Imagine Canada’s President explains why the non profit sector needs innovative students

How Far Can Canadians Imagine?

By: Liana Crocco, Online Editor

If the word “imagine” conjures ideas about freedom, potential and unstoppable innovation in your mind, then you already have a fairly accurate portrait of the work being done by Imagine Canada.

This organization aims to strengthen the voice and reach of the charitable and non profit sector and encourages students to find creative ways to do exactly the same.

Arbitrage Magazine recently had the privilege of interviewing Marcel Lauzière, the President and CEO of Imagine Canada. He spoke to us about raising the profile of charities, bolstering the public to “give and give more” and the increasing influence of the non profit sector, where innovation and social responsibility go hand in hand.

In Lauzière’s words, Imagine Canada is a “national umbrella for charities and non profits in Canada”. A relatively new organization, it is the result of a merger of two other organizations: the Center for Philanthropy and the Coalition of National Volunteering Organization.

Lauzière explains: “The whole idea of the merger was to have these two national organizations – one in Ottawa, one in Toronto – come together and work more effectively to better support charities in Canada”.

Imagine Canada’s mission statement is three fold; firstly, the organization aims to extend the reach of the charitable and non profit sector; secondly, it functions as a forum that facilitates the exchange of information, expertise, and innovation. Thirdly, Imagine Canada strives to establish an environment that easily enables charities to support their communities by looking at taxation issues, capacity building issues, labour market issues, and the like.

In order to realize these goals, Imagine Canada collaborates with the government on a number of fronts. For example, the organization is currently in talks with the federal government about the promotion of the Stretch Tax Credit which Lauzière describes as “a new type of tax rate to challenge Canadians to give and to give more”.

Lauzière emphasizes that “what we need to do is talk to Canadians of all walks of life…and tell them when you donate to a charity, whether you’re donating 25 or 300 or a 100 dollars, [it] makes a huge difference”.

In addition, Imagine Canada and the federal government are currently looking to create a regulatory environment that will allow charities to innovate in terms of revenue generating methods. For example, Lauzière points out that Imagine Canada currently hosts an online directory “that helps charities identify both corporate and private foundations to get funding – to fund their services”.

Despite the government’s role in the creation of such resources and strategies, Lauzière emphasizes that a number of Western governments are increasingly focusing on how they may manage the economy, not leaving much room for “broad, innovative policy thinking”. He points out that “what we are going to see is the non-profit sector taking increasingly important roles” in the realm of public policy.

Lauzière elaborates: “We [the non profit sector] are actually dealing with some of the most intractable social, cultural, environmental, economic issues, and we need to track the best talent to come and work with us to try and address those issues. That is really exciting and hopefully, if we can get on the radar of students, then there may be increased interest to come work with us”.

Lauzière says he would encourage students to think about the non profit sector as one that provides them with the “opportunity to experience a variety of different types of jobs and responsibilities” while making meaningful contributions to society.

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