Category Archives: Event report

Charities Under Threat

NetSquared Vancouver’s most recent event was a panel discussion on how advocacy NGOs are responding to difficult political climate. Bottom line: Canada’s charity laws are woefully out-of-date. Join Imagine Canada’s push to reform the legislation.

Gareth has generously shared his slides. You can also check out his thesis.

Federal cabinet ministers have called registered charities criminal organizations and terrorist organizations and the government has set aside $13 million for stepped up audits of charity activities by Canada Revenue Agency. This panel explored the effects on charities and their ability to pursue their societal Missions, the “best practices” that charities can pursue to minimize their risk of losing their charitable status, and the implications for society and democracy of the government’s actions. The panel included a charity lawyer and a researcher whose thesis jump-started a national conversation on these issues.

[Slides & Video] Small Changes for Big Results: How to Optimize Your Online Donations

Is your online donation form communicating a strong reason for site visitors to take action and donate? Perhaps it’s time to take a critical look at your online donation form and how it’s motivating – or not motivating – your prospective donors. Research shows that even small changes can generate big results! We are thrilled to share the slides and video from NetSquared Vancouver’s October meetup where we learned more about some best practices that can improve and optimize your online fundraising efforts. This presentation is courtesy of iATS Payments’s Heather Ballachey.


This webinar-style video captures the slides and audio from Heather’s presentation. However, you’re missing out on the part where we broke into groups to test each other’s donation forms on a mobile device. Try it. You’ll be horrified!

SLIDES AND VIDEO: $ocial Media? Using small wins to grow social media revenue


Ever heard it said “there’s no ‘$’ in social media. Just a plain old letter ‘s’?” Many organizations have found that a strong social media presence has not yet translated directly into significant fundraising revenue.

Shoni Field shares the BC SPCA’s experiences using a ‘small wins’ approach to growing their social media sourced revenue. This video was recorded at NetSquared Vancouver’s September 2, 2014 meetup.

Video: Shoni’s Presentation

Video: Needs Parade Community Updates


Shoni Field for Net2van

Shoni Field

As Director of Fundraising Innovation at the BC SPCA, Shoni Field explores dynamic opportunities in micro-campaign and peer-to-peer fundraising that deeply engages their support base. Shoni has eighteen years of experience in direct response fundraising. She has worked with a range of non-profits including The Pembina Institute, Imagine1Day, EcoJustice, The Arthritis Society and the B.C. Cancer Agency.

VIDEO: The End of Slacktivism’s Vojtech Sedlak joined Net2van for our summer meetup to share their strategy for converting clicktivists to online activists. Find out how one of the leading Canadian online advocacy groups understands and facilitates online engagement and learn how you can can help your supporters find their way to deeper online engagement.

Community Updates

Members of the Net2van community shared their latest projects and needs during our one-minute updates.

VIDEO: Creating a Digital Community: The Adventures (and misadventures) of Fundraiser Grrl

In February 2013 Fundraiser Grrl was born, from a desire to bring together fundraisers from around the world – to commiserate, eye roll, sympathize and laugh out loud at the bizarre and amazing moments we all experience in our crazy wonderful careers. Since it began, over 200,000 fundraisers have visited the site, and it averages over 1,000 visitors per day.

On July 8 Major Gifts fundraiser Rory Green shared what she has learned about using social media to build a community, what worked, and what didn’t, and how to apply this to your work in the non-profit sector.

EVENT REPORT: The Canadian Anti-Spam Act: What Nonprofits need to know before July 1


On June 17 NetSquared Vancouver partnered with Methodworks Consulting’s Jim Freer and Lawyer Maanit Zemel. The two of them provided a thorough introduction to what charities and nonprofits need to know about this legislation that goes into effect July 1, 2014.


Video: Screencast

Video by Eoghan Moriarty


Maanit Zemel

Maanit Zemel is a lawyer and commercial litigator with substantial experience and expertise in internet and social media law, including Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), online defamation and cyberbullying. Prior to starting her own internet law practice in Toronto, Ms. Zemel was a partner at a large national law firm. Ms. Zemel regularly advises businesses, charities, and non-profits on practical and effective CASL compliance policies and procedures.

Jim Freer

Non-Profit Systems Consultant | Method Works Consulting

Jim is Method Works’ data guru. He is proficient with the range of Blackbaud’s web and fundraising product and has been professionally programming for over a decade. Today he’s here to speak about CASL (the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation) and the importance of process, workflows, and systems in ensuring compliance with the new legislation.

EVENT REPORT: A Digital Currencies 101 for the Social Sector

BitcoinDecentralized digital currencies such as bitcoin and litecoin are a disruptive technology that are re-shaping the international financial sector. On June 10th Scott Nelson introduced this technology and explored how the non-profit and social sector should approach incorporating it into their day to day activities.



Scott’s Links

Scott shared these links through the course of the presentation.











About Scott Nelson

Scott Nelson founded Communicopia, one of Canada’s first web companies, in 1993 and has made a career of helping the progressive sector adopt and use innovative technology. A staunch advocate of open technologies he became involved in digital currencies in 2010 and has helped numerous organizations benefit from it.

The Digital Nonprofit: Event Impressions from Brenton Walters

A guest post by Brenton Walters, Reid Communications and Winch Institute

On Friday May 9 I had the pleasure of attending Net2Van’s annual conference, the Digital Nonprofit. It was an excellent event organized by Elijah van der Giessen and the other amazing folks at Net2Van with a stellar line-up of speakers, amazing food from Tacofino and coffee from Stir-it-Up-BikeCaffe, and even some complimentary headshots from photographer Krista Caldwell.


The one-day conference was designed to help nonprofit leaders and staff better navigate the constantly shifting digital world. As a project manager with the Winch Institute, I constantly work on improving our online presence, engagement, and messaging.

If you want to follow along, here’s the agenda and here are the slides from each presentation. Or even watch it all on YouTube.

Here are some thoughts from each presentation:

Monique Sherrett, Boxcar Marketing – The Multiscreen World

This seems so simple, but Monique’s main point, that organizations need to design all their digital outreach for the users’ experience, is only slowly being adopted in the nonprofit world.

In practical terms, this means that websites must be properly responsive (that is, they adapt to the screen they are being viewed on). It also means that even small details like the viewable intro to emails (before they are opened) should be taken into consideration.

Lynda Gerty, Vantage Point – The Abundant Not-for-Profit

Volunteers bring a lot of skills and experience to many nonprofits. Organizations need to figure out how best to use these skills – too often we recruit volunteers with huge networks and tons of skills and then put them to use with menial tasks.

An important part of this is the need or value in letting go of control – open, engaged organizations attract engaged volunteers. Let people become key components of your organization and they will return the trust with quality work and more recruits.

I look forward to connecting with Lynda to discuss this further – every organization I work with struggles with this issue. At the Winch Institute we are young enough that volunteers are being put to work immediately on whatever they want to take on, which has been encouraging.

John Bromley, Chimp Fund – Digital Philanthropy

John asked a key question: What challenges will charities/nonprofits face in 2020? For starters, most of it will be online. Corporate charitable giving will be even more aimed at marketing. And charities that thrive will be the ones that engage best with their donors and potential donors.

Organizations need to facilitate giving – make it easy for people to give. Find matching funds! Establish charitable foundation to funnel donations (for larger orgs).

And for me, the most important bit: What are you offering donors for their investments? Because they are investing in your organization. Figure this out, figure out what people want in return, and do that.

Crystal Henrickson, Invoke Labs

Tailor your outreach to your audience, on all social media channels. Find out when and where your supporters are online and engage with them.

Track your results – check out the University of Invoke’s resource bank by sending them your email for a raft of tools to help with this.

Crystal brought a ton of energy to her presentation, and promised to answer every question to her (so take advantage of this!).

Meriko Kubota, Telus – Corporate Community Investment

I missed much of this while on a work call, but the upshot is that large corporations are increasingly adopting digital technologies in their approach to charitable giving. And Telus gives a boatload of money to a lot of different groups.

Fuck the Poor video

The Pilion Trust (UK) created this video to challenge and shock people – do we actually care about helping people?

It was effective, but what was the ask? It works as a video, but maybe not as a campaign. This was perhaps a factor of the large room/audience – it certainly works better on a computer screen.

Group work: What creative actions would you and/or your organization do to get noticed? Know your audience, know what will resonate. Tip: the answer to this is never “Wear a chicken suit”.

Reilly Yeo and Vojtech Sedlak, Openmedia – The Engagement Pyramid

My notes for this are simple, but it’s so important: Build relationships, not lists. Check out the slides for this, as they are quite informative.

Consider list movement vs. list growth. Engage your supporters and strengthen your core. Think about the various ways that people support – it’s not a simple ladder, necessarily, but more like several sides to an engagement pyramid (so to speak – it’s a bit of a tortured analogy).

Lee LeFever, Common Craft – The Art of Explanation

I had a wonderful moment the evening before the event: I read about the work that Lee and Common Craft do, which is explaining things via videos in ways that really increase comprehension. And then I tried to fix my wireless router using four different pages of an utterly incomprehensible user-wiki.

Explanation is an art that is too often ignored. Great ideas and products fail to take hold because they aren’t properly explained to potential users.

As a starting point: What are you trying to communicate, and why should people care? Provide context, give people a reason to care, and then fill in the details.


  • Who is your intended audience? How much background knowledge do they have about your idea?
  • Empathize with them – How will your explanation sound to them?
  • Use language familiar to them – but don’t dumb things down.

Start with the big idea before going into detail – i.e. describe the forest before you focus on the trees.

I’ve started reading his book (same title), and already I feel it should be mandatory reading for every professional communicator. Some of it is somewhat intuitive, but as a basis or reference point for all communication it feels extremely valuable.

At the Winch Institute, like every other nonprofit, there is a huge need for us to properly communicate what we do and why we do it, to build support for our work, and to sell our services. Every presentation offered practical tools for doing this, as well as bigger ideas for how all organizations can improve how they engage, communicate, fundraise, and grow.

Thanks to Eli and the Net2Van crew for putting on this great event, to the speakers for their knowledge and insight, and to the sponsors, two of whom I have already contacted about their services. Click the links and see if they might be able to help you out.

Storifys: The Digital Nonprofit

The Digital Nonprofit was connected. Our lead social media reporter David Gloyn-Cox has wrapped up the day’s conversation and key insights into a series of Storifys.

Thanks David! You’re the best!