The Future of Framework

A Letter from Our Board

A message from Framework,

to the social good sector

The Board of Directors and management team had an emergency meeting this past weekend and due to a number of unfortunate circumstances, we will not have the funding to complete our Timeraiser season.

Our slate of spring Timeraiser events have been postponed for the foreseeable future and we will be cancelling our Techraiser programming, including the Framework Fellowship.

More gut wrenching is that we also had to make the difficult decision to lay off our entire staff. As of June 1st 2016, we will be returning to our roots as a volunteer-led initiative.  

We are now working to support our colleagues – Alicia, Paul, Stephanie, Andi and Elena – during this transition. Over the past few years – and in particular the past few days – they have demonstrated so much resiliency and commitment to the mission of the organization and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.

We can’t express how challenging a decision this has been and how appreciative we are for the support provided by so many people across the country.

This is not the end of Framework. Our partners across the country have made it clear to us that they want Framework and both of its programs, Timeraiser and Techraiser, to continue. We are committed to making this happen.

We are proud that since its first event in Toronto on April 24th 2004, Timeraiser events in more than 17 cities have raised 167,225 volunteer hours for more than 600 nonprofit organizations and invested $1,056,951 in the careers of emerging artists. Through Techraiser, our technology for social change program, Framework has delivered over 250+ professional development opportunities. Framework has also completed invaluable research on the state of digital technology within Canada’s nonprofit sector, including over 500 website audits. We have delivered results worth celebrating, particularly during this time of transition.

Through the course of this week, we have been in contact with all major stakeholder groups and will continue to provide additional details as they become available. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to us directly at team@weareframework.org.

Sincerely,

Rob Cameron, Chair of the Board
Simon Foster, Co-Founder
Ryan Poissant
Julia McGillis
Anil Patel, Co-Founder

Context for recent events

Over our thirteen-year history, Framework has consistently engaged in deliberate scenario planning exercises. Our most recent, in 2012, included concentrating the timing of our Timeraiser events to generate greater national awareness and impact. We created a micro website that summarized our options, documented the pros and cons, the risks and opportunities. We hosted online and in-person stakeholder sessions to collect feedback from our partners, volunteers and colleagues. At the conclusion of the exercise, there was consensus that aligning the timing of Timeraisers across Canada would be a good strategic move while we fine-tuned our programming offering and delivery model.

What We Planned For and Anticipated

With a four-year planning window, Framework could – in a timely and orderly fashion – realign our programming to respond to a changing funding landscape, and the emergence of a new, and growing, second programming stream. This realignment would focus on finding the right size for the Timeraiser program. It would give planning committees in every city more autonomy to run the events. We would shift largely to a “Do it Yourself” or TEDx style model. At that time, there were 6 cities running yearly events, all on their own. This social enterprise franchising model would allow us to continue to grow the Timeraiser program and pave the way for it to also become self-sustaining. Additionally, in the summer of 2015 we rebranded  Timeraiser+ Technology for Social Change program as Techraiser, and began to develop the Framework Fellowship initiative. Through group workshops and personalized online learning, Framework was ready to deliver world-class digital literacy materials. Scheduled for a May 2016 launch, the Framework Fellowship had fellows and mentors lined up for a 12 month directed learning journey.

What Actually Happened

There are two major internal factors, and one major external factor that we can, at the moment, identify as the root cause for our funding shortfall. These are:

For the past three years we worked hard to align our Timeraiser events to the Spring season rather than Fall. From a programming perspective, we were aligning with National Volunteer Week and targeting a time where many nonprofits have more time to onboard volunteers. However, we underestimated the cash flow challenges moving these events would present to the organization.

Externally, Canada’s fundraising landscape continues to be challenging, particularly in parts of the country where we have typically have done well in the past. In fact, as we’ve been reaching out to many of our nonprofit colleagues over the past week, we are hearing how precarious the financial situation is for their organizations. This is not a new story. The economic signals have been visible for a while. In 2016, funders are receiving more requests than ever.

The combination of these factors created an untenable situation for Framework and has led to this unfortunate outcome.

Questions & Some Answers

Framework

Questions about the organization’s future

Why is Framework is cancelling its programming and laying off its staff?

Due to a number of unfortunate circumstances, we do not have the funding to continue operating the organization.

What is happening to the Timeraiser and Techraiser programs?

The Timeraiser events are postponed indefinitely. The Techraiser programming, including the Framework Fellowship, is cancelled. The next six weeks will be spent wrapping up our operations.
The  Board of Directors envisions that Framework will transition to a volunteer-run organization in the future. We continue to believe that the work of supporting artists, connecting volunteers with meaningful opportunities, and raising the digital literacy of the nonprofit sector is valuable work, and are proud of the contributions we’ve made to the sector over the last 13 years.

What does “transitioning to a volunteer-run organization” mean?

Framework, as a nonprofit organization entity, will continue to exist but without any of the existing staff members. Some members of the board will continue on in their current roles.
We hope that Framework’s infrastructure, tools, resources and documentation will eventually be made available for use by the sector. This could include running DIY Timeraiser events or community led Take Back Your Tech initiatives.

Timeraiser

Questions about the Timeraiser program

I’ve completed my volunteer pledge, and was supposed pick up my art. What happens now?

We’ll be making arrangements to get your artwork to you, and will be in touch soon with more details.

I’ve already shipped you my art for an event in in 2016. Will I get it back? What about the shipping costs?

We will ensure that your artwork is shipped back to you, and we will cover the costs of shipping the artwork back to you. Our incredible volunteer team has stood by us and will be handling the logistics within your community.

Techraiser

Questions about the Techraiser program.

What is happening with the Framework Fellowship?

Along with our other programming, it has been cancelled. We hope to make the resources available online, but are still exploring possibilities.