2016 – Looking back, Looking Forward

2016 was resource rich for SiG. As we approach a new year, we thought we’d compile a short list for you to ease the burden on your digital bookmarks. 

– In 2016, we published three reports!

– We orchestrated a Canadian tour for Carolyn Curtis and Ingrid Burkett of the Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI). Along with SiG colleague, Geraldine Cahill they visited Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Toronto. You can read about the tour and download some TACSI resources here. 

– As part of the TACSI Tour, we co-hosted a public event with MaRS Solutions Lab and the Centre for Social Innovation titled: “The culture, passion and how of social innovation”.

The Culture, Passion and How of Social Innovation from Social Innovation Generation on Vimeo.

– Vinod Rajasekaran came on board as a SiG Fellow to work on Social R&D. He has since authored “Getting to Moonshot” and co-authored “How Can Integrated Innovation Advance Well-being and Inclusive Growth?”

Earlier this year Vinod lead a learning tour for a Canadian Delegation to Silicon Valley with Community Foundations Canada (CFC). Participants visited Singularity University, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Y Combinator, IDEO, and more!

- ABSI Connect celebrated its first anniversary! SiG acts as administrator, champion and advisor for the ABSI Connect program in Alberta. We are honoured to play a small role in this inspiring program. Read their report: The Future of Social Innovation Alberta 2016.

– As the Federal Government extended invitations to submit ideas on innovation and creativity in various ministries, SiG was ready with some policy recommendations. See the full submissions on our policy page and review SiG’s take on policy’s role in social innovation.

– In the waning summer days, we began to map the Social Innovation Ecosystem in Canada (last updated on November 2016). We heard from many of you about more and different organizations to include, so we are currently working on an open redesign model for this map. If you would like to be included, get in touch.

What was on our bookshelves this year?

The Silo Effect“, “Building the Future“, “Sharing Cities“, “The Rainforest“, “Linked“, “LEAP Dialogues, Networks“, “The Art of Leading Collectively“, “Learning to Die in the Anthropocene“, “Don’t Think of an Elephant!“, “Public Good by Private Means“, “The Practices of Global Ethics“, and “Uberworked and Underpaid“.

And what was on our desks?

 “Canada Next: Learning for Youth Leadership and Innovation”, “Push & Pull”, “Licence to Innovate: How government can reward risk”, “The Future of Social Innovation in Alberta”, “Shifting Perspective: Redesigning Regulations for the Sharing Economy”, “Where to Begin: How Social Innovation is emerging across Canadian Campuses”, “Discussion Paper – Charities, Sustainable Funding, and Smart Growth”, “Pilot Lessons: How to design a basic income pilot project for Ontario”, “Unpacking Impact: Exploring impact Measurement for Social Enterprises in Ontario”, “From Here to There in Five Bento Boxes”, “The Architecture of Innovation: Institutionalizing Innovation in Federal Policy Making”, and “Insights & Observations at the Intersection of Higher Education, Indigenous Communities and Local Economic Development”.

Who we’ll be watching in 2017?

ABSI Connect – this emerging fellowship we have been super proud to support continues to evolve. Read their latest blog.

Allyson Hewitt – this year Allyson has dedicated her time to exploring the creation of a pro bono marketplace in Canada. We are excited about where that will go. Want to get involved? Feel free to reach out to Allyson!

Canada – 2017 is a big year for the nation and an opportunity to think boldly about our future. Many efforts are underway to pursue the possibilities, and we are excited to see these projects come to life. In particular the 4Rs Youth Movement will be hosting regional and national gatherings from coast to coast to coast, engaging approximately 5,000 Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth in face-to-face dialogue that highlights the contributions of Indigenous peoples over the last 150 years and allows for authentic relationship building that furthers reconciliation.

Indigenous Innovation Summit  2017 will host the 3rd Indigenous Innovation Summit. As we celebrate our sesquicentennial we will also take the time to recognize and celebrate indigenous innovation.

Happy Holidays,

SiG Team

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Pro Bono in Canada

SiG Note: This article was originally published on the Toronto+Acumen blog.  It has been cross-posted with permission from the author. 

October 23-29 was Global Pro Bono Week! The week is a global campaign that celebrates the thousands of professionals who volunteer their skills and professional expertise to support non-profits all around the world. The global pro bono movement has long been ignited and attracts new international partners every year.

Source: http://www.probonoweek.org/

What exactly is Pro Bono?

As defined by the Taproot Foundation (a global expert in pro bono), pro bono is “using a volunteer’s core professional skills to provide free professional expertise to organizations serving the public good’.

Pro bono is a subset of skilled volunteering that gives non-profits access to business and legal skills and experience as needed, , such as developing and implementing new business strategies or improving organizational infrastructure.

For example, volunteering  one’s management consulting experience to increase donations for a food bank would be a pro bono service. Volunteering at a local food bank’s kitchen to collect or distribute food would be what the Taproot Foundation describes as hands-on volunteerism.

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Source: Taproot Foundation

What is being done around the world?

In 2015, there were 50 events hosted in 19 countries by 27 organizations during Global Pro Bono Week. Examples of events include seminars, information sessions, pro bono ‘speed dating’ and pro bono ‘marathons’ (similar in structure to tech hackathons).

Examples of events from this year’s Global Pro Bono Week include:

France – Intercompany Pro Bono Marathon, hosted by Pro Bono Lab

Pro Bono Lab organised a large Pro Bono Marathon, teaming employees from 10 companies to support 10 non-profit organisations with capacity building services (such as consultancy in finance, strategy, management, marketing, communication, law or web).

India – Online tools to Work smarter – get your answers now!

This session highlighted online tools that help non-profits optimize their time and resources. The session focused on free tools for project management –  tools that help create and capture data/reports and present them in a creative manner.

Canada – Canadian Pro Bono Tweet Up

On Monday, October 24th, there was a virtual discussion of pro bono giving in Canada with corporate and social profit leaders from across the country.

Check out more tweets from this national conversation here!

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Why should you get involved?

It is becoming abundantly clear that pro bono work benefits all involved. For professional service companies, there are endless reports depicting the value that pro bono opportunities have on attracting, retaining and engaging talented workforces (especially millennials), as well as enhancing brand and public relations. The following report details a strong business case for pro bono services, as well as case studies). Moreover:

 

Pro bono can also be immensely useful for developing  business innovations. Innovation has been described as “the application of knowledge in a novel way”. As pro bono engagements are an opportunity for employees to apply their skills in a different environment, it can be thought of as a catalyst for innovative thinking.

“Our fellows not only provide value for society at large, but also gain global perspectives, new ideas, and skill sets that ultimately inform business innovation.” – Robert L. Mallett. Previously President of the Pfizer Foundation.

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Source: Business Value of Pro Bono Source: Taproot Foundation

What is next?

Many leading Canadian organizations are convening together to spark a pro bono movement that can grow and scale throughout Canada. While there a strong volunteerism culture in Canada, there still exists an immense opportunity to deliver high-quality, high-impact pro bono services to social change organizations.

“Volunteering continues to be fundamental to Canadian society with more than 13 million volunteers contributing more than 2.1 billion volunteer hours annually (equivalent to 1.1 million jobs).” – Statscan

There are a plethora of ways one can develop and engage with the pro bono marketplace in Canada. One can work with their organizational leaders in implementing a company wide pro bono program, work individually on pro bono engagements, or help with advocacy efforts.

Within Toronto, Endeavour is a fantastic resource for those wishing to engage in pro bono projects. We also encourage you to visit Taproot’s website to learn more about pro bono. We are also seeking champions to help grow the pro bono movement and marketplace on a national scale (contributing to a variety of initiatives, including needs assessment, corporate & non-profit engagement, awareness building).

If you are interested in this, please feel free to contact Allyson Hewitt (‎Senior Fellow, Social Innovation – ‎MaRS Discovery District), at ahewitt@marsdd.com. You can also follow her on twitter @AllysonHewitt and #ProBonoCDN for more updates on Canadian pro bono.

Reflections on the Social Enterprise World Forum

Now, I may be a bit biased given that it was hosted in Canada, but I honestly believe that this was the best Social Enterprise World Forum I have ever had the pleasure of attending. The forum built on the tradition of social enterprise, recognizing in particular the historical leadership of the United Kingdom, and moved us to think about the links between social enterprise and the broader social change imperative—a uniquely Canadian positioning.

The organizing team worked so hard, by design, to ensure inclusion. If you were just discovering the field of social enterprise, you had the opportunity to learn the essentials from terrific leaders in the field through sessions like Social Enterprise 101, which was offered in both English and French.

For those of us who have been around this game for some time, it was terrific to see the engagement of new players. I heard an elder state that this was the first conference of this type in his memory to have a stream and keynotes reflecting the experience of indigenous peoples, and the session on rural realities was critical, especially given the increasing focus on urbanization as more and more of us move to cities.

Broad government representation

The event welcomed all three levels of government and, given the state of our federation in Canada, this is virtually unprecedented. This monumental task was achieved in part by the leadership of the Government of Alberta, who organized a pre-conference session with other political and bureaucratic staff from across the country. I am especially appreciative of the efforts of Dr. Eric Hoskins of the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment and the Hon. Jason Kenney of Employment and Social Development Canada for taking so much time out of their intense schedules to join us. Obviously the issues we discussed are resonating in political circles.

Corporate representation

It was also wonderful to see so many players from the corporate world join us. In one of the sessions I attended on corporate social innovation, the attendees were lined up along the sides of the walls and out the door. We often talk about the fact that social change requires multi-stakeholder engagement, but we spend a lot of time talking only to ourselves and to those who agree with us. With this conference we have broken down many of these silos and there is some discomfort in our wake as we transition to a broader, more inclusive approach to social change.

Social finance

One area where those silos are blurring is in the field of social finance. My colleagues in the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing worked with the Trico Charitable Foundation to bring our extremely popular Social Finance Forum to Alberta. Started in 2007, under the visionary leadership of Tim Draimin, Tim Brodhead and Bill Young, among others, we were able to engage Sir Ronald Cohen in our work in Canada, which was fledgling at the time, and to keep him engaged in that work as we moved forward. It was terrific to welcome him back to Canada—via Skype—and to have him share his deep knowledge and unique perspective with the corporate, political and social enterprise leaders at this pre-conference event.

On a personal level—and because I am privileged to attend so many of these events—I rarely expect to learn anything new. However, I, along with many other seasoned practitioners, walked away inspired by the wisdom of everyone from Al Etmanski and Mary Gordon to llse Treurnicht (more bias), the Hon. Paul Martin and Pamela Hartigan.

Allyson Hewitt with Wayne Chiu, head of the organizing committee for SEWF 2013 and chair of Trico Foundation

Allyson Hewitt with Wayne Chiu, the head of the organizing committee for SEWF

They consistently recognized a place for us all in this movement. They talked about the role of social entrepreneurs at the systems level, about disruptive, bridging and receptive innovators, and about “entrepreneuring.” They challenged our complacency, they offered hope and they offered a way forward—and that is well worth the price of admission.

To everyone on the organizing committee in general and to the remarkable leadership of Wayne Chiu and Daniel Overall of the Trico Charitable Foundation, congratulations on a job well done! As for the rodeo, well my friend, that was the proverbial tasty icing on the well-baked cake. Yahoo!

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the MaRS website. It has been reposted here with permission from the author.