Planning for Sustainability (2004/2005)
Active Living Coalition
for Older Adults
The purpose of the project was to develop a plan for improving
ALCOA’s financial sustainability and to commence action
on the plan. The project involved strengthening the internal
structure for engaging volunteer input in improving ALCOA’s
sustainability; preparing a document that analyzes and plans
for how ALCOA can proceed forward towards improving its sustainability;
and commencing the implementation of this plan by taking some
Since its inception ALCOA has been primarily funded through
the Physical Activity Unit, Public Health Agency of Canada,
even though we have also received some funding from the Canadian
Diabetes Strategy, Public Health Agency of Canada.
ALCOA is recognized as one of the leaders in promoting the
health of older adults through active living. This mandate
was reinforced in March 2003 at a national meeting of 23 ALCOA
member organizations. The organizations voted that the most
important role for ALCOA was to continue to “be the main
voice” for advocating active living for older adults
in Canada .
Internal discussion between the ALCOA Board and senior staff
concluded that an important factor in maintaining this position
of leadership was improving the financial sustainability of
the organization. The ALCOA Executive Committee endorsed the
proposal design for the Planning for Sustainability project
in January 2004.
What did you intend to do in this project?
The goals of the project were to establish an effective internal
infrastructure to support fundraising and to create tools to
assist future action to improve ALCOA’s sustainability.
Activities, Outputs and Outcomes
Establishing the Terms of Reference of the Sustainability
The ALCOA Executive Committee
through and internal process of review and discussion established
the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Sustainability Committee
on May 31, 2004 . The Executive Committee included the Chair,
Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary of the ALCOA Board of
Directors. These are volunteers who represent their organizations.
Recruiting members for the Sustainability Planning
ALCOA’s strength emanates from the
involvement of its 23 members in ALCOA activities. With the
Planning for Sustainability Project also, the engagement of
the members was critical to the success of the initiative.
On June 9, 2004 , ALCOA shared the TOR with its 23 member organizations
and asked for nominations to the Committee. After a process
of internal review, the ALCOA Executive Committee, on behalf
of the ALCOA Board (Guardians), approved the composition of
the Sustainability Planning Committee on June 16, 2004 . The
Committee included representatives from the Osteoporosis Society
of Canada, Canada Seniors Games Association, ALCOA Older Adults
Advisory, Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens Organizations,
Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism, and the Executive Director
of ALCOA. The Committee held its first meeting on June 28,
2004 through a teleconference at which time the Committee selected
a Chair and discussed the next steps of project implementation.
During the course of this project the Committee met four times.
Hiring the fund development consultant.
of the key resources for the project was the Fund Development
Consultant and ALCOA undertook a clear and transparent process
for filling this position. The job description of the Fund
Development Consultant was discussed by the Sustainability
Planning Committee and the job description was posted on the
Charity Village website. The applications received were jointly
short listed by the Chair of the Sustainability Committee and
the Executive Director. The final interviews were jointly carried
out by the Secretary of the ALCOA Board and the Executive Director.
The Strategic Fundraising Plan
The next step
was preparation of the fund development plan. This plan was
prepared through a process of discussion involving the Executive
Director, members of the Sustainability Planning Committee,
and other ALCOA member organizations such as the YMCA, VON,
etc. The project prepared a comprehensive how-to-guide for
organizing a community walk.
The project materials included a redesigning of the ALCOA
Annual Report. Prior to this funding being available ALCOA’s
Annual Reports were not very professional looking and since
the Annual Report is a key document required in funding applications
there was a need to redesign it.
Submission of funding proposals
activity of the project was to begin implementation of the
Fund Development Plan. The project agreement had looked at
sending two proposals to potential funders. ALCOA was able
to submit six proposals to potential funders.
Disseminating the results of the project
used the national Spectrum 2005 meeting held in March 2005
to present the Sustainability Planning Project and to discuss
the results of the projects. Thirty three participants were
at the Spectrum meeting and 25 organizations were represented.
The session on ALCOA sustainability included a report on the
project by the Committee Chair and a report by the ALCOA Executive
Director. This was followed by a discussion on the project.
Participants gave ALCOA input on the project and the importance
they attached to the project and how they felt that the project
design could be useful to their own organizations. The following
organizations participated in the sustainability session:
Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability
Centre for Active Living
Canadian Association for Community
Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women
Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists
Centre for Activity and Aging
Canadian Ethnocultural Council
Canadian Parks and Recreation
Canadian Pensioners Concerned
Canadian Physiotherapy Association
Canadian Seniors Games
Coalition for Active Living
Don Mills Foundation for Seniors
Federal Superannuates National
Institute for Positive Health for Seniors
Older Adult Centres’ Association of Ontario
Coalition of Senior Citizens Organizations
Retired Teachers of Ontario
Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism
University of Quebec ( Chicoutimi
University of Waterloo
Final Summary by the consultant
ALCOA project, like all other ALCOA initiatives, has a very
strong component of volunteer input. The volunteer input came
in the form of the Planning for Sustainability Committee (which
met 4 times and provided an estimated cumulative input of over
100 hours.) This contribution was further enhanced by the ALCOA
Executive Committee and Board who discussed the project and
provided advice and input at critical junctures. The ALCOA
member and partner organizations provided input on the project
during the special session on ALCOA sustainability at the Spectrum
The terms of reference of the Sustainability Planning Committee
The members of the Sustainability Planning Committee
The Strategic Fundraising Plan (English)
The Strategic Fundraising Plan (French)
The How-to-Guide for organizing a Walk
The redesigned Annual report (English)
The redesigned Annual report (French)
The funding proposals sent to potential funders
Final report by consultant
The session on ALCOA sustainability at the Spectrum 2005
Information about the OVS/NVHO presented at the Spectrum
ALCOA has strengthened its internal infrastructure to undertake
fund development and has engaged its membership in this important
area of concern. Prior to seeing the presentation on ALCOA
sustainability at the Spectrum 2005 meeting the ALCOA partner
organizations had indicated that 75% felt that it was important
to improve ALCOA sustainability but after the session on sustainability
94% of the respondent felt that it was important.
ALCOA as developed materials and plans that will contribute
to further strengthening organizations sustainability.
ALCOA has contributed to highlighting the important area
of organization sustainability and by sharing the detail of
the ALCOA Planning for Sustainability project has provided
ALCOA member organizations with important information that
will help them improve their own sustainability. A survey of
the ALCOA membership at the Spectrum 20005 meeting showed that
57% of the respondents indicated that they felt that their
organizations could benefit through the establishment of a
This project has enabled ALCOA to devote time to analysing
and preparing a plan that looks at improving the sustainability
of the organization. Also, an effective Planning for Sustainability
Committee has been established and the committee will continue
after the project has concluded.
ALCOA also got an opportunity to share information related
to the OVS/NVHO at the Spectrum 2005 meeting. The NVHO initiative
is an important source of funding for capacity building in
the non-profit sector.
ALCOA is also waiting to hear on some of the proposal we
have sent out to potential funders as part of this project.
ALCOA will continue to develop the dialogue with our partner
organization on pilot testing a joint fundraising event in
The project design had a strong evaluation component. The
evaluation looked at various process including the hiring of
the fund development consultant, the contribution and the involvement
of the Committee, the views of the committee on the project,
and the feedback on the project from the ALCOA membership.
The first recommendation is that organizations need to engage
stakeholders in issues related to sustainability. This project
enabled ALCOA to do that.
The establishment of infrastructure, with either volunteers
or staff, to address sustainability on a continual basis is
important. In ALCOA’s case this meant the establishment
of a Planning for Sustainability committee.
Another recommendation that comes out of this project is
that to enhance the appeal of an organization to potential
funders it is important to be able to demonstrate a clear outreach
or link to a population beneficiary group. In ALCOA’s
case this meant increasing membership of organizations that
are working on a frontline basis with older adults.
One critical element of obtaining partner organization support
for future ALCOA fundraising initiatives emerged from the fact
that many organizations in the non-profit sector are faced
with resource limitations. Thus, for any ALCOA partner organization
to undertake a joint fundraising event with ALCOA there must
be a sharing of the revenue that is generated.
A recommendation for future fundraising events will be to
first pilot test the event on a smaller scale before scaling
it up. This is important since there is an inherent risk with
all events that aim at fundraising and a small scale tryout
of the event will make the risk more manageable.