Archive for November, 2013

Can you really make ends meet while changing the world?

Social enterprise need not be a profit-sinking four-letter word.

Last April, Paul Millar, Director of Outreach at ForestView Church, realized he had a problem.

“We had seen a growing interest and response to Rolling Horse, our community bike repair program, and knew that there were new opportunities to explore to further our social impact,” he said. “However, we were uncertain how to generate enough income to run the programs that we wanted to do.”

Building a social enterprise was a logical solution. “But,” Millar says, “that in itself created a new challenge as we needed coaching on the building process. We found out about Innoweave through our local United Way and knew it was the logical next step.”

ForestView Church is certainly not alone with its challenges around building a successful social enterprise. Many NFPs struggle with finding and maintaining the funds to run their programs and, just as importantly, making them self sufficient.


Growing Pains: Do You Scale Up or Out?

How do you increase the impact of your organization?

Imagine a little girl named Bianca. She’s smart, sassy and just learning how to add and subtract. Over the next few months, she’s going to decide whether or not she is “good” at math.

It’s a decision that will colour her perception of math and of her own abilities for the rest of her learning life. Studies show that kids actually shut down and tune out in class if they assume they “aren’t good” at a certain subject, which can have devastating impacts on their personal and economic futures.


What if you KNOW that this idea that some people can do math and others can’t is just a myth? What if your goal is to empower Bianca’s teachers to make sure that she and all her classmates feel competent and creative when it comes to numbers?

This is exactly what JUMP Math (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies) aims to do. They’re a program that gives teachers a set of teaching tools (practice books, student assessment guides, lesson plans, professional development and support and more) to help engage kids and teach them math in a way that resonates with them.

JUMP Math has seen exponential growth by first expanding their programs, then selling their textbooks (knowledge) to others. Now they are looking to scale their impact further through school boards, superintendents, teacher unions and parent groups.

The question is how to do it? How to effectively increase their amazing results in the most efficient way given limited resources? How to challenge one’s assumptions and frameworks to find hidden barriers to success? How to overcome cultural and infrastructural obstacles while staying focused on one’s organizational objectives.

Where does one even start? And what are the best aspects to scale?


GRANTRAVAGANZA: Spotlight on Unity Charity

GRANTRAVAGANZA: Spotlight on some of our grantees and their experiences getting an Innoweave grant to further their organizational goals.


When you effect positive social change using graffiti and hip hop, it takes special tools to evaluate your effectiveness and help you adapt quickly.

UNITY Charity might just have one of the coolest tag lines in the history of NFPs. It goes: “We teach youth to express their stress and develop skills for success”. But when your mission is to help disengaged youth channel their fear and anger via breakdance and spoken word (among various urban art forms), how do you figure out what’s working and as importantly, how do you adapt to the ever-changing environment to do even better?

Developmental Evaluation means using real time information to make decisions as you roll out your programs rather than guessing at a perfect plan and evaluating later.

“UNITY was interested in tools that would help us evaluate the effectiveness of our programs and adapt in real time. We also needed something that could be applied to our programs across Canada, taking into consideration the different makeup of our program participants.” explains Malik Musleh, Director of Development at UNITY Charity. “For example, youth in Fort McMurray are facing potentially different issues than youth in Toronto or youth in Nova Scotia. We wanted to measure whether they were really that different, HOW they are different and if they are, what are the techniques that we need to implement to make proper comparisons between each group and know that our programs are effective in meeting everyone’s needs.

“To be able to adapt while getting this information is key in our innovative environment.”