Doing good and being good - local charities invited to step up their game
It’s not enough to just do good: local non-profit groups are realizing they also have to be good.
That’s why the Niagara Community Foundation is launching a new program to help local non-profits improve their leadership – by ensuring they are operating at the highest professional standards.
Called the Centre of Excellence in Non-Profit Governance, the initiative will help local charities evaluate the quality of their structure and leadership, and make improvements where necessary. Most charities and non-profits rely on donors to fund many of their activities, said Liz Palmieri, executive director of the Niagara Community Foundation. But donors want to know their gifts are being handled carefully and prudently.
That’s where good governance comes in, said Janet St. Amand, CEO of the YMCA of Niagara and a member of the Niagara Community Foundation’s Community Leadership Committee.
"This innovative approach to strengthening governance will have significant, long-term impact on our ability as a sector to positively impact the lives of residents,” explained St. Amand. “Leveraging the framework of Imagine Canada Standards, this Centre of Excellence will help many committed board volunteers and their lead staff in advancing their mission through solid governance practices.”
By giving local charities access to the tools and resources they need to improve their accountability and stewardship, the entire community will benefit, said Palmieri. The Foundation believes good governance is so important that it will help non-profits find the training for improvements they need and even help pay for them, she said. Modelled after a similar and highly successful program in Florida, the Niagara Community Foundation Centre of Excellence was launched in January with a free webinar that was attended by 155 people in leadership positions at over 85 local charities.
The charities will learn by doing, explained Palmieri during the webinar. Starting this year, charities applying for Niagara Community Foundation grants will have to meet a minimum of eight of 13 different governance standards in order to submit their applications. If they can’t meet the minimum this year, they will be allowed to apply once, but they must put plans in place to improve their structures – with things like strategic planning, budget oversight or performance evaluations of key staff.
Margaret Andrewes, a member of the board of the YWCA of Niagara, said she is excited by the opportunity this gives organizations like hers. “I believe this is the most significant initiative ever in support of non-profits in Niagara,” Andrewes said, adding that the YWCA intends to take full advantage of the opportunity. “We can’t wait to get started.”
That’s exactly the kind of leadership the Niagara Community Foundation wants to encourage, Palmieri said.
“We want to encourage a stronger non-profit sector in Niagara,” Palmieri said during the webinar. “It’s been in our DNA since our beginning.”
To watch the webinar, visit www.niagaracommunityfoundation.org
Contact: Liz Palmieri, Executive Director, Niagara Community Foundation
905-684-8688 ext. 22