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Voices From the Voluntary Sector

Voices From the Voluntary Sector: Perspectives on Leadership Challenges

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 448
  • Book Info
    Voices From the Voluntary Sector
    Book Description:

    Voices from the Voluntary Sectoris a valuable resource that addresses a wide range of concerns related to the responsiveness, character, and leadership of third sector organizations.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9991-5
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Tim Brodhead

    The universe of voluntary sector or ‘public benefit’ organizations in Canada is vast; indeed, the sector in Canada is second only to that of the Netherlands in size relative to population: over 80,000 registered charities, perhaps double that number of non-profits, 1 million fulltime staff and 11.8 million volunteers. Although the sector accounts for some 8 per cent of our GDP, it works largely in obscurity. Feel-good stories in newspapers and, infrequently, reports of malfeasance are the most attention it receives from the media. Governments at all levels rely on the sector to deliver services, build healthy communities, and articulate...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-2)
    Frederick Bird and Frances Westley
  5. Introduction: Leadership and the Voluntary Sector in Canada
    (pp. 3-22)

    In 1997, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation launched a major innovative initiative, in collaboration with the Faculty of Management at McGill university, to create a new master’s degree program, called the McGill-McConnell Program for National Voluntary Sector Leaders. Three ideas made this initiative novel in concept: first, that the voluntary sector needed and deserved a leadership program of the same quality as the best executive business degrees; second, that the sector as a whole needed to exercise more leadership in Canada, shaping the public debate so often dominated by corporate leaders and politicians; and third, that an academic program could...


    • 1 The Courage to Become
      (pp. 25-54)

      For young people in the care of Canada’s already large and rapidly growing child welfare system – dealing with past traumatic experiences, faced with difficult challenges in the future, and lacking effective control over their own lives – life can be intensely frustrating. Many youth in care express feelings of isolation, loneliness, and hopelessness. As a result of this situation, the National Youth in Care Network was started in 1985 by a group of young people from across Canada who were determined to do something about their feelings of powerlessness within the child welfare system and wished to regain control of their...

    • 2 How Then Shall I Lead? The Journey of Leadership in a Faith Community
      (pp. 55-71)

      At certain points in my life, important opportunities have arisen which have allowed me to make formative choices in developing my character, vocation, and leadership abilities. One of the most important of these ‘crossroads’ experiences was the call that I felt, at the age of thirteen, to serve in a developing country. Although it took over twelve years before that call became a reality, my faith in God and His direction for my life served a critical role in facing and developing as a result of life’s crossroads.

      Another major crossroads I faced was the death of my mother. I...

    • 3 Life after a Charismatic Leader
      (pp. 72-96)

      The Taoist monk Moy Lin-shin was born in 1931 in Toisan (Taishan), a township near Guangzhou (Canton), China, and passed away in Toronto on 6 June 1998. The establishment and organization of the International Taoist Tai Chi Society, a multi-corporation non-profit organization¹ which he founded in 1970 and which today consists of some 40,000 members in 28 countries, may be considered the crowning achievement of his life. For over twenty-five years, I have been a follower of this charismatic leader, apprenticing under him first in Taoist arts and later, together with several of my peers, in Confucian administration.

      At the...


    • 4 Leadership in the Eye of the Storm: Lessons in Crisis Management for National Sports Organizations
      (pp. 99-117)

      SARS, West Nile Virus, terrorism, British Columbia forest fires, fifty million people left without electrical power, mad cow disease, Canada’s national airline in bankruptcy protection, fears of an avian flu pandemic, Hurricane Katrina – it all sounds like a bad dream or a plotline from a far-fetched late-night movie. Unfortunately, far from being a fantasy, all these events have taken place in recent memory and have had a significant effect on individuals and organizations in the voluntary sector.

      Organizations are often confronted with scandals, emergencies, and high-visibility controversies. Crises are inevitable and recurring (Andriole 1985, 4) and recent world events would...

    • 5 Evaluating the Performance of Non-profit Organizations: An Examination of the Performance Index for the Donner Awards
      (pp. 118-146)

      Non-profit performance evaluation and Darwinism are two quite unrelated topics, it is clear, but I will attempt to weave them together to help convey my concerns about a relatively new anadian quantitative non-profit evaluation tool. To begin, I wish to set out the general parameters of the discussion to follow. First, I recognize that non-profits are without the benefit of simple quantitative evaluation tools that could be used to assess their overall performance. Second, I believe that, despite the many complexities within business models, the common evaluative denominator remains focused on quantifiable profit, which makes those models not wholly transferrable...

    • 6 Renewal of a Youth-Serving Organization: Lessons and Stories Shared through an Ecocycle Metaphor
      (pp. 147-170)

      Organizations are open and living systems that naturally cycle and change. With that in mind, the entrepreneurial dream of one continuous upward climb to organizational health and prosperity is unrealistic. Setbacks, crises, and conflicts are bound to occur. Parts die off and new parts emerge. Attempts to suppress crisis only create more setbacks and hold the system back from reaching new heights. After a time, organizations reach a stage of maturity, when the chief preoccupation is to manage the existing systems rather than attempt new beginnings. Energy stagnates and routines predominate. Such organizations are in need of renewal. But is...


    • 7 First Nations Children and Families: In Search of the Voluntary Sector
      (pp. 173-190)

      There is convincing evidence that First Nations children and young people are among the most disadvantaged in Canadian society, and yet they receive far fewer resources than other Canadians (RCAP 1996; CCRC 1999; McDonald and Ladd 2000; Nadjiwan and Blackstock 2003; Blackstock et al. 2004; Blackstock et al. 2005). This evidence runs counter to the prevailing Canadian stereotype that First Nations are the preferred beneficiaries of Canadian society. It also challenges the claim that canada’s voluntary sector reaches out to the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

      This essay describes the findings of a study I conducted in 2002 in cooperation with...

    • 8 Letting or Making Global Collaboration Happen? An Exploration of Collaborative Efforts among International NGOs
      (pp. 191-218)

      I first wrote this essay in the days that followed my participation in the People’s Summit, held just prior to the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in April 2001. This experience had left me excited, but also worried, about the prospects of NGO collaboration in the future.

      I had been moved by the tens of thousands of people that had come together to share their frustrations about globalization, understood here as the worldwide drive towards a global economic system based on rapid growth in international trade, investment, and capital flows, and without much accountability to democratic processes or...


    • 9 Embracing Donor Involvement
      (pp. 221-241)

      According to the third annualChronicle of Philanthropy’ssurvey of gift funds, assets held by many of the biggest donor-advised funds in the United States quadrupled in value in just six years, rising from $2.4 billion in 1995 to $12.3 billion in 2001 (Lipman 2001; Larose 2002). Over the same period, overall giving grew from approximately $122 billion to $203 billion (Fix and Lewis 2001), less than half the growth rate of donor-advised funds.

      A startling example can be seen in Fidelity Investments, which launched a commercial gift fund in 1992. By 2001, this fund held assets valued at $2.6...

    • 10 Can’t We Be Friends? An Ethical Exploration of the Nature of the Relationship between Fundraisers, Donors, and the Charities They Support
      (pp. 242-264)

      At no time in history has fundraising been a more socially pervasive – some might say, aggressive – phenomenon. From door-to-door canvassing to telephone calls, letters, even visits with donors, fundraising is in your face, front and centre, and ever-present in people’s daily lives. Yet it is also a curiously isolated phenomenon, remote from most people’s imaginative lives. Among the 25,000 or more members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals worldwide, the majority probably dreamed, as children, of becoming doctors, teachers, astronauts, or firefighters. Perhaps when children start dreaming of becoming fundraisers, we will know the fundraising profession has ‘arrived.’ And perhaps...

    • 11 Health Communication, Collaboration, and Ethics: Working with the Private Sector to Influence Consumer Behaviour
      (pp. 265-295)

      Most major national health organizations include education of patients and the public as part of their mandates, and the information they provide is both vast and varied, covering disease prevention and management as well as health promotion, patient and family support, and self-help. This kind of education targets people with particular diseases or conditions, as well as healthy individuals, health professionals, and the general public.

      Over the more than ten years that I have managed communications for a children’s health organization, one of the greatest challenges has been to adequately fund our public education programs. Getting credible health information to...

    • 12 Bridging Strategies for Amnesty International
      (pp. 296-330)

      I am a ‘hyphenated’ Canadian: a Chinese-Canadian. I am what the Chinese community refers to, often in a derogatory sense, as ‘bamboo’: yellow on the outside but hollow on the inside. That is, while I have the physical features of a Chinese person, I lack the culture and inner essence of ‘chineseness.’

      I grew up in the small town of Brooks, Alberta. Our family was the only Chinese family in the town. At home, we maintained a Chinese way of life. I spoke Chinese at home and English at school. In order to survive at school, I had to quickly...


    • 13 A Snowball’s Chance: Children of Offenders and Canadian Social Policy
      (pp. 333-360)

      Most Canadians believe their country is second to none in the ways it treats its citizens and the quality of life it provides. They expect that Canada’s children will receive the help they need to grow and be able to participate in society. To that end, Canadians invest in the care and treatment of children with illnesses, handicaps or disabilities, as well as other problems. They believe that Canadian children in need of medical, educational, and social services should receive them, even if the prognosis is not certain. The premise has been that children should have the opportunity to reach...

    • 14 Public Dialogue: Bridging the Gap between Knowledge and Wisdom
      (pp. 361-390)

      In recent times, the concept of dialogue has had great resonance. It occurs today in many different settings and contexts: personal relationships, labour relations, community development, organizational behaviour, management and policy-making – to mention just a few.¹

      This essay will explore the concept ofpublic dialogue: its meaning and use, and its connection to the ideas of citizen engagement and democracy. It also will explore the social and political malaise to which public dialogue is called on to respond, and offer some reflections on how well the process of public dialogue can meet this challenge. To do this, the essay offers...

    • 15 Social Entrepreneurship: The Power and Potential of Mission-based Businesses
      (pp. 391-417)

      The practice of social entrepreneurship (SE) – currently the umbrella term for the myriad business activities being undertaken by voluntary sector organizations (VSOs) – has gained significant momentum over the past several years. Although various definitions exist, social entrepreneurship is, essentially, an approach that brings money and mission activities closer together in order to leverage opportunities for new and more diversified funding, with the end goal of delivering more missions. I encounter examples of social entrepreneurship on a daily basis, from the fundraising newsletter I receive from a non-profit in Calgary (and which I pay for), to the company that cleans my...

  11. Conclusion: The Practice of Ethics and the Voluntary Sector
    (pp. 418-432)

    It seems appropriate, in concluding this book, to say a few words about the importance of ethics in the voluntary sector. The McGill-Mcconnell Program did not include a separate module on ethics; instead, the five modules focused upon mindsets – reflective, analytical, global, collaborative, and catalytic – and part of each module was devoted to ethics, which thus functioned as an integrating approach or theme.

    Ethics can be usefully viewed as a social practice, or rather a set of overlapping social practices. These practices include a range of activities by which we exercise judgments, initiate projects, settle disputes, cultivate habits, and voice...

  12. References
    (pp. 433-460)
  13. Additional McGill-McConnell Papers
    (pp. 461-462)
  14. Contributors
    (pp. 463-465)