Organization demonstrates accountability and responsibilityThe Students' Association of Mount Royal University (SAMRU) is now among a select group of Canadian non-profit organizations accredited under Imagine Canada's national Standards Program. With this achievement, SAMRU joins a growing community of 150 organizations dedicated to operational excellence.

The Standards Program is a Canada-wide set of shared standards for charities and nonprofits designed to strengthen practices in five fundamental areas: board governance; financial accountability and transparency; fundraising; staff management; and volunteer involvement.

"It's no small feat for an organization to earn Standards Program accreditation," said Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of Imagine Canada.

SAMRU Imagine Canada

Marcy Fogal, executive director of the Students' Association.

- Photo courtesy of SAMRU

"It's a rigorous, peer-reviewed process that is meant to build public trust and confidence in the charitable sector. These organizations take accountability and operational transparency very seriously. We're glad to have them on board."

SAMRU has long been dedicated to continuous improvement, transparent and accountable governance, consistent and effective management, principled representation, successful operations, and relevant, meaningful services. The accreditation process has allowed SAMRU to review its practices and adjust them to meet externally verified standards of excellence.

Imagine Canada provided an objective and well-researched list of factors that combine to describe what success looks like for a non-profit, and the standards served as a good list of goals for Students' Council and SAMRU management.

"The standards were like a treasure map with the 'X' marking organizational excellence," said Marcy Fogal, executive director of the Students' Association.

"Working through the accreditation process tested SAMRU's commitment to demonstrating credibility, and SAMRU passed. Our efforts have been objectively and thoroughly reviewed and demonstrate excellence in all 73 governance and operational standards. Accreditation acknowledges that all our hard work over the years has yielded important results for our members and other stakeholders."

SAMRU had already been meeting a number of standards for a decade or more, including things like having a code of ethics or an annual independent audit, a mission, and a strategic plan, said Fogal.

"Other standards - such as a developing a thorough risk assessment and mitigation matrix - were more difficult. We had to do some work to get things in place: the main one was a whistle-blower policy, so that anyone can tell Council about unethical or illegal behavior of any of its key personnel."

One of 17 accredited non-profit organizations operating in Alberta and the only students' association of the bunch, over 150 charitable and non-profit organizations across the country hold Imagine Canada's accreditation status.

"SAMRU has always strived to maintain its integrity and its reputation by holding itself to high standards. Accreditation demonstrates to all our stakeholders that we're doing things right, especially in the areas of fiduciary governance and operations management, and assures our varied audiences that SAMRU continues to demonstrate credibility as an organization," said Fogal.

"With this assurance, Students' Council is now freed to engage in far more interesting and meaningful processes designed to help make sure SAMRU fulfills our vision," she said.

"We have a truly inspiring vision of being the place where students discover themselves, build meaningful relationships and - my favourite part - where students make a difference in the world."

Pleased with the outcome, Matt Schapansky, speaker of SAMRU's Governing Board said, "I am proud of SAMRU's staff, the Board, and the Representation Executive Committee for all their hard work in getting SAMRU accredited by Imagine Canada. I think it is a commendable achievement."