Excellent evaluations of The Search for a Common Voice, with guest speaker Stephen Faul of Imagine Canada, held Thursday, May 30, were more broadly reflected in the words of one participant who summed up the overall work of HNN to date as “stellar.” About 60 people participated in the event that focused on creating a “new narrative” for the nonprofit sector. Stephen’s presentation was followed by the superb TED talk by Dan Pallotta found on Youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfAzi6D5FpM
Nonprofits have learned over the years that funders, donors and the general community seem more concerned when they make “investment” decisions about the costs of what nonprofits do than the impacts that we create, and it is time for this to change. The value we bring to our communities is enormous and, if we were to remove all nonprofit activity from these same communities, life would be grim indeed: no organized amateur sports, no art galleries or museums, no meals-on-wheels, no supports and housing for marginalized and/or vulnerable people, no volunteer mentoring programs, no food banks or community gardens, and the list goes on and on. Services our communities take for granted would disappear.
These services, however, are provided by nonprofits who are superb stewards of their resources – over the years we have pared our administrative costs to the bone, cutting marketing and promotions and professional development (seen as essential expenditures in the private sector) to almost nothing. We often hear “I want 100% of my donation to go to the cause” showing that there is, in fact, a very poor public understanding that you cannot run an effective service without overhead attached. As one of the table groups at the event said: “you can’t operate a high performing organization out of your car," but somehow, because we serve people and/or work to improve the quality of life in our communities, we are expected to provide outstanding service for next to nothing.
A summary of the Table Group discussions related to the issues raised at the May 30th session can be found here. It is time to change the narrative…
Once again, the proclamation of the new Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act has been delayed and it will not come into effect until some time after January 1, 2014 (date yet to be determined.) The Ontario Nonprofit Network reports that there will now be new transition supports made available and that "The Government of Ontario has committed to review all of ONN’s proposed amendments and outstanding concerns during the next three years. In particular, Consumer Services Minister Tracey MacCharles has announced that a review of the Act’s enhancements of members’ voting rights has been made a priority." (The ONN's announcement of these changes can be accessed by clicking here.)
In a Shared Learning Session held February 21, 2013, co-convened by Joanna Matthews of Summit Housing and Outreach Programs and Becky Weber of the Milton Community Resource Centre, a group of Halton nonprofit leaders learned about the different processes used by 2 Halton organizations to bring their Bylaws into alignment with the requirements of the new act. HNN members can access a copy of their presentations in the Members only section of the website.
According to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, there is a 3 year transition period:
Existing not-for-profit corporations will have a three-year transition period once ONCA comes into effect to amend their incorporation and other documents to bring them into conformity with the Act. Refer to section 207 of ONCA.
The Ministry has also provided a checklist to assist in making the transition. Go to http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/onca4.aspx to access this checklist. You can access a copy of the new act here (downloaded from the e-laws website.)
HNN will be tracking sector response to the recent Federal Budget (2013) and keeping you updated here.
Imagine Canada has reacted favourably to one budget item intended to increase the number of Canadians who give to charity. You can access their reaction to the Federal Budget here.
As more analysis comes in, you can learn about it here.
After a poll of our members over the summer and early fall, HNN held its first 2 Shared Learning Sessions. In January, we focused on Inclusive Organizational Practices (real world application of principles in the day-to-day work of nonprofits) and in February on Processes for Compliance (learning from the different experiences of 2 nonprofits that have recently developed ByLaws that align with the requirements of the new Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act.)
More sessions are in development, so stay tuned...
The Federal Budget, released March 29, contains many initiatives. One which does not seem to have received much - if any - media attention is a commitment to introduce measures "to ensure that charities devote their resources primarily to charitable, rather than political, activities, and to enhance public transparency and accountability in this area." As is always the case, the devil is in the details, but this could have significant implications for advocacy depending on how "political" is defined. We will monitor this and keep you informed.
For more information on charitable status and advocacy, check out the presentation by Terrance Carter at our June 28, 2011 Learning Session on Advocacy: Advocacy/Political Activity and the Canada Revenue Agency.