Who we work with

Our Principals have been working in and around the nonprofit sector for many years. We are well aware of the size and diversity of the sector, and the kinds of challenges faced by its leaders. 

We’ve helped a wide range of national organizations and associations with membership from coast to coast. They operate in many different sectors: health, medicine, public safety, culture, recreation, transportation, environment, statistical information, music, justice and others. Some are federated, with the typical challenges associated with a federated structure; others are stand-alone.

We’ve supported some organizations whose main function is program administration, others whose primary focus is policy development or advocacy, and still others with a strong operational orientation.

We’ve worked with numerous smaller organizations that operate at the provincial or the community level. 

We understand what it’s like to have an ambitious mission and how hard it can be to generate the resources necessary to fulfil that mission. We’re familiar the different kinds of revenue sources that nonprofits tap into and the challenges associated with the lack of capacity and inadequate support for operations.

The foregoing is a very brief overview of the kinds of organizations we have worked with and the type of work we do. If you would like to see a few specific examples from a wide range of possibilities, click here..

Here are a few examples of projects on various subjects where our Principals have been able to help nonprofits:

  1. The Federation of Law Societies of Canada was looking for assistance with a reform of their governance arrangements. Our role was to provide expertise on exemplary governance practices, recommend consultative approaches, and support a committee of senior lawyers from different provinces in cross-Canada consultations. This challenging year-long project resulted in significant revisions to governance structures and practices that improved the functioning of the Federation.
  2. The Canadian Human Rights Commission received assistance with regard to the expansion of its mandate. This complex assignment involved sensitive communication issues, human resource challenges, and the management of change.
  3. At the request of the Arts and Cultural industries Association of Manitoba and SaskCulture Inc., Meta4 Principal Barbara Laskin developed and delivered a one-day interactive training session, along with a workbook entitled “Governance Works!” for staff and board members of arts and heritage organizations across Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In addition to the larger centres, the workshop was webcast to a number of remote communities.
  4. One-on-one coaching support has been provided to leaders at Queen’s University, University Hospital Foundation Calgary, Children’s Aid Foundation of Ottawa and others. These projects have addressed issues related to strategy, fundraising budgets, stewardship, and leadership, with a view to building an empowered team that raises more money.
  5. An independent evaluation of a new management model for UNICEF took Meta4 Principal Don Hall to country offices throughout South Asia and resulted in recommendations respecting training, information systems, and leadership.
  6. The Executive Director of a cultural organization was concerned that her board was having difficulty furnishing effective leadership; moreover the existing strategic plan was not providing the guidance that the organization required. A Meta4 team worked with her to clarify the role of the board and its relationship to staff, and to develop proposals for needed enhancements in board composition. Subsequently the team helped to guide the organization through a planning process that resulted in a renewed strategic plan providing a fresh and inspiring perspective on the organization’s future and a set of measurable goals.
  1. The M’Chigeeng First Nation is receiving help in evaluating the impacts of a three-year poverty reduction program. Emphasis was placed on faithfully telling the stories of community members while providing empirically-derived observations to funders.  
  2. Meta4 Principal Jenny Mitchell worked with the McMichael Canadian Art Collection to conduct an audit of their fundraising operations which included and examination of fundraising return on investment, staffing structures, areas of opportunity for growth and comparisons with other similar not-for-profits; she has supported many CEOs and Executive Directors in their quest for fundraising success.
  3. The Canadian Council on Animal Care is a national organization concerned with the use of animals for research. Members include government departments, granting bodies, industry associations, and animal welfare organizations. CCAC role is to ensure, through education, assessments and related programs, that research animals are accorded appropriate physical, psychological and ethical care. Meta4 Principal Tim Plumptre, working in close collaboration with the incoming board chair, helped to guide the CCAC through a major process of transition that enhanced its economic position and reinforced its relationships with members. In addition, the project involved a significant updating of its governance architecture, including the clarification of board-staff relations, committee roles, and the development of new set of governance policies. 
  4. The  National Capital Commission, like many federal institutions, wants to ensure that young Canadians feel they have a stake in the nation’s capital. In developing a Five-Year Youth Engagement Strategy for the NCC, we conducted a review of existing youth-oriented programs, examined successful approaches by other organizations in and outside of Canada, and developed ideas for a major new outreach program designed to garner national attention.
  5. The chair of the board of a national advocacy organization in the field of health was becoming increasingly concerned about a number of actions that the Executive Director was taking without board approval. We coached the chair and the other director to help them to achieve a clearer understanding the board’s role and its fiduciary responsibilities, and of how to realize a more effective accountability relationship with the Executive Director.  
  6. Meta4 Consulting has worked with various clients to enhance their ability to recruit the right people to their board (we often do this as part of strategic planning initiatives, helping to identify existing skills and attributes on the board and any skills or knowledge gaps in relation both to the work of the board and the organization’s need to reflect its membership, its audience, or its community of interest). We recently worked with an arts organization moving from one city to another, helping the organization to manage a smooth transition to a new board. Another arts client hired Meta4 to conduct a diversity audit and to assist in its transition to a better balanced board in terms of gender equity and cultural representation.

    Along with a robust recruitment process, we have developed orientation procedures that help to bring new members up to speed quickly and make them feel welcome and engaged in their work. These two responsibilities—board recruitment and orientation— go hand in hand. With more than one client, we have helped to lodge these responsibilities in a Governance and Nominations committee, with terms of reference that ensure they get continuing attention, and that the organization pays attention to issues such as terms of office, board performance, and to developing role descriptions that facilitate recruitment. In this way we have helped many clients to overcome the approach that so many organizations take, of allowing these important matters to slide, and of “firing up the recruitment engines” only when the AGM approaches!

BOOK

The Intrepid Nonprofit

Strategies for Success in Turbulent Times

The Intrepid Nonprofit: Strategies for Success in Turbulent Times by Tim Plumptre (2019)  has been described as a “playbook for nonprofit leaders to help them navigate the turbulent environment ahead.” Reviews have been consistently positive and enthusiastic.

BOOK

The Intrepid Nonprofit

Strategies for Success in Turbulent Times

The Intrepid Nonprofit: Strategies for Success in Turbulent Times by Tim Plumptre (2019)  has been described as a “playbook for nonprofit leaders to help them navigate the turbulent environment ahead.” Reviews have been consistently positive and enthusiastic.