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The Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) is a registered charity formed in 1978. Its membership is comprised of more than 220 community-based immigrant and refugee serving organizations across Ontario. OCASI acts as a collective voice and facilitates information sharing and capacity development for member organizations. Click here to learn more about OCASI’s mission, principles and objectives
Background of OCASI OrgWise Organizational Standards Initiative:
The OCASI OrgWise Organizational Standards Project (otherwise known as the Organizational Standards Initiative - OSI) began in 2007 as a response to a long-standing call from the OCASI membership to develop standards, build capacity, and further professionalize the immigrant and refugee -serving sector in Ontario.
In 2008, guided by an Advisory Committee and a Framework of Guiding Principles OCASI conducted extensive consultations across the sector with member agencies, and leading organizational development experts to get input and direction in the development and implementation of standards and an organization self-assessment tool.
The consultation’s report provided a summary of findings and outlined key organizational development need and priorities, recommended next steps, and a shared vision for the immigrant and refugee-serving sector in Ontario. The report also highlighted a need for sector-specific standards that address the unique needs, conditions, and values of the sector. All of which informed the development and implementation of the OrgWise Organizational Standards Assessment Tool .Click here to read the full Consultation Report
OrgWise is centred on a set of Voluntary Standards in four principal areas in which agencies can identify and measure their organizational strengths and opportunities for growth. There are 190 Indicators grouped into the four areas which include: A community-Based Approach (46); Governance & Strategic Leadership (58); Operations (43) and Human Resources (43). Organizations are encouraged to use the Standards and indicators to assess and understand their own systems and programs operations in order to strengthen their services delivered to their client.
Although there are a number of standards programs and assessment tools for non-profit organizations, OCASI member agencies identified a need for sector-specific standards that address the unique needs, conditions, and values of the immigrant and refugee serving sector. In response to that need OCASI OrgWise – Organizational Standards self-assessment tool was developed.
The overarching goal for immigrant and refugee-serving agencies is to meet the complex settlement needs of newcomers by providing high quality, relevant and effective services. But there are a number of external pressures and trends that impact community-based immigrant and refugee serving organizations which challenges them to be strategic about how they move into the future. Challenges such as changing immigration and socio-economic policies as well as shifting demographics have resulted in more complex and multifaceted needs. This coupled with limited funds available for infrastructure and capacity development creates added challenges for organizations.
As a multipronged approach to organizational capacity development OrgWise is a timely and strategic tool designed with a shared vision for the immigrant and refugee-serving sector. Moreover, OrgWise helps sector leaders to articulate and assert the sector’s value, importance and credibility. This voluntary effort by the sector demonstrates a commitment to accountability and to the delivery of high quality services for immigrants and refugees.
In these changing times benchmarking best practice and capacity building is paramount to organization’s sustainability in the immigrant and refugee- serving sector. Organizations are able to see a clearer picture of their capacity building priorities, which would enable them to strategically map, align and structure capacity building in their organizations. Also the standard matters as it:
The first step in meeting the Standards is for agencies to complete their OrgWise organization self-assessment in order to identify strengths and uncover gaps.
Generate and review the results of your organization self-assessment Identify the areas in your assessment that are below standards or need improvement
Create a work plan that reflects your organizations top priorities that you would like to address first or in terms of urgency.
Use the online hub of resources to draw on policies, templates, webinar sessions, best practices, guides and manuals to assist in implementing your organizations work plan
You can request a mentor to mentor you in specific areas that was identified in your assessment. This all depends on your interest OCASI
OrgWise use a multi-pronged approach to infrastructure and capacity building that allows you to connect with the online hub of accessible resources and training, share and learn from peers, exchange best practices and download sample templates and manuals. The objective of meeting the standards is to work through the areas in your assessment where your agency shows needs improvement or below standards - pull from the compliment of available OrgWise resources to help you through the process. This all depends on your needs and what you believe is a pressing priority for your organization. Remember to set constructive and achievable time lines for accomplishing your goals in order to meet the standards. We encourage organizations to complete a second assessment after one year of completing their first OrgWise assessment. This will enable organizations to compare the first and second assessment to analyze whether the compliment of resources utilized has helped their organization meet the standards.
OrgWise Organizational Self- Assessment Voluntary Standards are linked to resources and capacity building opportunities, such as training, organization mentorship, online engagement and peer support to further develop organizational systems. Agencies are encouraged to draw on these resources at any interval throughout the self-assessment process.
Signing up for an OrgWise account and completing 100% of your assessment will provide you with the following resources, tools, and support:
This tool was developed by OCASI, guided by an Advisory Committee, and funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Citizenship & Immigration Canada.
Click here for a list of organizations that have shown leadership through the contribution of resources and participation in the pilot testing of OrgWise.
We wish to thank OCASI member agencies for providing support, feedback and insight into the development of the standards and this tool.