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You Are BOSS

You Are BOSS

You Are BOSS

Culture: People First
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Wow. We knew all the work involved to recreate BOSS into a virtual conference (a first for Vantage Point) would pay off, but we never imagined the calibre of collaboration, transformation, and work towards equity which would take place over the course of the week.

You inspired us. Whether you uplifted the program as a presenter, supported the team as a facilitator, tech host, or notetaker, or you participated wholeheartedly as an attendee, we give you our sincere gratitude. You are why this conference exists and why we do everything we can to create this convening opportunity.

Aligned with one of our major themes this year: collaboration, we could not have come this far without our generous sponsors, or our incredibly supportive board members. The Vantage Point team want to expressly state our gratitude to you for your crucial contributions.

After an intense week of learning and sharing we have taken some time to breathe and ultimately reflect on some of our favourite moments from “#BOSS2021” (albeit there are too many to count):

So, again, thank you to everyone who supported and took part in BOSS this year. Thank you for your commitment to collaboration within the sector, for striving towards equity for the vast and diverse communities we serve, and for listening with open hearts and minds as we envision how true transformation within the sector could look.

We are excited to take what we learned from every speaker at BOSS and the incredibly thoughtful caucuses each day and move forward together to rebalance and rebuild this sector. As Vu Le put it, let’s not aim to be more resilient – let’s be effective. We have already seen collaboration amidst the current pandemic like nothing before and we will come through this crisis stronger than ever if we continue this trend with foundations built in relationships and trust.

We look forward to seeing you all next time at BOSS. And of course, stay in touch!

We are all BOSS!

Sincerely,
Alison Brewin, Omar Dominguez, and the Vantage Point team

Author

Alison Brewin

As Executive Director, Alison Brewin is responsible for executing the Vantage Point’s mission and vision. Alison graduated with a Law Degree from the University of Victoria in 1991 and was called to the Bar in 1992. Throughout the 1990s, she worked in non-profit management, as political assistant…

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Change: My Takeaway As An Executive Director

Change: My Takeaways as an Executive Director

Culture: People First
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Change. It’s the latest trend. It is a great tool. And it’s exhausting when it isn’t fun.

Before I came to Vantage Point – and especially before COVID-19 – I would tell you that change is fun. I love change; I thrive on it. As the eternal optimist, I seek change as a process of improvement and getting to better places. I believe that change refreshes, allows new perspectives, challenges outdated thinking.

My coming to Vantage Point was no different. On a personal and professional level, I didn’t need the job. I liked my independence and my clients, but the opportunity to help make the change Vantage Point had already identified as a goal, and the idea of changing how I supported my beloved sector…well, it all seemed like a grand adventure.

Like many new Executive Directors, I had a vision of what the organization could be based on limited and external knowledge. In my defense, I at least had enough experience to know that listening and watching for a bit was important before I insisted on implementing my long list of exciting opportunities for positive change (I still have the Note in my phone I wrote out the day after I signed my contract that consisted of no less then 24 things I wanted to do in my new role!). Despite my long list, I took my time. Or I thought I did.

I come from a lifetime of work in social justice and a family deeply immersed in electoral politics. In that work, we talk about power, privilege, and hierarchy. A Lot. In advocating for gender equality in Canada (as opposed to advocating for gender equality in cultures and nations not our own), one gets used to being ignored or seen as low on the scale of ‘Important Things’. No matter our individual social location, human rights advocates are used to being ignored or thought ‘too political’. What we lose sight of in all not-for-profit work, and especially in social justice advocacy, is that as individuals we still have power.

And the Executive Director of Vantage Point has power.  Despite thinking I was holding back, in truth simply being the person I am stimulated change that created motion for the people around me.

Example #1: When I arrived at Vantage Point the office standard was business attire with casual Fridays. Anyone who knows me well is chuckling right now, if not laughing. Not only did I change that policy, I didn’t realize it was a policy until two weeks after having worn jeans every day.

Example #2: When I started my role, there was still some debate about whether it was appropriate to ask Knowledge Philanthropists to do territorial acknowledgments at the beginning of workshops. In the world I was coming from, I didn’t know anyone in BC was still uncomfortable with the practice. Now, it’s standard practice as part of our JEDI (justice, equity, decolonize, inclusion) goals and values.

And I learned, by listening and observing, where changes I envisioned were not a good idea for the organization. For example, ‘Knowledge Philanthropy.’

This must be framed around the core understanding that I loved, loved, loved, Vantage Point’s perspective on engaging skilled volunteers (and that is also present tense ‘love, love, love’). Vantage Point sees volunteers as whole people and honours those who choose to contribute their expertise to organizations they love. Vantage Point sees the very structure of not-for-profits as tied to understanding and advancing a people lens and in seeing the abundance of our organizations by celebrating the people involved. Vantage Point sees, at its very foundation and core, volunteerism as a part of human relationships and community development.

But, as someone actively seeking to upend racism and sexism and all the intersections swirling around those two concepts, I chaffed at the concept of ‘philanthropy’ as a positive. To me, the need for philanthropy is created by the availability of wealth to be donated. And philanthropy is often applied in western settler culture in a way that often feeds the systemic problems charitable endeavours seek to ameliorate.  The way wealth is collected and held by few and is kept from those struggling to survive and thrive, then handed back to those suffering in dribs and drabs based on ideas about who and what organizations are worthy is a problematic system.

Applying this lens to Knowledge Philanthropy, one can see that there is privilege in the capacity to give free professional skills to a mainstream organization – which is what Vantage Point is. If someone is 2SLGBTQ+, or Black, or Indigenous, or Asian, a refugee, or in poverty, or struggling with parenting, heck if someone is a straight, cis, white woman with a full-time job and one or more children…the capacity to donate time beyond their immediate community and family can be very challenging. Being judged or rewarded for the ability to volunteer time in the context of inequality is beyond unfair.

So, I was skeptical. And I was wrong. Partly.

Just as the majority of individuals who give charitable donations are middle and lower-income, so too the vast majority of people who give their time are people who have experienced the need for extra support. And giving time is not always a matter of giving away time with no benefit in return. In fact, the Vantage Point Knowledge Philanthropy program has so many benefits that the word limitation our Marketing & Communications team tasked me with is at risk here!

Suffice to say, Vantage Point is able to reach more than 1500 organizations each year, invest time and energy in sector development and advocacy, and do what we do because over 100 individuals – from Board members to Peer Network participants, from facilitators and instructors to tech hosts – give their time and knowledge to our mission and vision. Knowledge Philanthropy works and is central to who Vantage Point is and what we do.

I have learned change is inevitable, whether it is a pandemic or the desire to be different. But not making change is sometimes good for everyone. If change is necessary, though, I have learned individuals need different things in times of change.

Some want to know the big picture: Why are we doing this?
Some want to know the process: How are we doing this?
Some want to know the timeline: When are we doing this?

And if you don’t answer all three questions at the same time, whether in informal discussion or formal communications, you leave people behind feeling bewildered at best, angry and frustrated at worst.

Change is in the air. Change is constant. But what I have learned in the last three years can be summed up with the principle, “Change if necessary, but not necessarily change.”

Author

Alison Brewin

As Executive Director, Alison Brewin is responsible for executing the Vantage Point’s mission and vision. Alison graduated with a Law Degree from the University of Victoria in 1991 and was called to the Bar in 1992. Throughout the 1990s, she worked in non-profit management, as political assistant…

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Unraveling: Non-Profits, Covid-19, & the Fabric of BC Communities

Unraveling: Non-Profits, Covid-19, & the Fabric of BC Communities

Culture: People First
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With the newest evidence on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on BC’s not-for-profit sector, we are reminded of just how critical and delicate the vast web of relationships are that make possible the wellbeing of our communities. Our sector and the people we serve continue to tread water in this deepening crisis. Even with vaccines on the way to immunize much of our population, the challenges we are facing do not currently have an end in sight. The restrictions put in place to slow down the spread of the pandemic will continue to challenge the strength of individuals, the institutions that support them, and the economy in which they co-exist. How should we respond?

Adapting and supporting the sector to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic

At Vantage Point, we know that healthy and sustained not-for-profits are the cornerstone to community resilience and wellbeing. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have transformed every aspect of our organization to meet the evolving needs of not-for-profit leaders across the province. Just like our peers in the sector, our team has also been stretched to the edge of its capacity. But we have remained true to our values and committed to our mission to convene, connect and equip not-for-profit leaders in BC.

The new UNRAVELING Report reminds us that “the future health and vitality of our province depends on the not-for-profit sector being able to continue balancing the space between governments and the private sector to address unmet community needs and interests. This ongoing crisis will impact the not-for-profit sector–especially smaller organizations, arts and culture organizations, sport and recreation organizations, and organizations serving racialized people– significantly over the long term if thoughtful support isn’t provided.”

Our team at Vantage Point will continue to support and advocate on behalf of not-for-profit leaders, particularly those at the helm of smaller organizations. These leaders, their teams, and volunteers are a critical fabric that hold the strength of our communities together. The prospect of loosing one half of this vital community infrastructure, if our current crisis is prolonged, calls for urgent and decisive action by all sectors of our society, and specially by our government representatives. Up until now, all levels of government still need to demonstrate that they understand, and value, the vital role of the not-for-profit sector helping our communities recover from one of the worst global emergencies we have faced in recent memory.  The not-for-profit sector has always been committed to the pursuit of a more robust, collaborative, and equitable society. But we can’t do this alone! We call on everyone to partner with us to leverage our expertise and resources to help our communities recover from the overlapping crisis facing our communities.

Join us at BOSS

In the face of these challenges, Vantage Point’s upcoming BOSS (Building Organizational And Sector Sustainability) conference has been designed as an opportunity to leverage our sector’s expertise and resilience as a pathway to a stronger future for our province. Through online engagement, BOSS will catalyze the potential for extensive public participation and collaboration to strengthen BC’s not-for-profit sector. Together we will identify solutions, develop capacity, share resources, and reimagine the conditions which will lead to transformational change in the communities we serve.


For a detailed data summary, find an interactive review of Unraveling on Tableau.

 

2020 Data

Author

Omar Dominguez

Omar is our former Director of Government Relations and Sector Development. What does this mean? He provides leadership in Vantage Point’s mission to build the capacity of BC’s not-for-profit sector through membership engagement, sector development, and government relations. Basically, Omar does a lot….

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Leadership Lessons From the BackCountry

Leadership Lessons From The Back Country

Culture: People First
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Outside of my role as Manager, Learning & Evaluation at Vantage Point, I spend a lot of time playing in the mountains: backcountry skiing, rock climbing and scrambling primarily. One of the things I’ve come to appreciate over the years is how much a successful backcountry adventure has in common with a successful organization.

At Vantage Point I create and curate educational materials in the areas of governance, human resources, leadership, and capacity building: four areas that are critical to the success of a backcountry adventure.

Governance is, at its core, how a group of people organize to make decisions. In the not-for-profit world, it involves setting direction, providing oversight, and ensuring accountability. Likewise, we make similar decisions when planning and carrying out an expedition: Where are we going? What are our goals for the trip? What conditions might we encounter? How will we make decisions together? Backcountry travel, just like not-for-profit governance, involves making a series of decisions based on the best information available. This information often is imperfect or incomplete. What sets backcountry travel apart is that the decisions we make in the field can have immediate life-threatening consequences.

Let me pause here for a moment. I am not an adrenalin junkie. In fact, I look at an adrenalin rush as a sign that I’m doing something wrong. My first two goals for any adventure are first to come home safely, and second to have fun. A very distant third is to achieve whatever objective we set out for ourselves.

Clearly, good decision making is critical to a safe, enjoyable, and successful adventure. Unfortunately, there are many social and psychological processes that can lead us to unconsciously taking on more risk than intended. For example, summit fever (the desire to achieve the objective) can lead us to ignore an incoming storm, pushing us forwards when the safe option is to turn around. Having people around – either a large group (which makes us feel safer), or a special someone we want to impress – may subtly encourage us to ski a bigger, but riskier, line. These are just two of the many (unconscious) cognitive biases I learned about in my avalanche safety courses. While the courses did a great job of highlighting the biases, there was little discussion of how to overcome them. Being someone who always wants to know more, I conducted my own research.

The strategies I discovered for overcoming cognitive bias and making good backcountry decisions were eerily similar to what I knew about good leadership and organizational success. One of the most important decisions for a successful backcountry adventure is essentially an HR decision: selecting the right companions. So, what do we look for? Shared goals and expectations for the trip (alignment with the mission and values of the organization); the skills, experience, and fitness to achieve the objective safely (capacity and skill to fulfill the role); and most importantly, the ability to communicate openly and honestly.

In the backcountry, our safety depends on everyone in the group feeling comfortable enough to speak up. Pushing forward when someone is silently worried about their ability to get through a crux puts the group in a dangerous situation. Even on a guided trip where there is a clear leader, it’s important that everyone in the group is comfortable with the decision. Asking open-ended questions such as “what conditions are we seeing?” or “what should we be concerned about?” helps people voice their observations or concerns. Thoughtfully addressing each contribution helps people feel safe sharing again. The same leadership skills that enable us to create this dynamic in the backcountry serve us well in creating an inclusive and high functioning organization.

As the scope and complexity of our backcountry adventures increases, so does the importance of planning and capacity building. The planning required for an easy one-hour hike on a well-marked and familiar trail might be as simple as confirming when and where you will meet your friend and putting on your shoes and jacket. Planning a week-long helicopter-access ski expedition in glaciated terrain is far more involved. To name just a few things: coordinating flights, planning meals, gathering equipment and supplies, practicing glacier travel skills, and developing the necessary fitness. Coordinating who would do what to ensure we all arrived at the helipad at the right time, with all the necessary gear, required a significant amount of project management!

I didn’t expect that my backcountry adventures would lead to such insights, but people are people whether they are exploring the mountains or running a not-for-profit. Now, the sun is shining, the mountains are calling, and I must go.

Author

Kathleen Lane

Kathleen Lane was drawn to Vantage Point’s focus on lifting the capacity of not-for-profit organizations. As Learning Manager, she draws from her management experience, research in adult education and over 10 years experience creating and facilitating leadership programs – to develop, evaluate, and…

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You Are BOSS

Creating the most impact well into the future

Creating the Most Impact Well Into the Future

Culture: People First
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An organization’s records and information are among its most valuable assets. Caring for them in the present ensures that they remain valuable well into the future. Follow these simple steps to secure your organization’s legacy.

Some basic Records Management (RM) tips for maintaining records

Keep all your records in a central place, to ensure they aren’t lost or forgotten. You may need to keep them at the society’s registered address (per British Columbia’s Societies Act). Otherwise, keep records where they can easily be accessed by staff or volunteers who need to refer to them. Develop a straightforward filing system that everyone in the organization can follow. Make it a routine part of your annual activities to move less important records that you don’t often consult to storage. This allows you to make room for new records that you regularly need. Also, make it routine to destroy records that you don’t need anymore (more on this topic later!).

Make it a habit to label materials, in particular photographs or audio-visual materials, with full names, dates, and descriptions of the event or circumstances. Keeping information with the records makes it easier to find photographs and ensures that organizational memory isn’t lost when a director or staff member moves on.

Avoid storing records anywhere with dampness, dust, excessive sun or heat, and temperature swings. Dampness can cause moldy records, excessive heat or sun can fade or otherwise damage paper records and temperature swings can cause records to degrade. Avoid using rubber bands to hold records together; old rubber bands become hard and crusty and can damage paper records. Staples or plastic clips are a better choice.

Don’t forget the digital

Be sure to develop a filing system for digital records. You can use the same system that you use for paper records; you just have to create the necessary folder structure on your computer/Sharepoint /Google Drive or wherever you store digital records.

Develop naming conventions for digital documents, streamline organizing documents and folders, and ensure you don’t have to search through a bunch of report_final_final.docs to find the one you need. Suggestions for document naming conventions are widely available. You can decide on the one that works best for you. Here’s an example tip sheet from York University. And here is a brief podcast, transcript, and graphic for document naming conventions from SFU.

Short-term records

Blank or unused forms, duplicate material, drafts of any papers, reports, etc. that have been published, financial materials that are older than 7 years, especially receipts (the exception are budgets and financial statements – see below) are records that don’t have historical value and can be considered short-term and be disposed of when no longer needed.

Long-term records

There are also records that have long-term or historical value and should be maintained as evidence of past decisions and actions.

These records include (but aren’t limited to): certificate of incorporation; constitution and bylaws; register of directors; register of members; minutes of each meeting of members; financial statements of the society; and minutes of each board meeting.

Other records with historical value include: files documenting policies, decisions, committee and task force reports; publications, such as journals, monographs, newsletters, brochures, or posters; audio-visual, including photographs, video recordings, sound recordings; office files and officer’s files, such as correspondence, and subject files concerning your organization’s projects, activities, and functions; and scrapbooks.

Preserving records and making them accessible

For many organizations, partnering with a repository is a good strategy to preserve inactive records. This frees up valuable storage space for current records and provides research access to members of your organization and the public, thus expanding the reach of your organization’s story. Ultimately, this collaboration helps to safeguard the historical legacy and memory of your organization.

Simon Fraser University Library Special Collections & Rare Books (SCRB) is interested in developing its collections to support the teaching, learning, and research needs of the University and broader community. We are especially keen to contribute to efforts to better reflect the diversity of experiences in British Columbia. SCRB has strong collections with respect to the following themes: activism, arts and culture, labour, and immigration. SCRB collections may also be useful in your work now. Existing collections may allow you to trace the history of an issue, or to find new ideas and inspiration.

We welcome inquiries from prospective donors wishing to donate materials. Our decisions about what we can accept include consideration of the following: the content and how well it documents your organization, physical condition of records, processing and maintenance costs, and restrictions (if any) you wish to place on content. If your records do not fit our collection mandate, we may be able to refer you to another potential repository. We welcome your questions! Thank you for taking steps to ensure that your records are cared for and preserved so they can contribute to our larger community’s collective memory.

To find out more see SCRB’s Acceptance guidelines and donation procedures or contact SCRB.

 

Blog written by: Alexandra Wieland, Processing and Reference Archivist, SFU Library Special Collections and Rare Books

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Curiosity (or how being nosey led my way at Vantage Point)

Curiosity (Or How Being Nosey Led My Way At Vantage Point

Culture: People First
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It was a bright July day the first time I walked into the Vantage Point office as a full-fledged employee. Maria Turnbull walked up to me to give me a hug of welcome and introduce me to the team. I had come from the arts having spent three years working as an assistant in an Art Gallery followed by the role I had just left at a for-profit magazine working in social media marketing and circulation. I was coming from the world of large American conventions, and felt ready to embrace the not-for-profit sector again, and what better place to do it than Vantage Point.

I started my journey at Vantage Point as the Education Events Coordinator. Someone mentioned that I was the “nucleus” of Vantage Point, and my role would allow me to touch on every aspect of our work and that I would be the first point of contact for folks interested in engaging with Vantage Point through our open-enrollment workshops and labs. And damn, did that end up being true! I heard from every facet of our sector and began to develop relationships with the amazing people that make up our sector. I remember phone calls from folks wanting to learn about how Vantage Point could support their development and how almost every call would end in laughter and a mutual feeling of support.

It wasn’t only the wonderful people within the sector who made me excited for work each day; it was also my fantastic co-workers who were some of the hardest working people I had ever met. Our lunch hours were spent together as a team because we liked to hang out together. We would spend lunches chatting about things that interested us (yes, lots of Netflix), and I have honestly never laughed so hard as I did during some of those lunches. We would celebrate each other and our successes, and I started to feel like I could do anything at Vantage Point and started to poke around to see what else I could get involved with in our work. Through the art of asking (magic happens if you just ask), I had the privilege of conducting stakeholder interviews with several different organizations and learned to what scale of effort went into our consulting work. I was allowed the opportunity to support our BOSS conference and worked with the team for two consecutive years to make the conference a memorable experience for each attendee.

Eventually, I moved into the role of Communications and Events Manager, where I was handed the host baton from Maria for the From Our Vantage Point podcast. Maria graciously gave me the autonomy to adopt the podcast as I saw fit. In my next role, I built new relationships and continued our work to lift the sector and was always there to help whoever might end up in my inbox or on the phone, just as I had done in my Education Events Coordinator role.

As Vantage Point moved to continue our learning in equity, inclusion, and decolonizing work, we focused our communications to ensure our community saw themselves in our messaging. We developed our first Diversity and Inclusion workshop, which I have had the great privilege of facilitating over the past two years. My role changed again as my curiosity took me to other aspects of Vantage Point’s work. I added Inclusion Manager to my role in late 2020 and have had the pleasure of working with the team to grow our competencies in this important work and work with our members in the newly developed Justice, Equity, Decolonization, and Inclusion (JEDI) Peer Network.

I have grown a lot at Vantage Point. I have become a not-for-profit leader who champions JEDI work within our sector; and certainly, my curiosity led me to where I am now but, in all honesty, if it hadn’t been for the people I work with at Vantage Point, I’m not sure I would have made the same leaps I was able to achieve in my three-plus years with this fantastic group of individuals.

Author

Nav Nagra

Nav brings her positive energy and a keen eye for detail to her role as Communications & Inclusion Manager. She enjoys putting the awesomeness of Vantage Point on paper and looks forward to humble bragging all about our upcoming projects. Nav completed an Associate of Arts in Creative Writing…

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Miranda’s Blog

Miranda's Blog

Culture: People First
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Emilie Wapnick gave a TedTalk several years ago called “Why Some of us Don’t Have One True Calling.” It always really resonated with me. She shared that “your unique mix of interests may turn out to be your very own super-power.” As an individual with many interests, I truly hope so!

I grew up with a love for art and design (I have a lot of artists in my family!). But in university I was really drawn to the material in an intro to Environmental Studies course and eventually decided to pursue a double major in Environmental Studies & Sociology, with a minor in Business. In that time, I took on a variety of paid and volunteer roles both on and off campus. Some job highlights were managing Victoria’s Moss Street Community Market, interning at David Suzuki Foundation, and working for UVic’s Community Mapping Initiative. All this experience led to my interest and passion in community-driven change and not-for-profit organizations.

I started at Vantage Point in 2017. Over four years I have had a few different roles. First, I was the Community Engagement Coordinator supporting membership, marketing, and customer service. In mid-2017 I moved into the role of Marketing & Communications Coordinator. I really loved being on the creative side (surprise surprise…) managing our brand, creating written content, and designing documents such as our annual reports. In 2019 I moved into the role of Membership & Government Relations Coordinator, where I now manage our membership community. I really enjoy supporting our members and connecting them to our advocacy initiatives.

Vantage Point is always evolving and growing. No two years have looked alike. I’ve learned an incredible amount working at this organization, both about the not-for-profit sector, as well as myself as a young professional. I have particularly enjoyed the coaching training I’ve done through Vantage Point’s partnership with Essential Impact; and it’s led me to develop a strong interest in coaching.

Outside the “office” (virtual office for 2020!) I spent most of my time in the arts. I love dance, improv, choir, and art. I have become super passionate about illustration and graphic recording over the past five years. I’m usually working on a few illustration commissions, graphic recording gigs, and posting my latest projects on Instagram.

Some of my illustrations have made it into Vantage Point’s marketing, infographics, and videos. I really enjoyed developing a new huddle board for our standing meetings in the office. And there was also the time we filmed a membership video in a storage closet (the one room where we could control the lighting!). Shout-out to team member Rowan who came up with this video idea and can be seen behind the camera in the photo below.

If you want to talk about Vantage Point’s membership and advocacy, or the world of illustration – I’m happy to connect. You can find me at mmaslany@thevantagepoint and on LinkedIn.

Author

Miranda Maslany

Miranda leads Vantage Point’s membership program and coordinates our government relations work. She has always had a passion for environmental issues and completed a Double Major in Environmental Studies and Sociology, with a Minor in Business at the University of Victoria.

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A New Parliamentary Secretary Creates Positive Impact on Communities

A New Parliamentary Secretary Creates Positive Impact on Communities

Culture: People First
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Vantage Point congratulates Niki Sharma on being appointed Parlimentary Secretary of Community Development and Non-Profits and pledges its support for unleashing the potential of charities and not-for-profits in BC’s recovery
November 26, 2020 – Vantage Point’s Executive Director Alison Brewin congratulates Niki Sharma on being appointed Parlimentary Secretary of Community Development and Non-Profits today, and applauded Premier Horgan for his government’s commitment to cultivating a stronger relationship with BC’s charities and not-for-profits.

Not-for-profits and charities have stepped into pandemic response over the past eight months with great resilience and creativity however, as shown in the No Immunity Report published earlier this year, 23% of charities and not-for-profits said they’re at risk of closing their doors because of urgent threats caused by the pandemic— even as demand for their services is rising.

These organizations have been on the frontlines of providing critical services and maintaining resiliency throughout each wave of the virus. But now, with revenue and income shrinking, their very existence is at risk. We need to move quickly in collaboration to ensure these organizations can continue to action their missions and lift our communities while continuing to provide essential services and resources.

With the newly appointed Parlimentary Secretary, there is renewed ability to mobilize the not-for-profit and charitable sector’s 86,000 employees to even greater ability as the sector deals with challenges such as the overdose crisis, climate change, homelessness, and racial justice. Vantage Point looks forward to being able to collaborate with Parlimentary Secretary Sharma in leveraging the sector to continue to do this crucial work that contributes $6.7 billion to BC’s GDP and serves tens of thousands each year.

Vantage Point is excited to collaborate with Parlimentary Secretary Sharma to engage charities and not-for-profits in key elements of the government’s Stronger BC recovery plan: a nimble workforce, expanded community infrastructure, and wraparound supports like childcare, mental health services, and food security initiatives. With this appointment the government is saying it understands the critical contribution this sector makes to the wellbeing of people and communities across the province.

Quote

Alison Brewin, Executive Director of Vantage Point

“This is an exciting decision of the government and one that can have deep and positive impact on communities, the economy, and the environment. It is a clear sign that the government seeks to partner with the sector to find solutions and build back better together”

Learn More

About Vantage Point
Vantage Point exists to support the people moving these organizations forward – Executive Directors, board members, senior leaders, managers, staff, and volunteers. Our mission is to transform not-for-profit organizations by convening, connecting, and equipping leaders to lift organizational capacity. Every client leaves our programs with resources to excel in their role and grow the impact of their organization. thevantagepoint.ca

Media Contact
Nav Nagra, Communications and Inclusion Manager
Email: nnagra@thevantagepoint.ca
Phone: 604-562-4757

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Government Announcement of a Home for the Sector

Government Announcement of a Home for the Sector

Culture: People First
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Today, Nov 26th, 2020 the BC Govenment announced its Cabinet. Part of that annoucement included the welcome announcement of a new Parlimentary Secretary of Community Development and Non-Profits. Niki Sharma, a rookie MLA but very experienced board member — including many years on the board of Vancity Credit Union – has been appointed to the role within the Ministry of Social Services and Poverty Reduction.

Although Vantage Point has been advocating for a full Ministry dedicated to the sector (such as the 90s-era Ministry of Community, Co-ops, and the Voluntary Sector), we are happy to see a clear and leader to support meaningful partnerships with our sector.

What will it mean to have a ‘home for the sector’ in the BC Cabinet? What is the opportunity this new Parlimentary Secretary role presents?

As we know, not-for-profits have stepped into pandemic response in the past nine months in remarkable and creative ways to meet community needs. Many have adjusted our operating models and funding allocations to be able to respond to emerging priorities.

And those needs grow daily as we find ourselves in the second wave of COVID-19.

But while the pandemic creates greater need than ever for the services of the charitable and not-for-profit sector, it also threatens our future. Fundraising revenue has fallen sharply, and over twenty-five percent of BC’s not-for-profits are now in danger of closing their doors, threatening not just the vital work of those organizations, but also the jobs of 86,000 British Columbians employed in this sector. Seventy-four per cent of workers in this sector are women, a demographic already hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

Like those facing the public sector and the private sector, the challenges facing the “third sector” and its important work are urgent and complex. Unlike the public and the private sector, or other major economic sectors such as tourism, health, and forestry, there has been no central place in government for BC’s charitable and not-for-profit sector. A home for the sector in government is the way to ensure our critical community contributions have the right coordination, investment, and connections to unleash the potential of our hard work.

A Parliamentary Secretary does not sit at the Cabinet table, that is the role of the Minster of Social Services and Poverty Reduction – longtime MLA and former social worker Nicolas Simons. But Parliamentary Secretaries and their Minister can build great systems together. Mitzi Dean was Parliamentary Secretary on Gender Based Analysis in the Ministry of Finance and was able to accomplish a great deal because of the positive and active relationship between her and the Honourable Carole James. We will look for that same level of mutual support between the Honourable Simons and Ms Sharma.

We will look to the mandate letters now – the express direction the Premier gives to each Minister – to see if the focus will be able to  build resilency in the sector and identify opportunities for growth is a critical part of the pandemic recovery. By taking a coordinated approach to marshalling the considerable resources of our sector, the Parlimentary Secretary and the Minister maybe be able to deliver several new benefits such as the ability to:

  • Set and advance common goals for public wellbeing
  • Leverage donor dollars and private funding through partnerships
  • Build government capacity to understand and address the unique needs of not-for-profit organizations and the opportunities to work together
  • Aggregate information and support necessary innovation, capacity, and impact of not-for-profit organizations
  • Mobilize volunteers in every corner of the province, providing the equivalent of 146,000 full-time positions
  • Foster new partnerships to build community infrastructure and bridge the digital divide
  • Reach into cultural and linguistic communities to provide essential supports
  • Advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in communities around the province
  • Seed charities and not-for-profits as key enablers of green technology and sustainability
  • Update rules and streamline regulatory obstacles to success

The challenges facing our province today demand new solutions and fresh ideas. Charities and not-for-profits are proven innovators, fluent in collaboration with an ability to attract investment from outside government. We hope to see greater alignment with government planning and priorities to leverage these assets for the common good. This new role will help ensure our sector meets its potential to improve economic, social, and environmental outcomes for all British Columbians.

We applaud this move on the part of the government. Vantage Point looks forward to working with Parlimentary Secretary Sharma to amplify the breadth, innovation, and resilience of our wonderful sector.

Author

Alison Brewin

As Executive Director, Alison Brewin is responsible for executing the Vantage Point’s mission and vision. Alison graduated with a Law Degree from the University of Victoria in 1991 and was called to the Bar in 1992. Throughout the 1990s, she worked in non-profit management, as political assistant…

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April 24, 2006, marked Volunteer Vancouver’s annual Volunteer Recognition Awards event. Over 800 community members celebrated many inspiring volunteers at the Westin Bay Shore Hotel that evening. It was also my first day with Vantage Point.

I started as the Program Manager for the Canada Volunteerism Initiative – BC Region. The role drew on my volunteer engagement experience, multi-stakeholder engagement, and facilitation from my positions with the Canadian and British Red Cross Societies, Oxfam Canada, and Amnesty International.

I was fresh out of my MBA from INSEAD in 2006, and Volunteer Vancouver was quick to consider other ways to engage my skills and interests when the CVI initiative was wrapped up less than a year later. I moved into our expertise area of not-for-profit governance, developing, facilitating, and engaging skilled volunteers in our training services. Leading our custom board governance work during an early period of organizational evolution equipped me to take on new internal management responsibilities while fostering the governance “geek” in me!

Fast forward through the last 14 years, travelling upwards on the lifecycle growth curve (personally, professionally, and organizationally), from becoming a Mum and moving to Nexwlélexm in 2010 to taking on the role of Associate Executive Director in 2011, it’s been a robust and energizing journey.

Today, I am privileged to lead and learn alongside the delivery team at Vantage Point through our services’ ongoing evolution to strengthen not-for-profit organizations in BC – from our open enrolment workshops and labs to our custom and onsite training, strategic planning, and consulting. The work is wildly diverse and plays equally to my instinctive role as a connector (to people, resources, ideas, etc.) and my key strengths, articulated by my StrengthsFinder Top 5: “woo” (or winning others over), adaptability, communication, strategic, and positivity.

The people I have journeyed with since 2006 as a result of our common connection to Vantage Point – our not-for-profit clients, fellow staff and consultants, Knowledge Philanthropists, board members, funders, and partners – have profoundly shaped who I am today. I have applied my “day job” learning to my own governance roles, formerly as board chairs of both Potluck Café Society and the Bowen Island Montessori Preschool, to raising our “little creatures” with a focus on abundance and joy, to applying leadership and management concepts on our family sailboat!

If it weren’t for the people, I don’t think I’d still be with Vantage Point. As we’ve been known to say, if it’s a transformation you’re looking for – start with people first.

Author

Maria Turnbull

Maria Turnbull brings over 20 years of leadership experience in staff and director roles within the not-for-profit sector, both here in Canada and in the UK. With a BA in International Relations and MBA, Maria is a skilled facilitator and consultant in board governance, organizational development,…

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