Maximizing Governance in For Public Benefit Organizations

Training Boards of Directors and Senior Leaders for Organizational Resilience and Success

Collage of several portrait photos of workers of any given organization

Project Overview

Much of the work to build and support communities comes from organizations and agencies formed from within the communities themselves. These groups have deep knowledge and understanding of the issues facing their communities, but may lack knowledge about how to use the power of incorporated organizations to address these issues effectively.

Maximizing Governance in For Public Benefit Organizations is a project to provide governance training to board members and senior leaders of incorporated, community-based not-for-profit organizations based in Ontario. This includes the roles and responsibilities of board members regarding money and the law, and how boards can best represent those they serve.

Small and emerging FPB organizations often depend on a small group of key volunteers who do most of the work, and therefore are at greater risk of organizational isolation and financial insecurity. Moreover, they often do not have easy access to appropriate training or support to develop organizational capacity in key areas such as governance, management, and leadership. Studies have recommended essential topics for training for small and emerging FPB organizations:

  • The components of good governance and how to put them into practice
  • How to develop clear outlines of roles and responsibilities
  • How to evaluate the effectiveness of the board
  • How to oversee and evaluate the senior staff member
  • How to plan (to ensure measurable goals are set so that effective evaluation can occur)
  • How to raise funds (as a team effort with well-defined roles for community engagement)
  • How to provide effective orientation to new board members

This project was designed to address these areas through a variety of approaches that use the principles of adult education and create spaces for peer learning.

In 2019, 17 organizations were selected to receive more focused support. They were matched with coaches who provided up to nine hours of individualized, face-to-face training to help them assess the health of their organizations through the use of OCASI’s OrgWise tool, and to support them in addressing their most pressing concerns.

The Program

The COVID-19 pandemic, the shrinking funding landscape, and the rising call to address systemic racism have produced unprecedented conditions within for-public-benefit organizations. Maximizing Governance hopes to equip small and emerging organizations with the tools they need to thrive in this changing environment. 

To meet this challenge, in 2020 and 2021, Maximizing Governance will offer the following supports:

  • 10 publicly available webinars 
  • 10 organizations in Toronto city will be selected to receive up to 9 hours of focused coaching from seasoned non-profit professionals
  • Opportunities for peer-learning through learning exchanges 

Webinars Program



Resources for Participants

Resources (2019)


Eight of the ten workshops presented in 2019 were recorded as webinars. Copies of the presentations given at each workshop are available as PDF files below, as well as supplementary tools and resources that were distributed at some of the sessions.


Presentations (PDFs):


OrgWise is OCASI’s organizational self-assessment tool. It is confidential and easy to use, and provides comprehensive reports, charts, and work plans for organizational development. The OrgWise website provides electronic resources such as sample policies, templates, webinars, videos, and guides to increase your organization’s effectiveness.

Although the OrgWise tool was developed for the immigrant and refugee-serving sector, the sections on governance and strategic leadership, human resources, and operations can apply to any not-for-profit organization that serves the community. We encourage you to sign up for an OrgWise account to take advantage of this useful and effective tool.

Who We Are

OCASI is the lead organization on the Maximizing Governance project, working in partnership with Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Centre; onBoard Canada formerly at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University; St. Stephen’s Community House Toronto; and Social Planning Toronto.

The project was funded by the City of Toronto’s Community Funding Unit, through their Grant to Enhance Governance in For Public Benefit (FPB) Organizations. The City of Toronto relies on FPB organizations to act in multiple roles to meet residents’ needs, energize communities, create inclusive economic opportunities, and promote active democracy and policies that are responsive to the community. Broadening the knowledge of board members and senior leaders about governance will enable them to increase and strengthen their organizations’ capacity to fulfill these roles, serve their communities, and respond to challenges.

 To learn more about the Maximizing Governance project, email us.