COVID-19 Update

VO is recruiting and deploying volunteers to respond to the volunteer needs specific to COVID-19 in Ottawa, Prescott-Russell, Lanark County and Renfrew County while ensuring proper screening and training protocals to safeguard the health of those volunteering and those they are assisting. Please see the intake portals for volunteers, for members, and for other agencies on our hompage. VO’s COVID 19 volunteer deployment program is supported by the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund and the Ottawa Community Foundation.

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Board Governance Training

Grant Connect: Get your Project Funded (Article)
By Maria Lahiffe Grant Connect is a fantastic resource to help you find grants that you could apply to, to fund the important work you do. It is a comprehensive database of granting organizations that... (posted February 7, 2020)

Models of Board Governance (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe What kind of board does your organization have? What kind of board should it have? In answering that second question, board members need to ask themselves two basic questions: * What... (posted February 4, 2020)

Saving for a Rainy Day: Accumulated Funds (Article)
By Maria Lahiffe In the Not-for-Profit world, there is a tricky balance to strike between providing services to your stakeholders, and holding enough money in reserve to make sure you can provide those... (posted December 17, 2019)

7 Steps to Making Difficult Decisions (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe Does your team have an established decision-making process? How do you make difficult decisions? How do you make sure a given decision is the best you could have made? Can you justify... (posted October 11, 2019)

Board Code of Conduct (Article)
By Maria Lahiffe Do you enjoy your board meetings? Do you feel respected and heard? Behaviour at board meetings certainly varies from person to person, and from board to board. Most of us use common... (posted September 20, 2019)

Sponsorship: A Critical Revenue Stream (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe There are almost unlimited opportunities to raise money for your not-for-profit through sponsorship. In fact, corporate sponsorship spending has increased worldwide every year for the... (posted August 12, 2019)

Training isn’t just important. It is vital. (Article)
By Maria Lahiffe “Employers recognise the value in having a skilled workforce, but all too often, they treat training as something of an afterthought. Particularly when the finances are tight, skills... (posted July 31, 2019)

How can we strengthen Canada's Charitable Sector? (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe Why is it so hard to do great works of charity? The Senate put together a Special Committee to investigate this very question. “Canada’s charitable and non-profit sector is diverse... (posted July 12, 2019)

Reading Financial Statements, Part 2 (Article)
By Maria Lahiffe A while ago we taught you that if you can read a nutrition label, you can read a financial statement. Not only can you do it, you have to. Never, ever forget that all board members,... (posted June 19, 2019)

What can you say during an election? The rules have changed. (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe Your organization does important work, for a group of people who really need it. You need to get the word out about your work, to bring in potential donors and volunteers, and to educate... (posted May 31, 2019)

What could go wrong? A lot, in fact. Learn to manage your risks. (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe “Not-for-profit organizations face unique risk management challenges. They are often held to the same standards as for-profit organizations but do not have the same resources and knowledge... (posted May 15, 2019)

Warning Signs of a Board in Trouble (Article)
By Maria Lahiffe Your organization does important work, for a segment of society that really needs your service. That is why you need to make sure your organizational structures are strong, so that you... (posted April 16, 2019)

Volunteer Management Ethics (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe Volunteer management is a profession whose conduct is managed by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA). Like all professionals, the conduct and decision-making... (posted April 2, 2019)

Financial Management Checklist for Boards (Article)
By Maria Lahiffe How does your organization rate when it comes to financial management? This is not something you can afford to let slide. The Canadian not-for-profit sector loses an average of 5-7%... (posted March 4, 2019)

The Three Types of Governance Thinking (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe Governing boards exist for one main reason: leadership. The board should take the long view, with a wide perspective of the organization and its operating context, ask big questions,... (posted February 25, 2019)

Trends in Charitable Giving in Canada (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe Canada’s social sector is huge and diverse, with over 170,000 organizations nationwide contributing an average of 8.1% of Canada’s total GDP. [1] To put that into context, our sector... (posted December 3, 2018)

If you can read a nutrition label, you can read a financial statement (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe Financial statements look intimidating, with their dense columns of numbers. It can be really tempting to gloss it all over and leave the heavy lifting to the treasurer. This is a... (posted November 5, 2018)

How to make the best of the diversity on your team (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe Diversity matters. Diverse teams demonstrate greater creativity [1] and objectivity [2], serve clients better [3], and achieve superior financial performance [4]. However, these benefits... (posted October 22, 2018)

A 360-Degree Organizational Assessment (Article)
A 360-Degree Organizational Assessment is a tool for gathering information that can be used to help senior management and board members gain a better understanding of how your organization is doing, to... (posted October 9, 2018)

Set your Board up for Success: Board Orientation (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe You have a robust board renewal policy, which means you now have new blood on your board. Congratulations! Now you need to give these new directors the knowledge and skills to lead effectively.... (posted September 25, 2018)

Managing Data about your Volunteers: Are you protecting their privacy? (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe You need to collect information about your volunteers, during recruitment and also during their time with you. This information needs to be protected. -- Types of Personal Information... (posted September 7, 2018)

Starting a new Social Enterprise? Learn from other people’s mistakes. (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe A social enterprise is a business which serves a social mission. Starting a new business is really hard; only half of new Canadian businesses survive their first 5 years. [1] The good... (posted July 19, 2018)

Managing Risk (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe We all take risks every day, from taking a shower, to driving to work, to developing a new program for our stakeholders. Risk is unavoidable, but it can be managed. -- What is a Risk?... (posted June 26, 2018)

Assessing Risk: Is your brain deceiving you? (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe We humans are terrible at assessing risk accurately. Basically, this is because the human brain evolved when we lived in caves, hunting and foraging to keep ourselves alive long enough... (posted June 1, 2018)

Legal Obligations of Board Members (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe You are a volunteer board member. You donate your time to the organization and you work hard. You may like to think that your legal liabilities are different from those of board members... (posted May 17, 2018)

Shifting your Charity to a Social Enterprise: The Earned Income Framework (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe Donor dollars are drying up and government grants are harder to get, but your charity still serves a need which is not being served any other way. How do you keep going? Shift part of... (posted February 14, 2018)

What knowledge and skills should an ideal board have? (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe Whether you are looking to join a board, or you are recruiting for your existing board, it helps to think in terms of competencies, rather than responsibilities or expertise. “Competencies... (posted December 12, 2017)

Role & Responsibilities of a Board (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe “Governance refers to the processes and structure used to direct and manage an organization's operations and activities. It defines the division of power, and establishes mechanisms... (posted August 17, 2017)

So you want to integrate Social Enterprise into your organization. How are you going to do it? (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe Social Enterprises are revenue-generating businesses with two goals: * to achieve social, cultural, community and/or environmental outcomes, and * to earn revenue The ultimate... (posted August 14, 2017)

Board members: how effective are you? Take our self-assessment. (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe So, you've joined a board of directors. Thank you for stepping up! How is it going? Are you being as effective as you can be? How do you know? Try this board member's self-assessment... (posted July 4, 2017)

The Canadian charity sector loses at least $12 MILLION a year to fraud. Are you sure you’re not exposing yourself to risk? (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe Consider this: * 5-7% of gross annual revenue in all non-profits gets lost to fraud [1] * If an organization cannot pay its debt, the members of the Board of Directors can be held... (posted May 17, 2017)

Are you Ready to Join a Board of Directors? (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe You have great skills and some spare time to carve out. You feel passionate about an organization's cause and want to give of your time and skills to help the organization achieve its... (posted May 10, 2017)

Defining the Role of the Management Board: a Case Study (Article)
Today's post is guest-written by Norman Moyer, chair of the Management Board of Centre 454, an Ottawa-based community ministry. We are very grateful for his contribution. Centre 454 is one of five community... (posted May 8, 2017)

Board members: Learn from other leaders' experience (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe Thomas Edison once famously observed, when asked about his repeated failures to create a working light bulb, “I haven’t failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Mistakes... (posted April 4, 2017)

How to prepare for an interview to join a board of directors (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe Ottawa alone has about 2,000 non-profit organizations, all of which need hard-working, dedicated people to serve on their boards of directors. Joining a board is a great way to develop... (posted March 3, 2017)

What Kind of Board are you on? (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe So, you’ve joined a Board of Directors. Congratulations! Thank you for stepping up. How can you make your best contribution? A good starting point is to clarify the type of board you... (posted February 3, 2017)

How to be the most effective board member you can be (Article)
by Maria Lahiffe There are so many good reasons to join a non-profit board. You’ll meet great people and expand your sphere of influence; increase your financial literacy; learn how to run an effective... (posted August 24, 2016)