Food Banks Canada

Food Banks Canada is the national body that plays a leadership role with its 450 affiliated nonprofit food banks across the country and 10 provincial associations. Its corporate vision is to relieve hunger in Canada every day by raising food and funds to share with food banks nationally, delivering program and services to Canadian food banks, and influencing public policy to create longer term solutions. To help them convey this message they adopted the slogan “a Canada where no one goes hungry.” This slogan provides guidance that underpins the vision for specific change initiatives that do the following: promote increased food donations from national and regional organizations (e.g., supermarkets, food producers); advance coordination and cooperation among local food banks and the provincial bodies; enhance press and community awareness of food bank initiatives and hunger issues; build support in the corporate community; and influence relevant governmental organizations and departments on matters related to hunger and food security. These initiatives grew out of restructuring and revitalization initiatives by the food bank community around 2006. At that time the new CEO and other staff members were recruited, the board and its governance processes were restructured, branding activities for the national organization were undertaken, and the approaches to advocacy and outreach were revitalized. As the result of these initiatives, Food Banks Canada has improved its reputation with government, national private sector organizations (e.g., grocery chains and food manufacturers), and affiliated local food banks as a credible and respected national voice on hunger issues, and an effective deliverer of related services. Donations (food, money, and related services such as trucking) are significantly stronger now. Awareness levels related to domestic hunger have also increased. The release of their data-rich annual publication, Hunger Counts, now generates significant media attention and commentary by the sorts of individuals who can make a difference.

Lipton provides a pragmatic view of what makes for an effective vision statement. He argues that it needs to convey three key messages: (a) the mission or purpose of the organization, (b) the strategy for achieving the mission, and (c) the elements of the organizational culture that seem necessary to achieving the mission and supporting the strategy.86 He believes a vision will be more likely to fail when the following occurs:

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Actions of senior managers are incongruent with the vision. They fail to “walk the talk.” It ignores the needs of those who will be putting it into practice. Unrealistic expectations develop around it that can’t possibly be met. It is little more than limited strategies, lacking in a broader sense of what is possible. It lacks grounding in the reality of the present that can be reconciled. It is either too abstract or too concrete. It needs to stimulate and inspire, but there also needs to be the sense that it is achievable. It is not forged through an appropriately messy, iterative, creative process requiring a combination of “synthesis and imagination.” It lacks sufficient participation and involvement of others to build a consensus concerning its appropriateness. Its implementation lacks “a sense of urgency … and measurable milestones.”

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