Let’s Speak Up! Inclusive Board Governance Project

The DTES Neighbourhood House is developing a project called Let’s Speak Up! which aims to reduce the barriers residents face when choosing to be engaged in the nonprofit board governance that impacts their community. Through dialogue, education and the commitment of local agencies we are planning to support the capacity development of already existing and potential inclusive board composition.

Why Board Governance?

DTES neighbourhoods are facing significant pressure as Vancouver evolves. Within a climate of increasing income inequality, unaffordable housing and an opiod crisis, nonprofit and charity organizations are playing a more critical role in developing resilient communities.

Let’s Speak Up! Project Components

  •   Provide educational and engagement opportunities for community members and board members
  •   Develop a Community Charter for Inclusive Board Governance
  •   Promote self-awareness of biases and assumptions
  •   Advocate for organizational, funder and governmental policy reform

Socio-economic diversity on boards and committees is incredibly valuable and accessible leadership and governance skill development is necessary for building connections, understanding context and strengthening confidence. Let’s Speak Up! recently concluded a series of workshops for community members looking for an opportunity to learn. Participants spent 12 hours over 6 days enhancing their understanding of nonprofit board governance in the DTES.

Inclusive Board Governance Workshop Series

  •   Dinner from Potluck Catering
  •   Guest Speakers
  •   Speaking in Groups
  •   Defining Key Terms
  •   Understanding the value of Diversity, Inclusion and Democracy
  •   10 Basic Responsibilities for Nonprofit Boards
  •   Nonprofit Lifecycles
  •   Mission and Vision Statements
  •   Leadership Principles
  •   Identifying passion
  •   Bursaries for completion
  •   and more…


This is what former participants said when asked about the value of the workshops:

“Varied and valid and valuable perspectives from a diverse, savvy group of community members sharing their thoughts – truly a community with a big heart.”

“I learned that more people care than I originally believed.”

“Friendship, connections and knowledge was a bonus.”

“Participants are well engaged.”

“Gaining familiarity with boards and that it was accessible to me.”

“Learning about Leaders vs Managers.”

“Speakers, Food, Money, people coming together.”

Inclusive Governance in the Nonprofit and Charity Sector: Panel Recap

On November 20, 2017, Let’s Speak Up! and Vancity’s SFU Office for Community Engagement hosted a panel discussion with Dean Wilson (BCCSU), Bill Walters (DiverseCity on Board), Maria Turnbull (The Vantage Point), Grace Tait (YWCA Crabtree), and Dr. Miu Chung Yan (UBC School of Social Work) about why socio-economic diversity on Boards of Directors is important for the sustainability of nonprofit organizations.

This was some of their insight:

“Figure out the right people. Make sure they’re compensated. Make sure they are able to get over the hardships that prevent them from doing what they want to do.” Dean Wilson 
“If an organization works with community or clients where socio-economic factors are a consideration, it would be really important for that organization to reflect that in their governance; that they have that wisdom and common sense imbedded in it.” Bill Walters  
“From an organizational level, decisions are stronger because we’ve analyzed them from different perspectives and at the systems level, with stronger organizations, we are in a position to make a more positive community impact.” Maria Turnbull 
“It’s more relevant to the community to see someone like me, who is of color, who is participating and who is asking the tough questions of an organization.” Grace Tait 
“If you don’t know the people, you don’t know the need and you are not going to serve them.” Dr. Miu Chung Yan

For more information or a full transcription of the event contact Matt at matt@dtesnhouse.ca


Here are some links to a few resources available to you:

The Vantage Point


DiverseCity onBoard

Chartered Professional Accountants

Charity Village

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