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

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Pepsi Community Innovation Hub at SYN London

Help create the Pepsi Innovation Hub in London Ontario – VOTE TODAY, and everyday until June 30th

The Pepsi Community Innovation Hub at SYN London will be a destination and gathering space for synergy, collaboration and innovation, across sectors and cultures. It will provide much needed access to technology, resources, meeting space, and networking and partnership opportunities across the diverse populations represented by our partnership -- arts, culture, heritage; nonprofit and social enterprise; downtown innovators and investors; new Canadians and youth of all backgrounds. In addition to providing access to resources typically out of reach for these demographics, it will encourage these audiences to create efficiencies and partnerships across sectors.