150 Profiles: Grant MacDonald

As we mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, The Philanthropist is profiling Canadians from across the non-profit sector and putting a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector.

Name: Grant MacDonald

Current role in the sector: Former university professor, now blogger on nonprofit governance for Governing Good and volunteer coach and advisor to nonprofits.

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: Thirty years.

Grant MacDonald photo

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
My first job in the sector was a summer job, between university terms, as the only employee of a four day community festival called Loyalist Days in Saint John, New Brunswick. This involved supporting a volunteer board and numerous committees, organizing a variety of events including a parade, as well as dressing up in 18th century costume. Several years later I did a management study for the Festival for my MPA project. This was the hook for my continuing interest in the organizational side of non-profit work.

Describe your desk/workspace.
My work space is a corner desk at home and sometimes the floor around it. The space can be messy at times. I am still reliant on writing pads and a file cabinet. My cell phone calendar helps keep me organized even if the visual clutter says otherwise.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
My current interest is the public policy role of non-profit boards and executive director teams. The generative functions of governing groups, as identified by Chait, Ryan and Taylor in their writing on boards relates to this, especially the role of stakeholders, continues to engage me. My more activist tendencies have been stimulated lately too by David Karpf’s work on digital listening and political advocacy.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
One might be the role of volunteer boards as occasional convenors of sector conversations in their community not just decision-makers for their own organizations. Boards need to look outwards on occasion to cultivate an understanding of the broader context in which their organization functions.

Do you know someone we should profile as part of this series? Email us at philanthropistprofiles@gmail.com


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