Celebrating 10 years of nonprofit excellence with Imagine Canada’s Standards Program
Created by the sector for the sector, the Standards Program is the only accreditation specifically designed for charities and nonprofits.
Toronto, October 11, 2022 - Imagine Canada is pleased to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Standards Program, an accreditation program created to improve the governance and operations of charities and nonprofits across Canada and strengthen donor and public confidence in the sector.
Accreditation is a capacity-building and risk management certification process that seeks to provide organizations with a blueprint that will elevate their governance and practices. This enables them to more effectively deliver on their missions and have the greatest possible impact. The Program’s accreditation seal - the sought-after ‘Trustmark’ - is given to organizations that successfully complete the process. This seal of excellence signals to donors, funders and the general public that an organization has met the rigorous criteria of the program, and takes accountability and good governance very seriously.
The inception of the Standards Program
Launched in 2012, the Standards Program was developed over several years and hundreds of nonprofit organizations and leaders were involved in the process. A clear set of principles guided the development of the Program from its earliest days and continues to guide its operation today. First and foremost, the Program was created and is operated “by the sector for the sector;” sector stakeholders are involved in all aspects of the Program’s operations and evolution, including governance, capacity-building, accreditation, and changes to the standards.
Continuous learning is another essential component of the Program; the standards themselves and resources relating to them are available free of charge to any organization that wishes to use them, regardless of whether or not they wish to pursue accreditation.
Since the launch of the program, its operations are overseen by a volunteer Standards Council. In addition, a third-party volunteer peer review panel is responsible for reviewing all organizations’ applications. The ongoing operation of the Program wouldn’t be possible without the dedication and incredible commitment of these volunteers. The Program would also not exist without the financial support of partners who have believed in the value of good governance and transparency from the very beginning and continue to champion the program’s goals. Imagine Canada and the sector have been privileged to count on the generous support of the Program’s founding and presenting sponsor, Canada Life, as well as the Lawson Foundation.
“At Canada Life, we aim to support and strengthen our communities across Canada, to help them reach their potential, every day,” said Debbie Down, Director, Community Relations, Canada Life. “That’s why we’re proud to support Imagine Canada, as they work to strengthen Canadian charities and non-profits, so they can better serve individuals and communities. Ensuring organizations have these valuable tools and resources, is essential to meeting the needs of all Canadians.”
“The Lawson Foundation has been an early and ongoing supporter of the Standards Program because we believe that strong and effective governance actually leads to deeper impact,” said Marcel Lauzière, President & CEO, The Lawson Foundation. “Once an organization has truly lifted its game on the governance front, it is much better positioned to deliver effectively on its mission."
Evolution of the Standards Program
The environment in which charities and nonprofits operate is constantly evolving, and so too are the needs of the communities they serve. The Program is therefore continuously evolving to reflect the current environment, so accredited organizations can continue to be a leading force for driving organizational excellence within our sector.
Most recently, the Program was modernized, with the entire set of standards reviewed for relevance, clarity, and accessibility - a core principle of the Program. In addition, four new standards were introduced, including an equity and inclusion policy and an anti-harassment policy. These changes were the result of sector consultations as well as feedback collected over the past years from accredited and not accredited organizations, charity leaders, as well as Standards Program peer reviewers, and Standards Council members.
“The Standards Program is a collective initiative resulting from years of planning, and we’re thrilled to see how it has flourished over the past 10 years,” said Bruce MacDonald, President & CEO of Imagine Canada. “We are incredibly grateful to the Program volunteers who have or still devote their time to help organizations build capacity and strengthen their foundation. And above all, we commend the charities and nonprofits that have completed the accreditation since the Program was launched. You are setting the stage for organizational excellence in our sector."
Over 260 accredited organizations
Accessibility and inclusion are paramount to the Program’s vision. The standards are intended to be achievable for nonprofits of all types and sizes. Since the Program's inception, hundreds of organizations from coast to coast to coast, big and small, and devoted to a diverse range of impactful causes have demonstrated excellence by achieving accreditation. To learn more about the Program, and for a complete list of accredited organizations, please visit ImagineCanada.ca/standards.
About Imagine Canada
Imagine Canada is a national, bilingual charitable organization whose cause is Canada’s charities and nonprofits. Through our advocacy efforts, research and social enterprises, we help strengthen charities, nonprofits and social entrepreneurs so they can better fulfill their missions. Our vision is of a strong Canada where charities work together alongside business and government to build resilient and vibrant communities.
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Senior Manager, Marketing & External Relations (Bilingual)
The Standards Program is made possible with support and financial contributions from founding and presenting sponsor Canada Life; and is also generously supported by the Lawson Foundation.