3 Creative Strategies for Nonprofits in 2015
This new year, I wish the network many unexpected gifts, happy encounters and joyful surprises.
Looking back, 2014 was an amazing year for the Ontario Nonprofit Network! Among the many notable moments: we led analysis and engagement on the provincial election, supported the sector on new anti-spam legislation, launched the next stage of our sector-wide labour force strategy and created an online job site to connect people and paid jobs in the sector (and collect vital data). We gathered 400 nonprofit leaders to talk action and ideas on the state of the sector, met with new groups of nonprofits at our regional meetings in Peterborough and Kingston, released results from our province-wide survey on the purchasing practices of nonprofits, supported a cross-sectoral of groups on legislative action for police record checks– and we incorporated as a nonprofit. Whew!
We also expanded the network’s reach to connect to more nonprofits, charities and allies across Ontario. With a new provincial government, we’ve had an opportunity for conversations with government about the role and value of nonprofits in our economy and communities.
So, what’s in the cards for ONN and the sector in 2015?
Resolutions and predictions of any sort require some faith. The wonderful Rick Cohen in his New Year’s post in the Nonprofit Quarterly, managed to link this theme to MacBeth in the famous play- and the predictions of the witches- I wish I were equally creative in my analogies! (Get Macbeth refreshed.)
Here at ONN, we resolve to tackle our big plate of policy and strategy work using three strategies:
Collaborate: This year is an opportunity to work with each other in a deeper way than ever. First off, I’d like to begin to change the “story” of nonprofits in 2015 to a narrative about the sector that is far from the message of “we need”, to the powerful (and more accurate) “we contribute” and “here’s how we help you”. An ongoing task, but it is possible to change our story with a concerted effort. How else could we have, together, achieved so many crucial societal changes over the past years? Let us remind each other of what we can accomplish, moving forward together.
Stick together: The strength that comes from working together is echoed in one my favourite end-of-year messages from another nonprofit leader, which provides a bright light for a year that may be challenging. If we could collectively stick with these 10 Resolutions for the Nonprofit Sector (Nonprofit with Balls), including celebrating our successes, tempering the philosophy of scarcity, ensuring adequate compensation within our own sector, advancing equity in our own organizations and considering the environment in our workplaces, we’d be well on our way to embodying the larger change we’re hoping to achieve.
Look outside our own context: Collective inspiration can also come from outside our geography or subsector. Take our colleagues to the south, for example, where the realities of the U.S. nonprofit sector offer interesting comparisons: changing government financial realities, the role of local governments in our health and welfare, the fact that “there will be no hiding place for racism, overt or otherwise”, a new activism, charitable giving incentives, and the fact that we, too, are facing a national election. Nonprofit Quarterly’s 10 Predictions for Nonprofits and Foundations
For me, these strategies will provide some creative energy to deal with whatever 2015 might hold.
At the start of the year, we already know we’re working on the next stage of our labour force strategy, engaging in this year’s provincial budget, continuing discussions on funding reform with government, ensuring nonprofits are part of the provincial pension discussion, and exploring a data strategy for the sector.
And we know new opportunities and challenges will likely pop up, too. So, we look to you, our network, to inspire, share your knowledge and expertise and continue to be a strong and resilient sector at the centre of thriving communities.
Chair, ONN Board of Directors