Sessions and Workshops


Day one opening plenary: Dreaming what’s possible for nonprofits

ONN’s analysis of our 2023 sector survey concluded that if nothing changes by 2026, current trends will reach devastating levels. Despite facing complex, cross-cutting issues such as unprecedented demand for services, downward financial spirals, and staffing challenges, nonprofits continue to bring immense value to their communities all over Ontario. Dreaming is a critical component of changing systems and guiding us, nonprofits, towards the future we envision for ourselves. A dynamic keynote and diverse sector voices will kick off Nonprofit Driven 2024 and help us dream about the future together.

Day two opening plenary: Exercising our agency to shape the future

Transformative change for a thriving future requires nonprofits to translate our dreams into action. How can nonprofits harness the dreams and visions we hold, and take an active role in realizing them? This keynote and panel will explore the tangible ways to shift systems and make change happen, grappling with questions including: How do we reimagine leadership and work together across movements? How can resources and policy be created to meet the current needs of the sector? 

Day two closing plenary: Threats to an active and thriving democracy

Democracy, as we know and understand it, is shifting and changing due to a global ecosystem of misinformation sowing divisiveness, distrust of institutions, and significant democratic apathy. This is clearing a path for more overt threats to progress on equity. As an expression of democracy ourselves, nonprofits have a critical role to play in activating a thriving democracy. Nonprofits can be the bridge between communities and government, we can ensure the symbiosis between a vibrant democracy and engaged communities lives on. Join our expert keynote to learn about what they are hearing and seeing when it comes to threats to an active and thriving democracy.


Advancing economic justice and building solidarity economies

What would a nonprofit sector that pursued economic justice look like? As a sector, nonprofits have a responsibility to create a more equitable, inclusive, and caring economy that centers anti-racism and reconciliation. In this session, a panel of speakers will discuss tangible ways to advance economic justice, from social finance and impact investment, to collective ownership and community benefits. Together, let’s create a future where the economic system serves everyone and puts people, place and planet above the extraction of profit. 

Is it time for nonprofits to embrace artificial intelligence (AI)?

Before any nonprofit says yes or no to AI, there are many different angles to consider. In this session, six speakers will present their unique perspectives on AI, and provide the audience with some food for thought. From AI governance to resources for nonprofits, manifesto’s to ethics, the presenters – including nonprofit leaders – will cover a wide range of topics. The future of technology does not lie in our hands, but how our sector embraces it to support and protect communities does. Let’s shape that future together.

Untangling what it means to lead and connect intergenerationally

As we look towards the future of leadership in our sector, it is important for us to reflect on the journey of nonprofit leaders to build networks, knowledge, and support systems. Join us for a fireside chat with Black female leaders discussing shared experiences, community building, and visions for the future.

Effectively activating advocacy that meets this moment

The future of our sector, and the communities we serve requires thoughtful and strategic advocacy. Not engaging in advocacy work is no longer an option. It is clear that our traditional methods of advocacy, developing a policy analysis and recommending policy changes, are not enough. With the upcoming provincial election in 2026 fast approaching, let’s come together to figure out how to activate advocacy in our sector, in a way that meets this moment. In this session we’ll showcase successful examples from the sector, discuss what’s getting in the way of advocacy, and what is needed to overcome the barriers.

Visioning a new path forward for our sector’s labour force

Nonprofits have been ringing the alarm on the HR crisis for many years. ONN has been working to understand the sector’s recruitment and retention challenges, and opportunities for change. Join us to learn more about ONN’s new labour force work project findings in areas of career development, recruitment, retention, and wellbeing in the sector. We will spend most of our time having critical discussions on present day challenges, and visioning the systemic changes needed to build a thriving nonprofit labour force.

The Well: Moving towards the center of ourselves in a concept rooted in Kongo cosmology

Moving towards the center of the self (within an Afrocentric context) is essential to community integration and supports our work for the community. This session will focus on how Black, Indigenous and racialized leadership can be reimagined through embodied creative practices rooted in Indigenous West-Central African world views that support self and community integration. Please note, sessions hosted by The Well are exclusively for Black, Indigenous and/or racialized workers in the nonprofit sector in Ontario.

Moving the needle on social change by building unlikely allies

Nonprofits cannot move the needle on community issues in isolation. The transformative change we advocate for requires allies across many different sectors. Often the local chambers of commerce, municipalities, BIA’s, Indigenous nations, and unions have shared common goals of healthy communities, but we often don’t reach across to build relationships. We are indeed stronger together, as recent victories big and small highlight for us. In this session, learn about the successes and challenges that come with building allyship, and explore how unlikely allies can come together with nonprofits to advance change.

Exploring the power of collectively negotiating funding agreements

Funding reform is a top-of-mind issue in the nonprofit sector but years go by and the issue remains the same. Real solutions can often feel few and far between. Collective negotiating – nonprofits coming together to collectively demand minimum requirements in funding agreements – may be the next frontier. Join us for a panel conversation on the power of collective negotiation as a potential funding reform strategy. Gain insights on successes and failures in organizing, aligning, and advocating together to secure a better future for their workers, organizations, and communities.


Becoming Kin: Defining social justice on stolen land

Many settler-led nonprofits are trying to figure out how to move beyond land acknowledgements, be in better relations with Indigenous Peoples, and support the advancement of reconciliation. But is justice possible on stolen land? Through this interactive workshop, we will try to contend with questions like, Do our actions have the consent of the land upon which we work? Do they have the consent of the people of that land? How do we establish these relations, knowing that consent is ongoing and not a checkbox? This workshop will be led by Patty Krawec, an Anishinaabe/Ukrainian writer and speaker belonging to Lac Seul First Nation in Treaty 3 territory, residing in Niagara Falls.

The lease is up! Now what?

For many nonprofits, occupancy costs can be some of the largest operating expenditures. Skyrocketing rental prices and rapid gentrification have made it increasingly difficult for community organizations to find stable, affordable, accessible and available spaces. Join this workshop to learn about the various ways nonprofits can create, and utilize multi-purpose spaces to thrive. This workshop will explore questions such as: how can our sector rethink land ownership through power building and place-making? How can organizations leverage innovative investment tools to purchase their own space? 

Building a collective narrative for Ontario’s nonprofit sector

What does the “nonprofit difference” mean to you? Join this workshop to explore nonprofit campaigning, and learn more about the importance of running campaigns to build public awareness, and advance advocacy. The session provides space and opportunity to dream, and share ideas about how the nonprofit sector can create a narrative about our sector that truly reflects our work and collective impact.

How to be prepared to communicate when a crisis hits

​Since the pandemic it has felt like multiple crises are always happening at the same time. As nonprofits, it’s important for the communities we serve, and our network of staff, donors, partners, and volunteers to know that we remain true to our values in all situations, and communicate that out loud. But are our communications always authentic? They need to be, but how? Join this workshop to learn about #WokeMarketing’s, “3 Bees”. After the presentation, participants will break into groups, choose their own crisis, and work through the “3 Bees of Woke Marketing” with an emphasis on how they would manage the third “Bee”– Be Prepared. The facilitator, Jefferson Darrell will provide practical tips including the 3 C’s (care, compassion, control) and 2 F’s (facts and feelings) of crisis communications that attendees will be able to implement during a future crisis.

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