Montreal Forum: Partners in Leadership by Imagine Canada

As philanthropic communications specialists, we at Phil strive to stay on top of the latest trends in the sector. Attending events such as Imagine Canada’s Partners in Leadership forum is just one of the ways we stay current of the topic of philanthropy.

This year’s third edition of the Forum was a day-long event which offered non-profit leaders to step back, reflect and exchange with their peers to better understand why their work exists and how to create a bigger impact. The event was open to all leaders in philanthropy, especially partners in leadership: directors, board presidents, etc. Our president, Kim Fuller, attended this philanthropy summit and co-hosted a series of “flash talks” along with five other experts in the field.


Imagine Canada’s Marcel Lauzière and Stéphane Vaillancourt opened the talks with “What’s new in the Sector?”. Among the topics at hand were the lastest trends in perception of non-profits by Canadians. Specifically, Mr. Lauzière spoke of the different perception Quebecers have of nonprofits.


Imagine Canada, in collaboration with The Muttart Foundation, released “Talking About Charities 2013,” a public opinion poll that surveyed Canadians on their views about charities and issues affecting charities. According to the poll, “Quebecers are more susceptible to compare non-profits favorably to the government, but they are also more susceptible to have high expectations towards non-profits.” Indeed, Quebecers are very sensitive to ethical and governance issues in philanthropy. Forty-eight per cent say nonprofits spend too much money on fundraising initiatives (galas, etc.) and 80% expect nonprofits to provide donors with information regarding how their money is used. The growth perspectives for Quebec’s philanthropy sector compare well to the rest of Canada, but this comes with very high expectations in terms of transparency.


After Mr. Vaillancourt and Mr. Lauzière’s opening talk, participant discovered a new reference tool for registered Canadian charities.

charityfocusThe Charity Focus Portal now provides a very simple way to search for information regarding registered Canadian charities. The database can be browsed by organization name, region or sector. It also represents a way for non-profits to tell their story and connect with supporters. The public can also see any organization’s financial situation and even donate online. This will be a powerful tool in the years to come because it responds directly to the transparency concerns addressed above.


Many organizations require expert support to implement a new social innovation. We were happy to learn about Innoweave and the many opportunities they offer social enterprises and nonprofits.

innoweave logoInnoweave helps community organizations learn about, assess, and implement new approaches, ranging from cloud computing to social finance. Innoweave is organized into modules, each focused on a different social innovation, and provides three levels of support: assessment, workshops, and coaching/grant applications.

Innoweave’s objective is to provide community sector leaders with new tools and processes to effect large-scale change.


“If your presence has no impact, your absence will make no difference.” – Kristen Ledford

Diane Ellison is Special Advisor to the President, in charge of representing Imagine Canada in Quebec. She strives to make use of Imagine Canada’s expertise and resources to encourage the continued success of non-profits in Quebec:

“The New Narrative will inspire both the sector and ultimately the public to truly understand that we (charities) impact many areas of our lives and because of them, our society and quality of life is strengthened.”


Jasmyn Beauséjour, of the Boston Consulting Group, discussed the importance of internal coherence. A good strategy will allow your whole team to work together in the long run. Your vision statement should evolve with the organization over time. Mr. Beauséjour reinforced our view that the mission statement should not be vague or generic, but engaging and make people motivated to act.

An established strategy must be efficiently communicated! When the strategy, vision and mission statements are properly understood, internally and by your donors, better results will be achieved.

Jasmyn also reminded us that it takes time to plan things well, but that it’s even more crucial to take that time even when there aren’t enough hours in the day! That is when the most benefit can be garnered from a well thought out action plan.


We loved Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” videoclip, which embodies foundational concepts for the communications tools and strategies we offer our clients. If you haven’t seen it yet, view it here.


Phil’s founder and marketing director, Kim Fuller, was one of six moderators for a very hands-on portion of this year’s Forum: the Flash Talks. Participants were asked to discuss and debate philanthropic management issues in small groups. The main take-aways from the variety of topics were:

  • While it may take a long time to get results, organizations have to show results to get funding so it’s important to measure and document along the way.
  • Be clear with your board members when you’re recruiting so that they know what is expected of them;
  • Board members need to step up and get involved, but work well with the director, so as to not micromanage or cause delays.
  • Engaging young volunteers requires paying better attention to how they want to get involved, and then finding the right kinds of activities for them to get started.
  • Whether it is with board members, ground volunteers, staff or donors, every organization can build better trust and a stronger bond over time with open communication and mutual respect.

Imagine Canada’s Montreal Forum: Partners in Leadership was an excellent occasion for non-profit sector leaders to discuss amongst themselves. We’re looking forward to seeing what Imagine Canada has in store for us next year!