Trillium Foundation grants preview

trilliumThe Ontario Trillium Foundation is rejigging its programs. Below is a summary of how we see things shaping up and our (highly subjective) thoughts  about what they are looking for.

The focus for all public funders today is economic development, i.e. job creation and stimulus, especially directed towards youth, seniors and constituencies facing acute political, social, physical or economic challenges.

All funders also want to see impacts beyond the money spent by the grant, whether in the form of projects becoming self-sustaining or by producing measurable economic benefits that advance self-reliance in the targeted constituency.

If you don’t know anything about impact measurement, it’s time to learn what GIIRS, GRI, IRIS and SROI stand for.

To approach Trillium for funding, here are the basic steps:

  1. find the right funding category – there are three now, SEED, GROW and CAPITAL;
  2. make sure your project is targeting at least one of Trillium’s desired “priority outcomes;”
  3. find the program area that fits what you do – there are six: Active People, Connected People, Green People, Inspired People, Promising Young People and Prosperous People – all interesting terminology  for what, back in the day, they would have simply called Sports, Seniors, Environment, Arts, Youth, and Employment
  4. ensure your project is doing the kind of work Trillium will support (they are being very specific) and that it will produce measurable impact; you will want to be counting, counting, counting not just the number of people engaged and dollars spent/earned,  but the number of job placements, clubs and leadership positions created, square feet of building, facilities, etc.

Funding levels can be expected to be somewhat lower than before considering both Kathleen Wynne’s continued cuts to the Trillium budget (amounting to $20m over the past 4 years; 2012-13 budget was approximately $125m), and the fact that demand is always rising.

There are three grant streams: Seed, Grow and Capital.

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 5.02.43 PMSEED grants are for early-stage development projects:

Activities funded include:

  • Conducting new research or feasibility studies
  • Testing new approaches
  • Hosting discussions about emerging issues or new opportunities
  • Developing a new idea
  • Launching a new event
  • Convening people together

AMOUNT: From $5,000 to $75,000
TERM: Up to 1 year

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 5.27.17 PMGROW grants are for more substantial projects:

Activities funded include:

  • Replicating, adapting or scaling a proven model
  • Piloting or demonstrating a tested model

AMOUNT: From $50,000 to $250,000 per year
TERM: 2 to 3 years

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 5.02.26 PMCAPITAL grants are for buildings: improving access, or energy efficiency, renovating, repairing or building new.

Activities funded include:

  • Buying and installing equipment
  • Doing renovations, installations and repairs
  • Building structures or spaces
  • Making better use of technological resources

AMOUNT: From $5,000 to $150,000
TERM: Up to 1 year

TYPES OF PROJECTS

Trillium funding is targeted. They know the types of projects they want to support and the impacts those projects should produce.

Let’s look at just three of the six funding streams.

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 5.31.12 PMThe Trillium category ACTIVE PEOPLE is for sport/play projects. In terms of impact, they are looking for:
– high quality and inclusive programs
– engaging more people
More specifically, they are seeking projects that will:
– produce qualified or certified trainers and coaches
– be deeply inclusive: the key words here are “fairness” and “age and ability appropriate”
– create infrastructure for unstructured and structured play/sports: an interesting word here is “unstructured” – they are looking for things that increase physical activity but not necessarily conventional sports.

If you have a project that is going to:

  1. produce new coaches/trainers
  2. in a new kind of structured or unstructured sports/play activity
  3. that is reaching into a community with sports/play deficits

then this is the category for you.

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 5.31.34 PMThe Trillium category INSPIRED PEOPLE is for arts projects. In terms of impact, they are looking for:
– new and improved facilities
– transferring knowledge from older to younger generations
– arts-based learning and compelling cultural experiences, which both translate into not simply increased visitors or audience but a level of active participation.

So, for example, if you have a project that is going to:

  1. add to or rejuvinate or build a new facility
  2. with programs that are committed to using art as a tool for learning not just about art, and
  3. that uses art and artifacts in an active, not passive way

then this is the category for you.

Check out the metrics Trillium envisions you producing in the Inspired People stream.

The last category we’ll look at here is one that is close to our hearts.

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 5.31.23 PMThe Trillium category CONNECTED PEOPLE is for programs to overcome social isolation and alienation. In terms of impact, Trillium is looking for:
– giving people a say in developing meaningful programs;
– cultivating leadership and taking leadership roles in the community
– bringing diverse communities together to share services, work on common goals;
– creating places and programs where people gather.

So, for example, if you have a project that is going to:

  1. bring together people who are isolated
  2. to create their own programs and take on leadership roles
  3. that also crosses the race, class, ethnicity, economic and other  boundaries that keep people apart

then this is the category for you.

Read Trillium’s backgrounders on the Connected People program and expected impacts to get the full picture. Below is an example of the metrics (measurements) they are looking for in this stream.
Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 5.38.21 PM

Finally, NEW to the Trillium process is the preliminary self-assessment tool. That can be intimidating but it is only a tool. If you have a project in mind, it is always a good idea to call Trillium first and talk to one of their friendly and helpful officers. If you would like help planning a project  and preparing an application, please give us a call 647 929 0466 or email info@socialenterpriseadvocates.ca.

Measurables and milestones and economic impact analysis

Libraries contribute to the quality of life in neighbourhoods and as an educational resource but also in real economic terms. Look at the numbers associated with library use. Borrowing and reading a book is an economic activity.
Libraries contribute to the quality of life in neighbourhoods and as an educational resource but also in real economic terms. Look at the numbers associated with library use. Borrowing and reading a book is an economic activity.

Impact is a word you hear often these days. For social enterprises, non-profits and charities it tends to be teamed up with “social,” as in “social impact,” referring to the good you are doing. For business it tends to be partnered with “economic,” as in how much money you make, how many people you employ, plus also how your business stimulates other businesses, contributes to consumer spending power and the overall economy (GDP). Most of us would like to think they are the same thing: that qualitative effects can be evaluated in terms of quantitative results or even dollars, but that isn’t always the case, and I don’t think it should be, if only for the sake of clarity.

We recently completed a business plan for a non-profit community organization that needed to show its funders that it has capacity for real economic growth that will help it be financially sustainable for the long-term. Our research found that, while it will never be free from needing grants, it has a strong track record of private support from donors and sponsors, which when coupled with consistent results in winning grants makes it possible to predict with confidence that it has capacity to do more, to grow these sources of revenue and diversify them. We also found considerable potential to increase self-generated revenue from existing programs and by adding new facilities and programs. Here, however, even though we were talking about very concrete, business-like things, it was difficult to project results with confidence. Two things were lacking: data about how the organization is already working from a program/services earnings perspective, and in-depth understanding of the marketplace, who and how it is serving.

These are concrete and measurable things but the reality is that most non-profits haven’t the time to stop and gather data about their programs or the inclination to study the community they serve as if it were a market, evaluating what is working to determine how to improve or what more/different might be needed. Intuition tends to guide them and quite reliably so, thanks to the caring expertise of the people who work there. But in today’s world where measurables and milestones are the order of the day, more is needed.

I think there’s some fear that using business tools (for looking at social enterprises from a market and revenue perspective) is like joining the “forces of darkness,” that principles, mission and ethics will be compromised the moment you associate dollars with them.

Information graphics are great tools for showing where the money is.
Information graphics are great tools for showing where the money is.

Before you judge, it is worth looking at the tools, some of which have been developed by the communities that use them to help put dollar values on the indirect “intangibles” that non-profits deliver. One example, is this calculator created by Americans for the Arts (AFTA).

Economic impact calculators use multipliers based on detailed study of various industries. The AFTA calculator produces suspiciously big numbers for indirect and “induced” (even less direct, like ambient) impacts of arts organizations like museums, until you consider that cultural industries actually produce bigger impacts than traditional industries like manufacturing. The multipliers used for the auto industry, for example, take into consideration indirect impacts on parts manufacturers and materials suppliers and even less direct (“induced”) impacts on industries that in turn supply them. But arts organizations engage more and more varied kinds of industries, many of which are closer to the surface of consumer society. Impacts are felt far beyond supply, in adjacent creative industries like fashion and design, and flowing right through to consumer products and the media; film, television and new media. (As discussed in this UK study.)

Another interesting tool to look at is a calculator called the Tourism and Recreation Economic Impact Model (TREIM) created by the Government of Ontario. Its multipliers are much smaller than those used by AFTA, but still produce impressive numbers for organizations for whom audiences or visitors are a primary driver. Audiences are measurable and so are their impacts, and organizations can set goals for themselves, milestones that will verify their assumptions and validate their strategy, or, if the numbers don’t materialize the way you hoped, allow you to course correct and try something else, just like businesses do.

In the end, the important thing is not whether you have 15  or 500 people you serve (clients, customers, visitors or whatever) but whether you can verify the number before you start and measure how it changes because of your program or project. If you can do that, and measure other impacts, you will not just be satisfying a funder’s seemingly arbitrary requirements;  you will find it useful, helping you to do a better job achieving the goals you set.

OneAccessSpace: a social enterprise in development

OneAccessSpace: A Digital Resource for People Affected by Cancer is a new kind of community-based support network. Its founder, Kim Adlard, is seeking financial help at a crucial stage that might be called  “enterprise formation.”  Please contribute and let your networks know about it too. Some good reasons for supporting Kim and OneAccessSpace are set out below. No doubt you will have your own.

To donate and learn more about OneAccessSpace: http://www.csicatalyst.org/projects/50-oneaccessspace-a-digital-resource-for-people-affected-by-cancer (NB requires registration with the crowdfunding app Catalyst CSI, a fairly simple process, please take the time.)

OneAccessSpace is not just a worthy cause, it’s a great example of the very particular and difficult financial  challenges to starting a social enterprise, discussed in this post.

How many ways are there to start a social enterprise?

If you want to get something up and running right away, it might be as simple as telling people what you are doing and getting them involved, either working with you, or joining in/signing up, or hiring you for your service or buying your product.

But many social enterprises are ambitious, requiring organization and technology. Yet they often start out as little more than an inspired idea; an observation that something is profoundly missing and an idea of how to fill that gap. But, as we all know only too well, the worthiness of an idea does not guarantee it will find support. Finding support is difficult.

Case study: OneAccessSpace

A case in point is a new venture called OneAccessSpace. OAS will support people affected by cancer. It proposes to do so by pooling the resources (knowledge, experience and talents) of those same people. It’s about empowerment, creating a network and leveraging it. Like my favourite prototypical social enterprise, the Tool Library, OAS is about uncovering/accessing unused or underutilized resources and enabling people to put them to use.

Like the Tool Library, OneAccessSpace is challenged when it comes to revenue models. The people it aims to empower are not in a position to pay user fees, or if they must (as they do in the case of the Tool Library) they have to be modest to be affordable, too modest to alone support the operation.

Yet, the Tool Library is surviving. In fact, it’s thriving. It’s just too good an idea to fail.

Millions of tools lying idle in hundreds of thousands of basements and garages is just too obviously wasteful and a library an equally obvious way to put them into “circulation.” So people continue to donate tools and the founders of each tool library continue to wrangle money out of wherever to keep their operation afloat while the media builds up their story, their user group/memberships grow and those who can help figure out how. In time, patient persistence will pay off in stable revenue streams, some combination of multi-year government funding, corporate sponsors, private donors and user fees.

OneAccessSpace is  somewhat different. It is not just a great social enterprise idea but addresses a pressing social and health issue. Tool libraries aren’t indispensable but OneAccessSpace could be. People affected by cancer are often in critical situations, requiring supports of all kinds, not only medical.

Kim writes:

“When you look at the full impact of cancer, loss of practical supports, loss of employment, financial security impacted, it becomes pretty scary. And often people are too unwell to do much to about “fixing” things and land in the realm of living under the poverty line.

This happened to me, this happens all of the time. But this crisis is rarely talked about and slow at getting addressed.

Thankfully, waves are starting  happen with studies being released and the beginning of some media attention
http://www.cancer.ca/en/get-involved/take-action/what-we-are-doing/financial-hardship-of-cancer-in-canada-mb/?region=mb

http://www.thestar.com/life/cancerresource/2014/07/02/cancer_diagnosis_can_lead_to_financial_crisis_for_some.html

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/household-finances/a-serious-illness-like-cancer-can-also-damage-a-familys-finances/article14680566/

Unfortunately, with the increase of cancer diagnosis rate, I don’t see this getting better.

People are going to need help. They need help now. And I want to help…and can!

My project focuses on linking people to needed practical supports, which most often are free.

OneAccessSpace is driven by cancer survivors and those who support us. It is my hope that OAS will get to a place where we can pay people for working on the project as we grow our community. There will be many opportunities for this and a plethora of passion and skills to cultivate within the cancer survivor community. Working with OAS, and often this will mean within a modified capacity because of recovering from illness, will enable people affected by cancer who have lost employment and financial stability cobble together some income amidst all the loss and chaos.

The model lends itself to true social purpose enterprise….lifting vulnerable people up.”

Connecting person to cause

Kim reveals compelling underlying reasons that we can all relate to more personally, failures or gaps in support networks that make things worse just when the going gets toughest. No one these days has not been touched by cancer. I relate personally because a friend of mine died of cancer this year. She had managed to keep it at bay, despite all odds, for eight years through a revolving carousel of treatments. Finally the options were exhausted and her body couldn’t cope with the last treatment. For most of the eight years, she was able to work and needed to because the financial support she had was meager. But as she grew more frail, she wasn’t able to work, so on top of the stress of illness, she had to worry about paying the rent and putting food on the table for herself and her 16-year old son.

I’m sure my friend Marta would have loved OneAccessSpace and, as an accomplished documentary script writer, researcher and editor, would have been a keen and valued contributor. OneAccessSpace would have helped her through her participation to find support as support became both more critical and elusive.

OneAccessSpace is a cause worth supporting. It’s too early to know how it will all work but Kim has the skills and experience to figure it out and the patient persistence any social enterprise requires. Building something that introduces new ways of doing things isn’t easy, especially in areas like health where we would rather assume “the system” is the best it can be and will look after everything. It requires continuous effort, enormous emotional investment but also practical, financial support, just like the very people OneAccessSpace is striving to support.

Here’s the donate info again:

http://www.csicatalyst.org/projects/50-oneaccessspace-a-digital-resource-for-people-affected-by-cancer (NB requires registration with Catalyst, CSI, a fairly simple process, please take the time.)

More about OneAccessSpace:

About

OneAccessSpace is an online initiative that fostering empowerment by facilitating knowledge, supports and communities amongst people affected by cancer.
Mission

OneAccessSpace is a first-stop online resource that helps people affected by cancer connect to the support they need while helping us realize our own capacity.

Description

By culling information on services and resources across all cancer communities, OneAccessSpace serves as a first access point to springboard further action.

The components that make up OneAccessSpace are:
• A searchable database of supports and resources across all cancer communities
• A community sharing space which includes articles written by cancer survivors, our support people and wellness professionals showcasing healing-based strategies and experiences.
• An engagement listing which includes special events, educational, volunteer and advocacy opportunities
• OneAccessSpace can be used as a model in other communities with people affected by cancer managing their own local operations

The spirit of OneAccessSpace is proactive community engagement guided by compassion and care.

 

What is social entrepreneurship?

social enterprise word map
In the term “social enterprise,” what is the right balance between the “social” (mission) and “enterprise” (profit)?

A lot of people are saying that the key to sustainability in the non-profit sector is entrepreneurship. Centres for social innovation (CSIs) are popping up like mushrooms and “social enterprise” is all the buzz among granting agencies and foundations.

Closer examination reveals a lot of fuzziness around the term “social entreprise;” it means very different things to different people.

For some, entrepreneurship is a generic term associated with energy, innovation and commitment. It’s about drive and the ability to build organizations or even whole movements. Without doubt one has to be a go-getter to champion important causes, often swimming against the current, and have fantastic networking and organizational skills to make real progress. The Ashoka Foundation favours such an  all-encompassing approach, defining Susan B. Anthony as an entrepreneur for her tireless work establishing the equal rights of women.

For others however, entrepreneurship sticks closer to its business roots; it’s about applying business principles and methods to the social, non-profit, field. Charging admission, running a gift shop, perhaps creating your own products, are traditionally part of the non-profit mix of self-generated revenue, and the entrepreneurship here lies also in managing these functions in terms of cost and return, applying business measures and keeping them profitable, etc.

Yet another interpretation, sees social enterprises as businesses that have a distinctively social purpose. Examples on the Ashoka Foundation website include the Montessori school system and the first school for nurses set up by Mary Montessori and Florence Nightingale respectively. It is not necessary that they are profitable or profit-driven; they can be otherwise supported (by the state, individual or corporate patrons, etc.).

Yet for others, entrepreneurship is a precise business term. It means starting and running a business, an enterprise. The word “social” in “social entrepreneurship” means that the business is run by, within or under the umbrella of a social, non-profit, organization and revenues support the social mission of that organization. “Some have advocated restricting the term to founders of organizations that primarily rely on earned income – meaning income earned directly from paying consumers.” (ref: Wikipedia “social entrepreneurship”)

I favour the latter definition. To my way of thinking, the broader interpretations of “social entrepreneurship” confuse things. They seem to be intended more to make the non-profit sector sound better, more exciting, or more like the business community to which it must increasingly turn for support as state funding diminishes and the more traditional forms of patronage become obsolete.

Good things always  come from introducing new language, new ways of talking about what we do. The introduction of terminology like return on investment (ROI), profit and loss, measures and milestones brings clarity to non-profit management, while also making it easier to show potential partners, sponsors and supporters what it is that an organization does.

I hope to follow up this post with some good examples of some different kinds of social enterprises. In particular I will be looking for examples of real businesses operated by non-profits in order to generate income to supporting their social purpose.

 

 

Our “there’s only one pitch” pitch.

When it comes to fundraising, how you present yourself is key. Clear and concise is what you want. This is about a succinct as it gets.

  1. This is who we are
  2. This is what we do.
  3. And we’re good at it.
  4. We have a challenge, born of opportunity.
  5. If we seize it, magic happens.
  6. Which benefits all of us.
  7. We’re almost there. (what we have accomplished/raised already)
  8. You have what’s missing.
  9. And this is what we can do together, starting here.

From Geoff MacDougall‘s One Pitch web page: http://onepitch.wordpress.com/