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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 

Strategic Plan

In 2015, we developed a 7-10 year Strategic Framework with a view to creating a system for Imagine Canada and sector leaders, in which:

  • We will be able to measure and effectively communicate the value and impact of the programs we offer.
  • We will broaden the spectrum of opportunities available to charities and nonprofits to create financially sustainable business models.
  • We will understand and adapt to the powerful forces shaping Canadian society. 

To accomplish this vision, we articulated four key mission areas:

  • Elevate our excellence
  • Amplify our voice
  • Ensure our relevance
  • Influence our environment

We understand that this work requires discipline and complete alignment with our mission in terms of our resources, our people and our processes, and we’re doing the behind-the-scenes work necessary to optimize our operations.

Elevate our excellence

The game-changing outcome we’re seeking:

A Canada where charities and nonprofits are operating at the highest level of governance and deliver the highest quality programs.

What we’re putting in place to get there:

A stronger and expanded accreditation program for charities.

Standards Program

In 2016, we invested in research and planning to strengthen and build awareness of our accreditation program for charities, the Standards Program. We have made internal changes that will allow us to scale and are moving into a phase of rapid growth.

  • As the Standards Program reached its fifth year, we concluded the program’s launch phase, with over 200 organizations now accredited.
  • The first group of participating organizations to be accredited (in 2012) will start the re-accreditation process in 2017.
  • In 2016, we welcomed Habitat for Humanity into our program for accreditation of federated groups (piloted in 2015); part of our strategy to increase participation in the program. 

Number of accredited organizations; 2012 - 2016

Public opinion research

Our 2016 public opinion survey revealed a gap between the level of transparency that Canadians want and what they are currently seeing from Canada’s charities. However, 72% of survey respondents said they were more likely to trust and have confidence in charities that have achieved third-party accreditation.

Sponsor banner

Response to our Imagine Canada Standards Accreditation by our stakeholders (donors, hospital executives, community leaders) has been incredibly positive. This has provided credibility to our organization and has improved our alignment with our hospital.

MELANIE ADAMS – President and CEO, Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation

Ensure our relevance

The game-changing outcome we’re seeking:

A sector-wide operating culture that sees organizations use more data, information, research and knowledge to make wise decisions.

What we’re putting in place to get there:

Primary research to uncover information and data that all charities need, and which allow us to proactively understand the future of the sector as a whole.

Charities, Sustainable Funding and Smart Growth:

This 2016 paper by our Chief Economist looked at trends in the charitable and nonprofit sector, Canada’s looming social deficit and how, projecting to 2026, these will manifest over time in unmet needs, longer waiting lists, reduced social services and the general erosion of quality of life in Canada. Download

Political Activities of Charities:

In 2016, we conducted a Sector Monitor survey to understand the political activities of charities. The survey revealed that most charities are involved in some form of public policy activity (67%), including 31% involved in political activities: substantially more than commonly believed. The data obtained through this survey, while of interest to all sector organizations, has already informed our own public policy and program work (see Influence our environment below). Download

Youth Employment Research:

We conducted qualitative interview-based research to shed light on the experiences of young people seeking work in the sector, and the sector’s ability to attract and retain young workers. This work included recommendations for organizations seeking to recruit and retain young people.* Download

Personal Philanthropy Project:

We conducted quantitative and qualitative research to understand how to increase charitable giving among affluent Canadians.* Download

*Published in 2017

Rapidly increasing demands and slower economic growth will stress Canada’s ability to sustainably finance the sector’s efforts…both the nonprofit sector and governments [must] broaden policy horizons, think more in the long term, embrace a wider range of financial and other options.

BRIAN EMMETT – Chief Economist for Canada’s Charitable and Nonprofit Sector

Amplify our voice

The game-changing outcome we’re seeking:

Canadian citizens have an improved perception of social impact organizations and organizations have the ability to speak with a unified, amplified voice to key audiences.

What we’re putting in place to get there:

A movement to shift the mindset of Canadians from overhead and rankings to impact and effectiveness.

Public Facing Initiative:

In 2016, we began laying the groundwork for a movement to change deep-rooted beliefs and perceptions about charities and nonprofits. We call this movement our Public Facing Initiative and while we acknowledge it will take time, the work has begun and already guides our key communications activities.  

Building our communications network:

To amplify our voice, we need to broaden our reach and provide high quality content. To this end, we successfully implemented a guest blogging strategy in 2016 that has expanded our network of contributors and increased the number of organizations we can reach through this publication.

Cumulative blog views; 2016 vs. 2015

Holiday Giving Campaign:

With a message of professionalizing the sector, our holiday giving PRcampaign focused on our public opinion survey findings (see Elevate our Excellence, above) regarding how accreditation affects Canadians’ perceptions of charities and their giving decisions.

The campaign resulted in 140+ media hits in local and national outlets for an estimated 30.7 million media impressions. 

Imagine Canada is in a unique position to offer leadership in reframing this discussion because our stakeholders are charities themselves, and our mission is to support and strengthen them.

MARNIE GRONA – Director, Marketing & Communications

Influence our environment

The game-changing outcome we’re seeking:

A “social impact lens” is applied when public policy is being created.

What we’re putting in place to get there:

A major shift in how we carry out our proactive public policy activities with greater opportunity for charities and nonprofits to participate collectively.

Political Activity Working Group:

To mobilize the collective strength of the sector in public policy, in 2016 we piloted a working group model for policy development. Thirty-seven organizations responded to our call for participants in our first working group on the issue of political activity. Following this pilot, we struck a second group, which is looking at youth employment in the sector.

Day on the Hill:

In October of 2016, we held our second Day on the Hill to advocate for a better operating environment for charities and to show Parliamentarians the role the sector plays in communities across Canada. With the participation of 40 charity leaders, we held 48 meetings with MPs, Senators, political staff and senior officials to talk about legal and regulatory reform, organizations’ data needs and grant and contribution reform.

CEGN is appreciative for the strong role that Imagine Canada played in the recent political activities consultation, both in terms of the development of its own excellent brief for the panel and for its role in galvanizing other organizations to make their own submissions.

PEGI DOVER – Canadian Environmental Grantmakers’ Network


The game-changing outcome we’re seeking:

Imagine Canada is an effective sector organization, with the capacity and resources to aggressively pursue its mission.

What we’re putting in place to get there:

Re-aligned Imagine Canada finances, with a focus on long-term sustainability.

Imagine Canada social enterprises:

Recognizing their importance to a sustainable, diversified, profitable portfolio of revenue streams, we continue to invest in the development of our three social enterprises: the Standards Program (see Elevating our Excellence above), Caring Companies and Grant Connect. Grant Connect, our philanthropic research database, marked its 50th anniversary in 2016, which we celebrated with in-person Sector Social events in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.

Percent of Imagine Canada’s revenue generated by social enterprise; 2014-2016

Retiring programs:

Because we are committed to doing only those activities that are in alignment with our strategy, in 2016 we retired three programs: Charity Focus, Quick Prep and the Ethical Code.

Financial Summary

The information below for the year end December 31 is derived from the financial statements for 2016, 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
  • Lynn Chambers
  • Emily Cordeaux
  • Marieke Dufresne *
  • Stephen Faul *
  • Brittany Fritsch
  • Alex Gardner
  • Ann Gratton *
  • Marnie Grona
  • Bill Harper
  • Devon Hurvid
  • Erica Ip
  • Bernadette Johnson
  • David Lasby
  • Julie Lebel
  • Bruce Macdonald
  • Haley MacDonald
  • Rohit Mehta *
  • Joan Mitchell
  • Nicole Mitchell
  • Nisha Oliver
  • Olena Panfyorov
  • Margot Porter
  • Mary Ann Quinit-Ngoy *
  • Amy Rector *
  • Natalie Rekai
  • Bill Schaper
  • Cornelia Schrecker
  • Galina Shapiro


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 2016

Our Supporters

Imagine Canada donors, sponsors and funders not only make our work possible financially, but in supporting us, they are our dance partners. Thank you.

Corporate / Business Sponsors

  • BMO
  • Carters Professional Corporation
  • EY
  • Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life *
  • Hydro One Inc.
  • Investors Group *
  • KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.)
  • KPMG
  • Miller Thomson LLP
  • Spire Philanthropy
  • Sun Life Financial (Sun Life Assurance Comapny of Canada)
  • TD Bank Group *
  • Telus

As well as the many participants in Imagine Canada’s Caring Company Program, whose fees help to support our work.


Foundation / Charitable Supporters

  • The Agora Foundation *
  • Anonymous
  • Calgary Foundation
  • Carthy Foundation
  • The Counselling Foundation of Canada
  • The Lawson Foundation *
  • The Max Bell Foundation *
  • Metcalf Foundation
  • The Muttart Foundation *
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada Foundation
  • RBC Foundation *
  • Suncor Energy Foundation *
  • United Way Toronto
  • The Winnipeg Foundation

As well as the many Foundations, Charities and other nonprofits who are Grant Connect subscribers, Standards Program participants, Sector Champions or members, whose fees help to support our work.

* Imagine Canada National Partners


Friends of Imagine Canada

  • Cathy Barr
  • Owen Charters
  • Bill Harper
  • Refat & Dolat Jiwani
  • Marcel Lauzière
  • Bruce & Heather MacDonald
  • Susan Manwaring 
  • Margaret Mason
  • Mr. & Mrs. N McGugan
  • Mike Pedersen
  • Peter Robinson
  • Georgina Steinsky
  • Lynne Toupin
  • Dominic Wong



Imagineers are the volunteers and contributors who have donated their time and expertise to Imagine Canada.

  • Brittany Andrew
  • Manuel Arango
  • Janet Austin
  • Sara Austin
  • Ann Barnard Ball
  • Jacques Bérubé
  • Beverly Blanchard
  • Alison Bledsoe
  • Mark Blumberg
  • Erin Boudreau
  • Susan Bower
  • Carmen Boyko
  • Guy Bradbury
  • Geoff Braun
  • Linda Brazier Lamoureux
  • Richard Bridge
  • Peter Broder
  • Rhae Ann Bromley
  • Trish Bronsch
  • Dan Brunette
  • Barry Bussey
  • Michelle Campbell
  • Bob Canuel
  • Robin Cardozo
  • Owen Charters
  • Queenie Choo
  • Vincenzo Ciampi
  • Suzanne Clark
  • Beth Clarke
  • Jesse Clarke
  • Michelle Coombs
  • Amy Coupal
  • Denise Cumming
  • Karen Dade
  • Claude David
  • Lou Del Gobbo
  • Rob Donelson
  • Christopher Dougherty
  • Pegi Dover
  • Sydney Ducharme
  • Amber Dukart
  • Ian Edward
  • Derek Evans
  • Iris Fabbro
  • Peter Faid
  • Michael Farris
  • Stephen Faul
  • Heather Fleming
  • Gordon Floyd
  • Marcy Fogal
  • Tracy Ford
  • Scott Forfar
  • Darlene Frampton
  • Sid Frankel
  • Eva Friesen
  • Rebecca Galloway
  • Derek Gent
  • Marina Glogovac
  • Jason Goertzen
  • Rachel Gouin
  • John Graham
  • Cindy Grant
  • Nathan Grasse
  • Mario Gravelle
  • Tim Gray
  • Michael Grogan
  • Arla Gustafson
  • Sharilyn Hale
  • Jacqueline Hall
  • Debbie Hantusch
  • Renée Hébert
  • Jeanette Heywood
  • Justin Ho
  • Jennifer Holmes-Weier
  • Catherine Jagdeo
  • Refat Jiwani
  • Bill Johnson
  • Carl Juneau
  • Graham Kelsey
  • Debra Kerby
  • Amy Kishek
  • Sandi Kiverago
  • Myna Kota
  • Carolyn Laba
  • Paul Lacap
  • Alain Laurendeau
  • Marcel Lauzière
  • Danielle Leguard-White
  • Michael Lenczner
  • Joelle Lewis
  • Ben Liadsky
  • Len Lifchus
  • Raine Liliefeldt
  • Kathy Lilyholm
  • Joanne Linzey
  • Lisa Litz
  • Sara Lyons
  • Ruth MacKenzie
  • Kathy Magee
  • Patrick Manley
  • Tracey Mann
  • Susan Manwaring
  • Jane Marco
  • Teresa Marques
  • Daniel Marquez
  • Vincent Martineau
  • Margaret Mason
  • Tara Mazurk
  • Kevin McCort
  • Don McCreesh
  • Elizabeth McFaul
  • Ross McGregor
  • Sharon McIntyre
  • Micheline McKay
  • Jessica McKeachie
  • Holly McLellan
  • Andrea McManus
  • Keith McNally
  • Noreen Mian
  • Suanne Miedema
  • Gabe Miller
  • Leon Mills
  • Shawn Mitchell
  • Lyndsay Montina
  • Tammy Moore
  • Luce Moreau
  • Bill Morris
  • Susan Morris
  • Scott Mullin
  • Larry Murray
  • Andy Murrie
  • Joan Nandlal
  • Monique Newton
  • Vyda Ng
  • Jamie Niessen
  • Mariana Nimara
  • Allan Northcott
  • Jacline Nyman
  • Marlene Oliveira
  • Leslie Olsen
  • Daniel Overall
  • Glen Pearce
  • Hilary Pearson
  • Mike Pedersen
  • Lili-Anna Pereša
  • Susan Phillips
  • Deborah Pike
  • Jody Rathgeber
  • Lucie Rémillard
  • Sidney Ribeaux
  • Mehvish Rizvi
  • Peter Robinson
  • Janet Rock
  • Lee Rose
  • Ann Rosenfield
  • Penelope Rowe
  • Bobby Sahni
  • Julia Sanchez
  • Yves Savoie
  • Katherine Scott
  • Andrea Seale
  • Pamela Seto
  • Rann Sharma
  • Heather Simpson
  • Keith Sjogren
  • Isabella Smejda
  • Jerry Smith
  • Scott Smith
  • Marnie Spears
  • Dave Spedding
  • Paula Speevak
  • Jeff Surridge
  • Shawna Sylvester
  • Ming-Young Tam
  • Vandana Taxali
  • Cathy Taylor
  • James Temple
  • Stephen Tile
  • Sheila Tilotta
  • Anne Tinker
  • Martha Tory
  • Lynne Toupin
  • PJ Vankoughnett-Olson
  • Tracey Vavrek
  • Dick Vollet
  • Maryn Wallace
  • Neil Watt
  • Kristine Webber
  • Beth Weintrop
  • Barb Willet
  • Shirley Wilson
  • Sharon Wood
  • Bob Wyatt

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