Here you will find information about the organizations in our network, the nonprofit industry, and important events happening in the world around us:

Crisis Action -how to respond:

Syrian Relief

June 1, 2018 Seven Steps to Reclaiming your Desktop
April 26, 2018 Six Reasons for a Content Audit of Your Nonprofit’s Website

February 27, 2018 Cloud Storage Policy Comparison

February 14, 2017 Four Steps To A Clutter-Free Inbox

January 19, 2018 All We Want For The New Year

November 27, 2017 All We Want For Christmas 2017

November 7, 2017 What We’re Up To November

September 25, 2017 Five Steps to Organized Information

September 12, 2017 Back to School for Nonprofit Professionals

July 25, 2017 Optimizing Search Engines with Information Management Principles

July 10, 2017 What We’re Up To: A new website for CARUWE

June 27, 2017 Great Software Solution for Creating Graphics

June 12, 2017 The Cost of Employee Transition

May 29, 2017 Be a Curator of Information

May 15, 2017 How Do You Evaluate?

November 28, 2016 GivingTuesday 2016

September 10, 2015 Coming Soon: The Service Search & Review

September 3, 2015 How to Respond to the Refugee Crisis

July 14, 2015 Newsletter: July
June 25, 2015 Dropbox’s Policies: 8 essential must-knows

How to Respond to the Refugee Crisis

Check marks on a list

If you’re connected to any media outlet today you’ve probably heard about the tragic death of the little boy who, with his family, tried to enter Canada. People desperately trying to escape the civil war in Syria are not just an EU problem.

What can you do about it?

  1. Write to your government representative asking them to respond quickly to this crises.
    If you’re Canadian you can find out who that is and their contact information here:


2. Make a donation:

Google’s Policies: 6 essential must-knows

Google’s Policies: 6 essential must-knows

Some say the biggest lie told online is ‘I agree.’  So what exactly are we lying about? Services in Action has been reviewing the privacy policies and terms of use of companies whose software services are used every day. The purpose of this exercise, besides diving deep into some fascinating material, is to know exactly what commitments are in place when we invest our information in a third party.
We’re scouring these documents so you don’t have to. Part two of this series focuses on Google.
Google’s services are numerous including Gmail, YouTube, search, chrome, analytics, and android products. Many of these services are relied on as key features of a business model.  Certainly this is the case for Services in Action. So what exactly are we entitled to in this vital relationship?
Google is clear about their policies and terms of service, the only trouble is there are many links driving the reader away from the main document which can cause the reader to question if their ‘choose your own adventure’ version of their policy is the most fulsome. Nonetheless, the information is easy to access and read, provided you have the time (and inclination). Assuming you don’t, here it is –six essential points:

  1. Google will aggregate all your data into one place to create a customized experience.
    • Any information you provide Google (either directly when you set up an account, or indirectly like the language you use to search, services you have install or uninstalled, email content, and other information regarding your technology and location) is collected and stored. This information is used to customize your experience –including advertising, search results, sharing, and connections. For example, if you search for a product, you’ll see ads for that or other similar products.
    • Information not provided by you, the user, may be accessed with cookies or other similar technologies. For example, information about the YouTube videos you watch are is collected and stored along with the other data included in you Google account.
    • All information collected about you is stored in your account and is treated as private. You can access, change, or delete the information in your account unless Google has to keep it due to business or legal reasons, or if it would require a disproportionate effort.
    • Your name is used across all Google platforms, your name may replace previous names associated with your account. If someone else uses your email or other information that identifies you, they may see your public account information, like name and picture.
  2. When you interact with Google services information may be gathered regarding that interaction and shared with partners via Google Analytics or advertising services.
  3. Information may be stored locally on your device or anywhere in the world.
  4. Your information may be shared with a third party for external processing or to comply with legal requests. It is also shared with a domain administrator if, for example you’re a Google Apps users.
  5. The information you store, upload, submit, send, or receive through Google remains your intellectual property, but may be used by Google to “use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works, communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, and distribute such content.
  6. Any changes to Google’s policy will be posted. Google will notify users regarding more significant changes to the policy or if Google is involved in any mergers, acquisitions, or asset sales.

If you’re interested in managing the information stored in your account or to learn more about the collection and storage of information and how that affects the user you can visit Google’s Safety Centre:

Dropbox’s Policies: 8 essential must-knows

Dropbox’s Policies: 8 essential must-knows

Privacy policies and terms of use are not titillating. They usually conjure up images of long documents with small text, filled with words like ‘herein’ or ‘whereas’. But they’re important. My work, and probably yours too, is quickly moving from a desk to various mobile devices, and the more we work outside of a structured office space, the more we rely on software services to send, store, and share work documents. Google and Dropbox offer great, free, or inexpensive solutions, which are easily accessible from multiple devices. But what exactly are they responsible for? Say Dropbox gets sold or goes out of business tomorrow, what happens to all of your work? Knowing the policies of software services you rely on is essential for protecting your work. Although Dropbox does a pretty good job at clearly articulating their privacy policy and terms of conditions, here are 8 essential must-knows:

  1. Dropbox collects data from the user’s profile. This is done to enhance the user’s experience. Data is collected from places like the device you use to access Dropbox, your browser, and the webpage you visited prior to going to Dropbox.
  2. They may share information about their users with a third party, but will not sell it. The information collected is shared with third parties for Dropbox’s business needs to perform tasks on their behalf or comply with the law. Should Dropbox receive a government request for user’s data, Dropbox will “be transparent, fight blanket requests, protect all users, and provide trusted services.” This is really only concerning if you work in an environment that can offer privileged information.
  3. Dropbox can store the information you store in your account anywhere in the world or use your local device.
  4. If there are changes to Dropbox’s policy, service, or business structure they will notify users via email. These changes include a reorganization, merger, acquisition, or sale of the company, or anything else Dropbox deems important.
  5. You are responsible for what you store in your account and what you share with others within Dropbox.
  6. Information stored by you in your account is your intellectual property. It does not become Dropbox’s property.
  7. Dropbox for Business –The administrator of this account is governed by the policies of their employer. So as the end user, you have as much privacy as your company grants. A couple noteworthy points:You may lose access to your Dropbox account if you lose access to the email address associated with it.
    If you merge a personal Dropbox account with a Dropbox for Business account, the account becomes part of the business’ domain. It is possible for you to lose access to it.
  8. If things don’t go well and you become displeased with Dropbox’s service they ask users to tell them. In the event things get litigious, they do not accept class action lawsuits.

Identifying Opportunities: Giving While Saving

Our intention to donate usually far outweighs our practice, both personally and professionally. But the solution to giving more doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It can simply mean giving better. Sometimes the most beneficial way a company can contribute positively to their community can actually benefit their bottom line.

The old adage one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure is especially true for a Toronto based junk removal company. A little while ago, a company that I worked for closed down. When the junk removers came into disassemble and remove the cubicles I asked where they would be going. “To the dump” was the answer. Some of the cubicles hadn’t even been used –and now they were garbage. Knowing what valuable commodity office furniture is for organizations with tight budgets, I knew the cubicles could have been used elsewhere. However, that would require someone, probably me, to call a number of places to find who could use the cubicles, then arrange for delivery and maybe even provide set up.

Services in Action, a resource centre for charities, has built a partnership with other junk removers to address this problem. Each day they pick up unwanted items from businesses and homes. When they come across items that are gently used, they refer to a list of the current needs outlined by local shelters and community centres. If the item is not needed right away, they can put it in their storage facility. One of the most difficult steps for charities managing in kind donations is finding a truck to pick up or drop off items, something the junk removal company can do very easily. And what’s in it for the junk removers? They can reduce their dump fees and keep gently used items from going to landfills.

When you are deciding how corporate social responsibility fits into your strategy, talk to local charities to learn more about what they do and how they could benefit from something you are already doing. Critically evaluate what you do, what you produce, and who could benefit.

To help you evaluate and understand what you have to offer, contact us. A simple conversation may greatly impact your bottom line.

Evaluating and Measuring Success

Where Are Your Measureable Markers?

Success is a positive outcome to a project. Establishing measurable criteria for a project is essential to knowing if it is successful.

While working with a large Canadian charity, a Toronto based group of fundraisers was charged with hosting a successful fundraising event. Naturally, the success of this type of event is determined by the amount of money that is raised and establishing intermediate markers along the way helped the group know if they were on track.

The event was for teams of eight people from local businesses, to raise money through pledges. The fundraising goal was $20,000. Based on previous experience, teams raise approximately $2,000 or $250 per person. That means ten teams would have to register for this upcoming event. Teams that register with less than two weeks to collect pledges usually only raise $1000 in funds. Teams with more than six weeks, typically raise over $3000.

To cultivate interest the fundraising group came up with a unique approach: they would go to local businesses and drop off an irresistible invitation. The idea, invitation and concept were unique and the group was expecting a great outcome. The plan was outlined, the invitations printed and the drop-off was set. As expected, the advertising technique was well received and many business cards were collected. The goal was ten teams, so thirty companies were approached nine weeks before the event. As the date of the event crept closer, no one had registered. Despite the early enthusiasm, by week five, no one showed interest in participating in the event. The critical decision had to be made. They would need three teams to register for the next three weeks to ensure the fundraising goal would be achieved. Since there was no one showing interest, the group had to decide if they should approach more people, or cancel the event.

The idea was brilliant, the team was hard-working and enthusiastic, but the measureable criteria, in this case the number of teams, did not meet the target. In fact, this much effort spent on previous events had raised $30,000 – a much better return on investment. This new approach was not successful and needed to be replaced. Not wanting to waste any more time, the group took immediate action using a tried and tested approach and met their goal.

When you are establishing goals and drafting the plans that will take you there, it is important to set measurable markers along the way. This will mitigate surprises and allow you to adjust your strategy to ensure the end goal is met. Start by identifying the goal and move backwards through the dates and action items. Then you will know day by day and week by week if you are on track. Do not wait until the project is over to realize it was not successful, and don’t assume just something seems like a good idea that it is the best way to achieve the goal.

Making Sense of the Charitable Industry -Conclusion

For the past few weeks we have been exploring the charitable industry by looking at five key sectors, environment and animal welfare, community and social services, health and wellness, arts and culture, and international development. The purpose of this series was to clear up some of the industry’s murkiness to help you, the potential donor, volunteer, civil sector employee or sideline observer to understand what services exist, how to find relevant information, get involved in your community and participate in causes that are important to you.

To sum up this blog series, I would like to leave you with some great sources to learn more:

211 Canada
Charity Focus
Charity Intelligence
Volunteer Canada
Toronto Charity

Some upcoming events:

May Be Me, an awareness campaign to prevent violence against women and youth
Canada Running Series, a host for many charities, large and small
Julyna, a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society

International Development

As a leading country in the developed world, Canada has made a commitment to help other, struggling nations. One of the ways Canada does this is by funding international programs, organized by Canadian charities or nonprofits. These organizations can apply to the Canadian International Development Agency, (CIDA) and if their mission is in line with the governments current objectives, they may be eligible for funding. As the needs around the world change, CIDA works with these partner agencies ensuring newly identified needs are met.

In 1969, Lester B. Pearson proposed all developed countries give 0.7% of their GDP to foreign aid. Canada had its highest contribution in 1986-87 at 0.5%, but has steadily declined its contribution. Currently, foreign aid stands around 0.3%; with about thirteen other countries contributing more (most are European nations). The March 2012 proposed budget plans to drop foreign aid to 0.24%.

There are countries all around the world that receive funding and support from Canada to improve medical and health care, promote gender equality, sports, children and community programs, poverty elimination, food, housing and educational needs and governance. Some of the best known organizations in this sector are Plan International, World Vision, Oxfam, UNICEF and Canadian Red Cross. Although we mostly hear from them during disasters, they provide many ongoing programs including working with governments to implement new initiatives and leadership, raising awareness and fund development to donor countries.

There are also many small organizations that provide support at a grassroots level to specific communities and groups of people. Services in Action works with many of these international partners, they are:

  • CEHO, building a school in the Mazabuka District of Zambia and are currently looking for help building professional development material for teachers,

  • Helping Hands Uganda, provide sponsorship for children to attend school for only $25 per month

  • Clemency Uganda, runs a community centre for OVCs in Jinja, Uganda

  • Children for a New Haiti, provide community support to the people of Belladère, Haiti currently looking to build five wells

  • Nukoko, works with local youth-run initiatives, providing access to education.

Arts & Culture

In a city like Toronto there are so many different things happening in the world of arts and culture. Although there are a few organizations that are able to make a profit from performing arts, most do not. In fact, some even fundraise to be able to sustain their work. The Canadian Opera Company and the Royal Ontario Museum are examples of organizations that present various types of artistic displays and also fundraise to cover their operating costs. This is probably a good place to clarify the difference between a nonprofit (interchangeable with not-for-profit) and a charity. A nonprofit, is simply that, its mandate is not to turn a profit but earn just enough to sustain its work. A charity collects money for its redistribution to a specific cause or community of people.

There are also charities established as foundations and give money through grants to various people, groups and events. In Canada, both the Federal and Provincial Governments have organizations set up for the purpose of providing grants. The Toronto Arts Foundation allows government agencies, corporations and individuals to make a donation. The money is then redistributed to a wide range of people and programs.

There are other cultural organizations tend to focus on the different ethnicities represented in Canada. This includes organizations that celebrate traditions, ancestry, language, or national identity. The Institute for Canadian Citizenship offers new citizens a cultural access pass. This provides free admission to events and exhibits across the country for one year.

So, when it comes to the sector of arts and culture, most organizations are nonprofit, some also fundraise and some receive grants from various foundations, including all three levels of government.

To learn more about what is happening near you check out:
Toronto Arts Online
Canada Charity, arts & culture

Health and Wellness

Each weekend in the spring seems to bring another run, walk or bike a-thon to support a different charity seeking to eradicate a different illness or disease. With so many charities and fundraising events, it’s hard to understand who does what, and how you can participate.

In Canada there are almost six thousand health related organizations that fund research, provide education or care for those who are sufferers by providing counselling, resources or support. Let’s consider an illness like cancer. There are broad-based organizations, like the Canadian Cancer Society, that focus on general fundraising initiatives, education and research projects, but there are also organizations that focus on particular types of cancers, like Julyna, which raises money for research and education specifically related to cervical cancer. There are also organizations that focus on the needs of patients, like the Ronald McDonald House, which gives families a place to stay if their children need treatment away from home.

To learn more about the complex nature of the health industry and related charities, take a look at Charity Intelligence’s Cancer Report. In April 2011, when the report was written there were 278 charities in Canada that focused specifically on cancer, each with a slightly different mandate. As they describe the different types of cancer, research initiatives and impact on those affected, it becomes clear how multifarious the needs are and why there are so many different charities.

In addition to charities that focus on one type of illness, there are also foundations for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. In fact, most hospitals in Canada have a foundation that raises money and awareness for their patients. The Women’s College Hospital Foundation is a great example of this type of foundation.

It is also worth noting, there are many organizations that provide long term assistance for people who have been affected by different types of disease or disabilities. The Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work offers various training programs and solutions for people with disabilities who are seeking employment. They also host an online career development and employment portal to link Canadians with disabilities and employers looking to hire.

Community and Social Services

The Community and Social sector is not defined so much by the type of services they offer, but by the catchment area they serve. Essentially, the mandate of an organization within this category seeks to serve the people of their community. Some of services can include foodbanks, shelters, community centres, language courses, vocational training, counselling or programs for people with physical or mental disabilities or disease.

Organizations that provide services for their local community tend to be small, fairly uncomplicated in structure and not too well known. However, there are two organizations that stand out within this sector. They are the YMCA and the United Way. The YMCA Canada is part of a larger international network, but has regional offices. Their goal is to improve communities by connecting with individuals through programs. Although the YMCA is most commonly known for their fitness and child programs, they offer a lot of other services including courses for newcomers, shelters, employment training and even international programs.

The United Way Canada also part of a larger, international network, but works in Canada through regional offices. They also seek to improve communities by working on an individual level. However, they connect with individuals by funding and offering training to community and social services. They fundraise on their own and then redistribute the money. It is a great way for small organizations to get funding without having to raise their own money. The United Way also tends to be a popular choice for employee giving programs because they reach so many different types of people across the country.

So, where should you go if you are looking for help? If you live in Ontario, the best place to look for information about what is happening in your community or how to find specialized services is 211Ontario. They have information on over 56 000 agencies and services and provide the information in an easy to access format.

Some of the community or social services that Services in Action works with are:
Fife house
Romero House
Covenant House
Pathways for Children, Youth and Families of York Region

If you want to get involved in a local fundraising event, there is a great opportunity tomorrow, April 25, 2012 with A Taste For Life.

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