2016-2017 has been a year of building and restructuring.
Through participation in focus groups and interviews, resulting in valuable insights and recommendations, our community gave us the bricks and mortar to develop our new five-year strategic plan. The plan is built on three pillars – expanding our reach; sharing our knowledge and amplifying our voice. Our organizational activities moving forward will be based on this framework and we are excited by what the future holds for us all!
This year, building on our strengths and our reputation for excellence in service delivery and financial accountability, we applied for – and received – accreditation from both CARF International and Imagine Canada. CARF International accredited us for our governance and management practices as well as the Attendant Services program for three years, which is the highest level that can be awarded. Imagine Canada’s Standards Program exists so that donors and stakeholders can identify trustworthy charities. Only 209 out of over 80,000 Canadian charities have been accredited to date for excellence in non-profit accountability, transparency and governance.
We took time this year to develop organizational infrastructure that better supports people with spinal cord injuries. A new case management system, a newly designed national, online Peer Support training and improved efficiency in our month-end processing of financial statements are a few examples of the structures we’ve put in place to improve our service delivery.
As we knock down barriers with our advocacy efforts, we simultaneously build on our ongoing change making. In particular, our Primary Care work has brought doctors, other healthcare professionals and people with spinal cord injuries together to first identify issues and solutions and then design a network that will serve both the medical team and the individual with a spinal cord injury.
We have also built relationships with community partners and like-minded organizations. We are thrilled to have our very first Premier Sponsor with the Insurance Bureau of Canada! Durham College’s School of Media, Arts and Design has developed curriculum that involved their students giving their time and skills to our organization. We worked with the Ontario Disability Employment Network to create an Ontario first-ever Disability Employment Awareness Month.
All this being said, 2016-2017 was also a year with significant challenges.
A concerted effort has been made to restructure our operations to ensure we can provide excellence in our core programs and services within the confines of our government grants, which have been flat-lined for many years. We have had to make cut backs, including staff lay-offs to be able to close the funding gap, and to be successful into the future we will need to continuously look at how we are operating and how we can provide services and support in a more cost-effective manner. The goal of the restructuring is to be able to use all monies derived from fundraising, sponsorship and other revenue-generating opportunities to support initiatives that will help us achieve our ambitious strategic growth objectives.
Restructuring operations is only one part of our growth strategy. In 2016-2017, fundraising revenue hit a 19-year low. Revenues have been decreasing consistently over the past 5+ years and we need to reverse this trend. To this end, the Board of Directors has created a new Fundraising and Marketing committee to support our efforts in building back up our fundraising, and to investigate alternative revenue streams. We will be implementing a new fundraising and marketing plan for the organization to strengthen our strategies and lead to improved revenue. Over the next year, you will see the implementation of these new plans and we welcome your support and suggestions on how we can rebuild a solid financial foundation for our organization.
Working together we can, and will, achieve our strategic goals. Difficult times still lie ahead but by persevering, remaining resilient, and by staying true to our mission we will achieve the outcomes our community needs and deserves.