Skip to main content

Standards Complaints policy

Standards Program Complaints Policy

The purpose of Imagine Canada’s voluntary Standards Program is to strengthen the organizational practices of charities and nonprofits in the areas covered by the standards and to increase public trust in the professionalism and oversight of organizations that have achieved and committed to accreditation. Accredited organizations have demonstrated their commitment to good governance practices and commit to upholding the integrity of the Trustmark they have earned.

Accredited organizations are required to complete a full reaccreditation process every five years. Compliance during the accredited period between reaccreditations is monitored through an annual process that requires organizations to submit evidence demonstrating selected standards are being met. Compliance is also monitored through the investigation of complaints. A Complaints & Compliance Subcommittee of Imagine Canada’s Standards Council is mandated by Imagine Canada to adjudicate complaints reporting non-compliance with the standards, as laid out in the Imagine Canada Standards Program Handbook.

Scope of Complaints Process

This complaints policy provides a mechanism for those wishing to submit a complaint about an accredited organization in cases where the complaint is directly related to non-compliance with one or more of the standards. Please note that if the complaint does not concern non-compliance with specific standard(s), the Complaints & Compliance Subcommittee will not be able to take action on the complaint.

Complaints can only be lodged against current accredited organizations. Imagine Canada strongly recommends submitting the complaint to the organization first, and only to Imagine Canada if they are unsatisfied with the accredited organization’s complaints process outcome. Imagine Canada will only review complaints about matters that took place after the accredited organization joined the Standards Program and complaints must be filed within one year of the alleged misconduct.    

How to Lodge a Complaint

In order to lodge a complaint, complainants must complete and submit the Standards Program Complaints Form. Email for the complaints form.

Complaints Process

When a complaint is received, Imagine Canada staff will review the complaint to determine if it is demonstrably linked to the standards and that there are adequate grounds to examine the matter further. The complaint will then be relayed to the Complaints & Compliance Subcommittee for further discussion.

If the Complaints & Compliance Subcommittee finds the complaint to be demonstrably linked to the standards, the accredited organization will be notified about the complaint and given the opportunity to provide a response.  Where necessary and after considering confidentiality and privacy issues, the Complaints & Compliance Subcommittee may ask other individuals or organizations concerned with the complaint to submit additional information.  The accredited organization will be given the opportunity to respond to such information, where it is provided. Imagine Canada will endeavour to deal with complaints within three months of the date they are received, however, depending on the nature of the complaint, the process may take longer.

The Complaints and Compliance Subcommittee may respond to complaints in the following ways:

  1. dismissing the complaint;
  2. prescribing education and a timetable to achieve compliance with the standard(s) in question;
  3. issuing a warning and timetable to achieve compliance with the standard(s) in question;
  4. removing Imagine Canada’s recognition of the organization as an accredited organization; and/or
  5. releasing the accredited organization’s name publicly.


Should the accredited organization not be satisfied with the decision of the Complaints and Compliance Subcommittee then an appeal may be submitted. The appeals process, including grounds for requesting an appeal, is outlined in the Appeals Policy. 

The Complaints and Compliance Subcommittee may reconsider a complaint, or a response made to a complaint, if it becomes aware of a material omission or misrepresentation of relevant facts as submitted to it. 

Conflict of Interest

Where a Subcommittee member is in a conflict of interest because of their past, present or contemplated future dealings with any party to the complaint, they shall withdraw themselves from consideration of the matter. Where parties to a complaint know of such dealings, they should bring them to the attention of staff in their written submissions to ensure that the Subcommittee is made aware of them.