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Catalyst for Change: What the senate recommendations could mean for charities

Catalyst for Change: What the senate recommendations could mean for charities

time lapse photo of train going through a station

Following extensive consultations with charities, nonprofits, volunteer groups, and academics and other experts, the Senate Special Committee on the Charitable sector released its report on how Canada could better support the important work of our sector. The report lays out 42 recommendations which can be understood as a roadmap to a stronger charitable sector. 

The Catalyst for Change report marks an important step towards strengthening organizations that serve Canada’s communities. But the work doesn’t stop there. It’s now time to join forces around the importance of the report, and work to advance these recommendations toward concrete policy change. So what are Imagine Canada and its partners doing to maintain momentum? 

Help Us Map the Senate Recommendations

The recommendations in the report are so numerous because our sector needs and deserves a lot of public policy consideration and attention. But we risk sector fragmentation and paralysis if we do not build a consensus on how we should prioritize our efforts around a manageable number of these. There are several criteria to consider in setting these priorities: the urgency of the policy change in question, the ‘readiness’ of the recommendation in terms of available evidence and research, the likely impact on the sector, the fit within the government’s agenda, but perhaps most importantly: what recommendations have the most support amongst the organizations that serve our communities?

recommendation diagram

Following the release of Catalyst for Change, Imagine Canada is undertaking a mapping of the 42 recommendations and of sector priorities around them. The powerful data we are gathering through this exercise -- knowing the issues that you want us to prioritize --  will shape our advocacy and GR efforts for years to come. Our mapping efforts are taking place on two fronts: online in the form of a survey and on the ground in the form of networking events.  

The mapping survey

If your organization is a member of Imagine Canada, you or a colleague should already have received a survey invitation asking you to rank the Senate’s recommendations in order of their potential impact on charities and nonprofits. From this data, we will be able to determine which recommendations tend to be supported by organizations according to their size, region, and organizational mission. From there, we will then organize ourselves to advance the recommendations. 

As a second phase of this project, we’re now opening up the survey beyond our membership to welcome responses from across the sector. If you would like to have your voice heard, you can fill out the survey here.

In-person event

Senator Mercer speaking at Maintaining Momentum

Senator Mercer speaking at Maintaining Momentum.

On Wednesday, we hosted our Maintaining Momentum event in collaboration with the Impact Hub Ottawa. Senator Terry Mercer, Chair of the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector and long time sector advocate, joined us to discuss how we can advance the 42 recommendations of the Catalyst for Change report, alongside Vinod Rajasekaran (Future of Good), Susan Manwaring (Miller Thomson LLP), Rachel Gouin (Child Welfare League) and Fateema Sayani (Ottawa Community Foundation).


Hill Day 2020

This year, our Hill Day will focus on advancing the recommendations of the Catalyst for Change report. Just like we’ve done in the past, we will invite sector organizations from across the country to meet with Senators, MPs and their teams and promote the interests of charities and nonprofits in Canada. The 42 recommendations will serve as the backbone of our Hill Day. More information to come shortly!

A Framework for a Healthy Charitable and Nonprofit Ecosystem

In setting out our policy agenda from the 42 recommendations, it is important to consider criteria of readiness, urgency, support, impact. For the longer term, we'll need to consider our policy priorities in terms of how they will contribute to a healthy charitable ecosystem rather than as ends themselves.

Starting in January 2020, Imagine Canada will be consulting sector networks in regions across the country on what constitutes a framework for a healthy charitable and nonprofit ecosystem. We will begin with the pillars included in this map: operations, funding environment, relationships with government, and see what a complete framework looks like with input from organizations across the country. 

Stay tuned for more details, or get in touch directly at to see how you can be involved or sign up as a Sector Advocate to support this ongoing work.

Thank you to our Founding Partner, KPMG, for kindly supporting our regional consultations.


KPMG logo


Authors: Bernadette Johnson & Laurence Therrien 

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