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 funded by the Community Funding Unit of the City of Toronto to provide governance training to board members and senior leaders of incorporated, community-based not-for-profit organizations. 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 a great deal of the work, and therefore are at greater risk of being organizationally isolated and financially insecure. 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 key areas of 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 has been designed to address these areas through a variety of approaches that use the principles of adult education and create spaces for peer learning.

17 organizations have been selected to receive more focused support. They have been matched with coaches who are providing 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

To be eligible to participate in the training, your organization must be:

  • incorporated under the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act or the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act
  • providing services to the community
  • based in the City of Toronto

Priority goes to groups that are funded by the City’s Community Service Partnerships (CSP) Program.

Maximizing Governance is offering the following supports:

  • Online governance training through onBoard Canada, a program of The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University
  • 10 public workshops and 8 webinars
  • 7 applied learning sessions
  • Use of OCASI’s OrgWise organizational self-assessment tool, and access to OrgWise’s collection of resources for organizational capacity building and training

Online Governance Training

We are very pleased to offer complimentary access to selected courses from onBoard Canada's acclaimed online governance training program to 50 eligible groups. onBoard Canada is a program of The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University.

Participating organizations can choose either of two courses:

  1. Board Governance Fundamentals. This course series provides directors with the knowledge and skills needed to contribute to a board. It covers foundational areas of board governance including Board Essentials, Legal Roles and Responsibilities, Finance Fundamentals, Commitment to Diversity, Strategic Planning, Risk Management, and Resource Development. This course takes from 10 to 12 hours to complete.
  2. Essential Governance through the Stages. This course series focuses on the specific needs of boards through different stages of organizational development. This course addresses six key themes in board governance: Board Recruitment, Diverse Perspectives, Chair-CEO Relations, Board Engagement, Overseeing Financial Risk, and Reputational Risk.

An additional course, Embedding Diversity and Inclusion into an Organization, is a bonus that each organization receives with registration to either of the other two courses listed above.

Please make sure that only one person from your organization completes the registration for the training. This person will receive all correspondence about the courses and how to gain access to them.

We recommend that your board and senior staff work through the course material as a group. All of these courses provide a great deal of information that you can use to improve the management, accountability, and success of your organization.

Before and after your course, you will be asked to answer survey questions about your understanding of the material. This information is being collected as part of the overall evaluation of the Maximizing Governance project. Once you have registered, you will receive the first survey, and after you have completed it you will receive a voucher code giving you access to the training. We ask that you complete the training within 90 days of your initial registration. Your organization will receive a badge of completion after you submit the post-course survey.

Register for the online training here:

Please note that all training through onBoard Canada MUST be completed by October 15.


The Maximizing Governance project is offering ten public workshops to educate board members and senior staff of not-for-profit organizations based in Toronto that work for the public benefit.

Attendance is by registration only. We ask that each organization send no more than two people to each workshop. Invitations to register are first sent to the City’s CSP mailing list, and will then be posted here.

The first eight workshops will also be available as webinars.

Workshops schedule

Board Essentials February 25,
  OCASI, 110 Eglinton Avenue West, Suite 200
Legal Roles and Responsibilities March 25,
  North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge Street, Committee Room 3
Financial Management April 29,
  Metro Hall, 55 John Street, Room 309
Risk Management May 27,
  Access Alliance, 3079 Danforth Avenue
Board Evaluation June 24,
June 5, noon Social Planning Toronto, 2 Carlton Street, Suite 1001
Strategic Planning July 29,
July 8, noon CultureLink, 2340 Dundas Street West, Suite 301
Communications September 9,
7:00-9:00pm (new date and location)
August 13, noon St. Stephen’s Community House, 1415 Bathurst Street
Conflict Resolution September 30,
September 9, noon North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge Street, Room 2/3
Equity October 28,
October 7, noon Metro Hall, 55 John Street, Room 309
Public Policy November 25,
November 4, noon Access Alliance, 3079 Danforth Avenue


For those who cannot attend the workshops in person, the Maximizing Governance project features webinars covering the same material, with the same facilitators, as the first eight workshops. The webinars are open to everyone. Links are posted here as registration becomes available.


Presentations (PDFs):

Applied learning sessions:

The Maximizing Governance project is also offering seven applied learning sessions, for anyone who has participated in other components of the program. These provide an opportunity for hands-on learning, and sharing best practices and networking with other agencies.

Attendance is by registration only. Invitations to register are first sent to the City’s CSP mailing list, and then to everyone who has participated in any part of the project. The registration links will also be posted here.

Community Engagement and Accountability May 15,
OCASI, 110 Eglinton Avenue West, Suite 200
Board Recruitment June 19,
St. Stephen’s Community House, 1415 Bathurst Street
Harnessing the New Energy on Your Board July 17,
North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge Street
Building Partnerships August 21,
Social Planning Toronto, 2 Carlton Street, Suite 1001
Funding Your Mission September 18,
Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West
Different Governance Models October 16,
Access Alliance, 3079 Danforth Avenue
The Future of Governance November 20,
Metro Hall, 55 John Street


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 at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University; St. Stephen’s Community House Toronto; and Social Planning Toronto.

The project is 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.