Q&A with Marina Glogovac
Marina Glogovac, President and CEO of CanadaHelps, is the architect who galvanized this groundswell of success. She’s a human dynamo for whom excellence is routine, and she is completely in support of an Ontario Week of Appreciation.
1) How did you achieve what seems like a Herculean feat-triple the donations to CanadaHelps? The Charitable and Nonprofit Sector has benefited enormously from this.
When I took over as CEO of CanadaHelps in 2013, I was lucky to join an organization with such a strong history in the charitable sector. Upon that strong foundation, I was able to bring in others like me who had come from technology organizations but with deep passion for charities and we just truly worked our butts off for the last 8 years! I attribute a lot to our organization’s culture that values transparency, urgency, ambition, and achieving as much impact as we can for the sector. When I look back, some of the things we pulled off without the resources of for-profit software, it does seem Herculean — a Donor Management System, a full suite of fundraising tools, our new Cause Funds — and we’re all really proud. I never take the trust that charities and donors put in us for granted.
2) What challenges and opportunities has your org faced during Covid and what do you foresee in the Covid Recovery period?
CanadaHelps has grown tremendously during the pandemic as we scaled up our work to meet the needs of charities adapting to digital very quickly. I feel very blessed that we were there for charities, and that it has enabled us to invest in some areas of our organization we couldn’t before due to resources. But it has been hard to onboard so many new people remotely — we more than doubled our staff and many people have never met in person. Culture building is hard in any organization, especially a growing one, but it has been extra hard under these circumstances. Like everyone else, we are using the changes brought on by the pandemic to re-examine how we work together, how we build relationships, and how we can be effective and knowing that there is no “back to normal”.
3) In Budget 2022 the federal government is planning to add a quality of life index –going beyond just looking at economic numbers in terms of assessing the health of.Canadians. What does this mean for your organization and the work it does for the community? How should Quality of life be ‘measured’?
Something I talk about often is the essential nature of the charitable sector in Canada. They are not just offering social services, but they are providing healthcare, creating art, caring for children, doing research, and so much more. Every single Canadian’s life is made better by the work done by the charitable sector, whether they know it or not. I would love to see the work of charities as part of any metrics for a healthy country and individuals’ quality of life.
4) Can you comment on the issue of the value of digitization of the Sector-the value/drawbacks and your vision of how it needs to proceed going forward?
CanadaHelps conducted research earlier this year with charities across the country to determine their levels of digital adoption and to better understand some of the barriers. In this Digital Skills Survey, we found that one in three charities believe that they’ll soon find it harder to continue their work if they don’t improve their digital capabilities. Unfortunately, two thirds of charities indicate that adopting digital technology is not their highest priority. What I hope to help charities understand in the speaking and writing I do on this topic is that digital can no longer be seen as a nice to have — it is a matter of survival. The primary thing that digitization does is helps organizations adapt to the challenges of the volatile world we are living in. It will enable charities to better deliver on their mission by creating more efficient organizational cultures and processes, and it will keep charities relevant for modern donors.
5) How is your organization adapting its structures and processes to ensure diversity equity and inclusion are top of mind? What changes/adaptations to do foresee moving forward?
I’m proud that both our staff and board members reflect the diversity of Canada. With our growth this year, one of the areas we have invested is in our People and Culture team, who are playing an important role in supporting formal and informal processes of transparency and open communication, and ensuring we are living our values.
6.) The Sector appears to be facing a major problem with staff shortages and recruitment challenges at present. Do you have any thoughts on this that you would like to share?
As a technology organization, we have to compete with all the for-profit companies out there who are fighting for tech talent, but without the resources of these companies. Digital skills are needed in every single organization, and charities are at a disadvantage when it comes to being able to compete for this expensive talent. One thing charities can leverage though is the work of highly skilled volunteers to augment their internal capacity while they work to build their staff skills.