Engaging Young Professionals in the Nonprofit Sector

by Mary Polychronis, CCVO Program Coordinator Last week, CCVO held a lunch for summer students working in The Kahanoff Centre to learn about their experiences in the nonprofit sector, and to encourage them to connect with one another. Thirteen students from nine organizations in the building joined us for an insightful discussion. The students shared stories of what brought them to their summer jobs in the sector, and what they’re learning from their experiences. Networks remain important, as some students shared, that because of their own misconception of being underqualified for the position, they would not have applied, if not encouraged by a contact. All of the students agreed that they have been welcomed into their roles, and have enjoyed the informal, collegial, and collaborative atmosphere of their workplace. They characterized their colleagues as friendly, welcoming, and as individuals who love coming into work every day, and regardless of whether the position was directly relevant to their degree or not, they were all enthusiastic about their summer jobs, and the organization of which they were a part. Building relationships, being a part of the culture and information network, and working toward a cause in which they can see the effects of their work, were some of the joys they associated with working in the nonprofit world. They also appreciate the openness and flexibility of their teams, and the opportunity to hop on different projects, giving them more insight into their likes and interests. The students are not only finding their work fulfilling and a chance for them to give back to the community but recognize that it may open... read more

Building an Alberta Nonprofit Election Toolkit

By David Mitchell, CCVO President & CEO Which issues affecting the nonprofit sector would your organization like Alberta’s major political parties to address in the provincial election, expected May 2019? CCVO included this question in the most recent Alberta Nonprofit Survey (ANS) and we identified 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. We probed the results of the 2018 ANS further through roundtable discussions and personal interviews. The summary of these findings will be included in the final report, to be released in October. These rich discussions affirmed that the ANS provides important context for the Alberta Nonprofit Election Toolkit that CCVO is preparing for the sector. Our goal: to support the sector in proactively engaging in the democratic process with confidence. The Election Toolkit is intended to arm Alberta’s nonprofits with flexible tools to help ensure the candidates and parties address issues of importance to our sector. As a resource for highlighting the importance of nonprofits, and why advocacy matters, the Election Toolkit will include guidelines and helpful tips for nonprofits on developing an engagement strategy, organizing and hosting an all-candidates meeting, and the rules of engagement (dos and don’ts) during an election campaign. It will also provide guidance on how to engage the media, approach meetings with candidates and campaign staff, and follow-up with them after the election. The full Alberta Nonprofit Election... read more

Freedom of Expression Rules the Day for Canadian Charities

by Alexa Briggs, CCVO Manager, Policy & Research There was some big news for charities across Canada this week. An Ontario judge ruled that the section of the federal Income Tax Act limiting the political activity of charities has “no force or effect” as of Monday, July 16. The judge ruled that this section of the Income Tax Act is an infringement on freedom of expression for charities. Partisan activities are still prohibited – a restriction that CCVO fully supports. This is a major development in an ongoing effort by many organizations that have argued this rule limits charitable organizations’ ability to fully participate in public debate on policy. All nonprofits, including charities, are uniquely positioned to provide insights, expertise, and commentary on policies that directly affect civil society. (See these articles for insights from Dr. Roger Gibbins, a Senior Fellow at the Max Bell Foundation, about the importance of policy advocacy.) The federal government has the option to accept the ruling, or appeal it. CCVO previously participated in the calls for the federal government to amend this limitation and we encourage the federal government to accept the decision of the judge. Further, we encourage the federal government to accept and implement the recommendations from the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities, made in March 2017. We have written to Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, and encourage other nonprofits to do the same, requesting that the federal government accept the ruling and commit to accepting and implementing the panel’s recommendations. This issue may be particularly relevant for nonprofits in Alberta as we head into an... read more

What does the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Legislation mean for Alberta Nonprofits?

by Alexa Briggs, CCVO Manager, Policy & Research The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) legislation was passed by the provincial government in June 2018 to enable municipalities to establish a program that assists property owners to make energy efficiency upgrades. It is a voluntary program that provides financing, which is repaid through property taxes. Municipalities must pass a PACE bylaw in order for residents to participate. My nonprofit is exempt from property tax, am I eligible? In short, yes. There is a mechanism for nonprofits to secure the financing for eligible energy efficient upgrades. If you want details, contact Energy Efficiency Alberta to find out more. My nonprofit rents or leases our space, how can we take advantage of the program? Nonprofits may wish to see property owners take advantage of energy efficient upgrades with the goal of reducing their operational costs. The provincial government intends to: work with nonprofits to develop resources that will assist in negotiations with landlords; do outreach to property management companies; and work with organizations like the Alberta Real Estate Association to encourage property owners to take advantage of this opportunity. What’s next? Whether or not a PACE program becomes available in Calgary depends upon The City of Calgary’s approval of a PACE bylaw. As PACE unfolds in Calgary, CCVO will: continue to work towards ensuring that operational savings earned by property owners are passed on to nonprofit organizations; encourage minimal administrative burden on nonprofits; share updates to keep the sector informed about developments. What can my nonprofit do right now? Your nonprofit can contact Calgary City Council and The Mayor to find out... read more

A Whole New World: 4 Things to Watch for and Consider in the New OH&S Act

by Christopher Spasoff, guest blogger Founder & OH&S Lawyer, F2 Legal Counsel It’s now been just over a month since Alberta’s new Occupational Health and Safety Act took effect. The Act introduced not only a number of new obligations and stakeholders, but an entirely new concept of workplace health and safety that extends beyond the worksite itself, and includes things like domestic violence, psychological health, and social well being. To put it mildly, the changes are aplenty, and are taking workplace health and safety in Alberta to a place it’s never been. Industry and academics have spent the past several months opining on what the changes mean for employers and workers alike, in both a legal and practical/operational sense. Similarly, much has already been said and written on everything from whether the changes are a good thing or a bad thing, to whether they’ll even prove effective. That, of course, remains to be seen in the coming months and years, as employers implement, officers enforce, and courts ultimately interpret them. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot more to come. For the time being though, the changes are neither good nor bad. They simply are. And as you wade through the mounds of information – and unfortunately some misinformation – there are a few things in particular to consider: Signing up for the Alberta Government’s Health and Safety eNews. Each month, the Alberta Government publishes it’s Health and Safety eNews, an electronic newsletter covering hot topics and current issues in occupational health and safety. The June 2018 version, for example, included clickable links to a number of additional resources... read more

Bringing Adaptive Capacity “to Life” in Calgary

by Sarah Rosenthal, CCVO Visiting Fellow This is the third in a series of posts that recorded my work with CCVO over three months as I undertook research to define Adaptive Capacity for CCVO and the nonprofit sector. As my time at CCVO ends, I want to thank CCVO and all the people I have worked with in the last weeks for the support and welcoming work environment. I was given the opportunity to gain deep insights into the nonprofit sector in Calgary and Canada, and make suggestions on how to continue work on the important topic of adaptive capacity. My objective was to bring CCVO’s previous research on adaptive capacity “to life”. In doing so, I wanted to better define this term which applied specifically to the nonprofit sector. I also worked on finding a more practical, applied approach and ways to integrate it into programs at CCVO. Examples from all over the world, as well as established theoretical frameworks, helped me to understand how nonprofits can improve their adaptive capacity. Through my research, I determined the definition of adaptive capacity to be “the ability of an organization or system to proactively prepare for change.” For nonprofit organizations, being adaptive means to adjust the way they meet their missions while unpredictable changes occur around them. Being adaptive is about managing by not preventing or avoiding change, but by generating a wide set of options to respond to this change. This definition of adaptive capacity is chiefly about managing the future by being proactive. As the status quo is not an option with the political, economical, social and technological... read more

Lessons in engaging Millennials from the German ‘welcome culture’

by Sarah Rosenthal, CCVO Visiting Fellow   Over the last few weeks working with CCVO, I have often been asked what Canada can learn from the German nonprofit sector. Simultaneously, I have learned that many nonprofits in Calgary find it challenging to attract millennials as volunteers. This is why I decided to share some of my learnings from the German ‘welcome culture’ in this blogpost. When nearly one million refugees came to Germany in 2015, not only was German society changed, but also volunteering. Many volunteers got engaged for the first time, and many millennials were among them. Besides this surge of volunteers, volunteering itself became much more self-organized and often skill-based – both strong motivators for millennials to get involved. We saw an increase in numbers of volunteers. In 2015 and 2016, 55% of the people in Germany over the age of 16 were in some way involved in helping refugees – 9% of these were first time volunteers. About half of them donated money or in-kind donations, but there was an even more impressive change in the number of people who donated their time. Many volunteers provided support for example by organizing and handing out clothes or food, or by helping refugees with their paperwork. Besides the increase in numbers, the way in which people helped changed. As more and more refugees arrived at train stations, volunteers often organized themselves to support the refugees. Facebook became a main tool to for volunteers to organize this support. Facebook groups became more than just a show of virtual support, volunteers created real local communities, often exceeding more than 10,000... read more

Why a German social entrepreneur wants to learn from CCVO

by CCVO Visiting Fellow, Sarah Rosenthal This is the first in a series of posts that will record my work with CCVO over the next three months as I undertake research to define Adaptive Capacity for CCVO and the nonprofit sector.   Background I am a social entrepreneur from Germany and founder of the organization Start with a Friend. At Start with a Friend, we bring together refugees and locals 1:1 to create sustainable networks and friendships between people who probably would not have met otherwise. Two friends and I started the initiative in late 2014, and with the vast number of refugees (often referred to as a “refugee crisis”) in the summer of 2015, many volunteers from all over Germany joined our organization. Start with a Friend continuously grew into an organization, which is now active in 23 cities and has brought together 3,500 tandems, as we call the 1:1 friendships between refugees and locals. We aim to overcome social exclusion and parallel societies and instead build an integrative community. By befriending refugees, locals offer refugees access to their social environment and activate their own networks. Furthermore, our organisation facilitates exchange and skill sharing among participants. The success of our work can be measurable by hard endpoints such as improved language skills, successful apartment-hunting, internships or job placements. More importantly though, we want to enhance social sensitivity and reflection on both sides. And last but not least, our tandems have a lot of fun together, show mutual appreciation and the former distinction between refugees and locals has diminished.   My Objective In my work with Start with a Friend... read more

Building Adaptive Capacity Through Collaborative Impact

On March 6, Mount Royal University students in the Facilitating Social Innovation course were tasked with uncovering how CCVO can support nonprofits in Calgary to adapt and innovate – build adaptive capacity – through disruptive and transformational periods. The format, a World Café Community Conversation hosted by CCVO, was made possible through a partnership with Mount Royal University.

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