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Cathy Taylor-Executive Director Ontario Nonprofit Network

Inspiring Leadership. Strategic Thinker. The Nonprofit Sector’s unflinching enthusiast!

Formidable Advocate-charting new paths for the Nonprofit Sector in Ontario and Canada.

She’s been inspired throughout her career, like many, by Margaret Mead’s quote “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

But in the last few years, she has turned her attention to Rosemary Brown’s quote as  inspiration: “Until all of us have made it, none of us has made it”.

She firmly believes that ” we are stronger when we work together for the public benefit!”

1) What challenges and opportunities have your org faced during the pandemic and what do you foresee in the Covid Recovery period?

  • Like all organizations, we moved to working virtually in March 2020 and our team has not worked in person or seen each other for 18 months! Moving all of our work, events and convening digitally has been a challenge.
  • We were uncertain how the pandemic would impact our work, so we began adapting by planning quarterly (rather than annually) and adjusting our work as we went.
  • We were initially overwhelmed with how we would support the sector given the massive transformation and crisis that was unfolding. However, we simply listened, engaged with our network and through our COVID surveys, we jumped in to provide what we thought was most useful – everything from virtual AGM toolkits, to webinars on financial management, building COVID resources and of course advocating to government for the needs of nonprofits and charities.
  • There were definitely opportunities to share the impact of nonprofits and charities, especially during a crisis, and to raise awareness of the sector
  • The recovery period is hard to imagine and there is much uncertainty. We expect that the need for the services of nonprofits and charities will continue to grow and we worry that they will have the support they need to continue.

2) How has ONN helped to support the Nonprofit Sector during the pandemic?

  • We have documented the issues facing the nonprofit sector during the pandemic, primarily through our outreach and three COVID surveys. We have shared the results and amplified stories to illustrate impacts with our network, media, and government decision makers.
  • We have created and curated resources to help the sector navigate these times – from financial management to HR management, virtual AGMS, vaccination policies, return to work practices and more. We have created a COVID section on our website and online resource centre.
  • We have advocated to government for policies and legislation that would support the sector including liability protection, stabilization funding, personal protective equipment, vaccination support, and more.

3) Do you have any further reflections on your recent report ” State of the Ontario Nonprofit Sector One Year Later?

  • It continues to be very worrisome and overall, circumstances are not improving for our sector. Organizations are overwhelmed with the workload, staff and volunteers are burning out and there has been very little government support targeted to nonprofits and charities.
  • The need for nonprofit services will continue to rise and it is not clear if financial support will be available to meet these needs.
  • The pandemic has had an uneven impact on the sector – sports and arts organizations, for example, were closed for months while social services organizations had high workloads and changing restrictions and guidelines. There was no ‘typical’ impact.
  • We are particularly concerned about the loss of volunteers and the impact of the pandemic on volunteer-only and grassroots organizations who have received very little support.

4) The Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) will be proclaimed on October 19, 2021. Why is this of critical importance to the Sector and its future?

  • The corporate legislation that regulates the nonprofit sector in Ontario was over 60 years old! Modernization was essential. The old legislation did not allow for electronic meetings, for example.
  • This legislation impacts every single nonprofit that is registered in Ontario.
  • Aspects of this legislation will help organizations do their jobs better, and make the rules clearer.
  • There is much yet to learn about its impact, though, and we will be tracking its implementation and tracking issues and improvements to be made.

5) The federal government is planning to add a quality of life index for Canadians –going beyond just looking at economic numbers. What does this mean for ONN and the work you do for the community?

  • Unsure, we haven’t addressed this yet.

6) Please share your diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy. What changes/adaptations to do foresee moving forward?

  • ONN is committed to being an equity responsive organization and eradicating racism, and anti-Black racism in particular, in the nonprofit sector and doing our part to dismantle the systems that enable violence towards and oppression of Black Canadians and racialized communities.
  • We are also committed to championing nonprofits’ roles in responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and promoting the self-determination and well-being of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.
  • We are doing this in a number of ways – such as sharing anti-racism and equity resources and supports for the nonprofit sector that are developed by our colleagues working in this space. We will also be advocating for public policy that creates jobs for Black, Indigenous and racialized communities, and invests in Indigenous communities
  • We will also continue to strengthen inclusivity in our own organization through staffing and volunteer practices, and to work with our provincial network to create equitable spaces for Black, Indigenous and racialized voices in our events and gatherings.
  • Our projects and initiatives, such as decent work and reimagining governance, are grounding their work in equity and focusing on racial justice and Indigenous justice
  • We will continue to learn, amplify and adapt as we go forward.

In closing on a personal note can you share any mantras/quotes that have inspired your tremendous drive? Or mentors-makes the post v relatable!

I have been inspired throughout my career, like many, by Margaret Mead’s quote “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

But in the last few years, I have turned my attention to Rosemary Brown’s quote as my inspiration: “Until all of us has made it, none of us has made it”.

I firmly believe that we are stronger when we work together for the public benefit!