Reflections on 2018

Staff headshot for blog.png

by David Mitchell, CCVO President & CEO

This first few weeks of 2019 have been an exciting and busy time at CCVO! We began the year finalizing details for the first of our Policy Lunch & Learn series, continuing plans for the 8th annual Connections Conference, creating an Alberta Nonprofit Election Toolkit, and celebrating the approval of our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan. These activities, just some of the great work our team is focused on, reflect the adaptive thinking happening at CCVO, as we explore what it means to be an adaptive organization, and how we can support other organizations to be adaptive in the ever-changing environment we work in.

With some changes to our organizational structure in 2018, and the welcoming of several new team members, we integrated our policy and program teams. This is allowing us to better incorporate our policy and research expertise into our capacity building programs and convening activities. With your continued input, we will work to meet your needs and serve Alberta’s nonprofit sector.

Earlier this month we released the Top Ten Nonprofit Policy Stories of 2018 blog. Here are other highlights of key initiatives our team worked on throughout last year, with many continuing into 2019:

Visual Identity

Fifteen years ago, CCVO was established as a dynamic, policy-focused, and membership-based organization for the nonprofit sector. With the community at our core, we’ve evolved to meet the needs of the nonprofit organizations we serve, and we hope you’ll agree that our brand refresh reflects that growth.

In September 2018, we revealed updates to our visual identity to better align our reputation as approachable professionals, our evolution as an organization, and our intent to serve the sector through our unique body of work.

Policy Advocacy

The upcoming provincial election may still be a few months away, but CCVO’s team has been laser focused on creating tools and information to help prepare the nonprofit sector for meaningful engagement. Part of this process includes the development of a 2019 Alberta Nonprofit Election Toolkit – sections of which have been released as blogs beginning last fall. The toolkit is intended to arm Alberta’s nonprofits with flexible tools that can be used to help ensure the candidates and parties address issues of importance to our sector.

Watch for the toolkit to be released in February 2019. With it, we hope to empower nonprofit staff, Board members, volunteers, and clients to get informed about their civic rights. And be sure to take part in the #nonprofitsvote campaign! We’ll share #nonprofitsvote resources to support your organization in creating awareness about the sector and bringing key issues to the forefront during the provincial election.


Lighting the Way: The State of the Alberta Nonprofit Sector 2018 (summarizing the results of the 2018 Alberta Nonprofit Survey) was released on October 24, 2018 at our “Chamber-style” luncheon: Nonprofits at Noon. The event, the first of its kind for Calgary’s nonprofit sector, included a discussion of survey results, main trends of the report, followed by a panel discussion with commentators Janet Brown and Duane Bratt. Hard copies of the report were available at the event – a digital version can be accessed here.

Sector Research

The State of the Alberta Nonprofit Sector report is part of a larger effort to support the nonprofit sector’s engagement in the 2019 Alberta election. For the first time, primary research was conducted to supplement the findings from the annual Alberta Nonprofit Survey and provide insights, summarized in the report. Respondents to the 2018 Alberta Nonprofit Survey were asked, for example, “Which issues affecting the nonprofit sector would your organization like Alberta’s major political parties to address in the provincial election, expected May 2019?”. This, and other questions, allowed us to identify three major themes from the responses. We learned that nonprofit leaders want to see:

  • better recognition of the sector and its contributions both socially and economically;

  • better interactions and communication between government and the sector, particularly related to legislative changes that will impact nonprofits; and

  • more sustainable, predictable, and flexible funding.

With these priorities in mind, CCVO is pursuing a policy agenda consisting of the following priorities:

  1. A Vibrant Nonprofit Sector Workforce

  2. Meaningful Civic and Democratic Participation

  3. Increased Flexible and Sustainable Funding

  4. Timely Analysis and Action on Emerging Issues

Capacity Building

Last year, we celebrated as 22 senior nonprofit leaders completed our Executive Directions Nonprofit Leadership Development program, and welcomed another 38 into the programs. Watch for this adaptive leadership program to continue to evolve in 2019, as we integrate feedback from last year’s participants and deliver what today’s nonprofit leaders need through unique applied learning principles and cohort support.

Our strategic planning process began in Fall 2018, guided by our consultant, Roman Katsnelson of KRD Consulting, with a focus on building internal capacity. Staff members took part in two half-day sessions as a foundation for strategic planning. These sessions helped to build a shared language and skills for the staff team around systems and evaluative thinking. Our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan, approved by CCVO’s Board of Directors in January 2019, is adaptive by design, reflecting our commitment to evaluative and systems thinking, and provides a structure to respond to dynamic circumstances.

We look forward to continuing to share our adaptive journey, while listening and responding to your needs as the voices and experiences of the nonprofit sector.

Is there something you’d like us to know? Please reach out to our Director, Community Engagement, Dana Silver at or call 587-787-0215 to share!