Speaking Engagements

We are heading west in July, with stops in Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Sioux Lookout and Kenora before Winnipeg, our final destination. Enroute we’ll be meeting with people to talk about social enterprise, including this:

poster for Sault Ste. Marie talk on social enterprise and law.
If you are in the vicinity of Sault Ste. Marie on July 7th, please join us. Click on image for larger view.

Thanks to Katie Elliott, Project Coordinator of the NORDIK Institute and Sessional Instructor in the Algoma University CESD Program, for setting up this workshop. And to Marjorie Brans at the School for Social Enterprepreneurs – Ontario for introducing us.

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


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.

Four social enterprises for art museums

Art. Future. Change. Canada Council for the Arts report on the state of the visual arts in Canada, 2015The Canada Council for the Arts publication of a major report on the state of the visual arts in Canada (discussed here) inspired us to look afresh at how social enterprise concepts might play in the arts. This quote from the report was the spark: “[M]uch can be learned from innovative strategies in start-up culture, social enterprise and experimental development; as well as emergent non-profit business models that are being explored across other sectors.”

What are the startup and social enterprise strategies the report is referring to? And what is to be learned from them?

The mantra of social enterprise is “people, planet and profit.” And for both startups and social enterprises, success has to be measurable, producing both social and financial returns for investors and the enterprise.

Globe_reconstructionSocial enterprise is defined in this this Reuter’s article as “a business that solves a social purpose.” The article is about the UK’s Globe theatre raising £5m (CAD $7.5m) through a “social impact bond” (SIB) issue.

The UK government has 31 SIBs as of this year, more than there are in the rest of the world combined. A government issued SIB is typically calculated to produce a return on investment in the form of savings on how government is currently doing things. For example, a bond issued to support home care over hospital care, will produce savings in overall health care costs. As performance goals are met, bond holders receive financial returns proportional but not eating up all the savings. Everybody wins, maybe not as much as in the private investment world but enough to make a difference.

For Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, it is not yet clear whether the bond will be designed to produce actual financial returns or is more like philanthropy by a sexier name. But in terms of “social return on investment” or “social impact” the Globe’s impact looks impressive: in the first six months of a 24-month world tour launched in April 2014, 89 performances of Hamlet were staged in 54 countries to approximately 54,000 people.

Taking social enterprise literally

A more literal approach to using startup and social enterprise strategies would be to try them out. There are a host of enterprising things museums do already. To be strategic, pushing toward the triple bottom lines of people, planet and profit, would take just a little tweeking:

Hospitality Industry Training

Dress these folks in black and turn those smiles upside down and you'd have something like a group of shot of museum professionals
Take off the hats and turn those smiles upside down and these folks wouldn’t look too different than a group of museum professionals.

Typically, services in public institutions like museums and art galleries are “extra.” The primary tasks are to collect and preserve and present artifacts or art. Guests are welcome but secondary to the primary mission. Financing similarly is not tied to the mission. There’s a correlation of course between donors, sponsors and visitor support and the quality of program but it is indirect. No-one buys a curator’s decision to show a particular artist, least of all the public.

All that is fine, but when it comes to visitor services, public galleries have learned that numbers matter and holding numbers requires more than simply delivering great exhibitions in great, well-kept spaces. Increasingly, they are required to pay attention to the “visitor experience.”

Receptionists and docents know just how often they are asked for directions to restaurants or other attractions. Yet, few people working in the arts are properly trained in how to anticipate and respond to visitors. This is the territory of “customer relations,” and “hospitality,” familiar in the travel and accommodation industries. This is not to say that today’s museum goer is not welcomed and helped. They are. And museums are increasingly attentive to, and developing expertise in this area.

At the same time, there is also a need for trained people in the tourism and hospitality fields. As Richard Florida pointed out over a decade ago, the whole economy has shifted toward services. As manufacturing moves offshore and leisure becomes more important for a larger, aging and relatively financially secure demographic, services training is needed.

Museums could strengthen and broaden their public role by focusing on, and enhancing, visitor services. To be able to invest in improved services, an entrepreneurial approach could be taken. Museums could create visitor centres that are a training grounds for tourism and hospitality workers. They would simultaneously get the benefit of the people learning on the job while also producing people with experience and enthusiasm who are 100% more  likely to search out or even create new opportunities to put their greeting/hosting/serving skills to use.

Official Guide Training Program

The institutional credibility and intellectual pedigree of museums make them a natural seedbed for highly specialized training.
The institutional credibility and intellectual pedigree of museums make them fertile ground in which to grow highly specialized training programs.

In the UK, Blue Badge guides are among the most respected people working in the hospitality and tourism industry. The training is rigorous: they study for up to two years at university level, taking a comprehensive series of written and practical exams which qualify them to become Blue Badge Tourist Guides.

Art museums already train and use docents, and increasingly are looking at digital audio/media supports for the visitor experience. For sure, digital media are intriguing, for now, but nothing compares to the caring and knowledgeable personal guide. A program that trains people, older and younger, to develop their knowledge and presentation skills to encyclopedic levels would prove its value in two concrete ways: enhancing workforce skill levels but also by adding credibility and respect to the institutions that would employ those people. In the highly competitive tourism marketplace, distinctiveness and quality are prized and hard to achieve.

Art Bank

Browsing the Art Bank collection during the 40th Anniversary open house or shopping for something to take home?
Browsing the Art Bank collection during the 40th Anniversary open house or shopping for something to rent and take home?

Started in 1972, the Canada Council Art Bank was as innovative a social enterprise concept as you are ever likely to find. Artists would “bank” their work there, having been paid well for it, retaining a right to “withdraw” it at any time for the same price. The presumption was that years later, the value of the work having gone up substantially, the artist would be able to buy the work back at cost and sell it, capitalizing on the increased market value.

For the Art Bank, the money wasn’t in the escalating price of the work but in renting it out while they held it. Government and corporate offices throughout Ottawa showcased the best work being done in Canada. It was stunning and a model that worked fabulously well for many years, producing surpluses year after year. Eventually, however, the model failed. The vaults kept growing, storage and maintenance costs ever increasing, but the rental market was saturated and redemption was rare. Most Canadian art isn’t worth more than it was the day it left the studio.

Today the Art Bank is still struggling to find its way. But it has created a fine history of respectable failures to learn from. One obvious lesson is that an enterprise that hopes to succeed in the marketplace needs to have the agility to move with it. Failing to change its art acquisition policies when the rental market was saturated (and in fact started to collapse as government cost cutting eliminated rental budgets) was fatal.

The most important lesson of the Art Bank lies in the relationship between collection and marketplace. Many art galleries have rental services but the work they rent is generally not very valuable and not very good. One assumes the reasons, risk of damage, theft, insurance costs. Yet the Art Bank was able to place artwork valued in the 10s of thousands in public and private buildings, often in high traffic areas. Why shouldn’t artworks in museum collections be rented out directly to conscientious patrons, businesses, organizations and local government?

Or how about this even more radical idea? Imagine a dystopian Fahrenheit 451-ish future in which collections are distributed among the people, housed and cared for piece by piece; it would be the “museum” as it started, with the impulse to collect, conserve, study, only distributed and organized as we are able to do now in the 21st C.

Sunday Painters

Winston Churchill was a Sunday painter. The important thing isn't whether he was any good, but that he thought painting was worth his time. You can't tell me that isn't a lesson museums are trying to teach.
Winston Churchill was a Sunday painter. It isn’t important  whether or not he was any good, but that he thought painting was worth his time. That’s a lesson all museums are trying to teach.

The art world has spent the past 30+ years learning not to judge everything from the white European male perspective. Just as barriers to women, black, hispanic, gay and other artists of all kinds fall, perhaps the final frontier of inclusiveness will be opening the doors of privilege to the genre and amateur artist.

It is difficult for art museums to show local amateur artists, except maybe once a year, in hallways. Wildlife artists like Robert Bateman continue to be ignored despite their global popularity. What’s going on? It’s not like the “high arts” can’t handle a challenge. In fact, critical challenge is what the best of the arts are supposed to be good at. As Andrew Hunter, now curator of Canadian art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, showed in his early curation-as-art practice, art is liminal, an effect produced at the interstices of place, object, object and encounter, i.e. contextual.

I know it sounds improbable, but the assumptions around things like Sunday (and other genres of) painters warrant testing. There is something so obviously “social” in these practices. And engaging audiences more as active producers than passive spectators can’t be a bad thing. It’s a clumsy idea. It’s unclear where the “enterprise” part might come in. Some amateur work is produced in gallery art classes for which the artists already pay. Wildlife or naturalist artists like Bateman would draw staggering numbers of visitors of course, selling out the gift shops. I have no conclusions in this final example. I’m just throwing it out there. Perhaps you see it more clearly.

The point of this exercise, these four ideas, has been to look at things differently. Social enterprise is about finding ways to accomplish important social purposes in ways no one has thought of before. It’s willing to risk failure for the chance to do something unprecedented and remarkable.

In startup land, there’s a lot of buzz around concepts like “disruption.” Many things that we assumed had to be the way they were, aren’t that way anymore, bookstores for example. This kind of change may not always be good, at least not in the way we have defined “good,” but it is always interesting, which is, as artist Don Judd once said, the whole point.

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.

Signing a Will is not to be taken for granted

H.R._1997_signingThere are several key elements of a properly drafted Will and several key moments in the process. Signing is, to put it lightly, a rigamarole. It is a challenge to plan, complex to manage and requires supervision to pull off properly. It may not be a free trade agreement or piece of government legislation but it no less of a ceremony or ritual.

Two witnesses must witness the Testator’s (the person whose Will it is) signature. They must be in the room together at the same time and for the duration of the signing. This is harder than it sounds. A witness who steps out of the room to take a quick phone call or reply to a text compromises the days and weeks of work that has gone into preparing for this moment.

And then there’s the paperwork. Typically a client is obtaining not just a Will but also two Powers of Attorney, one for Property and one for Personal Care. So that is three documents signed by the Testator, each requiring two witnesses, meaning nine signatures in all. Individual pages of each document that are not the signing page also must be initialed. Witnesses should then swear affidavits attesting that they did indeed sign and in the presence of each other. To swear an affidavit requires a Commissioner for Oaths, a Notary, or a lawyer. So that is two affidavits for each of the three main documents, adding six documents and signatures. So we are now at 15 signatures. Add to that, the signature of the Commissioner on the affidavits and that is another six signatures. All together that’s twenty-one signatures. Preparing the paperwork, the original three documents (Will and two POAs) and the six affidavits and keeping them order as they are being signed is challenging, and once they are signed they need to be copied at least twice, once for the client to give to his/her Executor and once for the file.

Eighteen documents. Twenty-one signatures. Thirty-six copies. No surprise that so few people complete those self-help wills kits.

“[I]t would appear that no matter how explicit and clear are the instructions of the unsupervised execution of the Will by a client without legal assistance, the formalities attendant upon the legal and proper execution of a Will as provided by the statute are sufficiently complex that a client not legally trained should not be trusted to undertake this ceremony alone. I use the word ‘ceremony’ advisedly as the process of execution of Will involves at least three participants, with a prescribed ritual of which all solicitors are familiar.” – Rodney Hull, Q.C., Law Society of Upper Canada continuing legal education program materials, 2014

Wills Survey

“Why can’t I just write down what I want?”

– Survey respondent (In fact you can, but that’s a story for another day.)

72% of respondents don’t have a will and 86% of those have thought about getting one.

Cost doesn’t appear to be the main obstacle. Only 6% said it was. 35% said it just wasn’t a priority and, of the majority of those who provided explanations (60%) many faulted themselves (procrastination) but also cited uncertainty about what is involved, how you do it, cost, difficult coordinating with partners, not having much in the way of possessions, etc.

About half think the most important thing about a will is giving things to certain people (when really it is at least as important that you appoint someone to look after your things when you won’t be to do it yourself).

Of those who already have a will, a little over 50% got it within the last five years (Congratulations!)

Most had a lawyer do it, for prices ranging from zero (worked for a lawyer) to about $400 (though many did not reveal what they paid).

And finally, many of you have experienced major life changes since you had your will done, including changing partners (12.5%), facing major health challenges (25%), acquiring a house (25%), and, not surprisingly for a community of social innovators, over 80% have started a social enterprise, non-profit or organization or  have joined one.

So, that’s it. Thank you again.

For those who left an email address so we can send you more info, we ’ll be in touch shortly.

Here are the results of the SimplyWills Simple Survey. Thank you to everyone who participated! If you’d like to take the survey, here it is below. We’ll check it periodically to monitor on-going feedback.

SimplyWills Simple Survey

Five questions in five minutes. Scroll down to see all questions. Thank you!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Plain English drafting

220px-Norman_dictionary_1779_KelhamLaw, like most things we do in life, is deeply tied to language; who said what, when, to whom and how. Legal language is notoriously obtuse, but has gotten much, much better over the years. Still, this advice is sage for lawyers and DIYers alike:

“If you keep the language clear, concise, and as simple as possible, anyone reading the agreement will understand your intentions. Clear, concise, and simple language is important in order that:

  1. when starting the relationship with the other party, you both have the same understanding of the contract and to what you’ve each agreed;
  2. if you or your licensing counterpart leave your respective entities, anyone else can pick up the agreement and will have the same interpretation as the two of you did; and
  3. if the agreement becomes part of a legal action, any third party will interpret the agreement in the way you intended, including a judge or jury of your peers.

“If you are not sure if something is clear, it likely isn’t. Run the language by your colleagues (without providing any interpretations!) before signing as at least one test to make sure you are understood.”

– Kirsten Leute, Anatomy of a License Agreement
Kirsten Leute is a senior associate at the Office of Technology Licensing at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

Fall is a traditional time to create or update your Will

Wheat-harvestPerhaps it is the instinct to create a cache to last through winter, or an ancient memory of the abundance of harvest time, or the family focus of events like Thanksgiving and Halloween. Whatever the motivation, many people take time in the Fall to look after longer term things. If you find yourself reflecting at this time of year about where you’ve been and where you are going, what you want out of life, your relationships and future, you are not alone.

That reflective process should naturally include thinking about your will. If you don’t have a will, you want one. There are many good reasons for having a will, the best of which is that it will help those you leave behind put your things in order. If you already have a will, you may want to think about what has changed in your life since you made it.

To give you an idea of what is involved in making a will, here are some basics:

1. The key element of every will is who is named as your Executor, that is, who will be responsible for wrapping up your affairs. And if you have children under 18, who will be named their Guardian.

2. You need to have a general idea of what you want to do with your things. (All to my spouse/partner, to the kids equally, X dollars to cousin Charlie/Médecins sans frontières or whatever, etc.)

3. Many people get stuck thinking you have to list all your assets. You don’t. It is a good idea to have such a list but most wills deal with your assets in a global way.

4. Think about any special things have and what you want done with them, things like family heirlooms (precious or not) or things of sentimental value.

5. Also give some thought to any special burial or funeral arrangements you may want.

Once you have a good idea about the above, a draft of your will can be prepared, which forms the basis for a more detailed discussion. Often things come up in conversation, wrinkles (big or small) that require special consideration and advice. These are the things that make your will uniquely yours.

The process of making the will usually involves:

1. An initial meeting to receive the above information and discuss the general shape of the will. (Yes, we make house calls for initial meetings.)

2. Preparing a draft of the will and reviewing it with you for corrections and changes. Usually this can be done by email and may involve several exchanges.

3. Once the will is finalized, meeting again at our office for signing before witnesses. This is a key moment and must be supervised to avoid errors.

Our research shows that the average cost for a “simple” will in Ontario is around $350. So that is where we set our base fee. If things are more complicated and more advice is needed, or preparation is taking an inordinate amount of time (it happens), we watch our hours and will discuss fees with you.

Finally, we recommend that you add two things to your will:

A Power of Attorney for Property is useful in case you are incapacitated. Without one, the Province may take control of your property, creating a painful and protracted experience for your family and friends. A PoA for Property can also be useful in emergencies, e.g., if you are out of the country and some property matter needs to be dealt with.

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care does the same thing but for matters of your health and living situaton in the event you are incapacitated. We recommend an additional document to accompany the PoA for Personal Care, an Advance Care Directive (sometimes called a “living will”). These two documents empower someone to make decisions for you about health care, to ensure you are cared for in the way and to the extent you wish.

Of course, you can also do your own will. Search “self-counsel wills Ontario” or “wills forms Ontario”. (The Ontario part is important because laws vary from Province to Province.) But in our experience, many people need answers to questions and a helping hand to complete a proper, legal will.


And by all means, do your homework. The better informed you are, the more rewarding the experience will be and the better your will and PoAs will come out.

Some excellent advice about things to watch out for here: http://www.torontoestatemonitor.com/estate-planning/some-estate-planning-mistakes-to-avoid/

…referring to this informative article in the Globe & Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/household-finances/a-legal-will-is-worth-the-time-and-money/article2153661/



New location, new horizons

2photo4We are delighted to announce that we have a new office! Located in a neighbourhood undergoing the most remarkable renaissance in Toronto, we have joined a wonderful community at the Centre for Social Innovation, in the Daniels Spectrum Building in the heart of Regent Park. From this base, we will be providing legal expertise and support to purpose-driven  social enterprises, small to medium businesses and the residents, new and old, of Riverdale, Cabbagetown, Corktown and Regent Park.

Robert Labossiere is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and operates a general law practice. Robert has extensive experience with the non-profit and charities sector and is a social entrepreneur and business person himself. Robert shares office space at the Centre for Social Innovation with Emma Wanjiku, a licensed paralegal, who offers a full range of affordable representation before tribunals including Landlord and Tenant, Provincial and summary criminal matters, the Highway Traffic Act, etc.  Emma  brings to her work a depth of experience in the related field of human resources.

Emma and Robert came together because they love the neighbourhood and are excited about the renaissance that is under way. Building their social enterprises, they are intent on economizing, keeping their businesses footprints small by sharing costs while also being especially attentive to their clients needs, ensuring each and everyone gets the best possible service at the best price. Their shared vision is to increase accessibility to the justice system, and to contribute to community building by helping the people, organizations and businesses who are engaged in progressive social, economic and cultural change.

Photo session out takes

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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



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:


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

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.


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.