Alberta Nonprofit Network News

  • May 04, 2020 4:49 PM | Anonymous

    As the challenges from COVID-19 continue, governments, organizations and funders need information about the impacts of the pandemic and what is most needed by the nonprofit sector at this time. To help provide a picture of the impacts, ABNN conducted a survey of the sector between March 30 and April 5, 2020, garnering 474 responses. 

    Visit our COVID-19 Impact Report page to access the report and read the highlights. 

  • April 30, 2020 4:48 PM | Anonymous

    To be able to continue to provide essential services in this time of need, the Alberta Nonprofit Network (ABNN) has written a letter urging the Government of Alberta to ensure funding security and flexibility. We are eager to establish clear lines of communication with the Government regarding the impacts of the COVID-19 on service delivery and the expectations of the sector.

    We were pleased to see the province provide emergency funding of $60 million to support select COVID-19-related social services; however, it is important to recognize that there are many other frontline nonprofits that will see increased demand for their services, including care facilities, food banks and mental health organizations. Beyond frontline COVID-19 related services, other organizations are also feeling the immediate impacts of COVID-19 on operations, staffing, service delivery and funding, including lost casino and event revenue.

    We urge the Government of Alberta to consider the following recommendations to address some immediate concerns:

    • Provide clarity on the Government of Alberta’s commitment to current funding agreements and provide emergency grants to other frontline services.
    • Provide flexibility on expectations within current funding agreements and maintain long- term eligibility to account for the limited ability of organizations to deliver regular programs and services at this time. Specific recommendations include allowing nonprofits to allocate funding to new priorities, delaying reporting deadlines and providing flexibility with meeting expected outcomes.
    • Provide details surrounding the 14-day paid leave entitlement, specifically the necessary administrative processes and procedures within the Employment Standards Code.

    Read the full letter here.

    Check out our COVID updates and resources here, including Advocacy & Issues Gathering and How to Talk to Funders.

  • February 04, 2020 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    The Catalyst for Change report released by the Senate Special Committee last June was a critical juncture for our sector, laying out 42 recommendations on how the government can better support the work of nonprofits. Recommendations ranged from tax reforms to technology to financial stability.

    Each of the 42 recommendations has the potential for meaningful change for the sector, but...they can't all be accomplished at once. Consensus on which recommendations will have the most impact will be critical if we hope to see real progress. 

    Imagine Canada is working to map and prioritize the recommendations based on input from the sector. Knowing what issues are most important to the sector will help them – and the sector as a whole – prioritize and shape advocacy and GR efforts for years to come. Imagine Canada created an Alberta-specific survey to help shed light on our specific needs.

    Take the 3 minute Alberta-specific Senate Recommendations survey here.

    Imagine Canada will share the results with ABNN and we plan on reporting back the results in the coming months.

    The more feedback Imagine Canada gets, the more informed and credible their advocacy efforts become. Share your feedback and help shape how the sector moves forward.

  • January 10, 2020 4:45 PM | Anonymous

    In our daily work lives, our time is compensated through organizational budgets, which trickle down through traditional structures to our job descriptions and paycheques. But what happens when the opportunity for meaningful social change and meeting our mission requires us to go ‘outside’ traditional organizational processes and structures? 

    Like most organizations, nonprofits are funded to achieve their particular mission, but this basic structure rarely allows for time to be spent ‘outside the lines’ of the programs we deliver and limits the opportunity for collaborative work across organizations or sectors. The time required to participate in – let alone lead or manage – an inter-organizational collaborative process is simply not in scope.

    And, unfortunately, our traditional, organizationally-bounded program and service delivery methods are simply not sufficient to solve the larger, systemic issues facing our society.

    Our societal challenges are a result of a complex variety of factors and actual system change is not straight-forward or simple. True change and progress requires high-quality, inter-organizational collaboration. This process is not for the faint of heart.  

    Real Change Requires Collaboration; Successful Collaboration Requires Funding

    Collaborative work requires resources. Whether the collaboration is inside an exiting organization or between organizations – time and energy are required for getting things done with other human beings. Resources need to be put towards organization, management capacity, leadership, processes, communication and engagement. With networks such as ABNN, the time and energy are contributed by our participants and stewards, but also critical is co-operational funding.

    Co-operative funding dollars are used to support a collaborative culture so that the behaviours and identities of the organizations become more collaborative over time. Co-operative funding may also be used to bolster support work, such as administration, communications or project management. Co-operational funding is the wind in the sails of the collaborative approach.

    To be clear – co-operative funding does not require a huge bureaucracy. Co-operative funding should be lean – focused on enabling collaborative habits, designing high-quality collaborative processes, ensuring nimble and effective management, and creating time and spaces for the people involved to work together. It’s about creating the opportunity to understand the system we are working within and co-creating opportunities for collective action. This is the space where ABNN is working - seeking to understand and respond to the province-wide systemic issues that impact our sector.

    By no means does this idea de-value the importance of program and service delivery for enhancing quality of life and well-being, but in today’s complex world, collaborative work – pulling ourselves up and out of our organizational identities – is required to truly tackle some of the underlying issues. Co-operational funding enhances the tangible program and service delivery ‘outcomes’ we are so used to seeing by investing in the health and progress of the connective tissue within our systems. 

  • November 15, 2019 4:44 PM | Anonymous

    It was little less than a year ago that ABNN officially launched our website – rallying nonprofits to join a network committed to advancing the sector.  It is amazing what can be accomplished in a year!

    ABNN now has more than 800 newsletter subscribers, over 500 social media followers, and we’ve engaged with hundreds of nonprofits through our surveys, policy sessions, gatherings and committee work.

    “As the 2019 draws to a close, I am inspired by the progress we’ve made in a single year,” says Robyn Blackadar, ABNN Network Steward and President & CEO of PolicyWise for Children & Families. “We’ve been involved in supporting the sector with timely information and opportunities to connect and we’re making great strides towards implementing action on the needs of the sector.”

    Four priority sector-wide concerns were identified at our ABNN Gatherings, and ABNN committees and task teams have been hard at work exploring how ABNN and our partners can address these issues:

    1. Strengthening Sector Identity and Value.

    The Identity and Value Steering Committee is developing foundational documents that will serve as a starting point for how the sector can position itself as a strategic partner with both the public and private sectors. In 2020, the team will be mapping out communication pathways and identifying opportunities to meet with cross-sector groups throughout Alberta.  

    2. Creating a Sector-level Data Strategy.

    The Data Strategy Steering Committee is examining how the sector can improve how it measures, analyzes and uses data. They spent 2019 conducting stakeholder interviews and will be convening three Task Teams in the new year. 

    3. Enhancing Workforce Development in the nonprofit sector.

    The Workforce Development Committee focuses on supporting and amplifying the efforts of individuals and groups of organizations to make nonprofit work rewarding, fairly compensated and sustainable, as well as addressing issues that require sector-wide approaches. A Task Team is currently exploring a sector-wide Pension Plan as an opportunity to improve retention and support the nonprofit workforce. They will be seeking specific sector input in the new year.

    4. Supporting sector Government Relations.

    ABNN is looking at how the network can leverage existing resources, where we should advocate for change and how we can foster stronger relationships with government. In the last year, ABNN has held policy workshops, developed a draft policy agenda and pull together public policy and election resources for our sector. We are currently exploring next steps.

    Focus on Representation

    One of ABNN’s priorities is to make sure our work is driven by the needs of the sector and that we are representing all parts of the sector. We are being deliberate in seeking out the voices that might not always be represented, including regional organizations, small nonprofits and various sub-sectors. We have work to do to find the best ways to listen and engage, but we know it’s important in accomplishing meaningful sector-wide change.

    We always welcome ideas and perspectives. We will be sharing opportunities for further engagement (surveys, focus groups, events) in the coming months, but you can always email us at or engage with us on social media.  

    And please, share the ABNN newsletter subscription link with your colleagues in the sector – the more voices the better!

    As we close out a very successful year, we want to thank everyone who has followed, engaged with and supported ABNN over the last year. We believe a network approach will help us make meaningful change for the sector and we can’t do our work without you!

  • November 05, 2019 2:00 PM | Anonymous

    "It’s the biggest thing in the nonprofit sector in the last three decades, the biggest thing since the Voluntary Initiative in the 90’s.”

    I’m on the phone with Russ Dahms, Executive Director the ECVO and ABNN Exploration Committee Member, as he talks about the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector (CSSB) report, Catalyst for Change: A Roadmap to a Stronger Charitable Sector, which was released in June.

    "It’s a historic point for the sector in Canada. A brilliant report, with meaningful recommendations.” Then Russ pauses, seeming apprehensive, almost troubled, “The question is, how will we move forward and what will it take to actually adopt the recommendations?”

    Report Tackles the Big Issues of our Sector

    In early 2018, a Senate Special Committee was formed to explore the issues and constraints that limit the charitable sector. They were tasked with looking at the challenges such as outdated policy and lack of coordinated support, and explore what needs to change so that the federal government can better enable charities and nonprofits to deliver social programs and address the complex issues facing Canadian communities.

    The report outlines 42 recommendations to help modernize and create meaningful change to the sector. Recommendations span a number of issues, including workforce and volunteering, funding structures, innovation support, taxes and regulations. It acknowledged that the sector needs meaningful law and policy reform, as well as a renewed relationship with the federal government.

    Navigating the Path Forward

    With 190-pages covering fourty-two recommendation, which fall under at least eight government department/agencies, the key questions is now what and who? The sector is worried (and not without reason) that the volume of recommendations will make it difficult to sort through and act on. Previous modernization efforts have fallen short and there is question as to whether there is ample desire to truly make some changes. The other risk is the federal election – no matter which government comes into power there is the possibility that the report will get lost in changing political priorities.

    The good news is that a permanent Advisory Committee has been announced. This committee has a big task – sorting through the recommendations, understanding the depth of the issues, getting consensus across the sector and government, and hopefully, making meaningful, positive changes.

    Arguably, one of the most difficult tasks will be prioritizing. Bruce MacDonald, President and CEO of Imagine Canada and Committee Sector Co-chair, describes the task at a hand, “To realize the promise of this report, sector leaders are going to need to find a balance between advocating for their individual organization’s interests and supporting a common set of priorities. Hopefully, this will be seen as a complementary effort, not an ‘either/or’ approach.”

    What Our Organizations Can Do Today

    The most important thing our sector needs to do right now is ensure that this report does not get forgotten.

    Senator Omidvar has shared an Open Letter asking federal party leaders and candidates to commit to implement the report recommendations. We encourage all Alberta nonprofits to show their support by signing the open letter (it is very simple and takes less than a minute).

    We also hope you will help us spread this important message more broadly by sharing this through your network and encouraging peer organizations to sign. You can also share Senator Omidvar’s social media message using the hashtag #votecharitably.

    Continuing the Discussion

    No official forums have yet been developed to share feedback, but that doesn’t mean our sector can’t or shouldn’t start having discussions. We encourage nonprofits to read the report, read commentary and start forming and opinions. Some perspectives out there include:

    §  Article from The Philanthropist

    §  Imagine Canada Highlight Reel  

    §  Report from Mowat NFP

    §  Top Six Takeaways for Fundraisers

    §  Recommendations that Support Affordable Housing

    §  Exploring the Report from Charity Village

    Share your ideas and perspective with colleagues or write an email to the ACCS secretariat. Tell us what you think by posting on our Facebook forum page and we will share your thoughts with Imagine Canada.

    “It’s going to be up to us as a sector to keep the momentum going,” says Russ. “We need to tell the government that this is important and implementing the recommendations will make a monumental difference in our ability to do our work, and ultimately, help Canadian communities be healthier, stronger and more resilient.”

    Sector Recommendations that Align with ABNN Efforts

    There are a number of Senate recommendations that support issues ABNN has identified as strategic areas of action:

    Sustainable Workforce

    • A human resources renewal plan for the sector be developed and implemented (Recommendation 6).
    • The Human Resources Council or a similar body for the sector be reinstated (Recommendation 7).

    Sector Pension Plan

    • Intergovernmental cooperation to promote pension plans for nonprofit workers that are portable across provinces and territories (Recommendation 5).

    Data Strategy

    • Nonprofit sector data be collected and prioritized in Statistics Canada surveys. The Government of Canada support collaboration between the sector and Statistics Canada for additional data collection and dissemination (Recommendation 16).
    • The Canada Revenue Agency publicly share data from the T1044 Non-Profit Organization Information Return (Recommendations 39).

    Support Innovation in the Sector (ABNN collaboration model)

    • Review the common law meaning of charity to determine whether Canada should follow the approach of other jurisdictions, such as Australia and England, and enact legislation to broaden the legal meaning of charity (Recommendation 25).
    • Provide assistance to organizations that have had their application for registered charity status refused or revoked (Recommendations 24).  

  • September 06, 2019 4:42 PM | Anonymous

    ABNN was recently featured in The Philanthropist's Policy Matters Series! 

    Read the article about what current election issues ABNN feels are most important in the upcoming election. 

  • September 01, 2019 1:30 PM | Anonymous

    As the federal election approaches, there’s increasing talk and media about the issues affecting our communities and what the different political parties are committing to do. It’s during these pre-election months that nonprofits have an increased opportunity to share our voice and bring attention to the issues we fight for every day. By engaging in nonprofit advocacy, we can help candidates understand our perspectives and get voters to think more deeply before they put an ‘X’ on the ballot.

    Although ABNN is primarily Alberta-focused, Government Relations is one of our strategic areas of action (along with Data Strategy, Sector Value & Impact and Workforce Development), and there's no doubt that federal politics impacts our province and its communities.

    We believe Alberta nonprofits have a role in helping our sector speak out and influence the issues that matter to us. To help your organization shape the debate, we have pulled together a list of resources:

    1. If you only had time to read one resource, we’d recommend the Ontario Nonprofit Network’s Advocacy Toolkit. From ‘framing your ask’ to ‘engaging social media’, this Toolkit walks you through how to put together an effective campaign. Want a quick read? Read their Advocacy Tip Sheet.

    2. The go-to resource for national election action is Imagine Canada’s Federal Election Hub. Scroll down to the ‘What the Sector is Doing’ section to see election resources by sub-sector. The Election Hub also has information about rules of engagement, Imagine Canada’s policy priorities and election alerts.

    3. ABNN's Nonprofit Public Policy Page has election resources developed by Alberta nonprofits. From letter templates to advocacy toolkits and issue-specific briefs, there are a variety of tools your organization can draw from. 

    Now is the time to let our collective voice echo across the nation!

    Our sector can influence the vote. Let’s share the story of our value and impact, work together to have our perspective heard and collaborate on advocacy work so that we can learn from each other and amplify our efforts.

    We encourage you to share your nonprofit’s work with the ABNN community by tagging ABNN on social media, emailing us and using #cdnVOTE2019 and #weadvocate.

  • August 30, 2019 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    Research shows that when nonprofits encourage people to vote, it can make a difference in the voter turnout, particularly among the people we serve*.

    Our public policy work is more successful when the people impacted by the policy are engaged in Canada’s democracy. To get people out to the ballot box, the Canada Vote Coalition has launched Canada’s largest voter engagement campaign. Co-led by the Democratic Engagement Exchange and Apathy is Boring, the campaign will be activating communities during Democracy Week (September 15-21) and on the International Day for Democracy (September 15).

    The Exchange is also running free training around the country to teach organizations how to run Vote PopUps, a voting simulation based on best practices in voter mobilization.

    Sign up at Canadian Vote Coalition to access tools and resources that can help get your clients and community out on October 21!

    * Sourced from

  • June 20, 2019 4:37 PM | Anonymous

    April’s change in government has nonprofits from across all subsectors wondering to expect from the UCP and speculating about how the leadership change might impact how they serve their clients.

    On behalf of ABNN, Volunteer Alberta has created a UCP Party Platform Summary & Analysis. Organized by Ministry, the summary provides an overview of UCP pledges, including commitments about funding, red tape reduction and taxes, as well as proposed changes to services (e.g. immigration, housing, victim services). This summary is meant as a reference guide and cites what pages to go to for more information. 

    Click here to view the UCP Party Platform Summary & Analysis.

    Platform provides some promise, and some cause for apprehension

    The UCP platform presents a number of positive prospects to the nonprofit sector. Their pledge to create a Civil Society Fund and their suggestion of moving to 5-year funding agreements when possible offers opportunities for more stable funding for our sector. The UCP platform also provides hope to organizations that focus on mental health and victim’s services, employment readiness programs, and parks services, with commitments for closer collaboration with the provincial government. Furthermore, the UCP’s proposed Freedom to Care Act and focus on reducing ‘red tape’ could break down some regulatory barriers, helping some organizations be more effective in their work. As an immediate opportunity, nonprofits are encouraged to take a moment to complete the Government of Alberta’s Cut Red Tape Survey.

    On the other hand, the UCP government’s strong focus on balancing the budget could have significant impacts to our sector. The sector should be prepared for potential funding cuts to programs and/or social services being downloaded. There could be other changes not outlined in the platform.

    Helping organizations understand and advocate 

    In addition to ABNN's analysis, there are a number of other analyses of political platforms - and we know there's more out there! ABNN has created a Nonprofit Public Policy Resources page as a compilation of these resources.  On this page, you’ll find ABNN’s Draft Policy Agenda, Government Position Resources (provincial and federal) and Public Policy Development/Advocacy Resources. 

    We will continue to update these pages with platform information and resources for nonprofits. If your organization has any sector or subsector analyses, advocacy toolkits or public policy related information, we would love to include it on this page – please send it to us at 

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