Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Social Enterprise Exchange - A collective voice for social enterprise in London, Ontario!

A great group of people sat around a large table at WOTCH this morning as we learned about the Untrepreneur initiative and discussed issues such as social metrics and the challenges of employment for people on ODSP. The topics were deep and at times not always agreed upon but what a way to get to the heart of the issues in social enterprise. Sitting together and having the honest, open conversation!

This group, called the Social Enterprise Exchange has decided to continue in January to meet monthly to discuss how to make London a better place by creating a social movement that can help solve many problems. The example of Ed Jackman's Untrepreneur's (facebook, twitter: @Untrepreneurs ) is a perfect example of this movement. In 140 characters or less, twitter helped Ed launch this business. How can a grassroots group of changemakers come together to lower London's unemployment rate? How can people who are un(der)employed find work that is meaningful to them rather than using job boards to find something that will simply help them get by? What if someone intentionally brought together people looking for work, matched up their skills and abilities and created opportunities in organizations looking for projects to be done. Brilliant!

The location of the Exchange is no surprise, WOTCH is very passionate about how social enterprise can benefit individuals and nonprofit organizations by saying profit is a good thing. Business can not only employ people with mental health issues but also reduce the stigma that people with mental health issues face daily. Social enterprise can also compliment the social service work currently being done by the host organization by giving clients new and greater opportunities.

WOTCH is well-known in London for the "My Sister's Place", a micro enterprise that was recently feature in last months Business London magazine and was a finalist in the Pillar Community Innovation Awards this year. They have plans for more social enterprise and will continue on into the future I am sure.

Dates for the social enterprise exchange for the new year will be added to Pillar's website in the next week.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Community Legal Panel

Social Enterprise for Sustainable Communities presents:
Legal Q & A for Social Enterprises

November 16th 12:00 – 1:30pm

If you are a nonprofit or charity and you’re considering social enterprise as a tool to financial sustainability, please join us for a lunch and learn session about the legal implications of social enterprise in the nonprofit sector. Our guest lawyer is available for this group discussion/Q&A where we will learn together and discuss out thoughts, challenges and concerns about how embarking on social enterprise might impact your nonprofit and/or charitable status in Ontario.

Location: Museum London Boardroom
Maximum enrolment: 25 people
Investment:  Pillar members $35; non-members $45.
Click here to register.

About our Advisor:

Susan Fincer-Stoll
Harrison Pensa LLP |  450 Talbot St.,  London, Ontario N6A 5J6
Taxation, Wills, Trusts, Estates and Charities

Susan's practice involves three primary areas. She advises charities and not-for-profit organizations on asset management, administration, governance and fundraising. She practices tax litigation and she represents corporations and individuals on income and sales tax matters. She practices estate planning, which involves will planning, trusts, powers of attorney, business succession planning and capacity issues under the Substitute Decisions Act.

Call to Bar

1990, Ontario


Bachelor of Laws (with distinction), University of Western Ontario. Received Harold G. Fox Education Fund Award for Academic Achievement, the Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt Writing Prize and the Aylesworth, Thompson Prize.
Bachelor of Civil Law, Oxford University
Bachelor of Arts, Administrative and Commercial Studies, University of Western Ontario


Susan was a Senior Instructor on Taxation Law for the Bar Admission Course and has taught Taxation of Trusts and Estate Planning at the University of Western Ontario, Faculty of Law.
She is the Past President of the Estate Planners’ Council of London and a former Director of Habitat for Humanity London.


London Tax Practitioners Consultation Group, Canadian Tax Foundation, Canadian Bar Association, London Tax Discussion Group, The Estate Planners' Council of London

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sharing an event from a local Social Enterprise...

My Sister's Place, a social (micro) enterprise here in London, would like to invite you to a very interesting event! Come and learn about the issues facing women who live in Uganda and hear about an amazing project that provides support and opportunities for women and children. A special focus will be on a micro finance and skill development project.

The event will be held at My Sisters’ Place on Wednesday, September 28th at 7:30 pm. Light refreshments will be provided.
Barbara Wybar from the Bududa Learning Center in Uganda will be speaking.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Coming Soon...Social Enterprise Exchange Sept. 21st....

Next Social Enterprise Exchange will be FREE, and will host the following community social change agents. I’m excited to continue our soap box format and hope many of you will join us to help these speaker with ideas, connections and challenges in order that they might be able to further their missions and take the next steps in their social business planning processes. Please bring your own coffee/tea/other as there will not be refreshments at this session. Contact me if you have any questions. Hope to see you there!

Next Meetings Date:
September 21, 7:30-9:00 AM
255 Horton St., 2nd Floor
Room C-5
Thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation, these sessions are now FREE.
Bring your coffee and join us!

Willy Van Klooster  - Our organization (Vanier Children’s Services) is currently in the process of amalgamating with three other children and youth mental health services (Craigwood Youth Services, WesternArea Youth Services and Oxford Elgin Child & Youth Centre).   The new organization will also have a Social Enterprise arm.    We are beginning to think about some ideas that will provide a double bottom line and one of my colleagues (it wasn’t my idea) has come up with something that we think has potential.    I am looking forward to presenting this idea to see whether you think it has potential or whether you think we should keep thinking of other ideas.

Paula Jesty - "MI Understanding" is a project currently in development in partnership with Amherst Shore Creative and Evoke MediaSolutions. The Goal of the project is to develop a series that builds empathy, promotes understanding and de-stigmatizing of mental illness. Designed for children, siblings, classmates, teachers and parents touched by someone dealing with a mental illness, the goal is to foster understanding and assist in reinforcement of coping strategies.

Amy Hiscox - I grew up in a rural area of Lambton county, close to the border of Middlesex county. I attended the University of Windsor and earned a BA in Political Science, focusing on the political economy of trade, agricultural trade and international relations. It was the combination of my upbringing and education that fostered my desire to bring about systemic change in the food and agriculture sector locally, nationally and internationally. I would like to start a social purpose business that creates global action networks to generate systemic change in the food system- a movement with local impact but global reach.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Next Social Enterprise Exchange August 17th at 7:30am

We're hoping you can join us on August 17th from 7:30-9am at My Sister’s Place 566 Dundas Street.
The idea of working as a community to create ideas and support social enterprises as they start up is one in which all members have expressed an interest.

This process is not only helpful for the speakers but the discussion often times allows all of us to learn about our own organizations and how we can improve and innovate.

Here is what Carol said about the last meeting when she shared about her social enterprise idea:
"Having the opportunity to share a fledgling idea in a safe environment where supportive peers expressed their excitement over the concept, asked penetrating questions and offered honest critiques helped me begin to explore some new facets about home share, and solidified my determination to transform the concept into a reality." (Carol Burns, Over 55)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Help for Nonprofit Sustainability

Many nonprofit leaders have an unrivalled ambition to address the social and economic problems in our community; however, the difference between ambition and implementation is the biggest challenge that they face.  Due to the current provincial funding climate, many nonprofits have limited project based funding and the requirements of reporting and accountability are becoming unmanageable. Nonprofits need a new way of doing business.

“There is a real buzz in the charitable and not-for-profit sector in Canada. The buzz is around the concept of “social enterprise.” What does it mean? How does it work? How does it fit within our traditional structures? All these questions are being discussed and thought about across the country. In fact, this discussion is not limited to Canada, but is taking place around the world.” (Government of Canada, Feb. 2011) 

Together, United Way of London & Middlesex, Richard Ivey School of Business and Pillar Nonprofit Network have recognized this buzz, and have partnered to generate capacity within local nonprofit organizations for social enterprise and evaluate it as a tool to create sustainability and social change. 

 “For non-profits and charities, operating an enterprise is nothing new. Museums and art galleries have operated gift shops as a way to generate revenue to support their exhibits and promote art. Service organizations such as the YMCA have used fee-based programs to support their charitable activities. And many non-profit social service or relief agencies have operated thrift stores as a means of generating revenue for their activities and providing low-cost goods to their clients”. (Enterprising Nonprofits)

It is our goal to expand the capacity of community nonprofit organizations and increase their sustainability through social enterprise opportunities, new partnerships and/or collaborations that will strengthen the sector.

This fall we are offering two workshops in addition to our monthly Social Enterprise Exchange Soap Box Series:

A social enterprise incubator and networking initiative that has grown into a monthly community forum where social entrepreneurs help each other develop ideas into social purpose businesses. "Having the opportunity to share a fledgling idea in a safe environment where supportive peers expressed their excitement over the concept, asked penetrating questions and offered honest critiques helped me begin to explore some new facets about home share, and solidified my determination to transform the concept into a reality." (Carol Burns, Over 55)

Soap Box investment: $5 per session
Workshop 1: What's all the BUZZ about?? - This foundational workshop will introduce participants to the concepts and language of social enterprise.  Participants will leave with the knowledge of what opportunities and challenges exist in the social enterprise field; as well as receive information and resources that will assist them and their organization during their social enterprise development phase. September 14, 2011, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM, London Central Library, Stevenson & Hunt Room

Workshop 2: Organizational Readiness & Enterprise Feasibility - This workshop will provide participants with an overview and strategy of how to tackle the key challenges related to the social, business and organizational feasibility/readiness of operating your social enterprise. This hands-on session will include a customized evaluation of your organization. October 19, 2011, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
London Central Library, Stevenson & Hunt Room

Workshop Investment: $55 Pillar Members; $70 Non-members

Participants will engage in networking opportunities, learn and develop business skills as they relate to the nonprofit sector, receive access to new social enterprise tools, discover partnership/collaboration opportunities, increase their individual and organizational capacity, and have the opportunity to shape future programming.

“The social enterprise workshops are a great way to bring a diverse group of people together to learn about what social enterprise is and how it can benefit organizations and communities. Education is always a great foundation for understanding and these workshops will have interactive elements so that the learning is among peers and from those who have social enterprise experience”. (Michelle Baldwin, Executive Director, Pillar Nonprofit Network)

For information about these programs, please contact: Chris Moss, Social Enterprise Program Manager at 519-433-7876 or

The Social Enterprise program at Pillar is generously supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Next Social Enterprise Exchange - SOAP BOX SERIES BEGINS....Promote your social enterprise!

Hello Social Enterprisers!

On August 17th beginning at 7:30am, we will be gathering at My Sister’s Place 566 Dundas Street for the first Social Enterprise Exchange Soapbox of 2011. [“How to Soapbox” description below.] Join us for an enjoyable, insightful, and fun morning of Soapboxing! 

Bring your business cards to connect with each other and begin collaborating on new innovative projects around the city!

7:30 – coffee and muffins/fruit
7:45 - Soapbox begins (3 presentations)

8:30 - Summary discussion and wrap-up

8:45 - Closing, and networking until 9:00

Cost: $5.00 to help us cover our costs.

How to 'Soapbox':

- Each Soapbox presenter will have a maximum of 5 minutes to present/describe a single social enterprise idea/challenge/etc. to the group

- A specific and succinctly articulated challenge will receive more specific and helpful feedback
- Fellow social enterprisers will then have 10 minutes to offer feedback, potential solutions, connections and expertise
- After presentations
there will be a general summary discussion and wrap-up

Want to be a Soapbox presenter and receive free advice about a social enterprise challenge that your organization is facing? 

The first 3 members to email me with a 1-3 sentence description of their marketing challenge will be selected.

Social Enterprise Exchange: Day of Discussion

On July 20th we had our most recent SEE event at My Sister's Place. Here are the notes that came out of the event. In the next post I will share what our next steps are with a call for presenters!

Discussion Notes: 

What do we need to do before making a business plan/model?
·         clients (people you serve) who can tell you what you need to do
·         anonymous survey
·         clients can point out gaps and opportunities in the gaps
·         internal organization and external community - attitudinal change
·         when we hear clients complain see it as a gap
·         the challenge is getting awareness about social enterprise into the community
·         co-creation between all members/stakeholders of your organization – not top down design
·         have your eyes open for where there isn’t a service and come up with ideas to fill that gap

Soap Box: Over 55 Housing Concept
The idea is to facilitate matching older female home owners with single female seniors who currently rent. This idea would improve their financial situations; reduce social isolation, increase safety and health. There is currently a 2 year waiting list for seniors housing. They would need a mind shift from living on own to sharing. Fact: 75% of the population who is over 65 are women.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Social Enterprise Exchange (SEE) – 1st session was a success!!

The Social Enterprise Exchange is an agent for change. A place where individuals, enterprises, organizations and commercial business can come together to make social enterprise happen in London. 
What an amazing morning. Thirty people met today for the first time at My Sister’s Place in London. Lynn Blumas, MicroEnterprise Facilitator hosted our time together and shared about their homemade jewellery business that is growing. Many people who are interested in social change in London arrived for coffee and homemade muffins. We talked about how social enterprise is defined, what needs to change in our community and what we think this group could be about. Here is what we came up with:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Social Enterprise Exchange

The Social Enterprise Exchange is an agent for change. A place where individuals, enterprises, organizations and commercial business can come together to make social enterprise happen in London. 

What: A monthly connecting and idea generation session that provides a common ground for like-minded organizations to connect, share and learn from each other

How: Through the sharing of information, hosting of events, and micro-lending initiatives, the Social Enterprise Exchange aims to create an support system for creating and growing social enterprises. It will act as an information portal, on all issues around social enterprise including support for developing and operational social enterprises. To help you stay aware of what is happening in the social enterprise space; address key issues and be thought leaders about social enterprise within London.
June 22, 2011
7:30-9 AM

My Sister’s Place
566 Dundas St.,
London, ON N6B 1W8

Target Audience: 
Social entrepreneurs, change agents, trailblazers, anyone with a good idea to create positive change our community

$5 at the door

To register: 

Partnership to Build a Better Community

United Way of London & Middlesex, The Richard Ivey School of Business and Pillar Nonprofit Network have partnered to evaluate Social Enterprise as a tool to create social change. This has been made possible by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
For more information contact Chris Moss, Social Enterprise Program Manager

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Charity Law and Social Enterprise

I’ve been asking the question: “What can a nonprofit/charity do to start an enterprise that supports their mission?”

The answer I’ve found is, A LOT!

Mark Blumberg says: “On December 15, 2009 the Ontario Government passed the Good Government Act, 2009 which resulted in the repeal of the Charitable Gifts Act (Ontario).  The Charitable Gifts Act had provided that an Ontario charity may not own more than 10 per cent of an interest in any business.  Ontario was the only province to have such a restriction and it applied to all charities. . . As a result of the Ontario changes a charity located in Ontario can now own more than 10% of a business.  Charitable organizations, but not public or private foundations, may own 100% of a “related business”.

With this in mind the road is still grey. The area of charities generating revenue is still a bit fuzzy but that being said, there are numerous initiatives in place that are helping social enterprises move through their start up phases with support. There is a considerable difference between a nonprofit with charitable status vs. one without charitable status. Call me if you would like more information about that.

Our program will support social entrepreneurs by working alongside nonprofits in London, ON and area to make sure they have all the information they need for their boards, funders and stakeholders so that they make the best decision they can. Sometimes the right decision might be to NOT do a social enterprise.

Richard Bridge and Stacey Corriveau, for the BC Centre for Social Enterprise wrote a paper entitled “Legislative Innovations and SocialEnterprise: Structural Lessons for Canada” which argues for the adoption of a corporate act in Canada.  Their paper is well worth reading.  

You can read Tonya Surman’s post which has comments by various individuals involved with social enterprise debating whether a new legal structure is necessary and what the real impediments to social enterprise are.

Mark Blumberg further explains:  “A little bit of background on what charities can do.  Under the Income Tax Act (Canada), charitable organizations and public foundations can carry on “related business” that promotes their charitable objects.  An example would be a hospital cafeteria - providing food to patients and visitors.  They can also carry on other unrelated business activities, if “substantially all” (CRA says at least 90%) of the people involved in these activities are volunteers. Private foundations cannot carry on any business activities whatsoever. So registered charities can carry on “related business” – either one that involves over 90% volunteers or one that is “linked and subordinate” to the charity’s objects.  A charity cannot carry on a business that is unrelated to its objects or becomes a dominant activity unless it is done 90% by volunteers.  Failure to follow these rules can result in penalties and deregistration. CRA has tackled this subject in CRA Policy Statement “What is a Related Business?” CPS-019”

It is important, before making decisions about starting a social enterprise, that you have worked through a detailed business plan and consulted your lawyer. Calling our program would be a great first step for you to begin this thought process.

If you are a nonprofit leader, social entrepreneur or local business and are interested in more information about social enterprise please contact me. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Social Innovation Wiki - Your participation is welcome!

We'd like to alert you to the link to the Social Innovation Wiki - an online space where citizens, nonprofit organizations, businesses and public agencies are collaborating to develop a policy framework for social innovation in Ontario.  We thought you might like to have input on the process. 


I had a great visit to Lutherwood in Waterloo to learn about their Social Enterprise initiatives.

Lutherwood is a not for profit organization that provides a wide range of mental healthemployment developmenthousing, and family support services. Lutherwood annually serves more than 18,500 people in Waterloo Region and Wellington County.

As an NPO, it has a full YMCA childcare, 224 apartments, 72 townhomes, greenhouse/ gardening, 30-35 resident groups, day centre for seniors, restaurant open to public, privately owned hairstylist paying rent, fitness centre memberships, pottery classes, facility rental

I met with John Colangeli who explained how their Lutherwood Children’s Foundation is currently under renovation and is funded by commercial real estate revenue. The building was beautiful and is going to be a remarkable leader in the children’s mental health arena.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Do you know an innovative individual or organization in our community? Is there someone making a huge contribution to London in an innovative way?

What is innovation?

  • something newly introduced, such as a new method or device (
  • the central meaning of innovation relates to renewal or improvement, with novelty being a consequence of this improvement. For an improvement to take place it is necessary for people to change the way they make decisions, or make choices outside of their norm. (

If you know someone that you think is deserving of recognition for being great in our community…Read on!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Citi Executive Director & Nonprofit Leader Breakfast 2011

Join us for the second in the series of 2011 Citi Executive Director & Nonprofit Leader Breakfasts, co-hosted by Pillar Nonprofit Network and Nathan Garber& Associates.

Lessons from Entrepreneurs

Lead to Succeed: You can’t learn to fish without water

“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. 
They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”   
--Bill Drayton, CEO, chair and founder of Ashoka

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Small Business Centre: A Gift to the Community

I visited the Small Business Centre (SBC) this week and had the opportunity to talk about how social enterprises in the City could benefit from the wisdom of their organization. Throughout the discussion we realized that the SBC is a social enterprise! As a nonprofit organization they provide invaluable services and programs at affordable prices to budding enterprises and thousands of entrepreneurial idea-makers in London.

The Mission of the Centre is: "To stimulate, promote and support the entrepreneurial spirit, start-up and early growth of small business to actively contribute to the economic development of London." In pursuing this mission over the years the Centre has provided thousands of entrepreneurs with the full range of support services necessary to starting and successfully building their small businesses. (resource:

As a nonprofit leader, we often don’t think of looking at business resources to help us further our missions. The SBC website if full of tools and workshops that will benefit our sector. When considering a social enterprise start-up a non-profit should consider the SBC as a partner in your journey. Give me a call if you have any questions!

25th Anniversary Celebration
Tuesday June 21, 2011
The Lamplighter Inn, London

If you are a nonprofit leader, social entrepreneur or local business and are interested in more information about social enterprise please contact me