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Creating the most impact well into the future

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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Maria’s Blog

Maria's Blog

Culture: People First
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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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If We Are Serious About JEDI, We Should Be Serious About This

If We Are Serious About JEDI, We Should Be Serious About This

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When was the first time you thought about decent work? For me, it was not during the first few jobs I had as a student. I was ready, willing, and eager to work as a young person, and because of my privileges, did not have to actively think about decent work conditions. Honestly, I was happy to just be hired! I made minimum wage and that seemed good enough.

After a few years of working full-time, I started encountering confusing situations that finally made me think twice. For example, I once learned that a co-worker had successfully negotiated for health benefits I was told we were both ineligible for. Equally confusing was when I realized that my peers, unlike me, had access to paid professional development while working at organizations with a smaller budget than where I was employed. Even now, those experiences remain in my memory as confusing because I never asked anyone why things were the way they were. As a young worker, I did not know who to turn to with my curiosities, or to express my frustrations and desires for clarity and change.

Eventually, I realized, decent work is the change I want to see for other workers like myself and for those who will enter the not-for-profit sector in the future. Decent work would mean standards and investments in the workforce that are transparent, consistent, and which put people first. Workers would not be left wondering or having to negotiate because employers would already have their employees’ best interests in mind.

The young professional’s perspective is a great way to examine decent work. As a diverse and women-dominant sector, the perspectives of women, people from marginalized communities, and people from multi-oppressed communities are also lenses through which we can push our ambitions around decent work. Our colleagues at the Ontario Nonprofit Network have been considering decent work for some time and have created a growing collection of valuable resources to advance decent work commitments. This month, they also launched the Decent Work for Women microsite.

There is so much sector-strengthening work remaining ahead of us and it is a growing list of priorities. At the forefront of this energy and at the top of many organization’s lists right now is the commitment to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI). With this strong sense of urgency behind JEDI initiatives, how much time and energy should we put into “decent work”?

A closer examination of decent work beyond salaries and compensation reveals that committing to decent work is actually part and parcel of advancing JEDI in our sector. Decent work means advancing economic justice for workers, providing equitable workplace supports and accommodations, diversifying the decision-makers who review human resource policies, and creating truly inclusive workplace cultures where all can come to work as their full selves. It can mean all of this, and more.

This is why decent work matters, and now is the time for us to put it under the sector spotlight at BOSS. Decent work provides a workers-centered focal point in the immensity of JEDI work and the long journey we are now on to “build back better”. But simply emphasizing decent work matters through this blog post is not enough. We need to take action by first critically examining our current processes and policies around decent work, committing to remove the ones that create harm, and also creating new ones that challenge the status quo.

We invite you to join us in taking action for decent work at this year’s BOSS, and stay tuned for more on our Decent Work Peer Network (coming soon)!

 

View on the BOSS website.

Author

Joyce Lin

Joyce is the Sector Development Coordinator for Vantage Point – she facilitates the foundational work involved in Vantage Point’s goals to contribute to a healthy and thriving not-for-profit sector in BC. On any day, she is monitoring and sharing information that will support sector success and…

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Vantage Point Welcomes a New Consultant to Our Team: JP Baker

Vantage Point Welcomes a New Consultant to Our Team: JP Baker

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A Word from Alison

Vantage Point is thrilled to let our community know we are joining forces with the long-time Kamloops not-for-profit friend and consultant, JP Baker.  JP has been actively supporting the not-for-profit ecosystem in the Kamloops area for more than fifteen years as a planner, facilitator, and writer. He will be joining us as Vantage Point’s Planning Consultant.

It is hard to describe just what this will mean for the community of not-for-profits we will serve. JP will be able to provide wisdom and support to our Knowledge Philanthropists, ongoing supports to his community in Kamloops, and he will work closely with our Delivery team in meeting the needs of not-for-profits across BC. His innovative work, like ChangeLink and other community-building initiatives, will provide valuable insights into our sector development and provincial outreach work – which means more support for the not-for-profit sector’s place in building back better.

Welcome, JP!

A Word from JP

If you had asked me at the end of 2019 what 2020 would hold, there’s no way I could have told you we would be experiencing a global pandemic that would radically change how people work, communicate, and organize themselves. Nor could I have told you that I would be announcing the end of 16 years of self-employment because I had accepted a position as Planning Consultant with Vantage Point.

But that is exactly what has happened. And considering the professional goals I set at the end of 2019, as well as the wonderful connections I have developed with the people on the Vantage Point team, it feels like a perfectly natural progression.

About a year ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Friesen – former Vantage Point Director of Capacity – at an ArtsBC conference. Mark and I had some great discussions about all things not-for-profit, and he linked me to Vantage Point resources and introduced me to other folks on staff. I started connecting some of those people with my collaborators here in Kamloops. And when the pandemic officially arrived, I turned to Vantage Point’s convening activities for belonging, connection, and ideas.

I began to realize that increasing my collaboration with Vantage Point made so much sense. Our values matched perfectly. And working together would help me reach those big but simple professional goals I set for myself: 1) increase my geographical reach and serve more people, organizations, and communities in our province; 2) enhance my service to not-for-profit organizations through greater learning and collaboration; and 3) find new ways to help the not-for-profit sector overall.

But it is not just about my professional goals. Over the past three years, I have been looking for a sense of team. I’ve yearned to say ‘we’ and ‘our’. So, to those amazing people throughout our region who I collaborate with regularly (my nebulous “team”), I assure you this move will enhance our collective impact even more.

To my clients and all the organizations throughout the BC interior which have engaged in ChangeLink: my approach has not changed, and ChangeLink will only grow. Because I’ve found others who believe as strongly as I do in collaboration, my support for your organizations and our region will be stronger.

And to my new colleagues at Vantage Point: thank you so much for this opportunity. I am extremely excited to learn from and with you. I will support you. I will work hard with you to help organizations and the not-for-profit sector in BC. And with a spirit of abundance, I believe together we can make good things happen.

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Our Letter on the Lobbyist Transparency Act

Our Letter on the Lobbyist Transparency

Culture: People First
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On September 29, 2020 we sent the letter below to outline our concerns around the Lobbyist Transparency Act and the administrative burden it places on not-for-profit organiations. If you would like to join our advocacy efforts on this issue please email us. To get updates on all of our advocacy work for not-for-profits, we invite you to join as a not-for-profit member.


Mr. Richard Fyfe, Deputy Attorney General
PO Box 9290, Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria BC, V8W 9J7

and

The Honourable Carole James, Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier
Room 153 Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC, V8V 1X4

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

RE: Meeting request to discuss negative impacts of Lobby Transparency Act on the BC not-for-profit sector

Dear Mr. Fyfe and Hon. James:

I am writing to you today on behalf of Vantage Point, the undersigned, and approximately 41 organizations that wish to remain anonymous to avoid potential penalties for perceived lack of compliance with the New Lobby Transparency Act (LTA). We are writing to request a meeting to discuss the very difficult and chilling impact the LTA is having on our sector.

Collectively, we wish to express concerns regarding the negative and, likely unintended, impacts of the LTA on the charitable and not-for-profit sector. The LTA creates substantial barriers to the fulfillment of our mandates to maximize community wellbeing and contribute to democratic debate. This letter builds on comprehensive dialogue our organizations have had among ourselves, with the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists (ORL), the Office of the Attorney General, and the Premier’s Office. While we support your efforts to increase lobbying transparency in relation to activities that are aimed at advancing private benefits to corporations and their shareholders, we urge you to acknowledge that our organizations are created for the purpose of advocating and caring for our communities, not to advance private interest. If there is a need to be transparent about meetings and engagement with our sector, we urge you to take the administrative burden upon yourselves by requiring MLA’s to track and reporting such engagements rather than the not-for-profit.

About BC’s not-for-profit sector

Not-for-profits are critical to the lives of people in British Columbia. There are over 29,000 not-for-profit societies registered in BC. Our sector provides more than 86,000 jobs and mobilizes volunteers who contribute the equivalent support of over 146,000 positions. Our workers and volunteers also make a direct economic contribution of more than $6.4B to our province’s GDP.

We provide a critical level of support to the Government of British Columbia, businesses, and the public. We provide everything from the provision of health and other essential frontline services, to supporting victims of domestic violence, deploying volunteers safely, and creating arts and cultural services. The not-for-profit sector is vital to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our province. We are an essential safety net for the most vulnerable individuals in our communities. Our work has never been more urgently needed as we navigate unprecedented circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, an exacerbating opioid crisis, and worsening inequities for communities suffering historic patterns of oppression and discrimination. Our employees and volunteers are stretched to the limit of their capacity responding to these extremely difficult circumstances. Our research has documented extremely high levels of stress and burnout among our peers. Our research also indicated that one in five not-for-profit organizations are unlikely to survive the current environment. This will put immense undue pressure on remaining organizations.

LTA’s burden on the not-for-profit sector

Among our organizations there is a substantial level of concern, anxiety, and frustration with the additional burden and overreaching implications of the new LTA. The Act creates barriers in our ability to respond effectively to growing challenges affecting our communities. Our concerns and challenges are significantly heightened as there was inadequate consultation with the not-for-profit sector during the development of this new legislation. Our sector not only provides essential services to British Columbians, but it is a major source of economic prosperity for our province.

Yet we see a continual pattern of consulting with a very narrow representation of the not-for-profit sector and a lack of comprehensive consultation on legislation which significantly impacts our operations and the ability to fulfill our missions.

Blending of lobbying and advocacy under the LTA regulation

At the heart of our concerns, many of our organizations have received LTA’s interpretations which do not seem to make a distinction between the advocacy and lobbying. Advocacy are efforts to strengthen public wellbeing and speak up for marginalized voices. Lobbying is done to advance private, corporate, and/or shareholders’ interests. In fact, the LTA’s design actually allows the lobbying of private interests to go unreported by including small private firms in the few exclusions to compliance (for example, organizations with less than 6 employees do not need to report their lobbying activities).

For-profit companies have the capacity to change how they function very quickly. There is nothing stopping a private lobbying company of twelve employees from dividing itself into two smaller firms very quickly. No twelve-person not-for-profit organization in BC could do that, nor would it be responsible of a volunteer Board to make such a decision. Instead of acknowledging the multiple layers of accountability charities and not-for-profits have to donors, members, and the communities that we serve, the LTA’s requirements undermine our capacity to meet those accountability requirements. In fact, the expectations of the LTA to reporting donations and funding to support our organizations threatens the trust that individual donors, foundations, and the public has granted us to support our vital work.

Legislation’s overreach

We are concerned that the LTA design did not take in consideration the unique circumstances, objectives, and strategies in which not-for-profit organizations deliver their vital services. The depth of our relationships with communities throughout BC provides critical sources of evidence on the evolving impact of social, economic, environmental conditions facing British Columbians. Being in the front-lines of some of the most complex challenges facing our communities, our organizations regularly communicate with government representatives to inform them of these circumstances, the impact of public policy, and to advance solutions that our organizations regularly develop to address these challenges. Through these essential advocacy efforts, we help strengthen public benefits for our communities, the economy, and the natural environments in which we all live.

The over-reach of the LTA’s requirements to report all communication directed at public office holders – including social media posts on Twitter and Facebook – may actually contribute to distorted public perceptions that not-for-profit organizations do substantially more lobbying compared to activities to advance private interests. Some not-for-profit organizations have been informed even endorsing the advocacy activities of a third party may constitute lobbying. This lobbying would be assigned to an individual/organization which should have registered as a designated filer with the Lobby Registry. This approach will limit the capacity of Not-for-profit organizations to do their own research to inform public policy submissions, endorsing, and signing on to letters or petitions put together by sector leaders as is a common practice to help inform and influence government and public opinion. This means not-for-profits may opt to silence themselves rather than risk compliance issues. And this has a detrimental impact on the ability for not-for-profits to advocate to advance their missions and provide essential services to British Columbians.

Fifty percent of not-for-profits are already highly regulated as charities, a legal system that has extensive processes for ensuring charitable activities are unquestionably of public benefit and NOT to advance private interests. Most Not-for-Profits have volunteer Boards of Directors whose sole interest is to ensure community benefit is at the forefront. Donors and funders (including the government) demand that we keep our administrative costs to an absolute minimum. In fact, prevalent funding structures in the sector limit investment in contingency funds, technology, employee benefits, and stable governance and have generated an insidious precariousness of our vital work. By demanding we spend donor, government, and foundation dollars on tracking all advocacy and dialogue discussions for compliance with the LTA, this government is in effect silencing not-for-profits and charities in BC. According to the responses we have collected from the Office of the Lobby Registrar, that is exactly what you are asking of us: ‘Be quiet or be fined,’ and put our organizations at even more risk.

All this has resulted in a very troubling, chilling effect that the LTA’s application is having on the not-for-profit sector, the communities, and people we serve. These circumstances ultimately have the potential to undermine democratic dialogue. The fact that 41 organizations were not willing to publicly put their names on this letter is evidence of this reality. The detrimental and unforeseen consequences would be a dark legacy of your government which will harm the future of our province.

We must believe it is not your government’s intention to create a burden on not-for-profits or reduce democratic debate. To this end, we urge you to acknowledge the LTA’s unintended negative impacts on not-for-profit and charitable organizations and acknowledge the following:

Recommendations

  1. Extend a moratorium to not-for-profit and charities for perceived noncompliance with the LTA regulations that came into place at the end of the transition period which expired on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, until further consultation with the sector takes place.<.li>
  2. Open a meaningful and comprehensive consultation with the entire sector of not-for-profit and charitable organizations that puts the burden of recording such a dialogue on the government and not the sector. This consultation should fully examine ways to strengthen the LTA rules and reduce the burden on the not-for-profit sector.
  3. Shift the LTA’s burden and chilling effect by establish an obligation for MLA’s and other public office holders, to track their interactions with not-for-profits and charities themselves and making it public. We have no objection to public scrutiny of our efforts to inform the government about what is happening in our communities across the province.
  4. As recommended by the Pacific Legal Education and Outreach Society’s letter on September 15, 2020, we urge you to amend the LTA and exempt not-for-profit and charities from lobby reporting requirements for activities that seek to maximize public wellbeing (except for organizations that serve management, union, or trade and professional interests, or that have representatives who are profit-seeking enterprises, or who engage in lobbying through a not-for-profit).

We request a meeting at your earliest convenience with a delegation of not-for-profit leaders who have endorsed this letter. Together we seek to engage in constructive dialogue to identify ways to enhance lobbying transparency without harming the vital work our sector does in service of all British Columbians. We look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely,

Alison Brewin
Executive Director
Vantage Point
T: (604) 637-8207
E: abrewin@thevantagepoint.ca
www.thevantagepoint.ca

cc:

Hon. David Eby, MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey
Hon. John Horgan, MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca
Mr. Michael McEvoy, Registrar of Lobbyists for BC
Hon. Mike Farnworth, MLA for Port Coquitlam

In 2019, Vantage Point supported 9,799 not-for-profit leaders through leadership development, board training, strategic planning, and more. We have over 550 not-for-profit members from 48 communities across the province.

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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The Reimagined Series of Online BOSS Events

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Since 2015, Vantage Point has been organizing BOSS as an innovative conference to share tangible and practical strategies that not-for-profit leaders can use to strengthen their organizations. BOSS stands for Building Organizational and Sector Sustainability. Sector leaders have come to participate in BOSS to connect with their peers and discuss a diverse range of challenges affecting the sector. As our sector continues to respond to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, BOSS is evolving to find common solutions to address the challenges facing not-for-profits across BC.

In the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple systems that sustain our communities have been deeply eroded. Our daunting challenges in the last few months demand we do things differently to rebalance our economic and social systems. Now more than ever, there is growing recognition that all sectors of society and the economy must work together.

At Vantage Point, we know that community wellbeing is built with the not-for-profit sector’s active involvement. For us, healthy and sustained not-for-profits are the cornerstone to community resilience and wellbeing. We work to leverage our sector’s expertise as a pathway to an economic and public policy environment which will build a strong future for British Columbia. We want to rebalance our economy by pulling together as a sector to uncover and amplify the full potential of not-for-profit leadership. There is important work ahead of us. Collaboration is the way in which we will build our sector and further our missions. Inclusive, equitable spaces will ensure positive transformations to break cycles of discrimination. Now is the time to be bold and transform our systems for community good.

Our BOSS conference will address how we can – and do – work together to make these goals a reality. This event is a space for dialogue and game-changing tactics on how not-for-profits can lead positive and lasting community and systemic change. Our themes for 2021 are: Collaboration, Equity, and Transformation.

What will BOSS make possible for the sector?

Two weeks of November will be dedicated to convening thoughtful public dialogue and collaboration between not-for-profit leaders and stakeholders.  Through online engagement, we will catalyze the potential for sector-wide participation in our BOSS 2021 Conference (Saturday, February 27 – Friday, March 5, 2021).

Together we will identify solutions, develop capacity, share resources, and reimagine the conditions which will lead to transformational change in our sector and the communities we serve. Leaders, funders, government representatives, businesses, and more will share dialogue to achieve our planned outcomes of:

  • Building a community of those dedicated to the success of BC’s not-for-profit sector
  • Identifying and advancing key priorities to strengthen the not-for-profit sector

Through broad public engagement and dialogue, BOSS will seek to leverage the sector’s expertise, innovation, and resilience. We would be honoured if you joined us in the conversation.

When

  1. BOSS series of online events: Thursday, November 19 – Thursday, November 26, 2020
  2. BOSS Conference: Friday, February 27 – Friday, March 5, 2021

More Detail to Come

We will be releasing exciting information soon with the launch of the new BOSS website, through social media, and in our e-newsletters. Stay tuned for details on who will be presenting and how to register!

Author

Omar Dominguez

Omar is our 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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