On May 13 and 14, 2015, Imagine Canada along with nine other sector organizations and two private sector sponsors piloted a Charities’ Day on the Hill event. Roughly 35 charity leaders and board members were involved. The Hill Day was modest in scale to test our ability to speak with a common voice as well as our ability to organize such an event.
It was an opportunity to work together to raise the profile of the charitable and nonprofit sector on Parliament Hill. We are after all, a major contributor to Canadians’ quality of life and Canada’s economy! The event also helped us to build relationships with Parliamentarians (as well as their staff) and served as a way to provide input into federal public policy prior to the federal election.
This was a terrific way to listen, learn, and share this sector’s impact and potential, and demonstrate what’s possible. Vinod Rajasekaran, Board Member, Community Foundations of Canada
Charities Day on the Hill Pilot Participants
Association of Fundraising Professionals, CanadaHelps, Canadian Association of Gift Planners, Canadian Environmental Grantmakers’ Network, Community Foundations of Canada, Imagine Canada, MaRS Discovery District, Philanthropic Foundations Canada, United Way – Centraide Canada, and Volunteer Canada. Private sector partners were Spire Philanthropy and Deloitte.
Three components of the Charities’ Day on the Hill pilot
- Participant Briefing and Advocacy Training
To help participants prepare for their meetings, Imagine Canada hosted an evening session at Hub Ottawa, and, along with the Association of Fundraising Professionals, provided advocacy training and a briefing on key messages.
- Meetings with Parliamentarians
Over the course of the day, groups of four to five participants met with 27 Senators, Members of Parliament, and political staffers on Parliament Hill.
- An evening reception on the Hill
The reception, held in the Parliamentary Dining Room, sponsored by Member of Parliament, Peter Braid, and financially supported by Deloitte, provided one last opportunity for participants to informally connect with Parliamentarians and their staffers.
Spectacular day on many levels: working together, positive meetings, our own evolving clarity about our common messages, and our collective optimism about what we can accomplish moving forward. Paula Speevak-Sladowski, President and CEO of Volunteer Canada
Overall, Parliamentarians were very receptive to the key messages we presented. Several Parliamentarians encouraged us to follow-up with specific “asks”. We’ve since provided them with a platform statement that could inform party platforms in advance of the 2015 federal election.
Great start — now let’s build this into a ‘not-to-be-missed’ annual event both for our sector and parliamentarians. Bill Morris, National Director of 211 Canada & Public Policy, United Way – Centraide Canada
Imagine Canada heard repeatedly from Parliamentarians and sector participants alike that the Charities’ Day on the Hill event should be held annually. We have already heard from organizations that are keen to participate in future Hill Day events. So, stay tuned for our next collective effort to turn up the volume in Ottawa and engage more charity leaders and Board members from across the country.
In the meantime, we’ve prepared a planning guide with our key learnings that may be helpful for those of you looking to organize your own advocacy days. Many of our learnings will apply to meetings organized with municipal, regional, or provincial politicians as well as federal Parliamentarians.
Keep us posted on your own efforts to raise the charitable and nonprofit sector flag across the country.
Pictured (left to right): Caroline Riseboro, Board Member of Association of Fundraising Professionals; Kulvir Singh Gill, Representative of the Association of Fundraising Professionals; Harold Albrecht, Member of Parliament; Ian Bird, President and CEO of Community Foundations of Canada; Brian Emmett, Chief Economist for Canada’s Charitable and Nonprofit Sector with Imagine Canada; and Vinod Rajasekaran, Board Member of Community Foundations of Canada.