support and promote their skill development.
  • Don’t ever promise anything that you cannot deliver. It’s disingenuous, and your new hire will be disappointed. That disappointment can lead to looking for a job change early on.

Retaining millennials

Millennials are considered to be job-hoppers, fairly or not. And for older folks in the workplace, the fact that their average job tenure is 1.7 years is a bit shocking. The average cost of replacing a career employee can be as high as $15-20,000. It’s important, then, that you take steps to keep them. Given what you know they want, here are the logical provisions you should make.

1. Give them work that is meaningful and leads somewhere. If they feel that all of their tasks are simply process-oriented, they will lose interest quickly. They must feel that the work they do contributes to overall organizational goals.

2. Be realistic about their future career opportunities with your organization, but at the same time, define the steps for them so that they can see the potential. And assure them that you are willing to provide the professional development opportunities that will get them there.

3. Provide time for socialization at work that isn't necessarily work-related. Planning events and activities, and even including family members in those activities, is valuable to millennials.

4. Provide leadership responsibilities as soon as possible. This may be leading a project or some activity, not necessarily a managerial position. But it will give them a sense that they are an important and contributing part of the organization. Suppose, for example, that you have a millennial who is really tech-savvy. She can be provided the opportunity to train some of your older managers who may not be “up” on certain technologies.

5. Encourage them to volunteer outside of the work place and provide time with pay to do just that. They want to feel they are contributing to their communities too.

6. Offer work flexibility as much as possible. Millennials can be highly motivated to work well beyond a normal 8-hour work day if their work is meaningful. At the same time, they want to be able have some flexibility in determining their work hours. Fortunately, technology makes remote work far more possible today than ever before. If your millennials are producing and meeting deadlines, how important is it to you that they punch a time clock at work?

The wrap

Millennials know what they want in terms of work. And they know the types of organizations that they want to work for. Nonprofits can be an excellent fit for their values and belief systems and provide a work environment that they will find both meaningful and personally fulfilling.

Elisa Abbott is a freelancer whose passion lies in creative writing. She completed a degree in Computer Science and writes about ways to apply machine learning to deal with complex issues. Insights on education, helpful tools and valuable university experiences – she has got you covered;) When she’s not engaged in assessing translation services for PickWriters you’ll usually find her sipping a cappuccino with a book.

What is AI and how can it help your nonprofit organization?

March 13, 2019

Think AI and you think about every science fiction scenario gone awry, but more and more stories about artificial intelligence and the opportunities it presents are popping up in the media.

Perhaps you — or members of your board — are wondering whether there’s a place for artificial intelligence in the nonprofit sector. We spoke to sector experts to find out.

What is AI?

Throughout history, people have wondered whether human intelligence could be replicated. Could machines imitate behaviour previously only associated with human intelligence, such as learning, speech and problem solving? Could machines process information and learn? Essentially, artificial intelligence can be thought of as “a broad set of disciplines and technologies that perform tasks and solve problems once only possible by humans.”

Scientific investigation into this began in the 1940s and 1950s, but was more or less a failure. By the earliest 21st century, however, advances in computer hardware led to a rise in interest and funding in the development of artificial intelligence. The University of Toronto’s Machine Learning Lab was and is a pioneer in this field, which is now being used in every aspect of business and which is being described as the fourth industrial revolution, with a predicted revolutionary impact being on the same scale as the invention of the Internet or even electricity.

While the buzz is strong around artificial intelligence, so are some of the myths and predictions – whether it’s robots assuming human jobs or taking over the world. Dave Baran, VP, business development, CharityVillage, says that significant demystification needs to take place about AI. He suggests that first and foremost, we need to remember that AI is “a tool to help organizations become more efficient in certain functions.”

In a recent article, Tal Frankfurt, founder and CEO of Cloud for Good, breaks down the three functions AI does best:

  • Process automation
  • Cognitive insights from data analysis
  • Engaging with people

What this means, at least in part, is that AI can be used to do routine tasks, and especially those that require the computation of large amounts of data. As Frankfurt says, an AI is a machine and “does not get exhausted from running millions of scenarios or [being] interrupted by meetings.”

How is AI being used in the sector?

While historically Canada’s nonprofit sector has “invested poorly in…technology,” according to fundraising consultant Michael Johnston, it would be a mistake to think that the nonprofit sector is not already engaging with AI. Here are some examples:

  • Kids Help Phone uses a chatbot AI to use word and pattern recognition to identify users in more urgent need of aid.
  • PAWS is using modeling and machine learning to give park rangers information to predict and stop poachers’ actions.
  • eBird, a citizen-science birding organization, is using AI to identify hundreds of thousands of species crowd-sourced by their community of scientists, a task that would take decades to do manually.
  • Researchers are developing a computational model to predict extreme fire weather, a technology that will eventually be used in operational fire management.
  • Your organization may use Google analytics, Salesforce, CRMs or any other analytics program, which relies on AI to automate the collection and analysis of data. (AI is also behind the suggestions you receive on Netflix!)

Increasingly, nonprofits are making use of AI when it comes to fundraising. Wes Moon, cofounder and COO of fundraising AI company Wisely, says, “AI doesn’t look like wholesale change but makes work easier, automating and improving our intuition.” Wisely’s prediction engine replaces the difficult regression analysis that has been traditionally used to predict donor behaviour. Rather than replacing gift officers or existing CRMs, Moon says, AI allows them to be more effective.

Baran has also seen AI used effectively in job recruitment: where a recruiter might have to scan through thousands of resumes, a machine can be used to provide an initial screening for keywords, concepts, and rudimentary personality fit, as well as to offer an automated response to potential candidates.

Erin Crump, leader of strategic innovation for nonprofit benefits carrier Green Shield Canada , says when the company noticed that diabetes was becoming a high-cost category of disease, they partnered with a health analytics company in order to identify the variables that predict whether someone might become a complex diabetes patient. The goal of this process, Crump says, is to offer tools that encourage health and wellness to be able to change the trajectory of the disease as early as possible.

Opportunities

While Jason Shim, director, digital strategy, Pathways to Education and board member of the NTEN, notes we are not yet at a time when the average nonprofit has the resources for significant AI technology, there is also an argument to be made that AI can build an organization’s capacity.

A recent article claims: “Using AI in a mission-driven context could supercharge the capacities of the social change sector. Specifically, it has the potential to lower costs, improve quality, and broaden the impact of social change organizations. Think of it as transforming these organizations from a VW Beetle into the USS Enterprise.”

Benjamin Losman, acting communications manager, TechSoup Canada, agrees. “You don’t have to adopt AI but you can make your organization more efficient and pursue your mission more effectively in a way that is seamless and doesn’t drain time and resources.” He adds, “Setting up a data-informed culture allows you to see what you are doing well and what can be improved. In doing that, you are becoming more accountable to beneficiaries, board, staff, any stakeholder in achieving your mission well.”

The authors of the Stanford Social Innovation Review article also observe, “Capacity-building investments are often similar across organizations. One fundraising, accounting, or communications solution can, with a bit of tweaking, often meet the needs of many organizations. As a result, technology investments in capacity building can spread quite quickly through the nonprofit sector, and we expect this will be the case with machine learning-based solutions.”

Cautions

There are a number of legitimate reasons to be careful about how AI is developed and adopted. This is particularly true in a sector that works with vulnerable populations where data privacy is paramount. Losman says, “I’m not alone in being concerned about data privacy. People are calling data the new oil. Especially for organizations dealing with extra-sensitive data, there can’t just be mindless tracking and sharing of data, but a deep understanding of what will be done with that data.” Green Shield Canada, for instance, was diligent in protecting data privacy, anonymizing data and auditing the data security of their technology partners as if the systems were their own.

Losman raises another caution: “Nonprofit work is inherently human-based. There needs to be an element of humanity, regardless of your cause. There ultimately needs to be a person at other end of the line. One of the risks in automating everything, relying on AI in communicating, is stripping that necessary humanity away from interactions with beneficiaries because it can derail the way you do your work.”

Another concern is that of bias. Moon says, “Bias can negatively affect a charity’s performance, and even worse, could negatively affect a relationship if a bias is incorrect. We are trying to be careful about not putting too much weight on predictions based on old processes.” Shim adds, “The dream of AI was to build machines that can think like humans, but this can be tricky because humans are subject to our own biases. Yes, we can amplify processing and efficiency but we can also amplify human bias. If we are building these systems to amplify human thinking, we would be better served to make sure first that our thinking is diverse, equitable and inclusive.”

For James Kelly, founder and director, FaithTech, this last caution points to a need for developers and users to “take the morality of AI seriously because the implications are greater than we may suspect.” For Losman it means the sector needs to develop a code of conduct and high standards around the sharing of data. A number of organizations and coalitions are beginning to think about this ethical lens (see below). Other voices are strongly encouraging nonprofits to have a seat at the table where AI is being developed and discussed.

Rhodri Davies, head of policy, Charities Aid Foundation, writes that nonprofits and other civil society organizations “represent many of the most marginalised individuals and communities in our society; and since these groups are likely to be hit soonest and hardest by the negative impacts of AI, it is vital that the organisations representing them are in a position to speak out on their behalf. If they do not, then not only will those CSOs be failing to deliver on their missions, but also the chances of minimising the wider harmful effects of AI will be significantly reduced. And this is important: the implications of getting AI wrong are so far-reaching that decisions about its future cannot simply be left up to technologists.”

A final caution is recognizing that AI doesn’t just happen. Shim says, “Many nonprofits admire what Charity:Water does in terms of their use of technology to accomplish their mission. However, it is worth recognizing that they also have numerous software engineers on staff, which is not the case for most nonprofit organizations.” Organizations wanting to have digital impact, Shim says, need to hire technical staff or train for those skills. Moon notes that organizations that do prioritize data collection and AI analysis are increasingly becoming more successful, and potentially pushing smaller, less digitally inclined organizations out.

Where to go to learn more or get started

“Reach out to your extended network. If you have corporate partners in the tech space, talk with them about AI.” - Shim

Hang out with developers are hanging out in community. Participate in nonprofit hackathons. FaithTech Sprints are an example of this as are Faith Tech Labs.

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.

Skilled volunteerism: Why I volunteer and how to find a position that suits you

March 12, 2019

Skilled volunteerism: Why I volunteer and how to find a position that suits you - When I give skilled volunteerism presentations, I feel there is always a little bit of a disparity between how we talk about conventional volunteering as opposed to “skilled volunteering”. We frame skilled volunteering as this newfangled, shiny amazing thing.

The perils of hiring fast

March 12, 2019

The perils of hiring fast - Nothing like a tight labour market to force employers to make hiring decisions at a breakneck speed! Get the resume, talk to the candidate, ignore the niggling feeling you have that they may not be a fit but at least they have the skills, make the offer, and have them start on Monday. Whew!

Canada’s best diversity employers build respectful, inclusive workplaces

March 12, 2019

Canada’s best diversity employers build respectful, inclusive workplaces - A truly diversified work force starts from the top down. It means creating an environment where employees, regardless of their race, gender, disability, country of origin or sexual orientation, can thrive.

Survey: 1 in 3 job candidates removed from consideration following reference checks

March 12, 2019

In a new survey from global staffing firm Accountemps, senior managers in Canada reported they remove approximately one in three candidates (32%) from consideration for a position with their company after checking their references. Reference checks help employers get a stronger sense of whether a candidate will be a good fit, both in terms of skills and experience, as well as within the workplace culture. Specifically, senior managers surveyed said they were most interested in getting a view of the applicant's strengths and weaknesses and a description of their past job responsibilities and work experience.

Despite disengagement at work, 65% of employees plan to stay in their current jobs

March 12, 2019

A recent survey conducted by Achievers revealed that only 34.7% of workers plan to look for a new job in 2019, down drastically from 74% in Achievers' 2018 report. This is surprising given 70.1% do not consider themselves "very engaged." While this may seem like a positive trend, it actually indicates a major workplace complacency conundrum. For example, 18.6% of over 800 North American respondents haven't even decided if they'll look for a new job yet – the jury is still out. Key takeaways from the survey include:

  • Just 20.8% consider themselves "very engaged," while 16.3% are fully disengaged, and 31.3% say they're "engaged but feel my company could do more to improve employee experience."
  • When asked the main reason they would change jobs, however, only 14% said they'd leave because "I'm not engaged," meaning many employees are sticking around despite average to no engagement.
  • Over one-quarter of respondents (26%) ranked "recognition for my work" in their top three important factors for staying with their current employer, but nearly 1 in 5 (17%) said their manager/employer was "horrible – they never recognize my work" and the largest group of respondents (43%) ranked their manager/employer as just "okay" (recognizing them annually or quarterly at least).

Canadian child poverty reduction shows importance of family income supports

March 12, 2019

Canadian child poverty reduction shows importance of family income supports - With the Canadian federal government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau embroiled in the ongoing controversy of the SNC-Laving fraud and corruption affair, significant results from the government’s poverty reduction strategy have been pushed to the back pages.

The Small Nonprofit Podcast: What is SEO and how to get it right with Rachel Di Martino

March 11, 2019

So often we focus on how our website looks, but not how it functions. Specifically, a lot of small nonprofits we come across don’t understand how to get found online.

That’s where SEO is crucial. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, helps your website show up in the search results on Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines. In this episode, digital media specialist Rachel Di Martino, founder of Geek Unicorn breaks down what SEO is, what audience clues to look for and steps you can take to get that top result on search engines!

Ever wonder how certain websites show up higher up on the page when you search something up? Better yet, ever wonder how your organization can reach that coveted first place spot? There are ways your organization can become the best fit for the information people look for - and it starts with understanding what you want to do with your website.

Aligning with your audience’s goals

When your audience searches for something online, they are intending to look for specific information. They usually have a goal in mind or a question to answer. You need to understand those questions and answer them on your site.

Once you know their goals, you can more easily align them with your own goals and what journey you want to offer your website visitors.

Brainstorm and research the words and phrases people commonly would use to search for the information you provide.

Once you’ve come up with this list, Rachel recommends using Google Trends to view statistics and information about how often those words are searched and what other similar keywords people are using.

Don’t forget to also look into some of the questions you get asked a lot, popular news stories within your niche, and what people are talking and asking about related to your organization. These are great indicators of what people are searching for and what consistent themes your website should have.

)n-page and off-page SEO

Beyond understanding who your target audience is, you also need to know what they think about your work and how they want to find you. How can we do this? By focusing on the two distinct parts of SEO - “on-page” and “off-page.”

“On-page” are actions you can take to increase your SEO standing. This includes ensuring your website is desktop AND mobile friendly, especially since it’s common for people to search on their mobile devices. You also need to make sure you have “HTTPS://” in front of your URL to ensure that the website is secure. If you forget these two steps, other sites will be preferred over yours which will push your website further down the list.

Your overall content structure is also an important factor to consider. It’s easy to overload our websites with many categories and topics - but this can actually hurt us! Becoming an industry leader means being known for one overarching topic that covers 3-5 smaller key components. Be sure to strategize and upload new, relevant content to keep your audience coming back!

“Off-page” focuses on the clues that your audience leaves about their user experience. Rachel recommends using Google Analytics to see how long people are spending on your website, how many pages they clicked through and if they returned to the website. These clues can help you figure out what your audience is looking for and how your website can become more helpful for them. The better your user experience is, the more people will go to your website and the higher Google will rank you on the search page.

I’ve got my content...what now?

Now that you’ve got your content, it’s time to market it! Partner up with influencers that can refer their audience members to your website link or use your email newsletter or social media accounts to keep members up to date. Unsure of where to push your content? Meet your audience where they are.

You also want to monitor its performance and make sure that everything is running smoothly. Rachel starts with connecting your website to Google Analytics to find your most popular pages and making sure that they don’t accidentally get deleted or lost. Try speaking with a web developer to ensure that your website prioritizes page speed, that your website has HTTPS and SSL certificates installed and geo-locating microdata to ensure that your website is SEO friendly. And of course, you can check out Rachel’s SEO Cookbook for step-by-step tutorials for more help!

Listen to the full episode now on our Small Nonprofit Podcast landing page!

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Also listen at:

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Resources from this Episode

The Good Partnership Guide
CharityVillage Fundraising Articles
Google Analytics
Google Trends
The Small Nonprofit: DIY Marketing with Avery Swartz
Geek Unicorn Website
SEO Cookbook
Website Builders - Weebly and Wordpress

Listen to more episodes of the Small Nonprofit Podcast

You are going to change the world. We can help. Running a small nonprofit is not for the faint of heart. With limited resources and fueled by a combination of caffeine and passion, small charity leaders are unsung heroes. The Small Nonprofit podcast, by CharityVillage and The Good Partnership, gives you down-to-earth, practical and actionable expert guidance on how to run a small nonprofit. From leadership and law to fundraising and finance, we’ve got you covered. Forget comparing your organization to the big shops, we’re creating a community of nonprofit leaders who are going to change the world, one small nonprofit at a time. Click here for more episodes!

Your Hosts

Cindy Wagman spent 15 years as an in-house fundraiser at organizations large and small before founding The Good Partnership – a boutique fundraising firm focused on small nonprofits. She has worked in social justice, health, arts, and education organizations. She has overseen and executed everything from annual campaigns to multi-million dollar gifts. She became a Certified Fundraising Executive in 2009 and received her MBA from Rotman at the University of Toronto in 2013.

With more than ten years of experience in development, staff and stakeholder management, strategic thinking, partnerships, board governance, and program development, Aine McGlynn is a diversely talented, self-starter committed to finding creative solutions in unexpected places. Aine holds a PhD from U of T and has a history of academic publishing, along with her decade of nonprofit sector experience. She is a practitioner-scholar focused on how to help nonprofits build their capacity to be successful at fundraising.

2018 recipients of Nonprofit Employer of Choice (NEOC) Awards announced

March 11, 2019

Hilborn:ECS together with partners CCEOC Inc. and The Goldie Company congratulate the recipients of the fourth annual Canadian Nonprofit Employer of Choice (NEOC) Award. This year, 13 organizations from across Canada fulfilled program requirements to be named a Canadian Nonprofit Employer of Choice. The 2018 award recipients are:

  • Alberta Retired Teachers Association (AB)
  • Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation (ON)
  • Lakeland Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Society (AB)
  • BC Nonprofit Housing Association (BC)
  • The Ottawa Mission Foundation (ON)
  • UNICEF (ON)
  • Brantwood Community Services (ON)
  • Chilliwack Society for Community Living (BC)
  • CMHA - York Region (ON)
  • LOFT Community Services (ON)
  • North Hastings Community Integration Association (ON)
  • Woodview Mental Health and Autism Services (ON)
  • Participation House Durham Region (ON)

All winners successfully completed the NEOC Organizational Profile and Employee Commitment Survey achieving a minimum overall score of 75% to qualify for the award. In a quest to create "decent workplaces" thought leaders are debunking the myth that employees in the nonprofit sector are willing (and should be expected) to work in exchange for the opportunity to “do good.” Today, talented people can find a socially meaningful career outside a traditional nonprofit organization, which intensifies the competition for qualified staff. Applications to participate in the 2019 NEOC Award program are now being accepted at http://neoc.ca.

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