Planning for Sustainability (2004/2005) Active Living Coalition for Older Adults
The purpose of the project was to develop a plan for improving ALCOA’s financial sustainability and to commence action on the plan. The project involved strengthening the internal structure for engaging volunteer input in improving ALCOA’s sustainability; preparing a document that analyzes and plans for how ALCOA can proceed forward towards improving its sustainability; and commencing the implementation of this plan by taking some concrete actions.
Since its inception ALCOA has been primarily funded through the Physical Activity Unit, Public Health Agency of Canada, even though we have also received some funding from the Canadian Diabetes Strategy, Public Health Agency of Canada.
ALCOA is recognized as one of the leaders in promoting the health of older adults through active living. This mandate was reinforced in March 2003 at a national meeting of 23 ALCOA member organizations. The organizations voted that the most important role for ALCOA was to continue to “be the main voice” for advocating active living for older adults in Canada .
Internal discussion between the ALCOA Board and senior staff concluded that an important factor in maintaining this position of leadership was improving the financial sustainability of the organization. The ALCOA Executive Committee endorsed the proposal design for the Planning for Sustainability project in January 2004.
What did you intend to do in this project?
The goals of the project were to establish an effective internal infrastructure to support fundraising and to create tools to assist future action to improve ALCOA’s sustainability.
Activities, Outputs and Outcomes
Establishing the Terms of Reference of the Sustainability
The ALCOA Executive Committee through and internal process of review and discussion established the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Sustainability Committee on May 31, 2004 . The Executive Committee included the Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary of the ALCOA Board of Directors. These are volunteers who represent their organizations.
Recruiting members for the Sustainability Planning
ALCOA’s strength emanates from the involvement of its 23 members in ALCOA activities. With the Planning for Sustainability Project also, the engagement of the members was critical to the success of the initiative. On June 9, 2004 , ALCOA shared the TOR with its 23 member organizations and asked for nominations to the Committee. After a process of internal review, the ALCOA Executive Committee, on behalf of the ALCOA Board (Guardians), approved the composition of the Sustainability Planning Committee on June 16, 2004 . The Committee included representatives from the Osteoporosis Society of Canada, Canada Seniors Games Association, ALCOA Older Adults Advisory, Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens Organizations, Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism, and the Executive Director of ALCOA. The Committee held its first meeting on June 28, 2004 through a teleconference at which time the Committee selected a Chair and discussed the next steps of project implementation. During the course of this project the Committee met four times.
Hiring the fund development consultant.
One of the key resources for the project was the Fund Development Consultant and ALCOA undertook a clear and transparent process for filling this position. The job description of the Fund Development Consultant was discussed by the Sustainability Planning Committee and the job description was posted on the Charity Village website. The applications received were jointly short listed by the Chair of the Sustainability Committee and the Executive Director. The final interviews were jointly carried out by the Secretary of the ALCOA Board and the Executive Director.
The Strategic Fundraising Plan
The next step was preparation of the fund development plan. This plan was prepared through a process of discussion involving the Executive Director, members of the Sustainability Planning Committee, and other ALCOA member organizations such as the YMCA, VON, etc. The project prepared a comprehensive how-to-guide for organizing a community walk.
The project materials included a redesigning of the ALCOA Annual Report. Prior to this funding being available ALCOA’s Annual Reports were not very professional looking and since the Annual Report is a key document required in funding applications there was a need to redesign it.
Submission of funding proposals
One major activity of the project was to begin implementation of the Fund Development Plan. The project agreement had looked at sending two proposals to potential funders. ALCOA was able to submit six proposals to potential funders.
Disseminating the results of the project
ALCOA used the national Spectrum 2005 meeting held in March 2005 to present the Sustainability Planning Project and to discuss the results of the projects. Thirty three participants were at the Spectrum meeting and 25 organizations were represented. The session on ALCOA sustainability included a report on the project by the Committee Chair and a report by the ALCOA Executive Director. This was followed by a discussion on the project. Participants gave ALCOA input on the project and the importance they attached to the project and how they felt that the project design could be useful to their own organizations. The following organizations participated in the sustainability session:
Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability
Alberta Centre for Active Living
Canadian Association for Community Care
Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport
Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists
Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging
Canadian Ethnocultural Council
Canadian Parks and Recreation Association
Canadian Pensioners Concerned
Canadian Physiotherapy Association
Canadian Seniors Games Association
Coalition for Active Living
Don Mills Foundation for Seniors
Federal Superannuates National Association
Institute for Positive Health for Seniors
Manitoba Cardiac Institute
Older Adult Centres’ Association of Ontario
Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens Organizations
Osteoporosis Society of Canada
Retired Teachers of Ontario
Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism
University of Quebec ( Chicoutimi )
University of Waterloo
Final Summary by the consultant
This ALCOA project, like all other ALCOA initiatives, has a very strong component of volunteer input. The volunteer input came in the form of the Planning for Sustainability Committee (which met 4 times and provided an estimated cumulative input of over 100 hours.) This contribution was further enhanced by the ALCOA Executive Committee and Board who discussed the project and provided advice and input at critical junctures. The ALCOA member and partner organizations provided input on the project during the special session on ALCOA sustainability at the Spectrum 2005 meeting.
The terms of reference of the Sustainability Planning Committee
The members of the Sustainability Planning Committee
The Strategic Fundraising Plan (English)
The Strategic Fundraising Plan (French)
The How-to-Guide for organizing a Walk
The redesigned Annual report (English)
The redesigned Annual report (French)
The funding proposals sent to potential funders
Final report by consultant
The session on ALCOA sustainability at the Spectrum 2005 meeting
Information about the OVS/NVHO presented at the Spectrum 2005 meeting
ALCOA has strengthened its internal infrastructure to undertake fund development and has engaged its membership in this important area of concern. Prior to seeing the presentation on ALCOA sustainability at the Spectrum 2005 meeting the ALCOA partner organizations had indicated that 75% felt that it was important to improve ALCOA sustainability but after the session on sustainability 94% of the respondent felt that it was important.
ALCOA as developed materials and plans that will contribute to further strengthening organizations sustainability.
ALCOA has contributed to highlighting the important area of organization sustainability and by sharing the detail of the ALCOA Planning for Sustainability project has provided ALCOA member organizations with important information that will help them improve their own sustainability. A survey of the ALCOA membership at the Spectrum 20005 meeting showed that 57% of the respondents indicated that they felt that their organizations could benefit through the establishment of a sustainability committee.
This project has enabled ALCOA to devote time to analysing and preparing a plan that looks at improving the sustainability of the organization. Also, an effective Planning for Sustainability Committee has been established and the committee will continue after the project has concluded.
ALCOA also got an opportunity to share information related to the OVS/NVHO at the Spectrum 2005 meeting. The NVHO initiative is an important source of funding for capacity building in the non-profit sector.
ALCOA is also waiting to hear on some of the proposal we have sent out to potential funders as part of this project. ALCOA will continue to develop the dialogue with our partner organization on pilot testing a joint fundraising event in the future.
The project design had a strong evaluation component. The evaluation looked at various process including the hiring of the fund development consultant, the contribution and the involvement of the Committee, the views of the committee on the project, and the feedback on the project from the ALCOA membership.
The first recommendation is that organizations need to engage stakeholders in issues related to sustainability. This project enabled ALCOA to do that.
The establishment of infrastructure, with either volunteers or staff, to address sustainability on a continual basis is important. In ALCOA’s case this meant the establishment of a Planning for Sustainability committee.
Another recommendation that comes out of this project is that to enhance the appeal of an organization to potential funders it is important to be able to demonstrate a clear outreach or link to a population beneficiary group. In ALCOA’s case this meant increasing membership of organizations that are working on a frontline basis with older adults.
One critical element of obtaining partner organization support for future ALCOA fundraising initiatives emerged from the fact that many organizations in the non-profit sector are faced with resource limitations. Thus, for any ALCOA partner organization to undertake a joint fundraising event with ALCOA there must be a sharing of the revenue that is generated.
A recommendation for future fundraising events will be to first pilot test the event on a smaller scale before scaling it up. This is important since there is an inherent risk with all events that aim at fundraising and a small scale tryout of the event will make the risk more manageable.