-A +A

Imagine Canada

Strong Charities. Strong Communities.

2016 Annual Report

Imagine Canada: Getting into Step

This was the year Imagine Canada started to dance.

If last year was one of focus and sorting our priorities, 2016 was the year when the strategic planning and collaborative choreography of the previous years were aligned and Imagine Canada fell into step.

Letter from the leadership: living the strategy

Letter from the leadership: living the strategy

In 2015, Imagine Canada established a long-term Strategic Planning Framework based on the needs identified by the charitable sector. We identified four key areas in which our action can make a much-needed difference for our sector at a systems level. In 2016, we started rolling out the plans and delivering on the promises made in that Framework.

Under our new Framework, Imagine Canada is building on our history of success to move to the next step. We have aligned our financial and employee structures to fit our mission. We are clearly defining our plans and are refining the programs that will improve the working environment for organizations across the country. We’re listening.

In this report, you’ll learn about the steps we’ve taken in our first year of translating our Strategic Framework into a detailed plan. We’ll share the outcomes we’re seeking to achieve, and the progress we’ve made toward those outcomes in 2016. You’ll learn about: 

  • The networks and new voices we’re bringing together 
  • How we’re optimizing the quality of our work 
  • The important data and insights we’ve uncovered

Achieving systems-level change is a long-term process. The work we defined and implemented in 2016, along with our early milestones and results have started to position Imagine Canada to meet our ambitious goals.

~ Bruce MacDonald, President & CEO and Owen Charters, Chair, Board of Directors 

Elevate our excellence

Building trust in charities

Canadians need: To feel trust and confidence in the charities they support.

Charities and nonprofits need: A way to quickly signal their organization’s excellence, credibility and trustworthiness. 

This signal is our Standards Program.

  • We developed and unveiled a new Standards Program Trustmark along with a Trustmark Brand Kit to help participating organizations promote their accreditation.
  • We grew the Standards Program, with 231 organizations accredited by the end of 2017.
  • We surveyed Standards Program participants. Among survey respondents, 75% indicated that they thought accreditation:
    • Had increased the professionalism and credibility of their organization
    • Led to more effective board governance
    • Helped them identify and reduce organizational risk
  • We ran the Standards Program’s first paid digital ad campaign to raise awareness of the Trustmark and accredited organizations.

Seventy-two percent of survey respondents said accreditation increased public trust in their organization. - 2017 Survey of Standards Program participants

Read more about how the Standards Program improved the sustainability of Canadian Feed the Children at all levels of the organization.

Ensure our relevance

Gathering the data charities need

Charities and nonprofits need: More data and knowledge to make decisions and understand the landscape in which we operate, and in which we’ll be operating in the future.

This is why we take the lead on research.

Imagine Canada has a long-standing track record of providing primary research. We ensure the relevance of our sector by keeping it connected to information that helps leaders and practitioners to make the best possible decisions. This is why we placed significant emphasis on conducting research and sharing our findings in 2017.

  • Through the qualitative and quantitative research in our Personal Philanthropy Project, we are seeking to reawaken philanthropy among affluent Canadians. In 2017, we released two papers: the first revealed important insights about the giving behaviours of Canadians whose earnings are above average. The second paper shed light on possible steps charities can take to “move the dial” in giving attitudes and behaviours.
  • Partnering with London Benchmarking Group Canada, we published A Canadian Opportunity. In this Corporate Community Investment Leadership Report, we took stock of trends within the Canadian context and ways that business leaders are leveraging community investment as an opportunity to drive innovation and nurture vibrant workforces.
  • Our Young People & Nonprofit Work report looked at the experiences, aspirations and challenges young people face as they explore a career in the nonprofit sector. The report included recommendations for nonprofits on how to support young workers, who are essential to the long-term sustainability of the sector. 
  • We were contracted by the Rideau Hall Foundation to prepare  30 Years of Giving in Canada, a report on trends in charitable giving. In the Fall of 2017, we released an executive summary of the report, which is part of the Foundation’s Giving Behaviours Project, with the full report released in early 2018.

PPP 1PPP 2Corporate Investment    


“You only have so many arrows in your quiver and you want them to hit the bullseye without wasting time, effort and money.” -  Paul Evered, Gastrointestinal Society    

Read more about how they use Grant Connect. 

Amplify our voice

Improving Canadians’ perceptions of charities

Canadians need: A shift in mindset from overhead and rankings to impact and effectiveness – so they can better understand the true value of social impact organizations.

This is why we amplify the sector’s voice.

Reframing the public conversation about charities and nonprofits is challenging and in 2017, we identified a need to better understand the key drivers of current opinions and attitudes. While we develop and reframe the work itself, we continue to help social impact organizations to speak with a unified voice, delivering messages that communicate our impact and value as a sector.

  • We used our 2017 Holiday Giving Campaign to share the results of our Raising Charitable Children national survey. The online study found that parents broadly recognize the value of raising children to be kind and generous and that the majority of parents surveyed think:
    • Children or teenagers who regularly give to charities are more likely to become happy, caring adults.
    • It’s important that children and teenagers understand charitable giving benefits everyone by making communities stronger.
  • The campaign resulted in 199+ national and local media hits and an estimated reach of 10.5 million impressions.

“We have been privileged to work with the people of Saskatchewan and are proud to work with organizations such as Imagine Canada to make positive things happen in Canadian communities.” - Tracey Mucha,  Access Communications Co-operative

Read more about their Caring Company story. 

Influence our environment

Shaping policy around social impact

Charities and nonprofits need: To work collectively when advocating for public policy change that affects our sector.

This is why #WeAdvocate for the sector.

Imagine Canada is uniquely positioned to play a leadership role in positively influencing the regulatory environment in which charities and nonprofits operate. In recent years, we have moved to a network approach to public policy, with significant progress in 2017.

  • We continued to roll out more policy working groups, advancing work in the areas of political activity reform, youth employment in the sector, data, and Accounting Standards.
  • Early in 2017, the Senate held an Open Caucus on the future of the sector at which our Chief Economist spoke, and which was followed up with the formation of a Senate Special Committee, studying the effects of government laws and policies on charities and nonprofits.
  • At our 2017 Charities Day on the Hill on October 17, we kept the momentum going, with more than 40 charity and nonprofit leaders from across Canada gathered in Ottawa to lobby MPs, Senators, senior officials, and cabinet ministers on issues that affect us all. The very next day, Senator Ratna Omidvar asked a question in the Senate, concerning the timing of the government’s response to the advisory panel recommendations on political activity reform; this initiated forward movement that continues to carry on into 2018.

Read more about United Way Canada’s role in our 2017 Charities Day on the Hill and why it matters.


Building our capacity

Imagine Canada needs: Stability and sustainability to effectively pursue our mission over the long term.

This is why we are strengthening our operations.

Our funding environment continues to be challenging, so in 2017 we continued moving to a greater focus on our income-earning services, the Caring Company Program, Grant Connect, and the Standards Accreditation Program. We have been investing in these social enterprises to provide increased value to our stakeholders.

[insert updated graphic depicting revenue generating by social enterprise]

  • In the summer of 2017, we began renewing our Caring Company program for companies that demonstrate leadership and excellence in community investment. Updates to this program included new promotional benefits, the release of our first corporate community investment report, a new brand Trustmark, as well as a new online application and renewal process for these companies who help to set the standard for corporate community investment.
  • We continue to improve the reliability, technology and the data behind Grant Connect to increase the value of the service and the success of our users. When an outage affected our Grant Connect users in January of 2017, the experience tested and ultimately strengthened our teamwork and commitment to customer success. We thank our customers for their loyalty and understanding as we employed resources across Imagine Canada to quickly resolve the issue and for supporting us while we ensured integrity, transparency, and close collaboration with users was present throughout the process. 

While this report highlights the key accomplishments and activities of 2017, a great deal more foundational work was being done to support our sustainability and our long-term goals. For example, we refreshed our brand to reflect the forward-focused vision of our organization and the charitable sector. We convened our Sector Champions, an enhanced level of Imagine Canada membership for leaders in our sector. And we secured a new stream of core funding from an anonymous donor: a critical enabler of our plans for financial stability and mission accomplishment.

This is an exciting time for the social impact sector and for Imagine Canada. We thank everyone who has been working together, gathering the force we need to make systems-level change.

Financial Summary

The information below for the year end December 31 is derived from the financial statements for 2017, which were audited by Collins Barrow Toronto LLP. Our complete audited financial statements and T3010 Registered Charity Information Return, as filed with the Canada Revenue Agency, are available at our Annual Reports section.


Our People: Intro

The Rhythm of Our Organization

We are only able to carry out our mission through the talent of the individuals we attract.

The hard work of our staff, board and volunteer have enabled us to achieve something remarkable. At the heart of all our actions within the sector is the desire to make sure we are a place people want to be, so we’re creating that culture. Each person owns part of the strategy: our people are central to our success.


  • Karen Alebon
  • Cathy Barr
  • Jennifer Barrett
  • Michele Benoit*
  • Danielle Brown
  • Lynn Chambers
  • Emily Cordeaux*
  • Brittany Fritsch
  • Alex Gardner
  • Marnie Grona
  • Bill Harper
  • Devon Hurvid
  • Erica Ip
  • Bernadette Johnson
  • David Lasby
  • Julie Lebel
  • Bruce Macdonald
  • Haley MacDonald
  • Joan Mitchell
  • Nicole Mitchell
  • Nisha Oliver
  • Olena Panfyorov
  • Margot Porter*
  • Natalie Rekai*
  • Bill Schaper
  • Cornelia Schrecker
  • Galina Shapiro
  • Lindsey Vodarek


Board of Directors

  • Jan Belanger *
  • Owen Charters
  • Marlene Deboisbriand
  • Derek Gent
  • Katherine Hay
  • Darlene Jamieson
  • Refat Jiwani
  • Pascal Lépine
  • Margaret Mason
  • Kevin McCort *
  • Allan Northcott
  • Mike Pedersen
  • Peter Robinson
  • Lee Rose
  • Martha Tory *
  • Lynne Toupin
  • Stéphane Vaillancourt *
  • Willy Van Klooster *


Sector Pulse

  • Beth Bilson
  • Wanda Brascoupe Peters
  • Peter Broder
  • Malcolm Burrows
  • Owen Charters
  • Debbie Douglas
  • Lois Fine
  • Gordon Floyd
  • Juniper Glass
  • Barbara Grantham
  • John Gregory
  • Jason Kelly
  • Tricia Khan
  • Myna Kota
  • Denis Lalonde *
  • David LePage
  • Susan Lewis *
  • Susan Manwaring
  • Janice Margolis *
  • Teresa Marques *
  • Clare Northcott
  • Brad Offman *
  • Denise Ouellette
  • Susan Phillips
  • Patti Pon
  • Vinod Rajasekaran *
  • Bobby Sahni
  • Julia Sánchez
  • Dick Vollet
  • Jillian Witt
  • Sharon Wood
  • Tara Worme
  • Leslie Wright

* Left Imagine Canada in 2017

Alignment: 2016 Annual Report

Published by: Imagine Canada | T 416 597 2293 | F 416 597 2294

Copy Editors: Marnie Grona, Natalie Rekai, Cornelia Schrecker | Author: Marlene Oliveira | Design: Emily Rea, Natalie Rekai | French Translation: Solange Beaulieu

All rights reserved. The content of this electronic publication may be reproduced, in whole or in part, by charitable and nonprofit organizations for non-commercial use and where Imagine Canada is acknowledged as the original publisher including year of publication, publication title, and original document source (electronic publication link or website link). Otherwise, no part of this report may be reproduced without prior written agreement from Imagine Canada.

Copyright ©2017 Imagine Canada

Our National Partners

  • great west life
  • Lawson Foundation
  • Muttart Foundation
  • RBC Foundation
  • Suncor
  • TD Bank
  • investors group

Learn more about our National Partners and other supporters.

Charitable Registration Number: 119218790 RR0001