Culture and retention in the social profit sector (Part 1)

publication date: Nov 6, 2019
author/source: Recap of Ted Garrard, Marina Glogovac, Maryann Kerr

Canada is facing the largest leadership transition in the charitable sector according to David Hutchinson. As the charity workforce is under stress, it is more important than ever to focus on culture and retention. A recent panel with Ted Garrard, Marina Glogovac, and Maryann Kerr highlighted ways that charities can be better in this area.

Maryann noted that a healthy organization is defined as having minimal politics, high job clarity, and a strong value on employee engagement. She also notes that young people are discovering their personal "why" sooner than previous generations. This means they are more interested in careers where they feel they can make a difference in society.

Ted noted that a healthy culture is a mix of both formal plans & approaches as well as informal culture. In his own experience, focusing on making sure the values of the organization were reflected in the behaviours of those in the organization. Part of ensuring this is by having the Board value a healthy culture. He notes that in his current role at SickKids, one part of his own performance is measured based on employee engagement scores and retention rates.

Marina noted that the self-containment of the charity sector has burst. As more businesses move into a social purpose framework or with a purpose-led mindset, the lines between traditional charity and corporation are blurring. As a result, the skills that charity leaders will need to succeed will be business skills. While many businesses espouse community-oriented values, there is often dissonance between those stated values and the business's real values. Charities need to be sure they stay authentic to their stated values because employees and society expect charities to be congruent in that their culture and their mission align well.

Maryann noted that charities need to do a better job of valuing diversity of opinions. In a strong organization there is a healthy tension among team members with a shared goal of moving the organization forward. When people come into a charity and learn there is no mechanism for their ideas to be heard, particularly new or different ideas, that creates apathy.

Note - This is part one of a summary of ideas on culture in the workplace. Any errors are the result of Editor Ann Rosenfield taking a sip of tea at the wrong moment and missing a key point. 

The Panel included:

Ted Garrard is Chief Executive Officer of SickKids Foundation which supports one of the world’s leading centres for pediatric care, research and learning – the Hospital for Sick Children. The Foundation raises more than $150 million in cash annually, has endowments valued at $1.1 billion, and is the largest non- governmental funder of children’s health in Canada. On October 27, 2017, the Foundation launched the largest fundraising campaign in Canadian healthcare history with a goal of raising $1.3 billion by 2022.

Marina Glogovac is the President & CEO of CanadaHelps, the largest destination for giving and fundraising in North America and a fast-growing, social technology enterprise.

Maryann Kerr is Chief Happiness Officer/CEO and principal consultant with the Medalist Group, a boutique organizational development and philanthropic firm she founded in 2016 with the mission to create well led, kinder, collaborative, inclusive workplaces. She is a true believer that the health and well-being of our workplace is directly correlated with the health and well-being of our employees.


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