I've always been partial to imagination as opposed to dreams. Imagination has an element of intentionality, of agency. Dreams start too far back in the unconscious for me. Bold leaps of imagination inspire bold actions.
This sense of purpose and deliberation is a good description of Imagine Canada today. After the inevitable growing pains associated with the merger of the Canadian Centre of Philanthropy and the Coalition of National Voluntary Organizations several years ago, Imagine is hitting its stride. Under its new leadership, Chair Faye Wightman (President and CEO of the Vancouver Foundation) and CEO Marcel Lauzière, Imagine is becoming a key voice for the Canadian community sector.
It's a tough enough job to reconcile our regional interests and competing priorities. It's even tougher to balance the immediate challenges faced by charities and non profits with the imperative to respond to the rapid change the world is experiencing.
This requires a courageous form of action: 'standing still.' In Getting to Maybe the authors describe 'standing still' as taking stock perhaps for a minute or over several months. The Greek word for crisis is 'to sift.' Sifting is knowing what to let go and what to retain. Something you can do if you are calm and able to focus.
At a lunch convened by Faye last summer, Marcel described some of Imagine's immediate initiatives: new sources of financing for charities and non profits; stronger tax incentives for donors; increasing the capacity of the sector to attract and retain the best and the brightest; new strategies to engage volunteers and community talent; and a rigorous peer review accreditation process. He also described their broader vision – a Canada where strong and vital charitable and nonprofit organizations, the private sector and governments individually and collectively contribute to social progress and vibrant communities.
Listening, dialogue, convening, reflecting are part of Imagine's DNA. That can only make them wiser. And the perfect companions for the leap into the unknown many of us will be called to make. A leap made easier by leaders like Faye and her Imagine Board; and Marcel and his staff.