Tag Archives: volunteer

Government Relations and your charity


Tulips on Parliament Hill in May

On a recent CAGP national webinar, I spoke on the topic of government relations for charities in Canada.

The main topics I covered were:

(1) What is government relations in the context of charities in Canada?

(2) Why should your charity be involved in government relations?

(3) How can charities develop strong working relationships with government?

(4) Becoming a partner with the charitable sector in government relations

Government Relations – A definition 

In researching this topic, I was struck by the large amount of material in Canada on government relations to support the charitable and volunteer sectors as a whole. To my surprise, I found very little information to support why a specific charity should be involved in government relations.  This struck me as rather odd since most of my work over the past twenty years dealing with government has been working for a specific charity.

For the presentation, I drew upon the terrific volunteers I have worked with over the years who have headed federal, provincial and municipal governments and my personal relationships with both entry level and senior public servants across Canada.

I defined government relations as:

Any lawful activity carried out by a registered Canadian charity which seeks to further its mission by improving government policies. Government relations take place municipally, provincially and nationally or sometimes simultaneously at all three levels, and involve elected officials, political advisors and public servants.

Please note the word “lawful” in the above definition. I do not deal with the ever evolving case law and regulations in regard to advocacy and lobbying in Canada. This is an area where charities should seek legal counsel.

Why should your charity be involved in government relations?

Firstly, stemming from the above definition, the goal in my view should be to further the mission of your charity and secondly to move forward the strategic priorities of your organization.

How can your charity develop strong working relationships with government? 

Very much akin to successful major and planned giving fundraising, the key is to build relationships with individuals who are key public servants and political leaders in your community. How you define “community” will be based on the geographic scope of your mission and what levels of government are responsible for public policy relating to your organization.

Examples of key players in government for your charity could be:

(i) Municipal public servants involved in your charity’s area of responsibilities;

(ii) Local members of a provincial legislature and cabinet representatives involved with your charity’s mission; and

(iii) Federal officials responsible for public policy and/or implementing regulations in regard to your mission.

To build an effective working relationship with government, your charity needs to demonstrate:

(i) Its specific expertise and why it is needed in public policy;

(ii) The importance of its mission;

(iii) Measurable goals and results to move your mission forward;

(iv) The strength in numbers of your donor and volunteer base;  and

(v) Demonstrated support by local community leaders.

Partnering with the charitable sector 

In addition working with an incredible group of politicians and public servants over the years, I have been very impressed how organizations such as AFP and CAGP have worked with their members to encourage charitable giving, the volunteer sector and effective regulation of registered charities.  I pleased to be a member of CAGP’s Government Relations Committee to assist in this work.

Most of the admirable work on government relations has been undertaken by the staff of charities. In my view, it would be much more effective if these efforts were better coordinated with key donors and volunteer partners who gift planners and other staff work with every day from Main Street to Bay Street across Canada.

If the great human resources of the charitable sector are brought together in a more concerted effort, the missions of Canadian charities and the charitable sector will move forward with government to benefit all Canadians.

For assistance in regard to the work of your charity in government relations, please contact Grant Monck at grantmonck@gmail.com or 778-875-6220.

Making the Case for your Charity


Aerial sculpture outside the 2014 TED conference in Vancouver

Preparations are currently underway for the 2015 TED conference in Vancouver.  Walking by the site preparations earlier this week, I reflected upon the aerial sculpture outside the TED conference last year. The artwork made a statement for the conference. Many were intrigued and wondered what was happening behind the conference doors.  It signified something special and we wanted to know more!

You know the great accomplishments and missions of the charities you work for as a staff member or volunteer. How do you entice others to “look behind the door” of your charity and yearn to know more? One great tool is developing a case for support.

Making the Case in support of your charity 

In my twenty years as a senior fundraiser, I have noticed some recurring themes:

(1) The increasing competitiveness within the charitable sector for dollars, staff and volunteers;

(2) The heightened interest of charities to secure major gifts from corporations, foundations and individuals in a cost effective way;

(3) The limited staff and volunteer resources to identify, cultivate, solicit and steward donors;

(4) The desire to “move up” current annual donors to give major and planned gifts; and

(5) The challenge to meet donor prospects face-to-face.

One of the best methods to secure major and planned gifts is to engage individuals in your organization’s aspirations and needs.  These individuals may be current supporters or new donor prospects. Charities need to have a regular opportunity through face-to-face meetings to make their case and to understand individual and institutional interests be they a corporation or foundation or a couple who are long-term or new supporters of your organization.

Simple right? But what is the most effective way to secure face-to-face meetings with major donor prospects? 

To create the opportunity to solicit and secure major and planned gifts, an important part in the process starts with developing a short case for support in draft form. Requesting feedback on a draft case is a great reason to meet donor prospects. What you “hear” at these meetings will help guide your organization’s approach to present its mission and engage individuals in the work of your organization leading to financial support through major and planned gifts.

Purpose of the draft Case for Support 

(1) To tell your organization’s story

A draft case should tell a succinct story about your organization and answer the following questions:

What is the mission of your organization?

Why is the work of your organization needed?

Is there any urgency to have this work done?

(2) To provide a focus for your organization 

The answers to the questions above will focus  your organization on its primary needs and objectives while developing a narrative to engage current and new supporters.

(3) To present a compelling reason to meet and provide feedback on your organization 

The case in draft form will provide a legitimate reason and opportunity to meet current donors and donor prospects and allow for opportunities to receive feedback on your organization’s current needs and future goals.

(4) To encourage engagement in your mission and donor support for your organization

When there is interest in your organization and engagement in the case, the next step is to discuss specific ways individuals may wish to support your organization as volunteers, thoughts on donor prospects and their own interest or that of their institution to financially support your organization in a meaningful way.

A compelling case for support will open many doors for your charity by engaging current and new supporters in the great work you do. The time to make your case is now.

For more information on developing a tailor-made case for your organization, please contact Grant Monck at grantmonck@gmail.com or 778-875-6220.



The economic impact of philanthropy


Newly opened Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center   (Photo by Grant Monck) 

As National Philanthropy Day will soon be upon us, I wanted to tell you a personal story about the efforts of a small group of donors, staff and volunteers and the impact they are having on a small town in the American desert. I am in southern California this week for the opening of the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center. I am proud to be a Founder of this Center.

This is the story of how a team of individuals through philanthropy are having an economic impact on a town that has gone from a pleasant resort community to a recognized international jewel of modern architecture and design.

Economic impact?  Firstly, in the case of this new Center, there were the initial expenditures of labour and materials to restore this classic mid-century modern building to its former glory. Secondly, there are the large number of people who will travel to Palm Springs specifically to visit this Center and leave their dollars in the community. Thirdly, there is the potential to revitalize this area of Palm Springs with new businesses around the Center that will have an even greater economic impact. That’s what I call stretching your donor dollar.

Staff and volunteers of charities sometimes forget the economic impact of their work beyond fulfilling the mission.  Imagine Canada states that there are approximately 170,000 charities and not-for-profits in Canada that employ 2 million people representing over 11% of the economically active population. The charitable sector in Canada represents $106 Billion or over 8% of Canada’s annual GDP. The sector is larger than either the automotive industry or manufacturing in Canada.

It is very important to keep in mind when one is recruiting community volunteers or drafting a fundraising proposal to include the “hard” facts of the economic impact of your organization in addition to the “softer” mission-based information. Do the organizations you support, volunteer or work for have this information? Do they know how to find it?

As we near National Philanthropy Day, I would suggest that the “hard” facts need to be determined and promoted by all charities and not-for-profits to show the great economic impact of philanthropy to local communities and society as a whole.

More information on the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center can be found at http://www.psmuseum.org/architecture-design-center/