The Canadian Centre for Nonprofit Digital Resilience aims to build a digitally enabled nonprofit sector, where Canada’s nonprofits use data and tech to advance their mission and multiply their impact.
TORONTO, ONTARIO — CIO Strategy Council has joined forces with leading Canadian and global organizations to launch the Canadian Centre for Nonprofit Digital Resilience today. For the first time, nonprofits are taking deliberate, collective action to build the digital capacity of the sector.
According to Imagine Canada, one of the Centre’s cofounders, Canada’s charities and nonprofits represent 8.7% of Canada’s GDP and employ approximately 2.5 million people, which makes up 12% of the economically active population.
“Nonprofit organizations touch the lives of all Canadians – providing vital services to individuals, families, and communities,” says Katie Gibson, Vice President at CIO Strategy Council. “But most nonprofits aren’t equipped to thrive in the digital age. They’re forced to rely on outdated technology, and they lack resources and expertise. We’re asking them to save lives with one arm tied behind their back. We need to fix this.”
Digitally enabled nonprofits use technology skillfully to operate more efficiently and provide higher-quality, beneficiary-focused services. One in three charities believe that they will soon find it harder to do what they do if they don’t improve their digital capabilities. And yet 54% report not having enough funding to make greater use of software and digital tools.
At launch, the Canadian Centre for Nonprofit Digital Resilience has over 85 advisors representing the diversity of Canada’s nonprofit sector, from Whitehorse to St. John’s.
“The non-profit sector is critical to supporting communities. Ensuring affordable access to digital solutions are critical to advancing data and technology equity to enable positive impacts for our society,” says Lawrence Eta, Chief Technology Officer for the City of Toronto, and representative of the CIO Strategy Council. “As a government leader, the launch of the Canadian Centre for Nonprofit Digital Resilience aligns to public service principles of advancing equity and inclusion, creating a strong technology ecosystem, and digital autonomy.”
“The world has gone digital, and we live in a digital-first era,” says Mark Hobbs, CEO of Fundmetric, a data capture infrastructure platform for nonprofits, and representative of the CIO Strategy Council. “This presents the greatest threats and opportunities for the nonprofit sector. Failure to adapt could spell the end of institutions but equally obvious are the opportunities for organizations to reach large audiences at scale with flexible digital infrastructure. A digital transformation impacts organizations in a variety of ways, encouraging collaboration and making information more accessible. Technology is moving from a convenience to a necessity, and we are proud to build artificial intelligence that works for large and small nonprofits.”
The Centre will convene nonprofits, grantmakers, and tech experts to drive progress on: research and knowledge mobilization; public policy; grantmaker practices; digital skills and literacy; shared platforms tools, and standards; vendor relationships; data standards and infrastructure; and access and connectivity.
The Centre’s cofounders some of the best-known names in the nonprofit sector, including Imagine Canada, Tamarack Institute and SETSI (Social Economy Through Social Inclusion). It is receiving crucial assistance from global nonprofit technology leader, NTEN.
“We have a window of opportunity coming out of the pandemic to create a truly digitally-enabled nonprofit sector,” says Cathy Barr, Vice President at Imagine Canada. “Overnight, charities across Canada had to pivot to provide services online and enable work-from-home. This was a bumpy transition for many. But now many of our members see the potential for technology to improve reach and accessibility, enable higher-quality, client-centred services, and drive deeper engagement with all their stakeholders. The Centre for Nonprofit Digital Resilience will help them make the most of this opportunity.”
Seed funders supporting the launch of the Centre include Okta for Good and Sonor Foundation.
“Through investing in unseen technology infrastructure, we can unleash talent and multiply impact across the social sector,” says Narinder Dhami, President of The Sonor Foundation. “The Sonor Foundation is honoured to support this work. We strongly align with the vision and ambition of this initiative and are excited to support the bold leadership driving this work forward. The philanthropic and public sector plays a critical role in enabling the digital transformation of the social sector. This isn’t feel-good, photo-op grantmaking. This is about investing in more effective solutions and structures to drive deeper impact across Canada.”
“At Okta, we believe that nonprofits –– who are doing society’s most important work –– should be as powerful as their missions,” says Erin Baudo Felter, VP, Social Impact & Sustainability at Okta, Inc. “As technology companies, it’s critical that we play a role in helping nonprofits make the digital transition. We’re proud to support the work of the Canadian Centre for Nonprofit Digital Resilience. This initiative has the vision, ambition, and cross-sector support needed to accelerate the digital transformation of Canada’s social sector.”
For full details, visit Canadian Centre for Nonprofit Digital Resilience.
About CIO Strategy Council
The CIO Strategy Council is Canada’s national forum that brings together the country’s most forward-thinking chief information officers and executive technology leaders to collectively mobilize on common digital priorities. Cutting across major sectors of the Canadian economy – public, private and not for profit – the Council harnesses the collective expertise and action of Canada’s CIOs to propel Canada as a digital-first nation. The CIO Strategy Council is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada and develops standards that support the data-driven economy.
For more information, visit website.
Vice President, CIO Strategy Council
 Canada Helps: https://www.canadahelps.org/media/Digital_Skills_Survey_Results_2021.pdf