What is Family Service Canada, and Why Should I Join?

What is Family Service Canada, and Why Should I Join?

One of the questions we get from leaders of family service agencies is, “why should I become a member; what’s in it for me?” and it’s a fair question, but the answer depends on what you need or want to help strengthen your organization.

At Family Service Canada, we promote learning and the exchange of expertise through the dynamic relationships between not-for-profit executive leaders:

  • Each of those leaders brings with them knowledge, experience, ideas and questions.
  • We can all do more by learning from each other, and
  • What makes this model effective, is our common ground: we all lead family service agencies, and although we vary significantly in size, and work in both urban and rural contexts from across Canada, we’ve found that we encounter similar challenges, trends and opportunities.

If you’re facing a challenge, put it out to the members. Chances are more than a few of us have faced something similar or are facing it right now. By comparing notes on what worked or didn’t work, we can all conserve resources and implement strategies that have already been successfully employed elsewhere. Plus, the diversity of the communities we work with means we each have a slightly different approach and can benefit from a broader range of perspectives when we only speak to other agencies that are local to us. But enough generalities, how about some specific examples?

I need to change our fund development strategy, but I’m not sure where to start.

Within the Family Service Canada membership, we have organizations that rely almost entirely on grants and government funding, and organizations that rely on corporate and individual donations. There are some with dedicated fundraising staff, and some, where fundraising is a shared responsibility. The point here isn’t that a particular fund development strategy is necessarily better than another, but that whatever your current program looks like, and whatever new efforts you’d like to try, you’ll find peers that are willing to share their experience in those same strategies.

As a side note, this is one part that makes the national approach of Family Service Canada valuable. While we wholeheartedly believe we can all be better through collaborating, we can understand why you might be wary about emulating a fund development strategy from the organization next door that is competing for the same funding dollars – so connect with peers in another province, and share without the perception of competition in the way.

We’re in the middle of a transition, how can we ensure consistent program delivery?

From leadership and staff changes to funding and outcome requirements, few things within the non-profit sector are static, but no matter what type of growth and transition an organization is experiencing, we all want to make sure the families we serve are receiving consistently effective programming.

Learning from other organizations about how their programs are delivered, and what steps they’ve taken to insulate programming from the ongoing changes within an organization, can help future-proof your programs and provide you peace of mind while providing stability for your clients.

“Attending the Family Service Canada Circle of Learning event as a Director of Professional Services provided me with an opportunity to gain a national perspective on the shared vision of program delivery and an affirming experience that our agencies provide best practice to the families we serve.”

Mary Jo Church, Director of Professional Services
Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia

Our funding was cut. We’re making a plan, but some of my staff will lose their jobs, and there isn’t anyone in the office that can help me process this.

Leading an organization can be lonely work, especially when those high-impact decisions come up that will affect the people who work for you. You may or may not have an executive team to help you make a plan, but these situations are stressful, and having someone outside the organization who is not experiencing the same immediate stress as you, can be a tremendous resource to help you cope so you can be the leader your organization needs you to be.

All Family Service Canada members have been through difficult times. It may have been a funding cut, or perhaps a difficult transition that had a negative impact on staff. Our members connect to help brainstorm solutions to complicated situations, and sometimes to vent and feel heard by someone who has faced something similar.

So, what is it that you need?

As we said at the beginning, the benefit of becoming a member of Family Service Canada depends on what you need or want. Because whatever you’re looking for, there will be another member willing to share what they’ve learned by leading their organization through similar experiences.

Family Service Canada is a community of organizations with built-in common ground, committed to strengthening each other for the benefit of Canadian families. If you’re interested in learning more about Family Service Canada, or exploring membership, browse the membership links at the top of our page (www.familyservicecanada.org).



Attend our conference and get to know your peers: Family Service Canada hosts an annual Community of Learning. The conference is open to members and non-members and is a great way to experience some of the Family Service Canada culture and meet some of the members.

The 2019 conference is booked for October 9 and 10 in Sydney, Nova Scotia, and will explore some of the significant and innovative collaborations happening right now in Canada, visit www.familyservicecanada.org/conference for details about the event and to purchase your tickets.