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Imagine Canada

Strong Charities. Strong Communities.

The Back to School Checklist

Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Notes from the CEO
School bus on the road

It’s that time. The end of summer, or at least, the traditional vacation period. Most schools resume after Labour Day and the ‘normal’ routine re-asserts itself. While I didn’t succeed in capturing the ever-elusive tan, this summer has provided a much needed time to read for pure pleasure and to subject my family to my latest barbeque experiments. This weekend we will drop the kids back at university and bring summer to a close.

And yet, September brings with it a sense of renewal. There’s the routine of what we know and then there are the new opportunities and challenges that come with beginning of each new school year. New pens, pads of paper (okay, I’m dating myself!), or today, new tablets and laptops (that’s better) are part of the fall ritual. It can be a very pivotal time in our lives. The same holds true for charities and nonprofits.

Canadians re-engage with community organizations and think about their volunteer time. Many charities, full of optimism, start end-of-year fundraising campaigns and eagerly welcome the influx of freshly recharged volunteers.

So, as you make your lists at the end of the summer, just a few things to consider adding in (perhaps with a gold star!)

The Imagine Canada and you checklist for charities

1. Reset the Agenda

This year is particularly interesting as we are already knee-deep in a federal election campaign. For Canada’s charities and nonprofits, this election presents an incredible opportunity. For a full year, charities have been front and centre in the media as it relates to political activity audits, commitments by funders and even the definition of charity. An election provides a tailor made opportunity to reset the agenda and infuse the debate with issues of importance to Canadians and the sector. With this campaign being of historic length, this is a wonderful opportunity to appeal to candidates and the media who will seek fresh content as the campaign (dare I say?) drags on!

It was clear during the recent Day on the Hill, that we still have a long way to go in making sure that our elected officials understand and recognize the size and scope of the sector and the profound difference being made every day by charities and nonprofits.

2. Amplify our Collective Voice

Imagine Canada intends to amplify the voice of the sector by highlighting the ideas and suggestions that organizations are making to the respective political parties. We would very much appreciate hearing about the concrete proposals your organization is making.

Together, we will be looking to create opportunities to showcase how the work and impact of the sector connect with issues of importance to Canadians and the election dialogue. Please put ‘send our election campaign policy goals to Imagine Canada’ on your list and mark it with a high priority tag!

Renewal is apparent in other areas well.

3. Set a New Course

Thanks to the participation of over 700 sector leaders, we will be presenting a new Strategic Plan to the Board of Directors later this month. Building off the success of the most recent plan, this document will set a course for game changing outcomes in the coming decade.

4. Check in on the State of the Sector

Sector leaders will be invited to hear more about the strategic directions early in the New Year as we kick things off with a ‘State of the Sector’ address. More to come!

5. Engage Canadians through the Media

As a follow up to the successful ‘Holiday Giving’ public relations effort last year, Imagine Canada will be creating another media campaign this fall. Coming right after Remembrance Day, we will be launching a public relations initiative based on the research we are compiling about the giving attitudes of wealthy Canadians. This will be incorporated into a message about things to consider when making a gift during the holidays. Stay tuned.

To endings and beginnings

With the dog days of summer now a fleeting memory, the excitement of crisp autumn days is before us. New backpacks. School supplies ready to be used. Stories of ‘walking miles to school – uphill –both ways’. Seeing old friends. Making new ones.

For the charitable sector this annual ritual provides a multitude of wonderful opportunities. From re-starting programs to welcoming back dedicated volunteers to holding your breath while the fall fundraising campaigns kick into gear, the connection to community is renewed.

We invite you to share the excitement! Let’s put ‘authentic collaboration’ on our respective checklists and help to propel the impact of our sector to a greater place of prominence and appreciation.

And, as always, I would be delighted to hear from you.

About the Author

Bruce MacDonald is the President & CEO of Imagine Canada.

Prior to Imagine Canada, Bruce served as CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada for ten years and before that as the organization’s Vice-President of Marketing. Bruce is bilingual, has led major change initiatives and developed long and innovative partnerships with corporations and other charities. Bruce has been active in many organizations, including two YMCAs, the Ontario Senior Games and Kinsmen and Kinette Clubs. He brings passion, knowledge and skill to everything he does. Bruce holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Sports Administration and a Masters in Management in the Voluntary Sector.

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