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Epilepsy Ontario

A Governance Model that Encourages Collaboration Among Regional Agencies to Better Serve People Living with Seizure Disorders

Enhance efficiency of service delivery. Reduce duplication of effort. Eliminate donor confusion. Optimize opportunities for joint fundraising and advocacy.

These were all opportunities Epilepsy Ontario wanted to address by formulating a new multi-partner governance model with Endeavour’s assistance. This charitable organization, founded in 1956, has 16 affiliated, legally independent regional agencies across the province. Working with these partners, Epilepsy Ontario offers counselling and referrals for people living with seizure disorders, raises public awareness and drives policy change.

The Challenge

The ability of all of these organizations to carry out their mission depends upon effective partnering. By working together, they can pool scarce resources and minimize duplications to achieve a vision that would not be possible as independent entities.

The right governance structures and leadership practices can facilitate collaboration. At the same time, developing sustainable collaborations is challenging for many non-profits.

“Endeavour tackled a very difficult organizational design and governance assignment for us; the team’s research and facilitation helped us open new doors for discussion with our stakeholders.”

Our Approach

Endeavour addressed this dilemma with three key steps. First, the consulting team distributed a governance-focused survey to all 16 agencies to connect with and engage these stakeholders and to identify their issues and concerns.

Second, the Endeavour team organized a meeting with representatives of Epilepsy Ontario and the regional agencies for a face-to-face discussion of collaboration problems and opportunities. Third, the consultants conducted a cross-jurisdictional scan of governance strategies employed by other provincial epilepsy organizations as well as a respected national non-profit in the health sector in order to determine best practices.

Equipped with this research and observations, the Endeavour consulting team defined a working model with specific milestones and success metrics.

“The team’s stakeholder research was helpful in providing perspective and their facilitation of a provincial conversation was invaluable.”

The Outcome

Endeavour earned high praise from Epilepsy Ontario for opening the lines of communication with regional agencies. The consulting team’s research identified areas of inter-agency tension and provided a framework for productively addressing it.

This forward momentum led to the parties working together to acquire a Trillium grant to develop a shared information portal. Now operational, this online hub is supporting sharing of best practices and consistent external messaging for Epilepsy Ontario and its agency partners. Endeavour’s recommendations also led to a new common branding standard, which balances individuality and uniformity among these parties.

The new governance model also helped to solidify a provincial advocacy strategy, which is an important success for all of the partners. And possibly the most significant achievement is that Endeavour assisted in establishing a solid foundation for more collaborative initiatives in the future. These allies can now continue working together productively toward a shared mission of promoting independence and optimal quality of life for those living with seizure disorders.

“Endeavour developed a pathway for a future state and we are now pursuing this”

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