Optimism Rises Among CCVO Members

by David Mitchell, President & CEO, Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations


Thank you to all the executive leaders who responded to the members’ survey I conducted over the summer. The strong response rate (36%) provided valuable feedback and rich insights on CCVO’s work. Many helpful and instructive suggestions were offered, giving much food for thought to a new CEO who’s aiming to sharpen our focus!

Below is a summary of the results we received.

One of the more noteworthy results was the response of leaders to the question on optimism about their organization’s ability to thrive in the year ahead. While a few respondents weren’t optimistic at all, a strong and convincing majority expressed real confidence in the near-term future. This may seem surprising and even counter-intuitive, as we have now lived through a few years of declining economic prospects, especially in Calgary. Nevertheless, the average score was 7.5 out of 10. Your optimism clearly shone through in these results.

Even though there’s a strong sense of optimism about our sector’s immediate future, leaders also have a range of important issues that keep them awake at night, including funding, governance, and policy/government relations.

I’m pleased to report we’re already moving on some of the suggested ways we could better serve our member organizations. Next month we launch the Ascent leadership development program for emerging leaders, while further opportunities to collectively address cross-cutting issues are also in the works—watch for your invitation to attend a small roundtable discussion with other nonprofit leaders to discuss the issues identified below and how we can work together to build adaptive capacity in our sector.


Results of CCVO Members’ Survey

Top ways executive leaders or members of their team have engaged with CCVO over the past year:

Most valued work of CCVO:

  • Policy
  • Events
  • Research

As a senior leader in Alberta’s nonprofit sector, what issues keep you awake at night?

Response themes:

  • Concerns about sustainable funding.
  • Uncertainty about government relations and the direction of public policy.
  • Governance, including both talent management, leadership succession and board engagement

CCVO members say…

  • We continue to react versus lead the way!
  • The inability of all sectors of Alberta to break out of our inherited roles, aspirations, and assumptions.
  • Having enough time to do all a CEO of a nonprofit is expected to do.
  • Are we really working together effectively (funders, service providers, others) to make real change?
  • The safety of clients and staff in a world with growing outspoken intolerance.
  • Filling workforce gaps— having sufficient funding to adequately compensate skilled workers.


What could CCVO do to better support your organization in the work you do?

CCVO members say…

  • Lobby government to seek our sector’s feedback earlier, prior to implementing policy.
  • Leadership development for emerging leaders in our sector.
  • Strengthen board governance through practical training and orientation for nonprofit board members.
  • Technology shifts/trends—how is the sector responding to advancements in technology?
  • Convene leaders of nonprofit organizations more frequently for discussion of cross-cutting issues.
  • Provide more networking opportunities.
  • Help facilitate more collaboration on policy issues.
  • Ensure that smaller nonprofits have a voice and are at the table for policy discussions.

This is a brief summary of the valuable feedback provided by leaders of CCVO’s member organizations. I look forward to ongoing dialogue as we work to address these important issues together.