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Alberta Provincial Budget – What does it mean for nonprofits?

Legislature 2On October 27, the new NDP Alberta Government announced the budget and revealed very few surprises. The NDP election platform is reflected in the Alberta budget.

Volunteer Alberta reflected on the budget and identified a few highlights – we have shared them with our members, and now are sharing them more broadly.

Thousands of Albertans gave their opinions through consultations leading up to Budget Day. Realizing that energy will continue to be the core of our economy, Albertans stated in the consultations that we need to diversify our economy and not remain completely reliant on the energy sector.

The three priorities outlined in the budget are:

  1. Stabilize public services – stabilizing frontline public services including health care, education and social services
  2. Plan a balanced budget
  3. Act on jobs and diversification – stimulating job creation, economic growth and diversification

What does this mean for the nonprofit sector?

The budget reflects the government’s commitment to family and community and services to vulnerable Albertans.

  • It includes a 25 million increase in Family and Community Support Services
  • $50 Million increase to Community Facility Enhancement grant budget and increases for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts
  • Job creation programs include a $5000 grant for new fulltime positions beginning January 1st 2016 which will support up to 27,000 new jobs each year, through to 2017
  • Nonprofit eligibility applies to the job creation grant. Also, STEP (Summer Temporary Employment Program) has been reinstated with $10 Million in 2016. This is a valuable nonprofit resource in supporting community based programs and services
  • In addition, $15 Million has been budgeted for women’s shelters to address family violence

For more information about the budget please visit the Government of Alberta 2015 Budget website.

Jennifer Esler
Volunteer Alberta

15 Tips to Get Sponsored – reflections from the Western Sponsorship Congress

static1.squarespace.comI recently attended the Western Sponsorship Congress two day event in Calgary. I met a variety of people, sat in on some amazing sessions, and heard great tidbits from the group chats in the main ballroom.

Reflecting on all I heard, I went through my notes and found 15 insightful tips, trends, and insights to keep in mind when considering sponsorship.

CONSIDERATIONS FROM THE KEYNOTE:
Brent Barootes from Partnership Group presented some very relevant information about sponsorship in today’s world.

1. Declines in traditional marketing channels (newspaper ads, TV commercials, etc.) has freed up more money in corporate sponsorship budgets.

2. Sponsorship budgets (on average) rose from 5% in 2007, to 25% in 2014 out of the marketing budgets of corporations.

3. Sponsors want to be fully integrated into the marketing strategy of your event, cause, or organization.

4. Corporations prefer product placement or brand placement (ex. at your event) to advertisements.

5. Many corporations are looking to engage their employees in new and innovative ways to showcase their company and deliver an increased return on investment (ROI).

BREAKOUT SESSIONS HIGHLIGHTS

6. Find a sponsorship partnership that excites you – this is just as important (maybe even more important) as the amount of money that exchanges hands.

7. Building a good relationship is a fundamental part of sponsorship – the discovery part of the relationship (the first few meetings) can help both parties understand the roles, outcomes, and responsibilities of the partnership.

8. Share your cause with potential sponsors. Sponsors are looking to align with causes that will help them make their world (community/market) a better place.

9. Consider video as a way to add extra value to your communications (campaigns, emails, website, or as a stand-alone awareness piece). Video is a great way to showcase sponsors and may attract a specific video sponsorship.

10. Think creatively and offer potential themes for you and your sponsorship partner to build the sponsorship around. (Instead of offering different sponsorship levels – see tip #11) Pick something that you and your sponsor can grow together, so their sponsorship can continue year-round and not end with a specific event.

Staff meetingPANEL DISCUSSION HIGHLIGHTS
In my opinion this was the MOST interesting and educational session of the whole event! The panel discussion, ‘One Size Doesn’t Fit All’ featured four representatives from different businesses (Telus, Cenovus, Remax Real Estate, and North Peace Savings & Credit Union) who shared what they look for when considering potential sponsorship opportunities.

11. Don’t spend time creating the ‘typical sponsor packages’ (Gold, Silver, Bronze) – they do not work because they are outdated and not tailored for mutual benefit.

12. Pick-up the phone when approaching smaller businesses (like Remax and Credit Union). Chatting about the problem, issue, or opportunity will help both parties see possible solutions. They may offer advice or steer you to the right “pile of money” and aide you in the application process – and help build the relationship.

13. Do your homework! Be well aware of a sponsors market, product, what they do, why they do it, and the reasons why they donate. (This is especially important for larger corporations. Most large corporations have online forms – tailor your online application with the information you discover in your research.)

Bonus Tip: If you know someone within the company, follow-up with an email or phone call to make them aware of your application.

14. Know your own stuff! Know your stats, your mission, your audience, and what your objectives are. Be well prepared for meetings – you will come across as genuine and credible. Show the company how they can help drive your mission and how it aligns with their own mission and business objectives.

15. Fair Warning: It will take anywhere from 22 – 24 months for a successful sponsorship deal to close from the initial meeting to money changing hands.

Productivity 3

These 15 tips, along with many others, made for an extremely informative conference and I hope some of you find value in the tidbits I’m sharing. I will be applying these tips in my work going forward. Please share in the comments what tips resonate with you and share if you are applying any of them in your work.

Jen Esler
Volunteer Alberta

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New Government, New Platform – Will it impact the nonprofit sector?

LeafOn Monday, Canada elected a new Liberal Government. The new government’s platform will impact our members, partners, and stakeholders. We have highlighted a few areas of the platform that may relate to nonprofit work, in all sub-sectors, across Alberta.

Nonprofit advocacy in particular is an element of the platform relevant to Volunteer Alberta.

Nonprofit Advocacy

From Volunteer Alberta Executive Director, Jann Beeston:

At Volunteer Alberta we believe, along with many others, that public policy is better when the nonprofit sector voice at the table.

Advocacy is a key part of Volunteer Alberta’s work. We can only do this work through the valuable input from our members, partners, and networks. We have worked in strategic partnership, with other nonprofit organizations, to influence direction related to;

  • privacy legislation,
  • vulnerable sector police information checks,
  • lobbyist act,
  • charitable donation tax credit,
  • nonprofit data,
  • funding mechanisms,
  • and the Alberta nonprofit incorporation review. 

Your voice is vital. It matters to our work, and to nonprofit advocacy and public policy work that impacts our sector and communities.

The Liberal platform promises to “modernize the rules” governing nonprofit advocacy, stating:

“We will allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment, and will modernize the rules governing the charitable and not-for-profit sectors. This will include clarifying the rules governing “political activity,” with an understanding that charities make an important contribution to public debate and public policy. A new legislative framework to strengthen the sector will emerge from this process.”

We will work to find opportunities for Alberta nonprofits to participate in the evolution of this and other new legislative frameworks. Volunteer Alberta will connect with both our strong provincial network of capacity building organizations, and national organization like Volunteer Canada and Imagine Canada. We look forward to working collaboratively and to communicating with the sector on issues that impact across Canada.

Other Areas of Interest

On addition to the Liberal platform promise regarding nonprofit advocacy, the platform includes many other promises that you may want to keep track of as the new government settles in.

The following promises may impact the nonprofit sector under our new federal government:

  • Employment:
    • Create youth jobs in the heritage sector through the Young Canada Works program.
    • Waive Employment Insurance premiums for 12 months for 18-24 years old hired into permanent positions in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
  • Technology and Data:
    • Crowdsource policy ideas from citizens using technology.
    • Increase data collection and availability, including reinstatement of the long-form census and changes to Statistics Canada.
  • Infrastructure:
    • Invest in affordable housing, seniors’ facilities, early learning and child care, and cultural and recreational infrastructure.
    • Create more infrastructure funding and loan opportunities for municipalities.
  • Arts:
    • Invest in cultural and creative industries, including doubling investment in the Canada Council for the Arts and increased funding for other arts bodies and programs.
  • Environment:
    • Work with provinces, territories, and other willing partners to address water and soil conservation and development issues.
    • Support innovation and the use of clean technologies in the forestry, fisheries, mining, energy, and agricultural sectors.
  • Indigenous Peoples:
    • Address housing, infrastructure, health and mental health care, community safety and policing, child welfare, and education through a nation-to-nation process with Indigenous Peoples.
    • New funding for Indigenous communities to promote and preserve Indigenous languages and cultures.
  • Women:
    • Work with experts and advocates to develop and implement a comprehensive federal gender violence strategy and action plan.
    • Increase investments in Canada’s network of shelters and transition houses for those fleeing domestic violence.
  • People with Disabilities:
    • Consult with provinces, territories, and other stakeholders to introduce a National Disabilities Act to eliminate systemic barriers for Canadians with disabilities.
  • Housing and Homelessness:
    • Commit funding for Housing First initiatives for homeless Canadians.
  • International Aid:
    • Consult with Canadian and international aid organizations to review current policies and funding frameworks.
    • Widen international aid reproductive health services and increase spending on international development.
  • Unions:
    • Repeal Bills C-377 and C-525 that diminished Canada’s labour movement.

Review the Liberal platform for more information on these promises.

The platform includes further promises on issues that nonprofit sub-sectors and organizations may care about. Find more information on these promises in the platform:

  • Funding for post-secondary students
  • Accessible mental health services
  • Poverty reduction for children and seniors
  • Investment in agricultural research and technical and marketing assistance
  • Gender equality in government and public policies
  • National inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls
  • Respect for Indigenous traditions in environmental stewardship
  • Climate change response framework and strengthened environmental protections
  • Quicker and increased immigration and refugee intake

What is your response to the Liberal government’s platform as it relates to the nonprofit sector and nonprofit organization issues in Alberta? Please share in the comments!

There are No More Silver Bullets

To understand and address 21st century challenges, we have to become familiar with complexity, systems thinking, and resiliency.

There are no shortage of tools, resources, and information available to guide and support our capacity to tackle these challenges. At interCHANGE 2015, Mark Cabaj outlined the approach leaders need to implement when embarking on challenging, complex work.

MeetingTo start, we must move away from leadership that relies on a “born with it” attitude, to leadership attitudes oriented toward developing the capacities and capabilities of others to support authentic responses to 21st century challenges. For example, developing a leadership capacity for situational awareness or “knowing what’s going on around you”.

Leaders who increase their situational awareness are able to effectively identify issues as simple, complicated, political, complex, or chaotic. The capacity to differentiate between these types of issues begins to orientate leaders and teams towards appropriate responses. Issues that are often the hardest to shift (i.e. poverty, hunger, inequality, community resilience, sustainability, etc.) always fall in the complex category and these types of challenges require leadership capacity to engage in adaptive responses.

Adaptive responses are participatory, systemic, and experimental in nature:

  • Participatory responses engage multiple stakeholders and build broad-scale ownership and action. They are about gathering a wide sense of the multiple facets that make up a complex challenge and understanding the issue from multiple perspectives. Participatory approaches are inclusive, and stakeholders are instrumental in defining the problem and shaping the solutions.
  • Systemic responses begin by understanding a complex challenge by exposing the roots. They recognize the challenge has many interconnected factors and interventions in one area of the challenge will likely result in unanticipated outcomes in another area of the system.
  • Experimental responses aim to learn by doing and iterations (trial and error). The strategy or plan emerges over time as lessons are learned and new approaches are developed. Experimental responses are flexible and shift along with the context they are a part of.
    Adaptive responses move conversations away from silver bullet or cookie cutter solutions and into a new space where unpredictability is embraced, root causes and connections are explored, and diversity of perspective, knowledge, and experience is necessary.

For more information and resources on adaptive responses, check out the interCHANGE 2015 resources page.

2015 Federal Election – Vote with nonprofits in mind

Canada flagEarlier this year, we encouraged Albertans to go to the polls in the Provincial Election. Once again we are calling on all Albertans and Canadians to vote, and to vote with nonprofits in mind in the Canadian Federal Election on Monday, October 19.

After all, we are all impacted by the work of nonprofits. The nonprofit sector includes social services, religious institutions, university and colleges, libraries, hospitals, environmental organizations, health research, cultural associations, legal aid, theatre and the arts, recreation and sports, advocacy, professional associations, and more.

For this reason, we have put together a list of resources to help you vote, to help you mobilize others to vote, and to show why the nonprofit sector is so important this election:

Vote!

Mobilize Others to Vote

#elxn42 Sharing your priorities, concerns, and voice during this election is important – Join the conversation about the upcoming election on Twitter with #elxn42.

#NPVote CCVO has created the first-ever Calgary Nonprofit Democratic Challenge. Join the challenge on Twitter by using the hashtag #NPVote and share the creative ways your organization is encouraging your staff, patrons, members and/or clients to vote. Challenge other nonprofit organizations to participate as well.

Vote Nation Voting is contagious — we know this. If you tell your friends and family you’re voting, they’re more likely to vote too. Add ‘I Will Vote October 19’ to your profile picture with this site. No matter what you are sharing on social media, your message of civic engagement will be included in every post!

Pledge to Vote Try out this CBC election engagement and interactive mapping tool to pledge to vote, share what you care about, and see why other Canadians are pledging to vote as well. Once you have pledged, share the call to action on social media.

Apathy is Boring Apathy is Boring is committed to getting young and first time voters out on Election Day. Visit their website for infographics, information, and tools to better engage these demographics – especially if you or your organization work with young people, immigrants, or marginalized groups.

Nonprofits and the Federal Election

Nonprofits Step Up! The Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) and Samara Canada have created an excellent infographic outlining how nonprofits can play a crucial role in strengthening our democracy. Read more about why they are asking nonprofits to start conversations about: what role does (and should) nonprofits play in democracy? How can the nonprofit sector build a healthier democracy?

Election 2015 Hub Imagine Canada has created this hub to keep charities informed and involved this election with information and resources. Find out why and how this federal election offers an excellent opportunity for charities and nonprofits to promote civic engagement and to talk bold about issues important to Canadians and our communities!

2015 Federal Election Resources CCVO has compiled a thorough list of information, resources, and link to support nonprofits, their staff and volunteers, and their clients with their election engagement strategies. Find it on their website.

Nonprofit Advocacy during Elections Check out Charity Village’s tips for engaging in advocacy this election. As long as your organization’s advocacy efforts are issue-based and non-partisan, elections offer unique and important opportunities for your nonprofit!

Sam Kriviak
Volunteer Alberta

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