Alberta’s Council on Charities and Civil Society Issues Report

Alberta’s Council on Charities and Civil Society Issues Report

Social Enterprise Looms Large in Report’s Recommendations 

 “The pandemic has reinforced our understanding of the potential of social finance tools, not only for stabilization of social purpose organizations, but in contributing to their ultimate recovery from the current crisis.” (Social Enterprise Fund)

The Premier’s Council on Charities and Civil Society (the Council) launched a targeted engagement process in July 2020 to determine what lessons could be learned from the COVID-19 experience to date, and to provide advice on the sector’s future recovery and capacity building opportunities. Key opportunities for civil society recovery include enhancing collaboration, coordination and integration of services, improving research and data, capitalizing on new and existing technology, strengthening civil society’s financial foundations and strengthening social finance and social enterprise (key recommendations below). The Premier’s Council on Charities and Civil Society’s report, called “Moving Forward: Charting a Path to Civil Society Recovery” is now available. Our founder, Wayne Chiu, is honoured to be on the Council. You can see the complete list of members here.

The report is well worth the read for anyone one interested in changemaking, as it touches on such key topics as:

  • Adaptability;
  • Taking collaboration to the next level;
  • Systems rather than silos;
  • Data that matters;
  • More effective funding (more flexible and with less administrative burden, but still accountable); and
  • Capacity building.

That said, given the focus of the Trico Foundation, we will reproduce the recommendations touching on as social enterprise (and social finance) in full:

Skills development: Civil society organizations looking to adopt social enterprise could benefit from expertise and capacity building support to ensure their operations and governance are set up to succeed. Leveraging the expertise of organizations already engaged in this work and building new relationships with post-secondary institutions and the private sector should be a priority. One promising initiative is the Alberta Social Innovation and Finance Strategy, led by a group of leading civil society stakeholders. Focused capacity building efforts may also enable civil society organizations to access federal social finance funding opportunities, such as the Investment Readiness Program.

Market development: Expanding public sector social procurement and encouraging companies to adopt community benefit agreements could help develop a stronger market for social enterprise products and services. These deliberate strategies can be particularly useful in supporting the early development of social enterprise. More broadly, developing a robust social finance ecosystem that offers improved access to resources and capital for enterprising organizations and individuals is vital. There are a number of existing civil society organizations and experts active in this area whose efforts should be encouraged.

Targeted financing: A number of organizations, such as the Social Enterprise Fund, provide loans for start-up and expansion of social enterprises. Expanding access to financial support (including loans, grants, equity, etc.) can help advance social enterprise in Alberta.

Demonstrating the value of social enterprise: Understanding the benefits of social enterprises in Alberta is increasing but remains low. Additional efforts to showcase their impact can help grow social enterprise. The Trico Foundation’s Social EnterPrize is one such initiative.

Legislative and regulatory reform: Currently, both charities and non-profit organizations are limited – in different ways and to different degrees – in their ability to engage in for-profit or business activities in support of their social missions. Particularly in challenging economic times, modernizing existing federal and provincial legislation to more fully enable social enterprise activity can help civil society flourish, while creating stronger governance and ensuring full transparency and accountability.

Further engagement: The Council is charged with developing a Civil Society Framework to guide the government’s partnership with civil society. This work will provide additional opportunities to engage civil society leaders on strategies to advance social enterprise and social finance opportunities.

 

Kudos to the Alberta Government for commissioning the report and the members of the Council for the consultation process they engaged in and the compelling vision provided in the report.

Click here for the full report: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/moving-forward-charting-a-path-to-civil-society-recovery

 

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