UPDATED: How Bill 148 affects your organization

There have been a number of changes to employment standards in Ontario since the passing of Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017. As there are more changes becoming effective as of next month, it is a good time for organizations to review what’s already changed and what changes are still to come. We have highlighted some significant changes as of November 2017, December 2017, January 2018, April 2018, and upcoming in 2019.

November 2017

As of November 27, 2017, your organization should have already reviewed its classification of employee vs. contractor. We have noticed an uptick in the number of payroll audits among nonprofits. With stricter enforcement around classifications of who is an employee vs. who is an independent contractor (aka freelancer) now in effect with Bill 148, it is important that organizations thoughtfully review their decision-making process around defining an individual as an employee or as a contractor. Organizations should be prepared to  implement necessary changes. 

Factors to consider include:

  • Control. An employee is directed by an employer; a contractor has a measure of control over what and how work is done (although they don’t have to exercise that control).
  • Tools & Equipment. Employees who use tools and equipment do not own those items. Their employer should provide, maintain, and insure most of those tools. Employers can also reimburse employees for tools and equipment they have acquired for the job. 
  • Subcontracting / hiring assistants. An employee cannot subcontract tasks or hire an assistant to do their work. A contractor can subcontract or hire help without approval of the payer.
  • Financial risk. An employee’s expenses are reimbursed and generally has no financial risk. A contractor is self-employed and takes on financial risk with each engagement, should the contract go incomplete/unpaid.
  • Responsibility for investment and management. An employee does not have a capital investment in the employer’s business. A self employed person generally has an established business, or a capital investment in the payor's business. 
  • Opportunity for profit. An employee doesn’t gain profit or incur loss while doing their work, whereas self-employed individuals can take a loss or a profit in the course of a contract. 

Also as of November 2017, your organization should have updated its crime-related child death or disappearance leave. A child is defined as under 18 and can be a step-child or foster child. Employees qualify for this leave after 6 months of employment. It is an unpaid but protected leave of up to 104 weeks.

Employers should note that as of November 2017 the EI waiting period has been reduced from 2 weeks to 1 week, for those who have a reduced EI rate due to an STD (short-term disability) program. The government has provided employers 4 years from January 1, 2017 to have plans to accommodate the reduced wait period or the organization will risk losing the reduced EI rate. 

December 2017

As of December 3, 2017 employers need to have begun preparing to accommodate the following family-related job leaves: employees can now opt to take an extended parental leave (increased by an additional 26 weeks (61 weeks total). This could prove to be a popular option for parents in Ontario, where childcare availability and affordability are a huge challenge, especially for children under 18 months of age. It is important to note that once an employee chooses the parental benefit path (extended or non-extended) they cannot change paths at a later date. Also note that the EI coverage for parental leave is for the same amount, no matter the path chosen. In other words, the recipient will receive the same overall dollar amount whether the leave is 35 weeks or 61 weeks, but their biweekly payments will be more or less respectively. 

Also as of December 1, 2017, women can now take maternity leave up to 12 weeks prior to the birth of a child, and employees who are family caregivers are now able to take up to 15 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave.

January 2018

As of January 1, 2018, several changes related to wages and paid time off have come into effect, as well overtime, job leaves, and holiday pay, and record-keeping obligations. 

Your organization should now be accomodating the following changes related to wages and PTO:

  • Minimum wage. Employees have a minimum wage of $14/hour. Student employees have a minimum wage of $13.15 (but if school is in session, they must work less than 28 hours / week to be eligible for this wage). So, if a student is working full time hours while school is in session, they are considered an employee, not a student employee, and are entitled to the full $14/hour minimum wage. The 28 hour per week limit does not apply on school holidays or during summer break.
  • Vacation pay. New legislation means that every employee in Ontario is now entitled to 3 weeks (6%) vacation after 5 years of consecutive employment with a single employer.
  • Overtime. Overtime pay must be paid out at the rate at which an employee was being paid at the time the overtime occurred. For employers, this means that overtime can no longer be calculated at a blended pay rate, and overtime pay cannot be paid out at, for example, the lower of an employee’s two pay rates. 
  • Public holiday pay calculation. To determine the amount of stat holiday pay to pay out to an employee, an employer should now use the single pay period directly prior to the stat holiday to calculate the average daily wage (total gross earnings/number of days worked in that period). Some scenarios require employers to consider some additional factors:
    • For new hires, employers should use the current period to to determine the average daily wage, and pay that. UPDATE: The Ministry of Labour has announced that effective July 1, 2018, the ESA will be reverting back to the former statutory holiday calculation of 1/20 of the prior 4 weeks earnings as an interim measure while the public holiday changes to the ESA continue to be reviewed. This change is due to concerns arising from the Changing Workplaces Review, which found that "public holiday rules were the source of the most complaints under the ESA and needed to be simplified."  More info.
    • For anyone on approved leave in the pay period  prior to the stat, employers should use the pay period in which the individual last worked to determine the average daily wage.
    • When determining average daily wage use the gross earnings before statutory deductions. Do not include overtime pay, termination pay, severance and premium pay, vacation pay, personal emergency leave pay, domestic or sexual violence leave pay or pay for other public holidays.
    • The Statutory Holiday Calculator can be found here.

Employers also, as of January 2018, need to be prepared to provide to eligible employees 10 days of Personal Emergency Leave, the first two of which are paid. Employees are eligible after 1 week of consecutive employment. Employers are no longer allowed to to ask the employee for a physician’s note to validate the leave.

As well, employers should be prepared to accommodate Domestic and Sexual Violence leave to eligible employees. Employees are eligible after 13 weeks of employment. This is a job protected leave of up to 10 individual days, the first 5 of which are paid, and up to 15 weeks per calendar year for employees, or children of employees, who have experienced or been threatened with domestic or sexual violence.

As of January 2017, all organizations are now obliged to follow several new employee-related record-keeping measures. They should record:

  • Dates and times employees are scheduled to work and changes to on call schedules
  • Dates and times employees worked
  • If an employee has two or more pay rates for worked performed in a pay week
  • Any cancellations of scheduled days or work or on call periods and dates and times of those cancellations
  • Vacation records for 5 years (instead of 3 years)

April 1, 2018

Upcoming as of April 1, 2018, organizations need to be prepared to issue equal pay for equal work. Part-time, casual, temporary, and seasonal employees must be paid the same as full-time permanent employees if they are doing essentially the same job. All organizations, including nonprofits, often with stretched budgets, will need to think carefully about how they rely on these types of workers and what they budget to pay them. A permanent, full-time employee cannot be paid more for the same task or set of tasks. Exceptions exist jobs paying by quantity or quality of work, or for merit or seniority systems, but these systems must be applied consistently. 

Possible changes coming in 2019

Although not yet confirmed by the government, organizations in Ontario should be prepared for the following in 2019:

WSIB review, which is proposed to 

  • Update the 34 industry classifications
  • Establish premium rates based on the collective experience of employers in the industry classification
  • Set an employer’s actual premium based on individual employer experience based on individual company level of risk 

CPP Enhancements

  • Starting in 2019 CPP contribution rate will increase each year until 2023 when it reaches 5.95%
  • There will also be an additional enhanced earnings percentage of 4% for earnings between the yearly maximum and the new upper earnings beginning in 2024

Scheduling requirements

  • Employees can request a location or schedule change after three months of employment, without penalization
  • Employees can refuse shifts that an employer requests they take with less than 96 hours notice, without fear of retaliation
    • exceptions are made for dealing with an emergency, remedy, or reducing a threat to public safety, or continued delivery of an essential public service
  • Employers must pay 3 hours wages to anyone who
    • regularly works more than 3 hours but has their shift is cut short
    • whose shift is cancelled without 48 hours notice from scheduled start time
    • is scheduled on call and is available to work but does not work at least 3 hours

An exception will be made when any of these situations arises from an event that is out of the employer’s control (eg. power failure, fire,) or if the employee works in a weather-related industry (eg. snow removal).

This tip sheet was created by Alicia McGuire of Young Associates. Founded in 1993, Young Associates delivers technical expertise and advisory services to support operational effectiveness of nonprofit and creative organizations. We invest in transformative technology and expert human capital to provide our customers progressive solutions in financial, data and information management, human resources, and strategic planning.


Choosing Fundraising Software: 7 Things to Consider and a Whack of Great Resources

Sumac Research. February, 2012. 
Co-author: Ye Adam Tian

“After people, data is your most important asset.” This is the first of 10 Nonprofit Technology Commandments outlined by John Kenyon, noted non-profit technology educator and strategist. And it’s true, isn’t it? Data is the key to a non-profits’ success, so you’ve got to take good care of it! But where do you house it? How do you choose the right software? Well this is a good place to start! Here are seven things to consider, along with some fundraising software reviews and resources to help you find the right match for your organization.

7 Things to Consider

Features. Before you even start looking for software, decide what you need the software to do and make a list. What data do you want it to hold? What features do you absolutely need? One of the mistakes in Robert Weiner’s 10 Common Mistakes in Selecting Donor Databases is buying more than you need. Robert Weiner is a popular non-profit technology consultant who has written for every major non-profit technology publication. Some of the other mistakes listed: randomly looking at demos, falling in love with cool features, and prioritizing price above everything else.

Customization. Another thing you may want to consider is how easy the software is to customize. Let’s face it, no two non-profits are alike. You have different programs and different terminology, and you don’t want to build your own database from scratch if you can avoid it, as Robert Weiner explains in Why Building Your Own Database Should Be Your Last Resort. So look for software with easy customization that allows you to tailor the database to your needs.

Usability. Also important to consider is usability. Because this fundraising software is going to be an integral part of your non-profit, you want it to be intuitive and easy to use. To determine just how user-friendly it is, have a look at some demo videos, get a personal demo and ask current users what they think of it.

Cost. Does the software fit into your budget, both now and in the future? In order to determine this, you have to take into account all of the costs associated with owning the software (the “total cost of ownership” or TCO). Direct costs include the software license itself, data conversion, installation, training, and support. Indirect costs include IT staff required to maintain the system, consultants needed, and upgrades to computers needed to run the software.

Security. Since you’re dealing with donor information, security must be a consideration. There are many question that you’ll want to ask. For example: Where is the data stored? Who has direct access and authority? How is the data shared between different people and departments? How is that process managed? Is there any risk of exposure of your data to the online community?

Ability to Get Data In & Out. This one is often overlooked, but it’s so important. You’ll often want to get data into your database – a list of names and addresses for instance. You’ll also want to get data out – for email marketing, accounting or event purposes. So, being able to easily import and export data is very important!

Technical Support. Finally, does the fundraising software come with quality customer support? Really what you want to know is whether you’ll be able to contact someone by phone or email when you really need help, and how quickly they will be able to assist you. You may also be interested in seeing what other kinds of support they offer: frequently asked questions on their website, documentation, training videos, etc.


Don’t know where to start looking for fundraising software? Start here:

Low-Cost Fundraising Software Comparison:

Check out NTEN and Idealware’s Consumers Guide to Low Cost Donor Management Systems for an overview of 29 systems — what they do, recommendations for systems based on particular needs, and comparison charts.

Fundraising Software Listing & Reviews:

  1. GetApp
  2. Capterra
  3. SoftScout


On a tight budget? TechSoup offers donations of fundraising software to registered non-profit organizations all around the world. Here’s a link to available donations in Canada and the United States.

This tip sheet was created by Sumac Research. Sumac is a complete nonprofit software solution that is free for small organizations and includes data conversion and installation for larger organizations. For more information, visit the Sumac website


Top 12 Tips for Setting Prices

Artists and arts organizations need to set prices for tangible goods (e.g. works of art, CDs, publications) and for services (e.g. admissions, registration fees). The considerations for goods vs. services are rather different – as are the circumstances of individuals and organizations.

These tips are offered from a very generic point of view. I have tried to make them applicable in a wide variety of situations. This may make them a challenge to apply specifically! I hope the examples will help to clarify how you might use these ideas to support your personal decision-making.

  1. There’s no recipe. Take heart if you feel uncertain about how you are going about setting your prices. My research turned up no ‘correct’ method, in the art world, the not-for-profit world as a whole, or in commercial business. There are, however, some useful guidelines.
  2. Take your time. Think of this as an iterative or recurring process. You’re going to draft a price list, sleep on it, run it past colleagues and friends, and revise it again before making a final decision.
  3. Three approaches. Here are three approaches that you might find useful. You can choose the one that works best for you, or you can consider all three, and decide after playing with the options

    A. Cost-based: Figure out your costs, and charge more than that.
    Price = your cost + mark-up
    – e.g. If I’m selling admissions to a concert, I could add up all of the costs, subtract grants and donations, and divide the net cost by my estimate of how many people will attend. Thus, if I expect to spend $12,500 and I have $7,500 in grants and donations, I need to raise $5,000 from ticket sales. If I anticipate that 200 people will attend, I need to charge each person $25. That gives me my break-even price. If I wanted to make a profit, I could then tack on a mark-up of so many dollars.

    Price = a multiple of your cost
    – e.g. Book publishers need to pay for editorial expenses, writer royalties, book production and promotion, as well as their own administration. They often base their book prices on the printing cost, by charging 5 or 6 times cost. So, if a certain book cost $8 to print, the publisher would look at a price between $40 and $48. Experience has shown that a multiple of 5 or 6 generally covers all of their expenses.

    B. Market-based: Charge what everyone else charges
    ‘Everyone else’ should include comparable artists/arts organizations as well as the other options your buyers might consider; for instance:

    – A performing arts organization might compare its prices to what its peers are charging – as well as to the cost of a movie ticket, the cover charge for a band, and other ‘night out’ options

    – A visual artist might look at what their buyers are considering. For instance, if the art in question is usually purchased for its decorative value, buyers may be deciding between buying a picture and another decorative object (e.g. fine craft, furniture, area carpet)

    C. Value-based: What’s it worth to you?
    This is how hotels and airlines do it – not to mention gas stations and ticket scalpers. Today’s rate on a hotel room or an airfare depends on how far in advance you’re booking, plus demand, plus any other factors that affect its desirability. The price a scalper can get before the game is vastly different from what he’ll accept half an hour after the puck drops!

  4. Know your limits!
    - Floor = your cost (If you sell below cost, you’re losing money!)
    – Ceiling = what the market will bear (You can’t charge more than what people are willing to pay.)
  5. Consider your environment and how that might affect the prices you can charge.
    - Geography: are you in a large city, a town, a rural community, a remote area?
    – Accessibility/distribution: how easy is it for people to come to you – or for you to get your work to major centres of population?
    – Economy: how’s the local economy doing, how much disposable income do people have?
    – Political framework: what taxes do you have to take into consideration, what public policies affect you (e.g. copyright, availability of government funding)?
    – Local arts community: are there many colleagues/competitors close by, or are you the only game in town?
  6. Consider how the characteristics/qualities of your art – whether it’s a canvas or an exhibition or production – should affect its price.
    - Artistic merit is definitely a factor in pricing – and one of the hardest to confront. It’s also a factor that’s likely to change over the course of your career. You need to consider the significance of your work in relation to other artists, and the market overall.

    – Popular appeal is also important. It’s easy to see that more people want to buy tickets to mega-musicals and Broadway-style shows than to a lot of other performing arts genres. You must consider the size of your market, and hence the volume of demand for your work. This could push the price up or down! A lower price might make you more attractive. On the other hand, aficionados may be less price-sensitive, and thus willing to pay more for something harder to come by.

    – Use price to send a message about quality and value, and where your work fits in the marketplace. Take coffee shops as an example: relative to your competitors, you need to determine if you’re more of a Starbucks or a Tim Horton’s!

  7. Uniqueness is not a factor in setting prices in the arts. You’re unique, just like everyone else. Every artwork is one-of-a-kind: the visual art collector, or the performing arts engager, is choosing amongst a number of unique offerings, each of which has its appeal.
  8. Don’t let the price be an emotional decision! Price your work dispassionately, without reference to your attachment to it.
    – Don’t assume that your personal favourites will fetch a higher price. Your investment of time, effort and angst in the creative process won’t necessarily speak to the buyer or audience. If an artwork is so significant for you that you can’t part with it at your normal price, perhaps it’s not the right time to offer it for sale.

    – By the same token, you may not love a certain piece, and therefore be tempted to underprice it – but don’t assume that others will share your feelings for it.

  9. Establish your base price according to your most typical art. It may be useful to think about how new cars are priced. Often, there’s a ‘base price’ plus the option to purchase ‘extras’ – or to get the car ‘fully loaded’ In the same way, a visual artist, a performer or an arts organization may be able to identify their price baseline, and what their extras might be, and establish a range of prices for different types of work. For instance:

    – An actor taking a lead role may be able to negotiate a better weekly rate than when he or she accepts a supporting part. A musician may be able to charge more for a soloist engagement than for a sideman gig. The difference is related to the perceived value of the service.

    – A visual artist may charge more for larger or more elaborate works. This might be either a cost-based or a value-based approach.

    – A theatre company may charge more per ticket for the musical it’s offering this year than for its one-hander. This would almost certainly be a cost-based approach related to the number of artists involved and the scope of the production values.

  10. Stick to your guns! It’s a good policy to keep your prices consistent no matter who the buyer is. This can be especially important for visual artists selling multiples or working with more than one dealer – and for performers hoping to build a client base of repeat customers.

    – If you’re an experienced artist with a track record, document your sales. When you can see how works have sold over time, it’s easier to be consistent about pricing your new pieces.

    – If you’re still building that record, you can achieve consistency by pricing your art like a realtor would price a home for sale: look at comparables in terms of medium and style, as well as in terms of fellow artists at a similar level of accomplishment

  11. Think carefully before you discount, to make sure the price cut will work for you strategically.

    A. Discounts may be standard in some circumstances, for instance:
    – A commercial gallery may offer a standard 10% discount to arts consultants purchasing on behalf of clients, or to regular customers who purchase a lot of art.
    – Performing arts organizations commonly offer discounts for group purchases, as well as to students and seniors, and for less popular nights.
    – NOTE! Where a range of prices is in effect, you need to be clear on which is The Price. Your regular price is the Saturday night, full price amount . Everything else is a discount.

    B. Discounts may be used to introduce negotiation , so you can close a sale, for instance:
    – You might want to offer an incentive to a good client to buy more
    – You might decide to make it possible for someone to buy the work who loves it but can’t afford the regular price.

    C. You might wish to use discounts to adjust to market conditions, for instance:
    – If tickets are selling poorly, performing arts organizations may consider putting out two-for-one coupons, or offering discounted tickets within the arts community.
    – A gallery in a tourist town might wish to consider special offers in the off-season.

    D. You might be tempted to price lower than your colleagues/competitors to gain an edge. Think seriously about whether this will really work in your favour. For instance:
    – Performing arts patrons definitely react to price points – but not necessarily to relatively small differences. Someone might decide that the current Broadway touring show is too pricey – but if they’ve decided to spend the money to see a local company, they’re more likely to make their choice based on the title, the artists, the reviews, etc., than on a couple of dollars’ difference in price.

    – If all practitioners of a certain discipline charge within the same range, they can create a “going rate” which sets buyer/audience expectations, and helps everyone plan their budgets.

  12. Don’t forget to raise your prices when it’s appropriate!
    - A useful rule of thumb for visual artists is to contemplate an increase when you’re selling at least 50% of last six months’ output.

    – Another benchmark would be to look at an increase when you’ve experienced six to twelve months of consistent success in your work. Once you’ve established steady demand, it’s time to re-examine your pricing.

This tip sheet was created by Heather Young of Young Associates for the workshop ‘How Much Am I Worth? How Much Do I Charge? – The Secrets of Pricing and Negotiating’ which was presented in March 2006 by the Cultural Careers Council of Ontario. Founded in 1993, Young Associates provides bookkeeping and financial management services in the charitable sector, focused on arts and culture. Young Associates also provides consulting services in the areas of data management, business planning and strategic planning. Heather Young published Finance for the Arts in Canada (2005), a textbook and self-study guide on accounting and financial management for not-for-profit arts organizations.


Ten Tips for Audit Committees of Not-for-Profit Organizations

KPMG has put together an excellent tip sheet on audit preparation for not-for-profit organizations.

The tips can be found in brief below, but visit the full tip sheet at KPMG’s website to view each “to do” item in detail.

KPMG’s Ten To-Do’s for Audit Committees of Not-for-Profit Organizations

  1. Stay focused on the audit committee’s top priority: financial reporting and related internal control risk.
  2. Stay on top of the first year audited financial statements applying the accounting framework.
  3. Continue to monitor accounting judgments and estimates, and prepare for accounting changes.
  4. Consider whether the audit committee has the right mix of talent.
  5. Consider whether the financial statements and disclosures tell the organization’s story.
  6. Focus risk governance efforts on reviewing reputational risk identification and management efforts.
  7. Consider updating policies. In almost all processes, IT developments are leading to rapid increases in electronic transactions.
  8. Understand how technology change and innovation are transforming the business landscape – and impacting the organization.
  9. Focus on the organization’s plans to grow and innovate.
  10. Reassess the organization’s vulnerability to business interruption, and its crisis readiness

Click here to view the full KPMG tip sheet.


Ten Tips for Reporting Financials to the Board

Ever had a moment of dread when preparing for a board meeting? Board meetings do not always have to be the event we wished we could skip. By establishing expectations for clear communication between board and staff and creating a common base of understanding of the company’s finances, your board of directors can become a foundational resource for your organization.

To uncover some of the best tips for financial reporting to your board, Young Associates interviewed senior managers and collated their views on handling financial reporting to the board of directors. We would like to thank Soundstreams CanadaPrologue to the Performing ArtsToronto Dance TheatreCrow’s TheatrePlaywrights Guild of Canada, and Dance Ontario for their support and assistance in creating these tips for financial reporting to boards of directors.

Now, for some tips on best practices:

  1. Don’t give up; the right Treasurer is out there! Just like dating…you don’t always meet the right one for you first time out. Seek a Treasurer with a strong financial background who can help you prepare and present board reports, address the Annual General Meeting, and support the development of the annual operating budget. It’s often a balancing act between accounting training or business skill, and an understanding of the not for profit world. Having the right credentials is great, but may ultimately be less important than finding a compatible person. So, finding a CA or Bank Manager may not be essential. If you’ve found somebody who has great technical skills, but is new to the sector, it’s up to you to help them deliver their best by cultivating their engagement with your organization and the sector.
  2. Gauge the financial comprehension level of your board. It’s not necessary for everyone on your board to be financially literate, but according to our interviewees, it’s extremely helpful to have multiple board members with at least a basic grasp of financial management. How much they understand the financial stuff will influence how often and how in depth financial reports are presented at each board meeting. With a board comprised solely of artists, you risk a lack of financial comprehension and understanding, making presenting financial data difficult, timely, and at times, ineffective. At the same time, if your board is comprised only of those with strong financial backgrounds but with little understanding of the organization’s mandate, then you risk focusing solely on financial matters and at the expense of other mission related topics that need to be addressed.
  3. Sometimes the ideal is not the realistic. While it would be nice to have a healthy balance of individuals with practical financial management experience and arts people (or people from whichever sector your charity occupies) on a board, most of the time, this is not the case. Ideally, it would be great if all board members read reports prior to the meeting, and attended all the organization’s events accompanied by some of their friends and colleagues. The reality is that some board members will not do that on their own accord. Learning from our interviewees, the best approach is to promote the engagement of all members, creating policies for them that ensure that their participation on the board will benefit the organization and its bottom line. Examples include attending 75% of the performances in a fiscal year, contributing an annual donation to the organization, and recommending colleagues with sought-after attributes. Although you may not reach the ideal, you can still reach a realistic goal with your board that benefits the organization, and communicate how the actions of board members impact the financial reality of the organization.
  4. People are always changing. Be prepared for that moment when your beloved Chair or Treasurer has reached their maximum time as a board member, and you have to go about finding a new one, (one you are worried will not be as compatible!) But that’s okay… and normal! Outlining the qualities and attributes that your previous member had, or ones that are missing from your current board will help narrow your focus in recruiting a new candidate. All of our interviewees have been in that position, and said they were open to recommendations and referrals from other board members, colleagues, and confidants. Remember, the point in the recruitment cycle when you need to pay attention is when the new VP is being sought. Start setting standards and building relationships then; thus, when they arrive as your new President, you have been grooming them for up to two years!
  5. Send out materials ahead of time. Sending out materials (board report, balance sheet, income statement) to your board members prior to the meeting gives them time to prepare questions and concerns in advance. It can save you time at the board meeting because it is anticipated that everyone will have reviewed the material. A board with members who possess strong financial comprehension skills may not need to see copies of the reports prior to the meeting – unless there is a specific issue at hand that needs to be addressed. For most of our interviewees, sending out the material ahead of time allowed some of their directors time to process the information, and save valuable meeting time.
  6. Not all board meetings need a balance sheet and income statement. If an organization has a Treasurer who possesses a background in chartered accounting, then that individual tends to keep such a close eye on the finances that regular viewing of the balance sheet and income statement would become redundant and unnecessary for both the Treasurer and the other members. This is not the case for most of our interviewees, who include a balance sheet and income statement in the board reports that are sent out at least a week in advance to the meeting, allowing them some time to review the month’s finances and keep up to date. Most of our interviewees use the balance sheet and income statement to continue engaging their board on financial matters, allowing for complete transparency of the numbers.
  7. Consider if your board meetings need to include a standard financial agenda. A common principle for financial reporting to the board is to schedule financial reporting at every single board meeting. For our interviewees, this varies based on the level of financial comprehension of their treasurer and board. For organizations with a strong Treasurer, financial matters would only be discussed if absolutely necessary. For other organizations, it becomes necessary to include a financial agenda at every meeting in order for everyone to be on the same page. Creating a standard agenda focusing on addressing any issues with the financial data is one way to encourage board members with limited financial knowledge to ask questions and become more engaged with the financial operations of an organization.
  8. Plan to connect with your treasurer before each board meeting. Most managers do not have a lot of time in a board meeting to talk at great lengths about the financial matters at hand; therefore, preparing beforehand with your treasurer can ensure that both of you are on the same page and more importantly, that they are able to understand your perspective on the finances. If your treasurer has a strong financial background, then he or she can help you determine the reality of your financial position, and work together to map out how to present the information effectively to the rest of the board.
  9. Board meetings do not have to occur every month. While common principles call for board meetings to run every month, most of our interviewees push it to every 6-8 weeks. Timelines can be affected by physical distance between members, and scheduling. While it is good practice to plan out each meeting date at the AGM, in reality many organizations decide on the date at the prior meeting. The most important thing to take away is that board meetings should be consistent and require all members to be present and prepared.
  10. Make sure your board is “on board”. Remember: your board members are the legal representatives of your organization. It is their responsibility to be committed to your organization by reading the board reports, engaging in the organization’s activities, and helping with fundraising initiatives. You shouldn’t have to parent your board members to make sure they do all their readings. Make it clear to the board what is expected of their position, and how beneficial their efforts are to the organization. It doesn’t matter if they come from a business, finance, or arts background: all of them are expected to be engaged with and updated on the events and happenings of the organization, as well as the financials. Make sure your board members are aware of their duties and do not get caught up in using their position as a resume booster, but rather they prioritize the mandate of the organization.

This tip sheet was created by Caroline Bendiner, Centennial College Intern from the Cultural Heritage & Site Management Program. Founded in 1993, Young Associates provides bookkeeping and financial management services in the charitable sector, focused on arts and culture. Young Associates also provides consulting services in the areas of data management, business planning and strategic planning. Heather Young published Finance for the Arts in Canada (2005), a textbook and self-study guide on accounting and financial management for not-for-profit arts organizations.


Tips for Creating Your Organization’s Privacy Policy

When it comes to collecting and using data about your organization’s patrons and donors, it is imperative to have a privacy policy which meets the requirements of federal legislation, PIPEDA (the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act), and in some cases additional provincial legislation. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has some information about the application of PIPEDA to charitable and non-profit organizations here.

Need help wading through the PIPEDA waters? Want to draft a privacy policy but don’t know where to begin?  Charity Central has created a Privacy Policy Checklist, a tipsheet designed to help you better understand your organization’s information-handling practices and why and how you should create a privacy policy.

Click here to view Charity Central’s Privacy Policy Checklist.