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Yet Another Acronym, S.R.O.I ?

Posted by: in North West, Uncategorized

A learning opportunity to share…

Offering a different process in developing your organizational strategic and operational work plan by “adding a new tool in your already full tool box”. This process would be very valuable when applying for sustainability funding. As a community leader(s) in the NPVS you are more than likely participating in this process, many may describe it as “community development”; now many refer to it as Social Return on Investment (SROI). So how do I use this you ask? enjoy the read….

Organisations which have social objectives will want to know if they are achieving these objectives. SROI is a method that can help organisations design systems that ensure they have the information they need.

This information can help in developing strategies to increase the social and environmental value you create, manage activities by comparing performance against forecasts and help communicate with funders and beneficiaries.

What is Social Return on Investment (SROI)?

SROI is based on seven principles:

  1. Involve stakeholders
    Understand the way in which the organisation creates change through a dialogue with stakeholders
  2. Understand what changes
    Acknowledge and articulate all the values,  objectives and stakeholders of the organisation before agreeing which aspects of the organisation are to be included in the scope; and determine what must be included in the account in order that stakeholders can make reasonable decisions
  3. Value the things that matter
    Use financial proxies for indicators in order to include the values of those excluded from markets in same terms as used in markets
  4. Only include what is material
    Articulate clearly how activities create change and evaluate this through the evidence gathered
  5. Do not over-claim
    Make comparisons of performance and impact using appropriate benchmarks, targets and external standards.
  6. Be transparent
    Demonstrate the basis on which the findings may be considered accurate and honest; and showing that they will be reported to and discussed with stakeholders
  7. Verify the result
    Ensure appropriate independent verification of the account

SROI is an approach to understanding and managing the value of the social, economic and environmental outcomes created by an activity or an organisation. It is based on a set of principles that are applied within a framework.

SROI seeks to include the values of people who are often excluded from markets in the same terms as used in markets, that is money, in order to give people a voice in resource allocation decisions. SROI is a framework to structure thinking and understanding. It’s a story, not a number. The story should show how you understand the value created, manage it and can prove it.

Feel free to read this article for more information on SROI:–for-social-investing

Yvonne Rempel | 780.827-1464 |

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Next Steps: Post March For

Posted by: in North West, Uncategorized

Did you know…

  • We are averaging 1,000 hits a month on the website
  • There are 19142 non-profit groups in Alberta.
  • There are 1800 post-secondary institutions in Canada
  • 116000 staff are employed by the non-profit sector in Alberta
  • One of the true benefits of the last 18 months has been the connection with rural Alberta and communities through the work of the RCC’s. We have truly benefited from the ability to connect on a personal level with all of you.
  • Volunteer Alberta is committed to supporting the ongoing sustainability of the KnowledgeConnector Initiative.  The website will continue to be in place and supported through partnerships and collaborative efforts.  The website is now imbedded in Volunteer Alberta and will continue to be a vital program and service offered by VA.
  • We are looking at a variety of options as to how we might be able to keep the momentum and community engagement activities in place.  That means we are looking at how we might do things differently (“smarter, not harder”) through partnerships, collaborative ventures, e&. Sustainability with this project is not only about money, but about partnership, collaboration and community support.

What do you think we might be able to do in the future?

All of you have a ton of valuable information to share on how to collectively increase access and utilization of leadership development
opportunities that are available for the Non-profit/Voluntary Sector (NPVS) in Alberta.

Here is your opportunity to provide feedback with “community engagement”.

The primary objective for the website is that it is designed to help you link rural Alberta NPVS to learning opportunities/learning provider, promote and enhance Learning Provider capacity to offer quality leadership programs and services. Are there barriers and challenges you have? Explore what we may do to enhance or tweak the website to accomplish this

So check us out, register as a learning provider or choose a learning opportunity.

FYI – Look for our upcoming Learning Provider Forums hosted by KnowledgeConnector in your region (Hanna, AB – January 27 1:00 to 4:00PM) or complete our Learning Provider Online Survey:

For further information or to provide feedback please email me at  or our Program Coordinator at

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Do You Find Yourself In A Leadership Rut?

Posted by: in North West, Uncategorized

Happy New Year!

As a kid we are often caught saying “I can’t wait to grow up…”. In response to this comment I remember my grandma saying to me “do not rush growing up, life goes by fast – even faster as you get older”. Wow, wasn’t she right… it is 2012, where did last year go?

So how do we slow things down and put priorities for life in place? One may suggest making New Year’s resolutions. We start off with great intentions and enthusiasm, but realistically after two weeks or a month the novelty wears off and we are right back to where we started.

I am a firm believer in not reinventing the “wheel” so when I come across a great piece of advice or what I like to call “an aha moment” I want to pass it on.  What a better time than the beginning of a new year to share some words of wisdom (even if they aren’t mine…).

I just read this great article that suggested 5 tips guaranteed to jump-start your brain and get you off on the right foot for 2012 (Mike Myatt, Leadership advisor to CEOs & Boards, and author of Leadership Matters) Here are some highlights to his article:

The difference between real leaders, and leaders in title only, is what they do when the creative juices begin to dwindle.  For most people, the simple truth is excuses come easier than solutions – but who said leadership was easy?  Leadership is about acclimation and reacclimation, improvising and adapting, learning and unlearning – leadership is about change.

Don’t make excuses – make changes. Saying you don’t have time for “X” is just code for “ X” isn’t important to me. Saying you don’t have the resources needed for change is just an admission you’re not very resourceful. Leadership has little to do with resources, but everything to do with resourcefulness. The funny thing is, those who are the most resourceful often end-up with the greatest amount of resources. If you’re stuck in a leadership rut, the following 5 steps will help you find your path back to real leadership:

  1. Go Break Something:  If you want to drive innovation, lead change, and create growth, stir the pot – go break something. Slaughter a few sacred cows, challenge conventional wisdom, break a paradigm, and inject a little chaos into your ordered world. Old isn’t necessarily wrong, but likewise, it’s not necessarily right either. Look for ways to create new advantages and make needed improvements. Reengineer a best practice into a next practice. Ask yourself this question: Is the most tenured person in a particular position, the best person for the position? If not, make a change. Don’t be bored, just implement a little creative destruction.
  2. Recharge Your Brain:  A brain is like any other energy source – it needs to be nourished in order to evolve. Whether you stimulate your brain through basic learning activities like reading, taking classes or participating in workshops or seminars, or by just giving it some well needed rest, the important thing is to make a concerted effort in this regard.  Vacations, sabbaticals, and service projects are also quite useful for creating new thinking. Carve out new neural pathways by subjecting the brain to new and creative ways of thinking. Change-up your routine and do things differently and more productively – you’ll be glad you did.
  3. Get Some Help:  The best leaders surround themselves with wise counsel, and make a habit of seeking out sound advice. Start close to home – ask your family for their candid opinion of your shortcomings, and then listen. Those who love you the most will also give you the respect of candor. In addition to seeking guidance from your family, seek out professional advice and counsel by joining a peer group, hiring a coach, creating an advisory board, or finding a new mentor. There are abundant resources available to leaders resourceful enough to seek them out. Don’t allow yourself to be held hostage by your pride, ego, arrogance, or ignorance – go get some help.
  4. Have a Vigorous Debate: Few things kindle the creative fires like a challenging debate. By seeking out dissenting views and differing opinions, you open your mind to new ideas and perspectives. A developed mind is the result of a challenged mind. Smart leaders take their business logic and willingly subject it brutal assault. In doing so, they often find what they believed to be close to perfect was in fact flawed. Go find the smartest people you can, and ask them to poke holes in your theories and beliefs. There is value in both validation and invalidation. Don’t be afraid of being proven wrong – be afraid of thinking you’re right when you’re not.
  5. Fire Yourself: In the final analysis, if you can’t or won’t fix yourself, or you can’t or won’t allow yourself to be developed by others, then it’s time to pass the baton. Both you and your organization deserve more than just a leader in title, and if you cannot perform as leader then find someone who can. Whether you transition to a co-CEO role, entrepreneur in residence, Chairman of the Board, consultant, take a sabbatical, or you just resign your position, all concerned parties will be better off by making a move that is likely long overdue.

Simple solutions right? So make 2012 a year of change. Start small, work your way up and become a better leader.

Yvonne Rempel | 780.827-1464 |

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Christmas Trivia, A Learning Moment…

Posted by: in North West, Uncategorized

As the Christmas holiday quickly approaches (9 days if you are counting) we catch ourselves rushing around to find that perfect gift, wrapping presents and making the traditional christmas baking treats (butter tarts are my favorite this time of year along with steamed plum pudding with caramel sauce). We often get wrapped up in the “getting ready” stage that we forget to take the time to really understand the true meaning of Christmas and the traditions we follow.  So from my house to yours – “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”. Enjoy!

The word Christmas comes from the old English “Cristes maesse” meaning Christ’s Mass. The Holiday celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. The actual birthday of Jesus is not known; therefore, the early Church Fathers in the 4th century fixed the day around the old Roman Saturnalia festival (17 – 21 December), a traditional pagan festivity. The first mention of the birthday of Jesus is from the year 354 AD. Gradually all Christian churches, except Armenians who celebrate Christmas on January 6 (the date of the baptism of Jesus as well as the day of the three Magi), accepted the date of December 25th.

Christmas Day itself is the day for opening gifts brought by jolly old St. Nick. Many of our current ideals about the way Christmas ought to be derive from the English Victorian Christmas, such as that described in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

The caroling, the gifts, the feast, and the wishing of good cheer to all – these ingredients came together to create that special Christmas atmosphere.

The custom of gift-giving on Christmas goes back to Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Kalends. The very first gifts were simple items such as twigs from a sacred grove as good luck emblems. Soon that escalated to food, small items of jewelry, candles, and statues of gods. To the early Church, gift-giving at this time was a pagan holdover and therefore severely frowned upon. However, people would not part with it, and some justification was found in the original gift giving of the Magi, and from figures such as St. Nicholas. By the Middle-ages gift giving was accepted. Before then it was more common to exchange gifts on New Year’s Day or Twelfth Night.

Santa Claus is known by British children as Father Christmas. Father Christmas, these days, is quite similar to Santa, but his direct ancestor is a certain pagan spirit who regularly appeared in medieval mummer’s plays. The old-fashioned Father Christmas was depicted wearing long robes with sprigs of holly in his long white hair. Children write letters to Father Christmas detailing their requests, but instead of dropping them in the mailbox, the letters are tossed into the fireplace. The draft carries the letters up the chimney, and theoretically, Father Christmas reads the smoke. Gifts are opened Christmas afternoon.

From the English we get a story to explain the custom of hanging stockings from the mantelpiece. Father Christmas once dropped some gold coins while coming down the chimney. The coins would have fallen through the ash grate and been lost if they hadn’t landed in a stocking that had been hung out to dry. Since that time children have continued to hang out stockings in hopes of finding them filled with gifts.

The custom of singing carols at Christmas is also of English origin. During the Middle-ages, groups of serenaders called waits would travel around from house to house singing ancient carols and spreading the holiday spirit. The word carol means “song of you.” Most of the popular old carols we sing today were written in the nineteenth century.

The hanging of greens, such as holly and ivy, is a British winter tradition with origins far before the Christian era. Greenery was probably used to lift sagging winter spirits and remind the people that Spring was not far away. The custom of kissing under the mistletoe is descended from ancient Druid rites. The decorating of Christmas trees, though primarily a German custom, has been widely popular in England since 1841 when Prince Albert had a Christmas tree set up in Windsor Castle for his wife Queen Victoria, and their children.

 Yvonne Rempel | 780.827-1464 |

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What’s In A Name…

Posted by: in North West, Uncategorized

Every community throughout rural Alberta has something to brag or boast about. This week I am highlighting such a community; let me introduce you to the Town of Beaverlodge….

Beaverlodge is a little town with a lot to offer. In the summer you can find people swimming at the Beaverlodge pool or Redwillow River, playing baseball, golfing, camping, quadding at the base (Saskatoon Mountain) and other local trails, fishing at Spring Lake, paintballing, dirt biking at the motocross track, and skateboarding. In the winter month’s people enjoy skiing and ice fishing at spring lake resort, skating at the indoor and outdoor arena, curling, sledding on local trails and into the mountains, and hunting (

Large landmarks are starting to appear all over Canada, nowhere truer than in Alberta. Beaverlodge celebrated its 75th Anniversary of incorporation on July 21, 2004, and part of our celebration included the unveiling of a Giant Beaver Sculpture on our highway corridor. Our Beaver is a remarkable roadside attraction surrounded by interpretive signage (history,
habitat, behavior of the animal, along with Town information.) The sculpture is 15 feet high, 28 feet long and weighs 3000 pounds. A must to see in Northwestern Alberta on your way up the Alaska Highway. Also featured in:

The library offers a bookclub, storytime for children 2-5 years of age, an after school program for ages 9-12, a summer reading program, Partners in Reading, and a meeting room for rent. Whether you are relaxing or researching you can browse through books or surf the net on one of the 3 internet stations, or bring your own laptop to take advantage of the library’s wireless connection. Also you can learn a second language through the library or attend NAIT & GPRC through Distance Learning. For more information call Shelly at 780-354-2569. To Learn more about the library, visit us at

There is so much more to learn about Beaverlodge that I can not highlight everything; so check out the list of attractions, events and activities with a click of a mouse or if you are in the neighborhood

Does your community have a roadside attraction, or a historical significance in the north-west region? Let me know; and you and your community will be highlighted in one of our weekly blogs.

Yvonne Rempel | 780.827-1464 |

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Learning begins at home…

Posted by: in North West, Uncategorized

Do you have a favorite childhood book or author? Some of our favorite memories revolves around reading; bedtime or sitting on your grandparents lap.

Have you checked out your local public library lately? All under one roof is a “plethora” of knowledge. There is something for the whole family.

Your local public library provides opportunity and encouragement for continuous education as well as the enrichment of personal lives through recreational reading.  Programs and services are offered by and through the Library to meet identified needs in the community and to attract Library patrons of all ages and interests.

Throughout my travels all over the north-west, I have had the pleasure of visiting a variety of local public libraries. Each library had very welcoming environment with a wide assortment of activities and events, all themed around a series of books or novels.

The first place that I head to in each library is the “whats new” section. What attracts me to check out a new book?

– my favorite author

– the colourful illustrations on the front cover

– a catchy title

– a strong heroine character

– the Oprah’s list of books

– Heather Pick’s

– a good old fashion romance novel

– historical

Sometimes I go right to the magazine rack and pick up the latest issue of Canadian Living or Chatelaine. Did you know that most community libraries have comfy seating and some even serve coffee as well? Learning doesn’t get better than that. If books or magazines are not your interest, you can pick and choose your learning options with a just click of a mouse. All public libraries offer free internet access on a “bank of computers”. Also, most public libraries have video conferencing technology as well. Continuous education never looked easier.

Libraries are our community hosts to a wide variety of learning opportunities. So when someone says there is nothing to do…visit your public library today, it is just one of many activities you can do with a friend or your family or take a well deserved break.

What a better way to celebrate the season than buying that someone special a library membership, or giving the gift of access to knowledge to someone in need this christmas season it is always better to give than receive. Help someone else build those favorite family reading memories.

Yvonne Rempel | 780.827-1464 |



Not Too Early to Set a New Year’s Resolution

Posted by: in North West, Uncategorized

As the Christmas season fastly approaches, I once again dig out the christmas decorations. As I sort through them (6 large Rubbermaid tubs) to see what I will put up this year. Every year I look at the amount of decorations I have collected over the years and once again I resist the temptation to go out and buy some new christmas decorations to add to the collection (because it is always nice to put up a couple of new things each year). The task of decorating falls solely on my shoulders. So, I only pull out a quarter of the decorations, because one; I am the one who has to put them away and two I have to dust “the stuff”.

I find that if I do not decorate in November I run out of time and I am rushed to create a christmas atmosphere. The holiday season seems so rushed every year and still haven’t figured out where time goes. We all get busy and before we know it Christmas is here (with or without homemade Christmas baking). So, the question is how do I slow down? (If I had the magic wand to that question I would be rich woman). We still have to work though until holidays, so we lumber through.

The season is all about giving to others. We shop for the perfect gifts and rush to wrap and send parcels away to friends and family. What do we do for ourselves?

So here is my suggestion; create a learning moment. Invite a couple of  friends over, put on a pot a coffee and serve up some of those Christmas cookies you just baked. Gather around the table and plug-in your wireless laptop or iPad and click on, You can complete an online Assessment that will identify your skills as a leader as well identify the gaps, which at the end will create a “report card” and link you automatically to learning opportunities. It is that easy. It is never too late to plan ahead and create a learning plan for you and some friends that you can do from the comfort of your own home.

Here are just a few learning options that I have pulled from the Knowledge Connector Website that may be of interest to you:

– Leadership Webinars (FREE) from

– Blogs and articles highlighting a variety volunteer and non-profit issues, solutions and suggestions at

– FREE Webinars (check out the archive as well) on Community Development and Community Engagement ideas go to

– How-to articles, volunteer  educational opportunities go to will guide you through the ins and outs of operating a charity organization (and will even come out to you…) listed are a variety of resources for educational opportunities

There is that old saying “do as I do not as I say…” well I am taking my own advice and creating a learning plan that is designed just for me that I can do from the comfort of my own home (or couch). So start your new years resolution today. Follow along on my blog as I track my progress (good or bad) over the next couple of months. I welcome your feedback as well so email me at

Happy Holidays!!



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We need you…

Posted by: in North West, Uncategorized

As we move forward  with we remain vigilant in posting and updating learning opportunities on the website. This is where we need your help…

The new website continues to link learners throughout rural Alberta to various learning and training opportunities with just a click of a mouse. In addition, learners are able to go online and fill out their own ASK (attitudes, skills & knowledge) Assessment Tool which helps you identify your leadership strengths and gap areas by providing a printable “report card”. This report card will automatically link you to various listed learning opportunities and learning providers. (exert re-posted form an earlier blog).

Not only is the new website “learner friendly” but we have included a section for learning providers as well. Individual learning providers (which we like to call LP’s) can go online and register their organization/agency and post their own learning opportunities. As well each LP is provided with their own login in and password which enables them to go in and edit anytime.

Here is how it works:

What is a Learning Provider?

An agency or individual who are providing leadership development learning opportunities for leaders working in the voluntary/non-profit sector.  This includes both non-profit and for-profit organizations and individuals.

Learning Provider Categories:

Program Developers: Those organizations or individuals who design and deliver learning opportunities for their own membership base, or
general non-profit sector.

These are organization that may host a learning opportunity developed by another organization.   For example the Volunteer Centres who host through iCCAN the courses developed by Volunteer Alberta; libraries, and Community Learning Councils.  These most often will be regionally focused learning providers.

This is a third category, such as a Municipal Community Services Department, who seek out and identify specific learning opportunities for their  own membership, or client base.

For-Profit Learning Providers:  Includes both organizations and private consultants.

Registering as a Learning Provider is as easy as 1-2-3 Visit

Click on “Learning Provider Registration” in the top right hand corner. Select which category you wish to register in

  • Nonprofit Basic Free 10 Listings per year – Your organization must be a registered nonprofit
  • Nonprofit Unlimited $250 per year – Unlimited Listings Receive a public Profile including logo and bio Includes a Volunteer
    Alberta Membership (New Members Only) Your organization must be a registered nonprofit
  • For-profit Unlimited $350 per year Unlimited Listings Receive a public Profile including logo and bio

We want your feedback on the website with “all the bells and whistles” it provides. Enjoy learning…. and post a learning opportunity share your wisdom and knowledge with other deserving rural Alberta learners.

If you have any questions or comments contact KnowledgeConnector HQ 1.780.497.4780

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FREE Leadership Training by ACE Communities – a Learning Provider

Posted by: in North West

Like many of you, volunteering is my passion along with life-long learning. I am driven to make my community a better place to live, play, grow and retire – a community I can be proud of.

I had the pleasure of hosting ACE Communities this past Monday (check out the website and Twitter for the pictures and discussions regarding this event – Thank you Janet for posting…) in Grande Cache at our “Ignite” Celebration. We had the honor of listening to Ian Hill a motivational speaker inspiring change in individuals, neighborhoods and communities. Town council, students and various community members heard his impassioned challenge to rise to the responsibility we all have to build a better community.

It was AWESOME! Ian is a dynamic speaker. His comments were not anything that we do not already know but his words had the motivation to “ignite” an entire community for change. I am revitalized to create a town that I want to live in and I know I am not alone.

Community leadership is about active, creative and engaged communities working together on a “shared vision”. Who better to lead a community towards positive change than VOLUNTEERS!

ACE communities is about building community capacity and community development. Here is just a partial list of learning opportunities for the month of November you as a learner can access by just a click of a mouse:

November 15, 2011 at 10:00AM

Working Effectively and Enthusiastically as a Team

November 16, 2011 at 10:00AM

Service Excellence in Municipal Recreation: What is it and how do we ensure we’re delivering it?

November 18, 2011 at 10:00AM

Creative Ideas for Motivating Seniors Part 1: Tips and Tools

November 21, 2011 at 10:00AM

Creative Strategies for Engaging with Youth

November 24, 2011 at 10:00AM

Energize Your Everyday (AKA Keeping Your Sanity through the Christmas Celebrations!)

November 25, 2011 at 10:00AM

Creative Ideas for Motivating Seniors Part 2: Music and Props

November 28, 2011 at 10:00AM

Inspiring Ideas for Preschool Teachers in School and Extracurricular Activities

November 29, 2011 at 10:00AM

Facilitation Techniques for Community Building: Let’s Meet and Talk in your Community!

If you know of a great learning provider you want to share or want to highlight a learning opportunity, go to If you have any inquiries, staff at KnowledgeConnector will be glad to assist you 1.780.497.4780.

Yvonne Rempel | 780.827-1464 |

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Posted by: in North West

Our weekly blogs are to be used to identify and share learning and leadership opportunities throughout our regions, keeping rural Albertans connected through the World Wide Web. We are reminded that the focus of our weekly blogs, need to reflect  on KnowledgeConnector’s 6 A.S.K. Leadership Competencies (Big Picture Thinking, Self-Awareness & Development, Strategic Thinking, Planning & Organizing, Management & Governance, Relationship Building).

That being said, I am finding it hard to concentrate working on the computer with the first snow fall (2 inches last night) of the season putting me in the Christmas spirit, wanting to pull out the Christmas lights and outdoor decorations. We barley finish with one holiday – Halloween and Christmas is fast approaching.  But there is one holiday in between that we must not forget – November 11, Remembrance Day…

Remembrance Day is an opportunity to honor and remember those who sacrificed their lives in war and military operations. Remembrance Day is a tradition across Canada where people lay wreaths and observance of two minutes of silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

I want to use my blog this week to take this opportunity to highlight one special organization, the Royal Canadian Legion. This dedicated group of community volunteers organize Remembrance Day Celebrations events each year. In addition, leading up to November 11th the Royal Canadian Legion volunteers organize a variety of community celebrations which are held in schools, churches and community halls; including initiating the annual Red Poppy and Wreath Campaign to fundraise in order to support those military families in need each year.

The Royal Canadian Legion is an example of community leadership in action who are continuously working towards building community capacity through dedication, generosity and commitment to their communities, an example of volunteerism at its best and an organization that exemplifies all KnowledgeConnector 6 Competencies.

Remembrance Day is an important holiday not only to remember those who have died and fought for our country but remember those volunteers who are committed to keeping this tradition alive.

I thank you…

Yvonne Rempel | 780.827-1464 |

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