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Want Leadership Experience? Serve on a Nonprofit Board

By Josephine Victoria Yam, J.D., LLM.

Serving on a nonprofit board is not only a meaningful way to give back to the community, it is also a powerful way to build valuable leadership experience. This is one of the most compelling reasons why our corporate clients have implemented our B3 Board Matching and Training Programs in their organizations.

While enhancing their Corporate Social Responsibility and Brand strategies, many large corporations and law firms consider our programs as solidly supporting their HR talent strategy to develop their high-potential employees. After all, talent development is a top priority in most leading organizations in Canada. So they view our programs as a strategic way of developing their top talent to drive business growth and gain a competitive advantage.

A board matching and training program takes on a “teach, don’t tell” approach. It is a unique, innovative and enriching “learning-by-doing” program. Here, employees actually make hard decisions, manage risks and resolve conflicts — skills needed in crucial leadership roles — as they serve on nonprofit boards to solve real-world social problems. Our programs become effective leadership development tools to complement the other organizational HR offerings to employees.

Alternatively, the conventional modes of learning — whether through conferences, workshops or online courses — take on a “tell, don’t teach” approach. In these modes, employees learn leadership skills primarily through the cerebral dishing out of leadership concepts, theories and case studies.

Here are three transferable skills that employees develop through board service:

1. Strategic Thinking

Through nonprofit board service, employees work side-by-side with other board directors to determine how the nonprofit is performing relative to its mission, vision, strategy and priorities. Together they develop strategies by assessing what the nonprofit is experiencing, what its desired future is and how to close the gap between these current and future states. Board directors also engage in generative thinking to envision the nonprofit’s long-term sustainability as it stays true to its mission amidst the never-ending sea change of societal demands.

Employees also take more risks because nonprofits become safe environments to test their ideas and practice their skills without the fear of making mistakes. Indeed, the stakes are lower in the nonprofit space as juxtaposed to the stakes in their companies where mistakes can be truly costly — such as negatively affecting their companies’ bottomline and getting poor performance ratings for their mistakes.

2. External Mindset

Nonprofit board service nurtures an external mindset within employees as they are exposed to diverse perspectives beyond the walls of their organizations. It opens their world to different viewpoints which in turn spurs innovative thinking. It broadens their exposure to different personalities, leadership styles, organizational cultures and business models. It gives them an expansive view of how organizations work from a macro perspective.

Employees then bring back a deeper understanding of the world and its needs. Their renewed understanding profoundly informs new ways of thinking about their companies. This new way of thinking creates an innovation culture that helps their companies proactively develop more responsive products and services that address what the world really needs.

3. People Skills

When employees serve on nonprofit boards, they practice their abilities to influence and gain buy-in for their ideas. They learn how to communicate their differing views with more confidence. They grasp the nuances of board dynamics as they build relationships with their fellow board directors. They learn how to promote teamwork and collaboration with others who are outside their usual social networks.

According to Volunteer Canada, individuals develop competencies relating to collaboration, managing meetings, team building and conflict resolution when volunteering on a nonprofit board. Without a doubt, board service is a very effective way for employers to harness the benefits of skills-based volunteering —- such as increasing employee engagement while advancing employees’ prospects for career advancement.

Indeed, through a board matching and training program, a company engages in community building through leadership development. It's a strategic way to harness the power of business to do good by creating positive social impact while developing top talent.

Doing Well By Doing Good: The Business Case for Purpose

By Josephine Victoria Yam

In these increasingly volatile times, I found it quite exhilarating to attend the recent Companies & Causes Canada Conference in Toronto. The super-successful “On Purpose” conference showcased how so many Canadian corporations are steadfastly doing well by doing good. Folks from both the corporate and nonprofit sectors gathered together to explore how purposeful business-nonprofit collaboration can be leveraged to build a better world.

One of my favourite presentations was delivered by Brett Chang of Uber. And not only because I am a relentless user of the Uber app wherever and whenever I travel. In his very millennial-cool, Silicon Valley style of storytelling, Brett shared that Uber is driven by its passion for cities: “Everything we do is to make the city a better place.” He shared an inspiring example of how Uber is creating employment opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing Canadians. To this end, Uber has partnered with the Canadian Hearing Society to address the problem of the high unemployment among these Canadians. By modifying the app to be more intuitive for them, more than a hundred deaf driver-partners now drive for Uber in Canada. Talk about creating genuine social impact. Here’s a classic case of a company being authentically on purpose to create a better world.

Purpose is no longer just a buzzword generously scattered all over annual corporate social responsibility reports. As a recent PWC report highlighted in its interviews with 275 global CEOs, purpose is “a shared aspiration for our world that justifies why your organisation exists.” A company succeeds in achieving its purpose when it is tightly interwoven into the DNA of its corporate strategy.

Indeed, a strong business case can be made for purpose. Purpose increases a company’s revenues, animates its community relationships and enhances its corporate reputation. Purpose also has the power to meaningfully engage a company’s employees.

This was the powerful message that Bea Boccalandro shared in her “Supercharging Employee Engagement through Job Purposing” presentation. When employees have jobs that support employee volunteering, they are happier and more productive. Through a highly-engaging group exercise, Bea shared the lessons from Hewlett-Packard (HP)’s Eco Advocates partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). HP discover that employees who got the greatest boost in employee engagement were those who developed their professional skills through purposeful skills-based volunteering.

This brings us to a very important point on purpose and employee engagement. Employee engagement is crucial to translating purpose into concrete action. When employees connect to a company’s purpose into their daily work, that purpose gets embedded into the company’s organizational culture. By living the company’s purpose and values, engaged employees become highly productive and motivated agents in catapulting the company to achieve a clear competitive advantage.

As PWC report keenly observed:
“Organisations that have successfully implemented their purpose do not have a purpose; they are their purpose.”

Our Little Red Wagon

By Josephine Victoria Yam

Check out the little red wagon we received from Alberta's Promise!

Whether playing board games with children or matching highly-skilled corporate employees with nonprofits boards, B3 Canada is thrilled to be a partner of Alberta’s Promise to create the world we want for our children.

B3 Canada is a proud partner of Alberta's Promise. Alberta's Promise operates within the Government of Alberta’s Department of Human Services. They help businesses connect with non-profits across Alberta to make meaningful contributions that benefit children and youth ages 0 to 24. They are supported by over 1,800 business, nonprofit and community partners across the province.

B3 Canada Featured in Capital Ideas

By B3 Canada Media Team

We're so happy and honoured to have our COO and Co-Founder Angelo Narciso featured by Capital Ideas and the Edmonton Journal in their Financial Post Section. Capital Ideas members were asked about their favourite low budget marketing tool. Here’s what Angelo shared:

“Establish an employer-supported volunteer program. It encourages both employees and their employer to get involved with nonprofits in the community where they live, work and thrive. It increases employee attraction, retention and engagement. It makes the business genuinely socially responsible. And it builds the brand and reputation of the business. The investment is minimal given the wide range of benefits to all involved and has a lasting, positive impact for society.”

See the full broadsheet feature here.

Sources: Jane Marshall, Edmonton Journal

Employer-Supported Volunteering: A Triple Win for a Sustainable World

By Josephine Victoria Yam

After a decade from its inception, employer-supported volunteering (ESV) is now widely recognized as a way for Corporate Canada to meaningfully engage in local communities. Volunteer Canada heralds this significant development in its newly-released report, “Leading With Intention: Employer-Supported Volunteering in Canada”.

Through the Corporate Council on Volunteering (CCOV), Volunteer Canada and its corporate partners encourage businesses, regardless of their industry sector or size, to support the volunteer efforts of their employees. They believe that ESV strategically enables businesses, their employees and nonprofits to work together to achieve positive societal impacts in the world.

What is ESV?

Employer-supported volunteering (ESV) is defined as any initiative “undertaken by an employer to encourage and support volunteering in the community by its employees.” It usually falls under an employer’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy. It simultaneously aligns with its Human Resources (HR) strategy which covers employee recruitment, retention and professional development. Currently, there are about 4.7 million employees who are supported by their employers to generously give of their time, talent and treasure in the communities in which they live and work.

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Categories & Tags


  • Alberta's Promise operates within the Government of Alberta’s Department of Human Services. With over 1,800 business, nonprofit and community partners, they help businesses connect with non-profits across Alberta to make meaningful contributions that benefit children and youth ages 0 to 24.

  • CanadaHelps is a nonprofit serving Canadian charities and donors. They increase charitable giving across Canada by making it easier to donate and fundraise online. Because CanadHelps is a charity, their fees are a fraction of for-profit alternatives, making donation dollars go further.

  • The Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations is a member-based nonprofit organization founded in 2002 in Edmonton, AB. They serve the nonprofit and charitable organizations in the Alberta Capital Region.

  • The Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) is the provincial network for the approximately 55,000 nonprofit organizations across Ontario. As a 7,000-strong provincial network, with a volunteer base of 300 sector leaders, ONN brings the diverse voices of the sector to government, funders and business to create and influence systemic change.

  • For over 62 years, Propellus has been supporting volunteers and volunteerism within the communities of Calgary. It strongly believes that volunteering is essential to creating and sustaining healthy, supportive and connected communities.

  • The Sustainability Network is a national organization that works with environmental nonprofits to make them more effective and efficient. Their mission is to enrich environmental leaders and nonprofit organizations so that they can help us all achieve sustainability.

  • Founded in 1943, Vantage Point delivers learning opportunities focused on governance, leadership, planning and people engagement for new and seasoned sector leaders, board directors and managers, aimed at advancing not-for-profit leadership.

  • Women Get On Board is a leading member-based company that connects, promotes and empowers women to corporate boards. They do this through an engaged community of women and men in Canada committed to advancing gender diversity in the boardroom.


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