May is in full bloom, and I hope you’re all able to take some time to enjoy the warmer weather. I was recently in Ottawa for some coalition work—more on that below—and captured the photo, here, of a lovely budding tulip. This was in rainy April and was a welcome glimpse at the colours to come.
It has been a while since I checked in with the membership as a whole and wanted to get you updated on some of the exciting developments we’ve been working on for you.
But first, a bit about you! Many nominees and award recipients were applauded at the revamped CSAE Leadership Awards during National Volunteer Week in April. Their noteworthy achievements deserved the hearty applause, as did the many incredible volunteers who continue to support CSAE and help us do more on behalf of the association sector. From the CSAE Board of Directors to the volunteers who support our events and professional development, communications, EDI, and other activities—I am grateful to you all, and so is the whole team. Check out our thank-you message here.
Many of you have shared that volunteer engagement seems to be changing in your organization and across the sector. In the spirit of continuous improvement, CSAE has shifted away from councils in favour of a broader range of volunteer opportunities for local and virtual networks. New task-specific projects, shorter standing commitments and micro-volunteering opportunities have been developed to improve the volunteer experience at CSAE. I want to send a heartfelt thank you to CSAE’s many network council volunteers over the years, who have done tremendous work on behalf of the organization. You’ve helped us provide some incredible events to members, and we look forward to continuing to offer valuable programs and services, while providing volunteer opportunities through an updated structure that reflects our current reality. I know many of you have already committed to continuing your involvement. These are exciting times, for certain. In the coming weeks and beyond, watch your inbox for new calls for volunteers.
While the network planning structure has evolved, CSAE networks remain in place as an integral way for members to connect based on common interests. Members can get involved in the geographical networks, as well as our Young Professionals virtual network and our newest, “The Mighty Ones” virtual network for one-person-managed associations. We’re also launching a virtual CEO community to help those in the most senior role to connect with their peers. Additional plans are in development for some rich opportunities for members to meet both locally and across the country through these networks. I encourage you to watch for updates throughout the year.
To our business partners and sponsors, you remain an essential part of CSAE’s success and ability to provide value to our membership. I am thankful for your collaboration and support and am excited to say that we are working on providing mechanisms for even more robust connections across the membership in the upcoming year.
CSAE has continued to carry out its mission on behalf of our membership through the 2021-2025 strategic plan, which is built on three strategic priorities: be the champion for associations in Canada, be the centre of excellence for the association sector, and be the model for continuous improvement for association management. Looking ahead into our new fiscal year, which began May 1, and guided by a strong operational plan, members will benefit from the exciting developments in store. Valuable and timely research will be undertaken to provide insights that will help inform your own decision-making. There will be some new and improved opportunities for members to connect and access resources you’ve told us would help support you. As CSAE continues our work on ESG, EDI and Truth and Reconciliation, members will be able to participate in various ways, as well as learn from CSAE’s own journey in these important areas.
Speaking of learning, I’ve been so impressed by the turnout for our recent educational programming around EDI, provided through our partnership with Canadian Centre or Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI) Consulting Inc. We continue to offer programming that is timely and relevant to our members and have more on the way. Part of our efforts to be responsive to your needs will include some new micro-credentialling opportunities in association management. Stay tuned for more news on that in the coming months. And, of course, members can look forward to some inspiration and fun at our Summer Summit happening in Mississauga this July and the fall conference, EXPÉRIENCE, in Montreal. It is always such a pleasure to gather in person and still feels like something extra special after those pandemic years which firmly limited everyone to virtual-only events.
As a champion for the sector, CSAE continues to advocate on your behalf through pre-budget submissions, meetings with MPs and other activities. I was recently in Ottawa as part of a budget 2024 coalition organized by Imagine Canada. More than 40 not-for-profit organizations, including associations and charities, came together to discuss common interests and how to capitalize on our similarities while recognizing our differences. While there is more work to be done, having a seat at the table enables CSAE to advocate for the association sector. It was great to see a few members there, too.
Members continue to meet at our informal Talk Tuesdays, held on the second Tuesday of each month—hosted by yours truly—and I encourage you to take part if you haven’t tried it out. It is a great chance to connect and chat about anything on your mind—it is a sharing space that is always open and welcoming. I’d love to see you there! Starting June 7, you can also drop in to Walk-In Wednesdays, held for an hour virtually on the first Wednesday of each month. This is basically a membership services’ “office hour” just for you. Wondering how to tweak your online member profile? Interested in hearing about what’s new on the programs and services front? Looking to better understand the features and benefits of your membership? Visit a Walk-In Wednesday to access support and service face-to-face and in real time. Of course, we’re still always available by phone or email.
I also welcome you to join me and Dan García, CSAE’s Board chair, on June 22, for our annual Town Hall. You’ll hear more details about the year ahead and have the chance to ask questions. It is also a great opportunity to connect with others on our interactive virtual platform, Remo. Save the date and register here.
In the meantime, I always welcome hearing from you.
Tracy Folkes Hanson, CAE
President & CEO