CHAMBER WEEK: Growth of Langley non-profits ties to vitality of businesses

In November, the chamber hosted an information session for non-profits, to explain changes to the societies act. - Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce photo
In November, the chamber hosted an information session for non-profits, to explain changes to the societies act.
— image credit: Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce photo

Strength of a community is tied to the vitality and success of not only its local businesses, but the prosperity of its individuals and the support of its non-profit sector.

Such is the case in Langley. And recognizing that and making sure charitable organizations and agencies are well supported and thriving, helps ensure the vibrancy of the whole community, said Vivian Smith, the executive director of the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation, and a director for the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce (GLCC) who chairs the chamber’s non-profit committee.

In efforts to continue building and maintaining such a vibrant community, Smith feels the integration of non-profits in the chamber is imperative.

“Such a community has strong local government, good infrastructure, and a thriving social sector – that is non-profits that serve the social needs of citizens, workers and visitors,” Smith said, pointing to groups working for social justice, a clean environment, youth activities, health services, crisis support, and elder care, as a few examples.


CAPTION: Vivian Smith is executive director of the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation, a chamber director, and chair of the chamber’s non-profit committee.

“By embedding themselves in a chamber of commerce, non-profits have the opportunity to be a part of the development of these whole communities. They become true partners with both the private and the public sectors,” she added.

And Smith applauds the chamber’s efforts through the years to incorporate the involvement of other non-profits (the chamber, itself, a non-profit) in the fibre of the chamber.

In particular, she said, several efforts are currently afoot to not only recognize, but to help grow, this segment of the chamber membership – non-profits accounting for almost 10 per cent of the existing chamber membership.

“There are aspects to a non-profit that are not found in private businesses: volunteerism, governance, Canada Revenue Agency filings and legislation and federal and provincial laws, to name a few.” Knowing this, the Langley chamber has set out to provide a series of educational workshops to assist local non-profits, Smith elaborated.

In November, for instance, the chamber held a workshop to explain the provincial government’s new societies act and how that translates locally.

“The GLCC’s role has been to provide timely and accurate information on how to transition from the old version of the act. Without the correct transition, non-profits risk losing their society status,” Smith said.

“At the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation, we used these sessions to help us, first of all, understand how the new act would affect us, and secondly, schedule the transition process through a series of board meetings in the first half of 2017, culminating in final transition by our AGM in June. An added bonus has been the opportunity to meet others who are facing the same transition challenges, and establish networks of support…”

As well, the chamber is looking to host a series of other educational forums specific to non-profits this year, including ones delving into grant writing, non-profit governance, and the BC Gaming Commission.

Chamber executive director Colleen Clark anticipates there will be at least four educational sessions a year designed for Langley’s non-profits.

Bottom line, said Smith, a strong community helps non-profits drive change through volunteerism, charitable giving, and frontline services. Being involved with the chamber, and helping ensure the community is thriving, helps ensure the strength and longevity of its non-profits. It’s a win-win situation, she concluded.

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