Forum › Forum › Questions for candidates / Questions pour les candidat·e·s › How will you ensure transparency and enable member participation at/in CIRA?
How will you ensure transparency and enable member participation at/in CIRA?Posted by Daniel on September 20, 2023 at 9:06 pm
Transparency and member participation are key to avoiding the types of conspiracy theories, rumours, and innuendo that are popular around governance and politics these days. How will you avoid feeding these harmful tropes, and ensure transparency, accountability, and member participation at/in CIRA?
MemberSeptember 22, 2023 at 4:54 am
Any organization should have a stakeholder engagement plan that outlines strategies for communicating with and getting input from its members in addition to other important groups including government, partners, communities, and indigenous people. I would encourage the exploration of innovative ways to increase CIRA membership engagement, from a diverse cross-section of member profiles. To increase transparency I would look at ways for communicating how decisions are made, how plans are developed and how member feedback is used to inform decisions.
MemberSeptember 23, 2023 at 3:22 pm
Stakeholder engagement is key. However how do you do it when CIRA frustrates members talking to each other by creating barriers and even acting illegally, to getting lists of members? For example, the $500 fee to get that list – positioned as cost recovery while being offered as a charitable donation – shows it has nothing to do with cost recovery. BTW, I offered CIRA that I would give $500 to United Way, show them the tax receipt, if they would give me the list of members. Win Win. Schtum!
Frankly CIRA does not want stakeholder engagement as we, the members, would get the pitchforks out and storm the barricades.
MemberSeptember 23, 2023 at 7:13 pm
This is a great question, Daniel and thanks for raising it, as it is a critical matter that certainly resonates with many and is only gaining in importance (as we see around the world, including Canada). The importance of fostering genuine transparency and member participation cannot be overemphasized, especially in an era where the truth often finds itself at odds with speculation. I do like the ability to engage in a forum like this to see and absorb other responses to the questions.
Shaheen, I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment on having a comprehensive stakeholder engagement plan. It’s vital for CIRA to establish a roadmap that is inclusive of not just its members but also its myriad other stakeholders, such as government entities, indigenous communities, and partners. It is my belief that a transparent organization doesn’t merely communicate its actions but the rationale and considerations behind them.
Addressing Alex’s concerns, it’s evident there’s a gap between CIRA’s practices and members’ expectations, especially regarding member-to-member communication. The concerns raised about the barriers, perceived or real, to accessing member lists underscores the very challenge we face. The juxtaposition of a fee as both cost recovery and a charitable opportunity certainly muddies the waters. If transparency and engagement are our true north, then such practices require re-evaluation. We must ensure that processes are transparent, fair, and in genuine service to member engagement, not to inhibit it.
I have been on a journey over my lifetime from when engagement meant an organization tells folks what is going to happen, writes down the comments, and then does what they were going to do anyway to today when many (indeed maybe not even the majority) of organizations truly want to engage. Engagement isn’t just about listening; it’s about fostering an environment where dialogue is free-flowing and feedback, even when critical, is not just accepted but actively sought. If there’s a perception, as Alex noted, that stakeholder engagement is unwelcome because of potential dissent or pushback, then that’s a culture issue we need to address head-on. This does add complexity, and it has to be balanced with continuing to progress, as no decision or action will satisfy everyone.
To stop my stream of consciousness and to get back to Daniel’s original query, my commitment is straightforward: I intend to champion an era of open dialogue. I aim to promote a culture where decisions are transparent, members feel valued, and every voice, whether in agreement or dissent, is heard and respected. If there’s a lingering sentiment of mistrust or disconnect, it’s a call to action for us to bridge that gap, not widen it.
MemberSeptember 23, 2023 at 10:44 pm
Thank Wade (and Shaheen), I’ve appreciated your participation and comments here and on other questions.
I did want to make one comment, and that is that I am not sure that Alex’s desire for a free-for-all with membership lists is a request or concern shared by all members. For myself, I would rather not have any .ca holder able to spam me, simply by asking for the list and getting my information from CIRA.
That said, I do believe there is a need for forum(s) where members who want to talk to other members can find each other and discuss CIRA and other pertinent matters.
Your stream-of-consciousness thoughts were bang on, IMO.
The hard part for me, and, based on the survey results, 60% of members, is finding meaningful ways to engage. Part of the challenge, or course, is that .CA registrants have .CA domains for reasons other than being involved in CIRA, and most don’t become members because they view themselves more as indirect customers (through their registrar) than participants in management of the CIRA domain.
Even those of us who do become CIRA members (or least me) often find ourselves at a loss for how we can be relevant. It seems to me ridiculous to have a non-profit membership that has no purpose, in seeming practice, other than to elect a board and attend the annual meeting.
That’s not a CIRA-specific problem though, it is a problem for many non-profits, especially those where members are not also involved in the non-profit’s operations (i.e. excepting those where members are those who volunteer for a non-profit and/or who are supported by the non-profit).
Perhaps at issue is that term ‘member’ raises expectations (at least in this day and age) of more involvement than has/is typically the case, but that is never what was anticipated by the various non-profit’s acts and legislation and represents a change in thinking that many (most?) non-profits have not yet recognized or changed to accommodate.
In any event, I think it is great to talk about increasing engagement, but I’d like to know what ideas members and nominees mean by that, and what concrete opportunities to engage that represents.
It could even be part of the task is to inform prospective members what membership means, but also what it doesn’t. Why members exist (aside from needing votes to continue existing under legislation) and the legal philosophy behind the construction of non-profit entities in laws as they now exist might be of interest as well.
Anyway, as you can see from my own stream-of-conciousness, this is a work in progress for me, and I think for many non-profit members, and more relevantly, here with CIRA.
I don’t know if that gives you any ideas, or food for thought on engagement, but I hope it helps.
MemberSeptember 26, 2023 at 11:36 pm
While we all wax eloquent about member engagement, as we are all fellow members, how are we to do it without a member list? Too much angst about spam without an agreement as to what that means in law and in practice. Too many people set their hair on fire, too quickly. When you become a member in a NFP Corporation you agree, implicitly, to have a conversation with other members.
So what is the grief? What is the evil? Getting a few emails from a fellow member, in good faith, for due consideration, or have CIRA operate with no oversight? No challenge?
Every successful business must have a conversation between and among stakeholders and its owners. and a conversation is dialogue and not one way.
MemberSeptember 27, 2023 at 1:27 am
My experience, aside from CIRA is with local NFP’s. In that case member lists are not (to my knowledge) available simply for the asking by a member. In fact, for one of the NFP’s I would hope they would fight tooth and nail such a request as a violation of privacy for the portion of the membership who are vulnerable persons who are receiving service from the organization.
I am not convinced giving out membership lists to any member who asks is a norm among NFP’s and I’d like to know what research and information you have on that question. It would also be instructive to look at other national not-for-profits to see what their membership engagement looks like, (or does not look like).
Having members being able to communicate with each other and find other like-minded members is a laudable goal, but I don’t think giving out membership lists is the way to achieve it.
Having the opportunity/invitation to communicate in a third-party forum would be of interest. If it looked to be properly moderated and not a flame-war or rumour-fest dungeon, I’d go for it.
What I don’t want is commercial spam, or someone emailing me with nonsense and/or baseless accusations and innuendo. For that matter I’d prefer not to have the option of doing that myself, as if I ever had a relapse (for example due to having to have some surgery which required me to stop taking my medication for mental illness for long period of time), there is the potential I could end up in a state where I believed it was imperative I inform the membership of what I truly believed was happening, when in fact it was the result of delusions I was experiencing due to mental illness. I’d rather not have that easy a means of ruining my own reputation, and angering a lot of people, not to mention impugning the reputation of CIRA in the process.
In short, there are good reasons NFPs, and other organizations are structured when it comes organization-wide communications, and I for one think that the balance is usually reasonable.
Would I welcome proper forums and virtual meet-and-greets for those of who do not live in large centres to be able to network with other members, and feel more than tangentially connected to CIRA? I sure would. That, for me, doesn’t include having my name and contact information given out willy-nilly for anyone (or even ‘only’ any member) who asks.
- This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by Daniel. Reason: Wrong word in sentence; NFP's instead of CIRA
MemberSeptember 27, 2023 at 12:17 pm
While I understand that providing the member list to other members is required in Canadian law, I would side with @dfd here and err on the side of privacy.
We need more member and stakeholder participation, but it needs to be in a form that members have to opt-in to being part of the discussions. We should not assume that everyone is necessarily open to this and also respect members’ time.
Log in to reply.