May – the season of flowers, the birth of my little sister, and the initial release of Star Wars (big fans in my house).
With most of the country experiencing various degrees of lockdown, we could all use a little of “the force” these days. Thankfully, with a new season upon us and an increase in vaccination activity, the future looks brighter by the minute.
Like most of you, CSAE continues to review scenario plans for the short and longer term. While the beginning of 2021 felt a lot like a repeat of 2020, we are cognizant that we are pressing through the pandemic and need to be ready as restrictions ease across the country. We are also aware that much has changed for all of us in the sector and recovery will be long and measured.
To respond to the shifting landscape, the CSAE Board of Directors recently began the development of a new strategic plan that will take the organization forward in the coming years. This process, led by Meredith Low Consulting, will include dialogue and input from various stakeholders across CSAE – members, partners, volunteers.
In addition to the information collected to inform the strategic direction, a member needs assessment is underway, conducted by Bramm Research Inc. Through your input, CSAE will gain insights into the current and longer-term needs of association leaders and the business partners who support the sector. I am excited to have our membership inform our programming and service delivery as we move into the future. Thank you to those of you who have already taken part in interviews and focus group work. I encourage everyone to watch for the general survey coming your way soon. Your voices are all important to shaping the future.
Several of you have been asking about the release of an updated Benefits and Compensation Report, and I am happy to announce that CSAE is currently working with The Portage Group on an innovative new compensation reporting tool for the association sector, to be launched later this year. Watch for more information to come.
CSAE advocacy efforts have continued with the support of Impact Public Affairs. Thank you for participating in the recent letter writing campaign to extend the much-needed wage subsidy (CEWS). With your efforts, dozens of letters were sent to Members of Parliament across the country. I also had several meetings with MPs, both in advance and after the release of the 2021 budget, and I’ve been encouraged by the interest shown in these meetings to understanding the unique needs and contributions of our sector.
In addition to the continuation of the CEWS, I was pleased to see funding to support tourism in the budget. In recent meetings with MPs post-budget, CSAE has reinforced the need to foster economic resiliency for associations and not-for-profit organizations, identifying the importance of funding support for conferences and events that provide professional development and essential education.
I have had initial meetings regarding the Lobbying Commissioner’s recent recommended changes to the Lobbying Act. Some of the proposed recommendations pose concerns for associations. Watch your inbox for a short poll that will gather further information to develop a response on behalf of our sector.
Despite the continuing pandemic, we are all strengthened by our connection with each other. National Volunteer Week 2021 was the perfect opportunity for some levity and celebration, as CSAE recognized our incredible volunteers from coast to coast. Two outstanding events paid tribute to those who have dedicated time and talent to this organization and I send my heartfelt congratulations to the nominees, finalists and award recipients. Special thanks to the awards and recognition committees for your vision and to our business partners for making it possible to celebrate, together, in a dynamic virtual platform that was almost – but not quite – as good as being together in the same room.
Countless people over our 70-year history have contributed to CSAE in untold ways and at every level – from the Board of Directors to the Network Councils to the committees, working groups and task teams. Everyone involved makes CSAE a better place. The support of so many has been tremendously valuable. Talk Tuesdays continue to provide an opportunity for CSAE members to get together and support each other, and I always enjoy these informal, meaningful conversations. If you haven’t joined in yet, I welcome you to drop by for a chat.
Members connect virtually in many other ways throughout the year through CSAE programming and our regional networks. I am delighted that we have established a new network in Saskatchewan! All CSAE members have access to quality professional development, thanks to the vision of our Professional Development Task Force, as well as a wide range of offerings developed by our — now eight — regional networks. I encourage you to participate and build local connections through network activities. Remember, as a CSAE member, you are welcome to attend events hosted by networks outside of your own geographical area.
We still have a long road ahead as we steer our way through the pandemic and begin the journey to recovery. CSAE, as the hub for associations, will be with you every step of the way. After all, we achieve more together.
Enjoy the spring season — and May the 4th be with you (I couldn’t resist).
Tracy Folkes Hanson, CAE
President & CEO