The Times, They are a-Changing

“The nonprofit sector is large and robust, and our staff and volunteer leadership play a critical role in Canadian communities,” say the authors of An Overview and Trend Analysis for Volunteer Board of Directors of Community Organizations in Canada, published by the Ontario Nonprofit Network.

They continue: “However, these are times of change. The context and circumstances within which the sector does its work are changing… Is there a nonprofit that has not been affected? How can local organizations keep up? How do volunteer board members know where to start?”

Here are some of their findings:

The growing income inequality means those nonprofits “working to build social cohesion in our communities are finding our jobs increasingly difficult as more people find themselves at the margins of society.”

Government investment is declining or stagnant year on year; and, while the profile of those who donate is changing, charitable giving is stagnating.

While increases in membership fees and fees-for-service account for some increase to overall earned revenue, new social enterprises help nonprofits as they search for ways to earn revenues to fund their missions. But be forewarned, the Canada Revenue Agency has a narrow definition of related business,

Given all the challenges, nonprofits are increasingly seeking out compatible organizations to support them with governance and administrative support, sometimes referred to as shared platforms.

It’s a new world. Be brave.


“So here lies the central confusion:

If diversity is so high profile, and everyone knows it’s a social and economic necessity, why is it not uncommon to hear that nothing has changed in the past 30 years? Why have respondents to AP’s diversity survey, under the liberating cover of anonymity, said that in their organisation: “There is a tick box mentality rather than an enthusiasm for diversity. It is not intrinsic to our work; it is still being ‘added on’.” Or: “It is a constant struggle for companies with a diverse agenda to get funding, venues, or recognition.”


Diversity in the Workplace

A survey of over 500 UK-based arts workers suggest the sector is “deeply conflicted about the best way to improve diversity in its workforce.”

The good news is 83% of the respondents indicate a strong commitment to improving diversity in the workplace. But, there is less unity on what action to take to improve diversity.

A major challenge may be the “shallow pool of diverse candidates for work opportunities’, as expressed by 61% of the respondents.

While most people disagreed senior management is a barrier, 28% of the junior respondents pointed fingers at their superiors. Only 8% of senior managers recognized a problem in their own ranks.

When asked about ways to increase diversity, more than eight out of ten respondents favoured staff training, targeted initiatives to boost diverse organizations and incentives to increase the diversity of those entering arts careers. But there was much less consensus around whether penalties, quotas and ‘naming and shaming’ should be introduced.
Quotas did not get a resounding endorsement with only 25% in support. However, 45% of those who identify as diverse expressed support for quotas.

Some respondents suggest setting quotas is a “simplistic” method that would lead to “suspicion and resentment on both sides.” Another respondent wrote: “It may be that a clumsy tool like [quotas] is needed to get the ball rolling.”

Source and report.

Funding Update from our Friends at CAPACOA

The Minister of Canadian Heritage announced a series of changes related to grants and contribution management. These will speed up the turnaround on applications and payments. They will also make multi-year grants more frequent.

“We are pleased with these improved service standards. Faster turnaround and predictable multi-year funding will allow better planning and will encourage innovation by arts organizations.”
—Frédéric Julien, Director of Research and Development at the Canadian Arts Presenting Association (CAPACOA) and Co-Chair of the Canadian Arts Coalition

Canadian Heritage gives bureaucrats more power over arts funding

Words, Words and More Words

Do the words we choose help or hinder us? Can one word be so overburdened with meaning that it is essentially meaningless?

In a relatively short period of time, the word diversity has become one of our most used words. But, what exactly do we mean when we use that word? Do we share the same meaning? And are we actually addressing diversity—or are we simply bandying around a word, so that we feel have ticked that box?

These are some of the issues addressed by Rachel Grunwald in her article Words, Words… They’re all we have to go on.

Building a Better Business (Model)

It has often been said: “there has to be a better way”.

Shared platforms may be one such way.

The term shared platform is commonly used to describe a situation where an organization adopts and provides a legal home for a project or initiative that is unincorporated and does not have its own legal status. It offers an alternative to incorporating or obtaining charitable registration in the nonprofit sector and, perhaps more importantly, it offers efficient sharing of capacity and nurturing of emerging leadership.

Sound like a possible solution for a client? The Ontario Nonprofit Network comes to the rescue with the Shared Platform Guidebook. It’s free and can be found here.

Crunching the Numbers

Earlier in the year, Hill Strategies released its report: “Finances and Attendance of Arts Organizations”. Containing information that will be important for every arts consultant, it offers Canadian statistics on art museums and galleries, artist-run centres, and performing arts presenters, as well as an American report examining the sustainability of arts and culture organizations in select cities.

Read more.

From the ACCA President’s Desk

I’m pleased to pass on just a few of the comments and observations made by ACCA members during a phone conversation outreach effort made by board members:

  • Arts and culture silos  – we need to continue to reach out to a broader cross-section of our communities;
  • Issues of sustainability still front and centre for many organizations;
  • Succession planning is on the agenda as many founders are retiring;
  • Creative spaces need to be more flexible as artists embrace new technology;
  • Plans get developed but then people change and the knowledge is not retained;
  • The increasing support at the municipal level is a trend to watch;
  • More research in the sector would be helpful for positioning;
  • Reconciliation efforts with Indigenous communities are being discussed coast to coast.

ACCA will continue to pass on our informal findings as we take the pulse of the arts and culture sector through our members’ work with a diverse client base.

Sandra Thomson, President

What we really mean when we say…

Finding the truth behind commonly used NFP phrases |
Welcomes diversity/seeks diverse leadership
You will be the first and/or only person of colour on our board/staff/whateverEngaged board
The board will micromanage all of the things that don’t matter, like which shade of grey the supply room should be painted, but will disappear when something important, like fundraising, needs to be done.

We have long-standing relationships with many community partners
We did a one-time, limited-duration grant project with that agency once many years ago, but keep putting their names down as a community partner.

And there’s more where this came from

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