Change in the Air

Shorts have been replaced by jackets, there’s a chill in the air, and leaves are starting to change – fall is definitely here in Saskatoon!
Rather than lament the end of summer (and the short time before we’ll be talking about the frozen white stuff hitting the ground!), I would like take a minute to look back with gratitude. Overall, it was a great summer, balanced between work and relaxation, travel and time around Saskatoon, looking back and looking forward. I had the opportunity to meet up with friends and colleagues in Vancouver, convened my advisory group for the first time, and created a strategic document to help guide my work over the next 12 months. Most importantly, I was able to spend some timing in reading and reflecting on what exactly is the core or heart of my work: what is the change that I want to see?

I’m really excited about the months to come, with some awesome projects starting up, the American Evaluation Association’s conference in Chicago to prepare for, and the opportunity to grow what Strong Roots can be – look for more on that in the weeks and months to come!

Over to you – how was your summer? What’s got you excited for the fall? Comment below or through Twitter!

News: Crowdfunding and Bunnyhugs

Lots on the go! If you’re based in Saskatchewan and work in the area of poverty reduction (or even if you don’t and simply care about the issue, which really should apply to everyone!), I strongly recommend you check out the survey link in the second item below related to the provincial government’s poverty reduction strategy. The survey closes this Friday, so don’t delay!

Webinar on Board Diversity: Ideally, non-profit boards of directors are reflective of the communities they work in: this goal is not often met in practice. This Thursday, May 14 at 11am Sask time (1pm Eastern), a free webinar on Building Board Diversity and Inclusion (hat tip to Sheena Greer at Colludo!) will focus on “how to bring more diversity to your board and create a board culture that values diversity beyond the check box.”

Poverty Reduction Survey: Saskatchewan is one of two provinces in Canada without a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy. Last year, efforts by the Poverty Costs initiative brought this issue onto the public radar, leading the provincial government to form an Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction to provide input into the formation of a strategy. That group is now asking for public feedback from both individuals and organizations through a brief online survey. Act fast, as it closes this Friday, May 15.

Leadership Saskatoon is holding a Sandbox Lunch and Learn on Wednesday May 27. Using a World Cafe approach, participants will learn about the Canada300 project and discuss the future of Canada over the next 150 years. Given the scope of the topic, it’s a longer session than usual, running 11:30-1:30 at the Affinity Credit Union’s St Mary’s branch (20th Street West and Avenue P). RSVP’s are required by May 22 – contact information and more details on the poster.

Still on Leadership Saskatoon, the application period for 2015-16 Leadership Saskatoon cohort is open until June 1. If you’re interested in applying, don’t delay!

Crowdfunding! Two amazing Saskatoon initiatives are running crowdfunding campaigns – check them out, as they’re both worthy of your support!

Next Up, a great youth leadership program focusing on social and environmental justice issues1, is looking for support to host an intensive session for First Nations and Métis youth. This is the second time for this specific session, and last year’s offering saw an amazing response. Money raised for this year will help provide program supplies, honoraria, and travel and childcare subsidies.

Treaty 6 Justice Collective has launched a campaign in support of a new community space called The Stand. Located in the Nutana community, this space will become the new home for independent bookstore Turning the Tide and provide coworking and meeting space for community organizers and grassroots organizations. Money raised will go towards renovation and equipment expenses with additional funds going towards initial operating costs and an organizing fund to support new community organizations.

Kudos! Speaking of crowdfunding, you may remember that Affinity Credit Union ran a social enterprise contest last fall that combined traditional grant making with a crowdfunding approach that raised over $90,000. That success was recently recognized with a National Credit Union award for Community Economic Development from Credit Union Central of Canada. Congrats to Affinity’s community development team – looking forward to this year’s contest!

And just in case you need a laugh, Vu Le over at Nonprofit With Balls provides some great templates to answer that perennial grant application question: how will your program be sustainable after our funding ends? The “poetic existential” and “short and simple” versions at the end are my favourite, but I have to give bonus points for including bunnyhugs2 in the Canadian version!

  1. Full disclosure: I was a volunteer presenter at one of Next Up’s sessions this past year.
  2. A Saskatchewan term for a hooded sweatshirt, or hoodie – I’m surprised that an American is familiar with a term, as I have never heard that term used elsewhere in Canada!

Learning Experience

While I won’t go into the origins of Strong Roots here (sounds like a superhero backstory), suffice to say it was a bit of a twisty path going from wide-eyed student to the slightly less wide-eyed but more experienced consultant you see before you. Along that path, I was helped by numerous amazing people who acted as mentors in some way and provided opportunities for me to learn and grow. Early on in building Strong Roots, I recognized that I wanted to pay that support forward to those new to the for-impact field, be they students, newcomers to the city or country, or someone making the shift into the sector after working elsewhere.

Last August, an urban and regional planning student, Shannon McAvoy, came by the Two Twenty looking for an opportunity to work or volunteer here. We talked and determined we could figured something out, with an opportunity for her to see first-hand what life is like as a solo consultant, and for me to put my principles in action as well as to learn more about the field of urban planning.

One obstacle came up immediately: I didn’t have enough regular work at the time for Shannon to join in on or the funds to compensate her time, aside from paying for her Two Twenty coworking membership. Although the laws in Saskatchewan around unpaid internships are somewhat vague, my position was that I wouldn’t ask her to do work that I would normally pay somebody to do. Instead, we ended up creating a hybrid model that combined a job shadow with volunteering together on a community project.


Discovering a mutual interest in improving public transit in Saskatoon, we started an initiative called Better Transit YXE1, with the aim to encourage dialogue around the role that transit plays in a growing city. We blogged, handed out candy canes on a cold December day, and had many coffee meetings with transit staff, city councillors, and leaders of related organizations like Bus Riders of Saskatoon and Saskatoon Cycles. Those conversations in particular had an unexpected impact, bringing together a small group of committed people who recently held a citywide event, 10 Days for Transit, to spark change around how we think and talk about transportation in our city. While the long-term effects will undoubtedly play out in the months and years to come, the fact that we could contribute in some small way was a huge win for this partnership.

All good things come to an end, and that’s true for this experience as well. With her final exams complete, Shannon will be graduating later this spring and subsequently moving to the south of the province. Better Transit YXE, always intended to last only as long as Shannon’s time with Strong Roots, will officially wrap-up in the coming days. The work of Strong Roots Consulting will continue, but I will miss Shannon’s knowledge, enthusiasm, and positive attitude in the weeks and months to come.

Shannon, thank you for all that you have brought to these last seven months! I hope that you found it a worthwhile experience, and I wish you all the best in the months and years to come.

  1. Like most other Canadian cities, Saskatoon’s three-letter airport code begins with “Y” and has no obvious relation to the city’s name. In this era of hashtags, it’s become a convenient and quirky shorthand.

News – In The Community

Although the 30 cm of snow that walloped Saskatoon this past weekend may not seem particularly spring-like, by tomorrow it should all be a soggy memory and we can enjoy the rest of the season in peace. Good thing, as there are a bevy of upcoming community events to get you outside and moving!

A Tale of Two Neighbourhoods

Two of Saskatoon’s historic neighbourhoods, Nutana and Riversdale, are separately holding community engagement events this coming week. As it happens, I live in the former and work in the latter, so I’m incredibly thankful that they are scheduled for separate nights so I can attend both!

First up is Nutana Talks: An Evening of Creative Community Building, hosted this Wednesday, April 29, by the Nutana Community Association at École Victoria School. The focus seems primarily on arts and culture, with a presentation by a theatre group that has been interviewing local residents about life in the community. The event starts at 6:30pm and the poster promises dotmocracy!

Skip across the river the following evening (April 30) for Riversdale Love’s kickoff event. Riversdale is the home to my home away from home, which gives me a front-row seat to the rapid changes happening to the neighbourhood. Riversdale Love is a response to these developments that aims to “connect diverse people in conversations about the future of Riversdale”. Twelve speakers, including representatives from local non-profits and businesses, artists, developers, and community members, each get 6 minutes and 40 seconds (20 slides x 20 seconds) to answer the question “What is your vision for the future of Riversdale?”. I have heard from a reliable source that there will be audience participation involving sticky notes: how could a community-engaged researcher not attend?

Jane’s Walk

Created in honour of urbanist Jane Jacobs, this worldwide event supports citizen-led walking tours that encourages people to tell stories, connect with neighbours, and learn more about their cities. This year, there are 15 such walks being hosted in Saskatoon from May 1-3, covering everything from urban forests to history of LGBTQ activism to the impact of infill. Maybe next year we can organize a walk highlighting the history of for-impact people and organizations in our city?


The weather should be nice, so let’s keep walking! On May 6, Colludo’s Sheena Greer, together with Paul Nazareth of Canada Helps and David Kravinchuck of Fundraising Pharmacy, will host a Nonprofit “Netwalk”. Networking while going for a stroll along the beautiful South Saskatchewan makes perfect sense – well, at least at this time of year! Show up at the Farmer’s Market next Wednesday, May 6 at 7:45 with comfortable shoes.

Now that spring is here, how are you (re-)connecting with your community, however you define it? Share in the comments below or continue the conversation on Twitter!

Exploring Beliefs, Listening for Change

Research, even in a community-based context, is often associated with providing evidence and providing some degree of certainty. Can we prove that poverty is increasing? Can we show that our organization’s efforts are making a difference (and thus we deserve more funding)?

There are other aspects of research that get less attention but are equally as crucial. Exploratory work may not “prove” something in the traditional sense, but can help sketch out a map of what direction to take next. Likewise, research can help disconfirm previously-held ideas: as the cliche goes, one black swan is all that’s needed to disprove the belief that all swans are white. Through these two approaches, research can challenge established ideas and ways of effecting change.

Last night, I came across an article about an exploratory research project on auditory hallucinations, originally reported in The Lancet Psychiatry. Cleverly titled “Hearing the Voice”, the research group behind the project decided to use a survey to learn more about what people actually experience, even if they did not have a clinical diagnosis.

Using open-ended questions, they found some results that countered previous research and long-held assumptions. For example, in contrast to the idea that most voices are violent or potentially harmful, most respondents described them as being helpful or benign. Although the research has its shortcomings, such as no way to verify participants’ self-reported experiences, the results suggest that what we previously thought about “hearing voices” may not be totally correct.

What beliefs do we hold onto in the for-impact sector about the people and communities we work with?

  • Seniors / newcomers to our country / low-income individuals and families don’t use social media, so we shouldn’t bother to advertise our events and programs on Facebook or Twitter
  • Our clients have poor education and skills
  • Participants and local community members don’t have the time or interest to play a leadership role in our organization

Some of these beliefs may in fact be true for your context, while others should put thrown in the same bin as “If you’re hearing voices, they’re most likely saying bad things”. Holding on to these old beliefs in absence of evidence could easily lead us to miss opportunities to create a broader impact.

Fortunately, the solution is pretty straightforward. Ask your participants open-ended questions, watch what’s happening in the community, and connect with partners and local leaders around your issue. Most importantly, approach this research not to confirm what you already know (or think you know), but to challenge your beliefs and learn something new.

News – Chats, Culture, and Change!

Welcome to a new month! Prepare yourself to hear (and perhaps initiate yourself) random small talk around the office of “Wow, can you believe it’s March already?”. Lots happening this month, so on to the content!


A new month of course means another #SKNPChat – this month, hosted by yours truly on the topic of evaluation. For those questions you’ve had about program evaluation but were afraid to ask your funder about, now’s your chance. Join us this Thursday at 11am Saskatchewan time!

To recognize the upcoming International Women’s Day, International Women of Saskatoon (IWS) is hosting an event on Friday, March 6, at the Hilton Garden Inn. Running from 9:30 to noon, the event focuses on women as change agents and will feature two panel discussion, one on women in politics and the other on the workplace. Check the link above for further details and RSVP info.

Also this Friday, KPMG and the United Way of Saskatoon and Area are hosting a panel discussion for local non-profits on the topic of community engagement and sustainability. The discussion starts at 3:30 and takes place at the Sheraton Cavalier’s “Top of the Inn” ballroom.

Leadership Saskatoon is hosting a Sandbox Lunch and Learn on March 18. Alleson Mason, from the Saskatchewan Open Doors Society, will be presenting on “Intercultural Communication & Cultural Diversity in Saskatoon”. More details including location and RSVP information available here.


Applications for the Community Initiatives Fund’s Community Grant and Community Places and Spaces programs are both due April 1. These funds are open to all Saskatchewan nonprofits (charitable status not required): unincorporated groups can apply if endorsed by an eligible organization (nonprofit, municipality, health region, school, school division) that will handle the funds on behalf of the applicant.

SaskCulture is providing funding assistance for organizations participating in Culture Days (September 25-27 this year). Registered Saskatchewan non-profits with a cultural mandate can apply individually for event funding or as a group (minimum three organizations) to host a Cultural Hub. Due date is April 15.

New @Strong Roots

New office

Two quick pieces of Strong Roots news. First, it turns out my announcement earlier this year about moving into an office was slightly premature: good news, things have worked out and I am now the proud lessee of suite 213 at the Two Twenty! It’ll be a few days before I’m moved in fully and settled (as you can see in the pic, I’m going for the whole lean startup look1, but feel free to drop by and say hi.

Second, I’ve been playing around with a bit of a website redesign, featuring a new logo – check out the teaser! Besides having a fresher look, the new site will be reorganized to highlight the core work I do with for-impact organizations.

How are you holding up into the third month of 2015? Share below, drop me a line on Twitter as practice for Thursday’s tweet chat, or send an email!

  1. Thanks to my new neighbour Joanne from the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council for lending me a desk for today!

(Re) Visiting

There’s a lot you can learn when traveling, even (especially?) when you’re going to a place that’s familiar. Earlier this month I made the trek to Winnipeg, the city where I spent the first eighteen years of my life. Although in recent years I make it back on average a couple times a year, I usually don’t break out of the normal routine of seeing family and friends. Funny enough, out of all the cities I’ve lived in I’m probably least familiar with what’s happening in the “for-impact” sphere in Winnipeg, even though I spent more than half of my life there.

Lunch with a Side of Change

To start changing that imbalance, I met up with Kaye Grant, an independent consultant as well as the communication coordinator for Canadian Worker Co-op Federation1. Kaye’s primary focus is management consulting with both businesses and nonprofits, and also has a strong interest in social enterprise. As it turns out, we both were at the Social Enterprise World Forum a few years ago in Calgary: she has also worked with Marty Donkervoort, who presented at the conference on his experiences with Inner City Renovation in Winnipeg.

Our time together started with a late lunch at Neechi Commons. This space, located just north of Winnipeg’s downtown in the Point Douglas neighbourhood, is in many ways a mirror-image of Saskatoon’s Station 20 West. Both buildings house a grocery space, café, and office space for local community organizations: Neechi also includes a small store selling art and craftwork with a focus on local artists.

There’s also a geographical similiarity at play. Like Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods of Riversdale and Pleasant Hill, Winnipeg’s Point Douglas has faced a lot of difficulties over the past decades. Visiting that area after dark was seen as dangerous for someone growing up in the suburbs, a stereotype that, while having some basis in reality, was exacerbated by regular media stories of poverty and crime: I imagine that the core neighbourhoods here in Saskatoon have confronted similar stigma. Although these communities in both cities still face numerous challenges, there’s a renewed sense of hope and energy for creating meaningful and equitable change.

Have Warehouse, Will Innovate

After Neechi, we travelled a few blocks down to Winnipeg’s Social Enterprise Centre. Located in a repurposed warehouse just north of the train tracks seperating Point Douglas from Winnipeg’s downtown, the centre houses multiple tenants including neighbourhood groups, a community-university research partnership, a hardware co-op and several construction and renovation social enterprises, including BUILD and Manitoba Green Retrofit (MGR).

Lucas from MGR gave us a tour and shared some of the history of both the building and his organization. He had started working for BUILD, an organization that provides energy retrofits of old homes as a means to improve local low-income housing stock and provide training for people who face barriers to employment. Although successful on the training front, BUILD faced two issues: first, their graduates were having difficulties finding and holding employment in their field, and second, due to funder restrictions BUILD was limited in the types of contracts they could take on.

The solution? Start a new social enterprise, Manitoba Green Retrofit, that could provide the work experience and would be free to pursue different contracts. Graduates trained through BUILD could find meaningful employment with MGR, building their resume and developing soft skills such as learning how to navigate workplace culture. According to Lucas, so far the approach has been successful, with expansion in the cards: the only snag is accessing capital, which is somewhat complicated by their non-profit status.

The City You Visit is Not the One You Grew Up In

What did I take away from this experience?

First off is inspiration. As with many Winnipeggers, I hold a love-hate relationship with our common city of origin2, and it can be difficult to shake impressions rooted in 18 years of memory. These views have been challenged recently by friends and colleagues here in Saskatoon who’ve spoken highly of the city3, but as the old saying goes, seeing is believing. Meeting people from my hometown who are tackling deep-rooted issues with innovative approaches was hugely inspiring: hopefully there will be future opportunities for me to continue learning from them, to share ideas with organizations here in Saskatoon, and perhaps contribute to their work!

The broader lesson that I took away is linked to the importance of a longer term impact and vision. The people and organizations I connected with were all working towards the same end, namely creating positive change for the community and its members, even though they worked under different structures (non-profit, social enterprise, for-profit) and utilized different skills and knowledge bases. There’s the risk in promoting social enterprises of over-emphasizing the importance of business-based solutions: at the same time, saying that all social change has to come from charity or government can be just as limiting. There’s no one-size approach for the change we want to see. In my opinion, so long as we bring similar values, goals, and dreams, that’s a good thing.

  1. Hat tip to Victor Das for making the connection!
  2. Check out the forward to an aptly titled book, “Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg” if you want further insight into this duality.
  3. Just not during the CFL season.

Borrowed Terms

Pop quiz: What is the basic aim of any non-profit organziation? (or for-impact, a term I’m growing attached to more and more)

  1. Use force or the capacity for force to protect one's nation-state and secure its international policy aims
  2. Generate financial profit for the organization's owners / stakeholders
  3. Create positive change in our communities

The answer is obviously the third option. Yet, many of the ideas and concepts in our sector have been borrowed from the military and business worlds. I was reminded about this fact not long ago by an article in the Harvard Business Review that encourages for-profit businesses to stop using battle metaphors: make customers, not war. In our line of work, we aim to make change, but we talk about tactics and strategy (as pointed out in the HBR article, originating from the ancient Greek term for a military general), cost-benefit analyses, and after-action reviews, among others.

Don’t get me wrong: there are definitely good ideas and concepts we can borrow from these areas. Both have had to grapple with balancing efficiency and impact, planning for and adapting to complex and changing situations, and avoiding mission creep (oops, there’s a borrowed term again!). In some ways, the stakes are higher when we start talking dollars and firepower: just take a look at the worst-case scenario in the three spheres, what happens if they don’t bring their best game to the table. For the military, it’s death and destruction. In business, financial ruin for individuals, companies, even whole financial systems. Non-profits? Well, people and communities don’t grow and improve, or even end up backsliding, and individual organizations may have to shut their doors. On the other hand, charity and government funds will continue to come through in some form, even with the sector increasingly under the microscope. I’m being somewhat flippant here, but in many ways non-profits haven’t faced the same degree of challenge as our colleagues in arms and in suits.

Are there any terms that we use regularly that have a non-profit or for-impact origin? One that comes to mind is program evaluation, with Michael Quinn Patton noting that “Evaluation, like the urban poor, grew up in the projects – large government structures aimed at concentrating limited resources on seemingly unlimited problems”1. We don’t have straightforward metrics of success like territory held, market share, or financial bottom line (pervasiveness of the overhead myth notwithstanding). Building better communities and changing people’s lives requires a different approach, one that both provides accountability and facilitates learning.

Again, I’m not advocating for us to drop useful military and business terms from our vocabulary. Instead, let's be aware of where those ideas come from and what baggage they bring, recognize our own contributions, and continue developing our own ideas – perhaps in the near future we’ll start seeing non-profit terms enter others’ lexicons!

What are some other terms that have a non-profit origin? What for-impact ideas are ripe for introducing to other sectors? Share below or on Twitter!

  1. Patton, M.Q. (1994). Developmental evaluation. Evaluation Practice, 15, 311-319.

News – Flurry of Events and Road Trip!

As far as I know, Saskatchewan does not have a resident gopher to prognosticate on our weather chances. We’re pretty sure that, flirtations with spring-like weather a few weeks ago aside, winter won’t be leaving any time soon – it’s -23 as I write this, with the windchill making it feel like -32! Fortunately, the sun is out, the sky is clear, and there’s plenty happening in Saskatoon to keep busy and warm.

More events!

Lots happening in Saskatoon this week!

Station 20 West, a great community space in the west end, is holding a Winter Celebration open house this afternoon from 3-6. The event includes music, food, kids activities, and an opportunity to connect with the organizations that call that space home.

Also today, the Children’s Discovery Museum is hosting an open house to discuss the ideas for their new space at the Mendel Art Gallery, opening in 2017. The event takes place at the Mendel from 10-8, with presentations at noon, 4:30, and 7pm.

Previously mentioned in my last news blast, a reminder about the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre’s Community Engagement event happening Wednesday, February 4 at Station 20 West from 10-1 and again from 5-8.

Sheena Greer is hosting another #sknpchat this coming Thursday, Feb 5 at 11am CST for Saskatchewan based nonprofits on the topic of corporate partnerships. I’m sure that non-Saskatchewan Twitter peeps are welcome, as long as you can properly pronounce and spell “Regina”.

Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation is hosting their annual awards gala this Thursday at the Roxy Theatre on 20th Street West. I know two of the recipients via the Two Twenty, namely the Poverty Costs Campaign (an initiative of SFBLC, Upstream, and the Saskatoon Anti-Poverty Coalition) and Reyn Lauer, and I can’t think of who else would be more deserving! Free and open to the public (RSVP’s appreciated). Doors open at 6 and the program starts at 6:30.

NextUp, a youth leadership program, is hosting a Human Library – instead of taking books off a shelf, you engage in conversation with human “books” and get to hear their stories! The theme of this library is “History of Women and Transgender People Making Change in Saskatchewan”, and will take place at Station 20 West (lots of events there!) next Monday, February 9, from 6-8:30pm.

Last but not least, Innoweave has some webinars and online workshops coming up in the next few months, including on Social Enterprise and Collective Impact. Some of the events require registration with dates coming up soon – see their Events page for more details.


Saskatoon Community Foundation is accepting applications for their Youth Empowerment Saskatoon (YES!) grants, with priority given to projects focusing on Support for Economically Disadvantaged Youth, Arts and Culture, Healthy Living, Youth with Disabilities, Social Support for Youth, or Education and Employment. Applications are due March 1.

Leadership Saskatoon has opened nominations for their Community Leader award – more details available on their site. They’re also starting to accept applications for their Leadership development program – I was part of the 2013-14 cohort and it was a great opportunity to reflect on my leadership journey, stretch my abilities, and learn from individuals across the public, private, and nonprofit spheres. The deadline for the application is June 1, but if you’re interested, best to apply soon as possible.

Finally, a quick reminder about the Social Innovation Residency application that I wrote about a few weeks ago – it would be great to see some Saskatchewan-based innovators in the inaugural cohort!

Strong Roots on the Road!

Are you a non-profit based in Winnipeg ? I’ll be in town next week, primarily for a family visit but I’m also up for connecting with individuals or organizations for conversations around evaluation, social innovation, social enterprise, or non-profit capacity building in general. Have coffee, will chat!

Anything I missed? Upcoming news to share about happenings in Saskatoon? Let me know!

Meeting with Purpose

Annual General Meetings (AGM’s) are a staple of the nonprofit world, even if they tend to be somewhat dry affairs – and I’m being charitable in that description! Once a year we come together, shuffle our way through reports, endure calls for more dollars, volunteers, and board members, pass motions, quibble over figures in the audited financials, vote in a slate of directors, and finally approve the blessed motion to adjourn until next year.

A board that I sit on had its AGM last night, which I duly attended. It started by hewing to the time-established formula: a welcome from our president, approval of the agenda, reports from the auditor, and acceptance of our financial statements. Then our executive director took the stage. He’s always a great storyteller, especially when he has the opportunity to share his enthusiasm for our organization and the cause, but last night he was firing on all cylinders. Slides of numbers and charts, guaranteed to be an enthusiasm-killer in less-skilled hands, came alive. He effortlessly weaved together stories of our past challenges, recent accomplishments, and future dreams and aspirations. His words went beyond our four walls and programs to encompass our place in the community, both what it had been and what it could be. I don’t know what others thought about his spiel, but I know that it made me feel a bit of pride – pride in our accomplishments, pride in the (small) contributions I had made so far in my year as a board member – and excitement for what would be to come for our organization.

AGM’s, at their best, can be an opportunity to engage community members and stakeholders, provide oversight and accountability, and demonstrate the relevancy of programs and services. At their core, these meetings are a time to share: share data points and insights (good and bad!) about the year that has passed, share stories of success and adversity, share hopes and visions. Done well, they can inspire, energize, and open the door for future partnerships and opportunities. Next time you’re involved with planning an AGM, whether as a board member or staff, take a minute to think what the purpose of the event will be, beyond fulfilling legal requirements for another year. What can you do to make staff, volunteers, board members, and community members walk away with an extra spring in their step, hopeful and excited for the next year? What’s the narrative that you hope they’ll take away and share with their friends and colleagues? Will they understand the organization’s vision and what it will need to succeed?

Taking this approach doesn’t require a lot of extra work: just a slight shift in mindset away from the AGM as a chore and towards AGM as an opportunity.