publication date: May 8, 2012
From mega-charity (Sick
, Plan Canada
small but mighty (Sarnia Lambton Rebound: A Program for Youth
), 17 charities were already on
board when Imagine Canada
its long-planned Standards Program
Designed to strengthen public confidence in the charitable
and nonprofit sector, the national program is
one of the first of its kind in the world.
accreditation testifies to an organization's excellence in five
key areas: board governance, financial accountability and transparency, ethical
fundraising, staff management and volunteer involvement.
"Now, more than ever before, it is important for charities
and nonprofits to keep the hard-earned confidence and trust of the public,"
says Imagine Canada president and CEO Marcel
. "An organization that has
been accredited through this program has demonstrated that it has put in place
the policies, procedures and practices to make it a truly effective
Education, access are
The program focuses on common elements of management and
governance that Imagine Canada says are relevant for all charities. It does not include program or service
standards that many organizations have already developed in areas specific to
The charities signed up so far were part of a pilot group
that helped to test and validate the accreditation process. Information about how to comply with the
standards, as well as tools and resources to help organizations continue to
strengthen their governance practices is available free.
"Our philosophy is one of open access," Lauzière explains, "so
that even if an organization does not wish to go through the formal accreditation
process, it can still make full use of the program information to improve its
practices in these key areas."
Recognizing that some of the Standards may not apply to very
small organizations, Imagine Canada has categorized them into three levels
based on the size of the organization.
Organizations that achieve accreditation through a peer
review process will be allowed to use the program trustmark for five years. When Canadians see this trustmark on a charity
or nonprofit's website or fundraising and promotional materials, they can be confident
that the accredited organization has successfully demonstrated compliance with
the standards, Imagine Canada says.
The organization intends to monitor accredited participants
through spot audits and complaints-based investigations.
Where Standards came
program began in 2006 with discussions about expanding the scope and rigour of Imagine
Canada's long-standing Ethical Code
and the HR Council for the
soon joined the conversation.
In 2010, 51 organizations became founding members
the Standards Program. A steering
and then a Standards Council were formed to oversee the program, with
the Imagine Canada Board accepting legal responsibility.
In mid-2011, several founding members participated in a pilot
of the accreditation process. In the fall of that year, the Standards Council
asked Canadian charities and nonprofits to nominate qualified candidates as
peer reviewers. The peer review panel met in early 2012 to evaluate the applications
of pilot participants and make decisions on accreditation.