Archive for March 2012

Is #SocialEnterprise our future?

Today we benefited from the legal advice and wisdom of Michael Blatchford and Susan Manwaring on the legal implications of social enterprise in Canada for non-profits and charities.

The future for the triple bottom line seems bright. In British Columbia there is proposed legislation to create a new organizational hybrid called a Community Contribution Corporation or 3C. Similar to B Corps in the US, this type of entity allows us to start blurring the line between for and non-profits. Can an idealist also be an entrepreneur? Can environmental sustainability and social justice be compatible with profit driven activity? Increasingly the answer is a resounding YES. For existing Canadian charities the only concern is to safeguard your charitable registration status which Michael and Susan are so well equipped to advise on. If you missed it, order the recording at

#NativeAmericans talk Philanthropy Seattle NW RAN

This was an inspiring and informative event March 19 with 30 professionals from throughout the North West who met in Seattle Mar 19 to explore ideas on furthering philanthropy in their communities and organizations. We were hosted by the warm and wonderful Casey Family Programs.

It was also a good chance to highlight some native based funders.

The Potlatch Fund which is a 501C3 funded first nations in WA sent a representative.

Also, we met the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Funds which is one of the casino financed tribal charitable funds. The Muckleshoot Tribe’s Charity Fund and the Kalispel Charitable Fund are also in Washington.

For a great picture of First Nations funding groups in the broader community from Nisqually Tribe  click to this video of the Nisqually Tribe 2009 Charitable Donations which is also in WA.

Part of the North West region’s  Tribal funders is the Oregon based Siletz Tribal Charitable Fund

There are more such as Texas based National Relief Charities which is a public charity under IRS.

There will be more on this topic here in the near future.


Popular Change is a great example of a new #socialenterprise.

Dogwood Initiative is an environmental NGO focussed on advocacy that is best known for their No campaign against oil tankers on BC’s North Coast. As Dogwood is not a registered charity they must look to alternative funding models.

Popular Change has been started with a mission to provide communication campaign services to organizations.

It is particularly notable as an innovative model of social enterprise.

Heloise Nicholl who is the project manager of Popular Change plans to market their services into non-profit markets that can benefit from the affordable and targeted services they provide.

Philanthropy/Social Enterprise Mix Sheds Light on School Work in India

The Village Outreach Society is a Canada/UK small charity that has operated in India since 2005 and in Haiti for a year.

Their solar lantern distribution project is a good example of finding the right balance between offering a helping hand and getting ‘buy in’ from the recipients.

The reason a source of light is needed is due to  the unreliability of power supply especially in the evening in many Indian villages. Around the time, Indian school children would be doing their homework, the lights go out again.

Candles are a possibility but they have to be bought and can be a fire hazard. Solar lanterns are a great solution as they collect energy during the day to be used at night. Once purchased, they can be used for a long time. A great investment!

However, at $12.00, they could be beyond the reach of many villagers. However, if we give them away, there is the real possibility that they will be sold or even broken down for parts plus the expectation that the charity will supply another one.

The Village Outreach Society choses to subsidize the purchase of the lanterns instead of giving them away outright. They pay $3.00 for every $12.00 lantern bought in their adopted villages. The lanterns are now 25% more affordable and the family has made a significant investment.


Happy #socialenterprise Day in Vancouver!

Congratulations to ENP for getting this approved.

MaRS uses a model which is a good starting place if you are thinking about which organizational structure is best for you.

In the non-profit space the norm is charitable registration (Canada) or 501C3 (US). Traditional businesses have profit as the main if not only goal and for publicly traded corporations; legally the first obligation is gain for the shareholders.

For those who are comfortable in the trad. business space, opting for a non-profit status can seem an odd choice. Who does not want to make a profit? 🙂 It can seem the less confident, less professional option.

However, for those whose life’s work has been in the public sector, NGO, charity space, opting for a for-profit business model may seem rapacious.

Happily there are now several hybrid options available with possibly more emerging so that you now may be able to choose to keep your mission central to your organization while harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit to generate much needed revenue and in some cases find better alternate ways to solve social issues. This is now being referred to as the blended return.

The first organizational type is the non-profit (or charity). This type of organization is funded by philanthropy and grants. In practice many charities rely on some form of business to generate a portion of their annual revenue. From Girl Guide cookies to museum gift shops, there are scores of successful examples.

More on the other models in subsequent posts.