By Taylor Barrie
The Calgary Foundation’s work is focused on strengthening the philanthropic sector, and recently the Foundation’s work in the area of social enterprise determined that nonprofit and for-profit companies are coming together to achieve a connection between social and economic growth.
An initial report, Money and Mission, commissioned in 2009 by The Calgary Foundation, the United Way of Calgary and Area, and The City of Calgary revealed that Calgary has a strong appetite for innovation and growth in the area of social enterprise.
In March 2011, in partnership with Social Venture Partners Calgary (SVP), the Foundation completed a comprehensive 10-month pilot project, detailed in the recently published Accelerating Social Enterprise Growth in Calgary.
The six-month pilot project provided business expertise to two selected nonprofits to prove out their social enterprises in the marketplace and link them to new sources of social investment. The two organizations selected were: Hull Child and Family Services, with their new Hull Psychological Services program to reduce adolescent drug abuse, and Women in Need Society with their sales of collectible items culled from their thrift store donations.
The key learnings from the pilot component of the project were:
- There are investors in Calgary outside of the traditional granting stream who are receptive to social enterprise opportunities
- Nonprofits demonstrated demand for an initiative to accelerate social enterprise
- The benefits of social enterprise go beyond diversifying the revenue base for nonprofits. Benefits include mission fulfillment, staff retention, internal capacity building, operational efficiencies, and leveraging of grant-funded programs against the marketplace
The full Accelerating Social Enterprise report is available online here.
Taylor Barrie is Communications Assistant with The Calgary Foundation