Posts Tagged ‘Solutions Finance’

From Non-Profit to a For-Charity Business: An Innovative Funding Model for a Good Cause

By Justin Scaini, Capitalize for Kids

Every non-profit or charity has its own unique challenges it must overcome to provide great services, and keep the doors open. The one challenge almost all organizations can relate to is finding funding. Each institution has its own “secret sauce” for how to attract dollars. Whether it’s government funding, individual donations, corporate partnerships, a social enterprise, or other models of funding, each organization looks for funds that will work in its unique context.

Capitalize for Kids was founded in 2013, and was built around a unique funding method that has helped us become financially sustainable. We built the organization as a business first. We are a non-profit, but we think of ourselves as a for charity business.

We designed the organization with a specific attention to what product or service people will pay for that will specifically benefit and add value to them or their businesses. Rather than rewarding a specific group of shareholders, we allocate funds to children’s brain and mental health research, and run a capacity-building consulting program for evidence-based mental health service providers.

Every year we host Canada’s top Investors Conference.

We welcome over 20 money managers to speak about their best investment ideas in front of over 400 senior executives at the top banks, pensions, and family offices. This event raises about $1.5 million annually, and to date we have raised over $4 million for the cause. Everyone is at the conference because it benefits their business. We only use about 15 minutes of this two-day event to talk about children’s brain and mental health.

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Ancient stories, new technology: Indigenous media treads new ground

by Cara McKenna

Ryan McMahon is finding power in voices with Makoons Media Group 

Now is the time for Indigenous people to break new ground in media, says Janet Rogers, who has worked in radio for a decade. Rogers hosts a show called Native Waves Radio on CFUV in Victoria. “We’re picking up these tools on our own and without the colonized filter, we’re kind of fumbling our way towards creating and maintaining a voice through the medium of podcasting.”

It’s not a simple task, says Ryan McMahon, founder of Makoons Media Group, whose best known success to date is the Indian & Cowboy podcast network. “White people have always controlled the gaze … and that gaze has always exploited us and our weaknesses,” he says. McMahon wants to change this and is scaling up his vision of an Indigenous podcast network, with support from the Indigenous Innovation Demonstration Fund (IIDF).    

The Indigenous Innovation Demonstration Fund provides support to organizations seeking to develop or expand their Indigenous social innovation and social enterprise. The Fund was created through a partnership of the National Association of Friendship Centres, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.

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Introducing Solutions Finance: A New Vision for Our Work

SF for newsletter

Erica Blog Author_ENBy Stephen Huddart and Erica Barbosa VargasStephen-Huddart-author

In the coming weeks, the Foundation is rolling out several new resources on Solutions Finance: a series of white papers and related case studies, illustrating some of what we’ve learned over the last decade from our successes—and failures—in deploying capital for systems change. The first white paper is available today. We hope these resources will be useful to a growing community interested in financial innovation for positive social and environmental impact.

Until recently, we did not talk about Solutions Finance. The new term requires a bit of unpacking.

Social Finance refers to financial instruments that generate social and environmental impact alongside financial returns. It is a term widely recognized in the field and the umbrella term we have been using to describe the Foundation’s market-building and impact investing activities. However, as our experience and practice expand, we see that the promise of this work goes beyond investments with blended returns.

Successful systems innovation requires adequate resourcing, and calls for different forms of capital allocation across the multiple stages of design and implementation. To make this happen in the context of our work, we’re advocating for — and adopting as our own practice — an integrated approach to deploying financial capital and adapting financial models to catalyze, sustain and scale systems transformation. In other words, Solutions Finance. This approach includes, but is more than, continuing to grow an investment portfolio with the expectation of a financial return as well as a positive social or environmental impact.

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INNOVATING INNOVATION: Connecting technological, business and social innovation

Tim Blog Author

 

We have reached a watershed moment.

After a century of robust development of technological and business innovation, plus several decades of cracking the code of social innovation, the time has come to create an integrated innovation system.

Innovation has long been recognized as necessary for a nation’s economic and business success. But citizens have relied on a trickle down approach for the benefits from technological and business innovation to trigger broad societal well-being. Unfortunately today’s social, ecological and economic problems – ranging from preventable chronic disease to social exclusion to youth unemployment to climate change – are escalating in scale, severity and urgency. They won’t wait for laissez-faire innovation.

Society’s needs and innovation’s benefits can be more directly connected and aligned. The opportunity of the 21st century is to harness the combined power of social innovation and mainstream (technological and business) innovation.

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Mainstream innovation is an advanced ecosystem of technological, business, financial and human resources wired to produce efficiencies, profit and, increasingly, disruption. Social innovation works primarily at the margins to take on the most pressing social and ecological challenges of the 21st century. Social innovation responds to gaping tears in our social fabric made more visible as aging systems fall behind or fail to use new tools like behavioural economics, human-centred design, collective intelligence, and both open and big data.

The urgent call is to steward a new collaborative mindset and approach. One that integrates today’s tools and technologies with new knowledge emerging from across all sectors on innovation, social behavior, social capital, collaboration and networks.  We need an innovation system driven by a new integrated innovation paradigm and a solutions-oriented economy.

 

THE STATUS QUO ISN’T WORKING

The OECD reports that “[i]n 2014, OECD countries devoted more than one-fifth of their economic resources to public social support”.  It is estimated that 17% of Canada’s GDP, or $338 billion, is spent on social outcomes. In the US, that figure is closer to 19.2% of GDP or $3.4 trillion USD and in Spain, it is higher still, at 26.2% of GDP.

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Discovering the world of Social Finance

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This article was originally published on the RECODE website. Click here to see the original version. 

By Alexandra Reda, International Business Graduate, Concordia University

The world of social finance and impact investing was new to me.

 

This past summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the Social Finance team at the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation—an experience unlike any I’ve had elsewhere. Prior to this internship, I had a very traditional finance banking background and had worked at a portfolio management company for the last three years.

All this quickly changed, as the team taught me about the Foundation’s current portfolio and their strategy for the coming years.

Currently, the portfolio is made up of diverse risk-return profiles, which are directed to charities, nonprofit, for-profit social ventures, for-profit start-ups and even corporations. Despite the variety in the portfolio, all investments follow the Foundation’s impact investing objectives and deliver impact on one or more levels of society and societal change. This tactic can lead to a ripple effect as other foundations and institutions (for example schools) begin to think of innovative ways to allocate their endowments.

One of the Foundation’s investments—$5M with the Canadian venture capital firm Real Ventures—caught my attention. Its mission is to “serve entrepreneurs and nurture the communities in which they thrive”. Researching the companies that are part of Real Ventures portfolio, I was pleased to discover an abundance of innovative ideas serving a social purpose. For example, Causemo aims to make charitable giving social and mobile. The company intends to launch its own app enabling cause discovery, donations, tracking and social features. The Real Ventures fund has allowed them to reach 15,000 donors in 2015. Another example is a company called Varage Sale. This startup aims to make the process of finding, buying or selling used goods safer and more convenient than mainstream options such as Craigslist, eBay or classified ads, while also creating bonds between neighbours. Discovering funds like Real Ventures that support social entrepreneurs inspired me to start asking myself: How can I help people in an innovative way?

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Pioneering investors of 21st century systems change infrastructure – who are you?

Guest post by Jennifer Morgan, Founder of the Finance Innovation Lab
Note: Originally posted on the Cambridge University Centre for Social Innovation Blog. 

Disclaimer: the views expressed in the following blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Foundation.


Jennifer Morgan_ENCathedrals have been some of the most important infrastructure projects in the history of humankind. They have been places where people have come together for a higher purpose, to connect, to make sense of the world and to be together in community.

In many ways, they were unique infrastructure projects compared to projects of today: they took lifetimes to build; they were built with many generations in mind; there were no immediate or tangible returns on investment and they were built for a higher purpose that served the common good.

So what is the modern day equivalent of the Cathedral infrastructure? What is the intergenerational infrastructure that is needed for deeper rooted social innovation to evolve our values and cultures from ‘EGO’ to ‘ECO’?

Cathedral And Abbey Church Of Saint Alban In St.albans, Uk (more…)

Corporate Political Spending in Canada

Note: Originally posted on the Responsible Investment Association (RIA) website.

Guest post by Kevin ThomasDirector of Shareholder Engagement with the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE)

Disclaimer: the views expressed in the following blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Foundation.

Blogpost Corporate spendingCalls for disclosure of corporate spending to influence the political process have become the single most frequent subject of shareholder resolutions in the United States, where the amount of money corporations spend to achieve political outcomes is massive – and largely undisclosed.

Concern about political spending has been less prominent on the responsible investment agenda in Canada, however.

Part of this has to do with Canada’s campaign finance system, which places stricter limits on party financing and third party spending during elections in many Canadian jurisdictions. But before we get too smug, shareholders may want to take a closer look at just how active Canadian corporations are in the public policy sphere.

That may be difficult, however, according to a new discussion paper from the Shareholder Association for Research & Education (SHARE).

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Reflections on Social Finance and Impact Investing

PhilipauthorSocial-FinanceblogThe exposure I am receiving during my internship at the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, to the engaging and exciting field of Social Finance, has left me with a different world view – revealing the significant impact investment decisions made throughout a lifetime can really have. One of the quotes that has stuck with me from the 2014 Social Finance Forum that was held in Toronto at the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing, is a question that Joel Solomon from Renewal Funds asked: “What is your money doing right now?” What I take away from this quote is the importance of being aware of the impact corporations and organizations have on society, and how this will shape the future. (more…)

Investing in Food Security: Opportunities for Canadian Investors

Note: Originally posted on the Responsible Investment Association (RIA) website.

Guest post by Peter Chapman, Executive Director, SHARE

Building Sustainable Food Systems in Canada: A Role for Investors, was released by the Shareholder Association for Research & Education (SHARE), a leading Canadian responsible investment organization. The report was funded by Canadian philanthropic foundations including the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.

Dried corn plants in Nebraska. Source: AP.

Looking outside at the last few hardy frost-rimed vegetables in my garden, the forces at work are easy to comprehend: freezing temperatures and failing daylight hours. But for institutional investors, the risks and opportunities embedded in our food systems are less obvious. So too are the connections between long-term investment returns and the resilience, sustainability and accessibility of food systems. Building Sustainable Food Systems in Canada: A Role for Investors, a new paper from the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), takes aim at broadening our understanding of these issues.

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Introducing the McConnell Blog!

Two people talkingBrigid-Shea-AuthorWith the holiday season almost upon us and 2015 just around the corner, we naturally begin to reflect upon the year we’ve just had and the new one about to begin. And so in this spirit of reflection that we find ourselves in, we thought it would be the perfect time to launch the McConnell Blog.

The blog will provide us with a unique opportunity to regularly and openly share learnings and insights, essentially reflection pieces, about the Foundation’s work and that of our partners and grantees.

In our blog, you will not only be able to hear from our President and CEO, Stephen Huddart, but also from our staff, as they reflect on the specific areas that they work in and the initiatives and projects they are leading – whether that be in the world of food, social finance, social entrepreneurship and higher education, or child and youth mental health, to name but a few.

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