Epilepsy Ontario examines strategy delivery in a changing world

June 7, 2012

Looking ahead into fiscal year 2012-13, Epilepsy Ontario needs to examine ways to deliver its strategy in a world that’s changing for nonprofit organizations. This was Epilepsy Ontario executive committee president Elisa McFarlane’s message at the organization’s May 29 annual general meeting.

Of note, Epilepsy Ontario needs to be looking at four key trends — communication, transparency, governance and demand for services — that are affecting nonprofit organizations and think about ways to meet the demands that will come with these trends, she says.

With respect to communication, McFarlane says this function of a nonprofit organization can make or break it. While the Internet and social media haveplayed increasingly large roles in spreading organizations’ messages, it can be taxing on resources.  “What is clear is the potential to leverage the communication platform collaboratively across epilepsy agencies or indeed outside our sector, to make best use of our collective scarce resources.”

In terms of transparency, McFarlane says Epilepsy Ontario’s members, donors and other stakeholders are looking to have more influence on decision-making processes, which, she says, is a good thing because this helps Epilepsy Ontario stand out against other organizations that are also looking for funding.

The major step this year affecting Epilepsy Ontario’s governance will be to address its two-decades-old bylaws, which, McFarlane says, are “out of step, both with where regulation is taking us and effectiveness in delivering our mission.”

The bylaw review, she adds, will be discussed and developed collaboratively.

Epilepsy Ontario will also be using 2012-13 to look at the more effective ways to deliver services to clients with acceptable accountability to funders and donors. To accomplish this, the organization plans to invite affiliate and partner agencies to join in conversations about the structure of epilepsy services delivery.

Demand for services is a “two-edged sword,” says McFarlane. While government and some funders have cut back on funding to Epilepsy Ontario, they have placed more dollars in other areas beneficial to the epilepsy community. Recent funding for Ontario Brain Institute research programs and the provincial epilepsy strategy underscore this, she notes.

“Agencies will need to reframe how they organize themselves to be part of those initiatives or they risk missing out and finding it even tougher to deliver their services,” McFarlane says.

McFarlane says by harnessing their collective strengths, Epilepsy Ontario and its stakeholders can work together to continue to push the organization forward.

“(Epilepsy Ontario) and agencies each bring unique strengths to the table and can benefit by working together, presenting a unified front with a stronger, consistent message,” she says.

“Accordingly, (Epilepsy Ontario) will seek positive, collaborative relationships with the agencies.”

Writer: Deron Hamel

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