Saturday, July 24, 2004

Art and Business

Summer in this city means a wealth of cultural opportunities and thoughts of Bard on the Beach - well The Merry Wives of Windsor to be accurate.

Also realized the limited representation of the Arts community within the VSEF. What lessons do the arts offer?

Well, that question led to Comedia and Arts and Business ... two UK organizations ... not to discount local/national voices on the subject but was looking for a different voice

Releasing the Cultural Potential of Our Core Cities is from Comedia.

Re-Creating Communities: Business, The Arts and Regeneration is from Arts and Business.

The A and B, item was underwritten by BritishTelecom and in the foreword observes
The Arts constitute a particularly vibrant part of the [United Kingdom's] economy, and makes a huge contribution to earnings and employment at the regional and local level.
The .PDF is about collaboration and the case studies are highly applicable.

N.B. Page 6 outlines the common objectives identified by the authors. Page 9 itemizes the "Benefits of the Arts".

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Friday, July 23, 2004

Board Strength

A conversation today brought the observation "there's little bio-diversity" in the citizenship sector of Vancouver, i.e. everyone knows everyone, everyone has worked with everyone. "Clique-ing" isn't limited to the citizenship sector, and there is a unique opportunity to introduce "new blood" in the form of volunteers and board members.

The greatest potential for harm exists in the area of board selection. A service that recently celebrated its first anniversary is BoardMatch and here is a link to their list of frequently asked questions.

Do you have a dream board of advisors/directors? How is your board contributing?


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A Small World

Inspired by a recent trip to the Skoll Foundation World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship and keen to encourage social entrepreneur activity in Victoria and Vancouver, Jason Carvalho of Victoria sent a link to the newly founded Canadian Social Enterprise Foundation.

Stay in touch.

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Thursday, July 22, 2004

Fee For Service, Not Charity

Last week, the Vancouver Social Enterprise Forum (VSEF) looked at funding, and the role foundations play beyond grant-making. In 'Putting Venture Capital Ideas to Work for Foundations and Nonprofits', Allen Grossman, Christine Letts, William Ryan indicate that grant-seeking entities need to communicate clear and compelling strategies for building their organizations. At the same time foundations need to invest in those clearly articulated strategies.

Perhaps 'Social Enterprise' would be better served by consistent terminology ... but taking a cue from a rant against neologism ... we'll stay with it. So if you're a Public-Private-Partnership, a Co-OP, a Collective, a For-Profit, or Non-Profit, you too can be a 'Social Enterprise'. I think Kris Herbst's article will help the on-going naming dilemma.

Herbst's November 2003 article, Business-Social Ventures: Reaching for Impact, offers an overview of the Grameen Dialogue meetings. The item covers a broad swath of activities supported by Grameen and social entrepreneurs around the world.

What do you think?

The last link pulls the above together. Mirjam Schoening of the Schwab Foundation observes the growing interest in social enterprise pacing North American socio-economic policy shifts. While benchmarks are helpful, the clear message is to create local solutions for local priorities. SchoeningÂ’s 'Global Trends in Financing the Social Sector', offers a concise document that presents models for expanding and leveraging ideas without large sums of money.

What do you consider to be a local 'social enterprise'? What are the areas of opportunity?


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Friday, July 16, 2004

Reading list: The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid

C K Prahalad's book, 'The  Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits' is a selection for the October Fast Company Book Club.   The book is also a recommended summer read by Wharton.
To read an excerpt look  here, or order your copy here [for US/UK orders]. Wharton also offers an excerpt here.
To read more, Strategy+Business (First Quarter, 2002), printed an article by C. K. Prahalad and Stuart Hart also titled, 'The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid'.

Interested in learning more about social enterprise? Take a browse through the Vancouver Social Enterprise Book Store (Vancouver | United Kingdom | United States) and see what other social enterpreneurs recommend reading.

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Thursday, July 15, 2004

Those Elusive Keys to the Vault

Terms and definitions continue to be a bit of a tangle, which may be reflective of the breadth of the social enterprise community.  The challenges of naming and defining prompted the distribution of a simple taxonomy for social enterprise.  This article is written by Columbia Business School’s, Social Enterprise Program Director, Prof. Raymond Horton.
Ah ... but ... what about those elusive keys to the vault?

Last week's Vancouver Roundtable Dialogue on 'The Social Economy in BC', made for a frothy discussion among VSEF members.  And, yes, the subject line was prompted by Ron's remark. Armed with Prof. Horton's article, members of the Vancouver Social Enterprise Forum started to explore the role of government, foundations, venture philanthropists, and social venture capital corporations (SVCC).
The following material was discussed:
The Business of Ideas (Mary Ann Stover, Suzanne Cole, Michael Burton and Page Snow)
How corporate rigour can assist creative grant making.  Should funders have more "skin in the game"?  VCs look at the 'worst-case scenario' to determine project potential.  How is that different in the grant-making world?
Where Money Meets Mission (Jed Emerson)
Urges foundation leaders who are serious about maximising social impact to bring money managers and program directors together.  Makes reference to the Noyes Foundation's investment policy.  What are the structural impediments to collaboration between your money managers and your program directors?

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Thursday, July 08, 2004

The Social Economy in BC - Roundtable Dialogue

On July 6th a roundtable dialogue on 'The Social Economy in BC' was held in the corporate offices of VanCity Credit Union. I think it's fair to note that the resources of VanCity, IMPACS, The Voluntary Sector Forum, and Voluntary Organizations Consortium of BC (VOCBC) contributed to the morning discussion.

The discussion was facilitated by Shauna Sylvester, Executive Director, Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society.

Some key questions:
What is the 'Social Economy'?
What are the characteristics of a social economy in BC?
Who are the main actors?
What are the opportunities/challenges for BC (non-profit) organisations?
How do we build a movement for a social economy in BC?
Does the growth of the social economy reduce the role played by government?
What do we, the community, hold in "common"?

Given that naming the 'social economy' presented some challenges, and there was
debate about the role various sectors may/should play, I passed along these two
items to guide broader participation:

Partnerships Matter: Current Issues in Cross-Sector Collaboration.
This document from the UK examines current thinking and practise in cross-sectoral partnerships.

As part of a joint venture with Resources for the Future, a Washington-based think tank devoted to environmental, energy, and natural resources issues, NYU Stern convened a lively panel discussion that explored a range of topics centring on the theme of corporate responsibility.

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Vancouver Social Enterprise Forum ...

In January 2004 Fast Company magazine wrote a cover story on the state of Social Capitalists.

Fast Company contributor Cheryl Dahle, wrote the article in cooperation with the Social Enterprise Alliance and followed up the story by participating in a panel discussion at the SEA 2004 Conference in San Francisco.

So what ... this is where I come in.

I co-ordinate the Vancouver reader's network of Fast Company, the Company of Friends, and was asked about the state of social enterprise in Vancouver.

With that question I became acutely aware of the narrowing space between socially progressive corporations and corporatising non-profits.

To help answer the question; SEA conference participants, Fast Company readers, local entrepreneurs, community leaders, and involved citizens, met casually to begin collaborating. The Vancouver Social Enterprise Forum was 'born' on March 11th 2004.


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