Montréal - a hub for the community and social sector - played host to over 100 charitable and nonprofit sector leaders from across Canada, on September 12-14th, for Imagine Canada’s 2022 Leadership Roundtable. The scene was set for a new way of working together.
Imagine Canada was not able to host its annual Roundtable event for two years due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. During that time, we reflected on the major objectives of these roundtables, found that the focus needed to shift to “growing the tent”, and that we needed to include more leadership voices at these annual sector convenings.
Since the onset of the pandemic, there haven’t been frequent in-person opportunities for discussions on crucial trends and issues facing our work. Presented this year by Sarasin & Partners LLP, the Leadership Roundtable provided a much-needed space for thought-provoking and engaging conversations amongst sector peers.
The Nonprofit Workforce of the Future
The conversations began with… our people. A necessary check-in was needed about our employees, their mental health, their inclusion in meaningful and decent work, and what best practices can be adopted by our sector. What can we do to mitigate burnout and retention in our sector? Yami Msosa (Ontario Nonprofit Network), Paul Taylor (FoodShare Toronto), and Brigitte Skeene (Talent IQ) discussed these issues and more, relating to one of our most valuable assets: our people. Presented by KCI, this panel discussion was an urgently needed check-in about the honest realities of our work.
Roundtable participants then exchanged ideas on some of the best practices organizations can use to mitigate and adapt to these workforce challenges. A particular emphasis was placed on employee burnout prevention, and the challenges of developing new hybrid work places.
Artificial Intelligence & Governance
Our second panel included Alisa Simon (Kids Help Phone), Mitch Joel (Six Pixels Group) and Bachir Halimi (Speech Mobility), who addressed the ways in which our organizations can adopt artificial intelligence (AI) strategies to increase efficiency in our program delivery, but also to manage ever-increasing data sets that feed into decision-making. The discussion was moderated by Linda Tchombe (Montreal Foundation).
Digital Fundraising and Working with Younger Generations of Donors
This first afternoon panel, presented by RAMP Communications, spoke to the need for charitable and nonprofit organizations to adapt to changing demographics and new platforms. Panelists Kyle Empringham (The Starfish Canada), Kate Arthur (Digital Moment) and Lizz Bryce (CanadaHelps) spoke to the importance of engaging with Gen Z and Millennial donor groups, the value these groups place on ethical partnerships and value-based giving, and the importance of digital strategies.
Future of Philanthropy Panel and Sector Social
Over 50 leaders and advocates from organizations in the local Montreal community joined us in the evening to hear from Pascal Lépine (Atypic), Andrea Clarke (Chagnon Foundation), Krishan Mehta (Toronto Metropolitan University), and Laure Delmarque (Operation Enfant Soleil) about the future of philanthropy in Quebec and across Canada. Their forward-looking discussion covered multiple intersecting priorities for the sector and provided insight into the work of practitioners, academics, and consultants in the sector.
This broad evening reception, presented by Sage Canada, was the concluding element of the energizing first day of discussions.
Imagine Canada Update & National Policy Network
Our President & CEO, Bruce MacDonald, kicked off the second day by presenting the work that Imagine Canada has been involved in over the last three years, including policy and research initiatives, service delivery to our members, and the road ahead. This was a chance to catch up about some of the work we have been doing and validate the road ahead, including a refreshed membership model, new advocacy activities, and a more intentional view of our internal culture and practices.
This presentation was followed by a workshop on creating a National Policy Network for the charitable and nonprofit sector, facilitated by Yves Savoie (Yves Savoie Consulting) and Carelle Mang-Benza (Cooperation Canada). Participants grappled with some of the inherent outstanding questions related to establishing such a network, and were briefed on some of the research relating to the issue. These sessions were presented by Miller Thomson LLP.
Maintaining Social Good in an Era of Climate Emergency
Our final panel of the Leadership Roundtable featured Devika Shah (Environment Funders Canada), Kat Cadungog (Foundation for Environmental Stewardship), and Josee Duplessis (Centre for Sustainable Development). They discussed the resilience of the sector in the face of climate change, and the importance of climate-justice funding that takes into consideration the work of BIPOC-led, youth-led and grassroots organizations. The discussion was moderated by Nicolina Farella (McConnell Foundation). Recent changes to direction and control regulations were also broached, as well as their emerging impact on charitable partnerships with non-qualified donees.
Closing Keynote: An Economist’s Look Ahead
Subitha Subramaniam, Partner & Chief Economist at Sarasin & Partners, gave a final keynote presentation on the major financial and economic trends that will impact philanthropy at the global level, including inflation, the rising cost of living, the US midterm elections, geo-political events and supply chain disruptions. This set the stage for guidance and analysis from her colleague Richard Maitland on the economic outlook, and the things participants could think about when considering how these trends would impact demand for their programs and services for the upcoming year.
Imagine Canada would like to thank all of its partners, sponsors and participants for joining us for this new edition of the Leadership Roundtable.