Vital Dialogue with the Whistler Nonprofit Sector
On December 6, 2016 the Community Foundation of Whistler held a Vital Dialogue with members of the non-profit sector in Whistler.
Following the release of the Whistler Vital Signs report in October 2016, we wanted to hear from non-profit organizations in Whistler to gain an understanding of:
- What content in the report resonates with local organizations in terms of what they see every day in their work and how are they working with these issues?
- What are the strengths, assets and needs of various non-profit organizations?
- What commonalities exist among groups and what opportunities does this present for collaboration?
What emerged from the conversation was a picture of a vibrant, dedicated and caring sector of the community. Local non-profit organizations are educators, planners, marketers, counsellors, consultants, and researchers. They are technologically savvy and possess strong business skills. Non-profits are providers of employment, they are economic drivers, they are connectors. and they are a caring community.
However, the sector is facing the challenge of how to meet the demands created by a growing and changing community. The local population is changing with respect to the number of immigrants, number of seniors, and number of children being born. In addition, the number of visitors to Whistler is increasing.
A successful and growing resort economy also results in an increase in community needs. These and other changes in the community are creating environmental, social and economic impacts that place an increasing burden on existing community resources and non-profit organizations. The most compelling question facing the non-profit sector in Whistler is how to best manage growth in the community.
What are some of the needs of the local non-profit sector?
- More space for community programming and administration. Space needs to be affordable, available, accessible and appropriate.
- Ability to offer affordable housing options to those most in need
- Transportation within as well as to and from Whistler to help community members in need to more easily access services
- More staff. Ability to recruit and retain staff in a community where housing is unavailable and unaffordable.
- Ability to offer more counselling services locally
- Ability to offer more affordable programming
- Ability to grow, such as technology, skills, and staff to expand services
- To be more financially sustainable and less reliant on grants
- To bridge the disconnect between the economic language and lens used by the business and political community and the social values of the non-profit sector.
Common Areas for potential collaboration
- Shared spaces
- Shared staff
- Planning and Development Capacity (including board education and support, risk management, financial management, marketing and communication
- Staff Training
- How to respond to community growth and the organizational growth that is required to respond to increasing and changing demands.
The group in attendance identified possible next steps
- Create a Shared Common Vision for the Whistler Non-profit Sector that speaks to the collective needs of the sector and the community and formalize the Whistler Non-profit Network
- Initiate a community conversation about growth
- Come together to plan opportunities for collaboration around shared space, staff, and learning opportunities.
Watch for the results of the Whistler Community Group Needs Assessment and Asset Mapping survey coming soon!