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.