Regina Sexual Assault Centre: Lisa Miller
THE IMPACT OF A NON-PROFIT
The Corner Office CFO Blog | Regina SK
Welcome to The Corner Office CFO’s blog. The Corner Office is a Contract CFO company based in Regina SK. We work with businesses of all types and sizes, and love getting to work alongside incredible leaders and change-makers. This blog aims to highlight some of those people and organizations, so we hope you enjoy getting to know them!
Lisa Miller is the Executive Director of the Regina Sexual Assault Centre. With her deep passion for helping adults and children with trauma, she is attempting to create better awareness and prevention around sexual violence to lower the number of incidents by getting to the root of the issue. As a non-profit, her organization strives for meaningful impact instead of profits, which comes with many challenges, as well as rewards.
Tell us a bit about the Regina Sexual Assault Centre
“The Regina Sexual Assault Centre has been around for over 40 years.
It's a charitable non-profit that provides crisis short-term and long-term counselling for individuals that have experienced intimate partner and sexual violence. We also do a lot of work around education and awareness, as well as projects with government, police, and lawyers to continually increase knowledge around sexual violence and best practice response.”
What is the Centre’s mission?
“Our mission is twofold really. Our primary goal is to support individuals that have experienced sexual violence. It's a unique crime from others in that there is so much personal responsibility placed, wrongly, on the victim, and that shows through in how we talk about it and through the court process. So that is our number one aim. Our second mission is around education and awareness because we need to start decreasing incidents of sexual violence."
"We need to get to the root of the issue.”
What types of programs and initiatives do you have in place, and what have been the results or impact?
“We are involved in a number of projects and programs--it's a lengthy list. First is our counselling, so three of our staff members are counselors here. We have a Children's Education Program that is quite successful. Its aim is to increase children's knowledge around bodily autonomy, who they can talk to if they are uncomfortable or if someone is hurting them. And we also are working with the Regina Police Service on a Police File Review Project, which has our agency coming in and reviewing any sexual assault files where there were no charges laid in order to assist the police with identifying ways to improve response to people who report sexual violence. We also do quite a number of presentations to RCMP, lawyers, within schools, and places like that.”
Results and impact of these programs:
“Through counselling, we see our clients move from a place of experiencing a lot of negative emotions around trauma, to making a lot of progress and being able to be discharged from counselling in a much more positive place.”
Specific outcomes can be hard to measure because each person is impacted by and experiences the violence in a different way, but when we see people express they are more settled, or have returned to work, or are in a healthy relationship, we know we're making a difference.
“In terms of the children’s education and awareness program, the numbers speak for themselves."
"When we started out we presented to about 1000 kids, and last year it was up to over 5000. So we know that schools are finding this program valuable, and that it’s having a positive impact.
How many people do you assist every year?
“For direct 1 on 1 counselling we assist approximately 400 people a year. We provided 1500 hours of clinical counselling last year between 3 counselors. We also answered over 330 phone calls to our crisis line, so that is usually other individuals that we are not aware are actually receiving counselling services.”
Do you have partnerships with other organizations with similar values? What effect do relationships like that have on the work that you do and the reach of your impact?
“The partnerships that we have with other organizations are typically more informal but we do work with organizations that are doing the same type of gender based violence work, as well as individuals and organizations that work with youth."
"I think that wherever possible, having a collaborative approach to problems is very effective. Every organization has their own set of experiences with an issue, depending on the type of work that they do, and when you bring all of those perspectives together you get a more effective end result.”
How did you personally get involved in Regina Sexual Assault Centre?
“I worked for 10 years for the Regina Police Service as a civilian, working in their child abuse investigation unit. Child abuse has always been something that I have been passionate about addressing, and I think it’s something that we still need to do a lot more work on because we don't do enough talking about prevention."
"When we're talking about homelessness, or the opioid crisis and the rates of addiction, we always fail to talk about what the root cause is, and it's typically childhood trauma; either abuse, or they've grown up in a house where there was a lot of domestic violence, that sort of thing.”
“So, when I became aware of the Regina Sexual Assault Centre's children's program. I was very interested in that because it's a prevention piece. So I applied, got the job, and within three years the Director position opened up and I just saw that as an opportunity to have a hand in expanding the organization's impact.”
Being the Executive Director, what are the biggest struggles and highlights for you?
“I think for most non-profits, the challenge is very similar, which is that we often don't have big budgets."
So we're looking for ways that we can maximize the revenue that we have for the greatest impact in the community.
There's always more work than there are hours in the day, so it is a challenge trying to pick and choose what we focus on and what will have the most impact.”
“As for highlights, there's nothing that makes me happier than seeing clients being discharged from counselling and being in such a good place. That really is the reason why I come to work every day, to see those changes in people because of what we do.”
“Things like the police file review, and the children’s program are real highlights for me as well because we know awareness and prevention are key, and that systemic responses to sexual violence need to improve. I'm delighted that we have a police service that is open and willing to have us come in and help them improve, as well as teachers and principals that believe in our cause. There are so many highlights, but that's a couple of them.”
How long has Regina Sexual Assault Centre been working with The Corner Office?
“We've been working with The Corner Office for close to two years now. They provide all our accounting assistance, as well as provide our financial statements and budget variances for our Board every month. They also prepare our year end so that it can be sent over to the auditors.”
“The board’s package includes the financial statements and a summary of our financial performance against the budget. The financial statements are consistently accurate and put together in a format that the Board finds very useful and easy to understand.”
Do you consider The Corner Office to be like a true partner working with you?
“Yes, I do. I rely on our Corner Office CFO’s expertise and knowledge to help guide decisions that we make. Having them to inform our board of the financial health of the organization is also critical for our growth.”
Photos from https://www.instagram.com/rsacsupport/
How does The Corner Office help you manage spending within your budget?
“They've been a big help in creating realistic budgets. When it comes budget time they help us really think through and develop thorough budgets in a way that look realistic for us, and meet our priorities within our expected revenue."
"Plus, they're always willing to be there to answer questions about allocation of revenue if things need to be adjusted mid-year--because we all know just because you have a perfect plan, there can be unexpected things along the way, and they make sure we’re able to adapt if needed.”
How has your Centre changed since working with The Corner Office?
"That's an easy one! They have streamlined our systems and processes."
"The consistency in which invoices are entered, and how revenue is shown and the financial reports that we receive is much greater since we brought The Corner Office in. They've been very good working with us to ensure that our statements are in a format that makes sense and is practical and truly usable information so our board can make the best decisions possible. Especially with volunteer boards, the individuals mostly don’t have financial backgrounds or accounting knowledge, so The Corner Office has been excellent in making the data easy to understand.
What advice would you give to other non-profits, or individuals within them?
"I would say that working for a non-profit has probably been the most wonderful thing I've ever done."
"You definitely don't work at a non-profit to get rich, you have to do it for the intrinsic reasons."
But smaller non-profits are often so flexible, and they can adapt to the nuances in a community that bigger organizations or systems can't. So that has been so freeing, and we're able to meet our clients' needs in a very personal way. I think that is a real joy, and I feel everyone should do a little bit of work in a non-profit to really understand what's happening on the ground, because that informs so much else: Government policy and priorities, law, everything."
If you’ve been inspired by Lisa’s story, and would like to find out more about them or how you can help their cause, you should visit their website, www.reginasexualassaultcentre.ca/
Achieving the goals of a non-profit can feel daunting, complex, and maybe even impossible sometimes. The Corner Office acts as a true partner, helping you achieve your goals along your journey to organizational growth.