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Vancouver Needs a Freelancer’s Co-op – Here’s How and Why

By | Cooperatives Work, Social Enterprise, Social Impact, Strategy and Advice | 4 Comments

There’s something that many people in Vancouver know and experience daily: the life of a freelancer or a consultant. Our economy, while vibrant, is pushing people into nontraditional working relationships: we’re no longer getting full-time jobs that allow for advancement within a company; instead, we’re getting short-term contracts that are precarious, coupled with an environment that’s reluctant to hire permanent employees.

This has some interesting outcomes: first, there’s an increasing crowd of freelancers and consultants in Vancouver. Some really cool outcomes come from this: people are unafraid to work together in unique ways, and organizations get the best talent they can, albeit on a reduced commitment timeframe. However, there’s a significant downside: the life of a consultant or freelancer isn’t stable, and it lacks more than just stability – freelance jobs rarely have extended health benefits, put most of the administration work (invoicing, accounting, legal review) onto the hands of the freelancer or consultant. That part isn’t fun.

But there’s a way we can make it easier – if we build up a Freelancer and Consultant’s Co-op. The co-op could handle things that we all need, as freelancers and consultants: extended health benefits, accounting, legal review, infrastructure for billing, and more. The co-op could partner with a coworking space so that freelancers has a place to call home, and the co-op could provide services to all those workers, too.

The idea is simple: there’s services we all need as freelancers and consultants. We can provide them by working together in a cooperative fashion. Read More

How do we build a truly sharing economy and not a sharecropping one?

By | Cooperatives Work, Impact Investing, Sharing Economy, Social Enterprise, Social Impact, Strategy and Advice | No Comments

I’ve written before about the sharing economy in a bunch of different places. I think it’s a problematic term, one that perhaps even needs to go away. The challenge with that, of course, is that it has a certain amount of stickiness – people are interested in the idea of sharing instead of individually consuming, and working together instead of working against each other.

One side of this equation is hope in a collaborative economy that actually makes a difference in the world; the other side is an entrenchment of exploitation. In my mind, the sharing economy is in a liminal space at the moment: it can grow the good, or as Rebeca Solnit put it so well, it could continue to be the “sharecropping economy,” because that’s where it is at the moment.

So how do we get there? Read More

Inclusion in products and services means equitable access

By | Social Enterprise, Social Impact, What we're reading | No Comments

As social enterprises and social impact organizations often have members, clients, supporters, or audiences that have different abilities and different capacities, we need to think a lot about how we make our products and services accessible to the people we’re aiming to support and serve.

And equitable access means different things in different contexts. Vancouver’s transit agency, Translink, is currently in the process of demonstrating exactly what inclusion doesn’t mean as they launch their faregate turnstile program called “Compass Card.” If you’re launching a social impact product or service, you need to make sure that it’s equally accessible to all. Read More

We’re launching something exciting

By | Projects, Sharing Economy, Social Enterprise, Social Impact | No Comments

This is a bit of an odd blog post – I’m super excited to tell you about something cool that the Incipe Cooperative is launching because I think it’s going to change our game about how we help social enterprises and social impact organizations grow and expand the difference they make in their communities. However, we’re still putting the finishing touches on our new project – and awaiting some approvals to really get it ready to launch.

But, there’s some that I can tell you. It all ties into our goal to support the vibrant culture of social impact that we see arising in BC, across Canada, and around the world – a vibrant community of changemakers working towards exciting projects. Read More

Do onboarding well: increase your impact

By | Building Success, Leadership, Social Enterprise, Social Impact, What we're reading | No Comments

The Globe and Mail recently ran an article about Vancity Credit Union’s onboarding sessions – the immersion program that the credit union offers to all of its staff and even its Board of Directors when they join the organization. From a read of that article, it seems like an awesome program. I’ve been involved in some activities around it, and I can echo many of the impactful statements that were made.

There’s a key takeaway that you can get from this short but informative piece. How you bring people into your organization matters – it’s first impressions, but on an important new level. When it comes to bringing people into social impact organizations, you can be build a culture for impact, if you do your onboarding well. You can even increase your impact by building a culture of engagement and empowerment. Read on to find out how. Read More

Being connected to other social impact leaders is empowering

By | Social Impact | No Comments

I think that we all know that connections with other people are powerful – they form a social fabric in which we exist, and they can build a network that we can rely on for inspiration, action, and support. I think this is why I’m already intensely enjoying my experience in the RADIUS SFU Fellowship in Radical Doing – that connection to other leaders and emerging leaders who are doing amazing things. As an introverted person, I’m normally not at my best when I’m in a big crowd – but this crowd is full of amazing people.

This experience leads me to think that a special kind of connection – of networking, if you will – could be very valuable for social impact leaders.  Read More

A powerful question to revitalize your passion for impact

By | Leadership, Social Impact | No Comments

This weekend, I joined my colleagues in the SFU RADIUS Fellowship in Radical Doing at a retreat at Crescent Beach. The retreat was a program launch retreat – it combined goals of introducing us to each other and to the program, but to also start getting us to think about what we wanted to develop over the course of the program.  Our program leader, Tamara, had us do one exercise that I thought was particularly powerful – all based on question that seemed to simple as to be innocuous.

However, that one question gave me a burst of inspiration and revitalized my passion for change. Read on, and I’ll share that question, and tell you how you and your organization should ask it of yourselves. It’s really that simple and that powerful. Read More

Let’s get some radical doing done.

By | Social Enterprise, Social Impact | No Comments

This past Tuesday, I started something exciting – and now it’s time to get some radical doing done.

I was recently names as a Fellow with the RADIUS SFU Fellowships in Radical Doing. This is an exciting, innovative program that takes people who are working on innovative projects and helps connect them to networks, resources, mentors, and boost their projects to a new level of success.

It’s tremendously exciting, for a number of reasons: Read More

Social enterprises should be creating jobs for women, people of colour, and youth

By | Social Enterprise, Social Enterprise, Social Impact, Social Impact, What we're reading | No Comments

The International Labour Office recently released a report that showed that young people and women face some terrific barriers to employment. This isn’t good – barriers to employment entrench divisions based on gender and age and build increasingly unequal societies.

This doesn’t need to be the case – and I think that social enterprises, nonprofits, and other cause-based organizations are uniquely positioned to create jobs for women, people of colour, and youth. We’re positioned to make impacts in society, and this is an impact that needs to be made. Read More

Don’t let your nonprofit’s positive statements become a joke

By | Communications, Marketing, Social Impact, What we're reading | No Comments

There’s a pretty good comedic post floating about the nonprofit sector right now – from the Nonprofit with Balls blog (pardon the name) – that “translates” commonly used nonprofit terms intended to describe positive aspects of organizations that tend not to. An example: Lots of opportunity: It literally could not get any worse.”

While this post is a good read and a good laugh, it resonates with a lot of us because we see the contradictions in what we are trying to do (build better communities, serve those around us who aren’t being served, make a difference in our neighbourhoods) with the ways in which we do it (chase grants, cut corners on benefits, work unpaid hours, and more). I’ve written here in the past on the importance of making your employees your brand ambassadors – this funny blog post weighs in with the importance of making sure your organization’s positive statements aren’t a joke, and this goes well beyond just your employees. But how do you do make sure you’re not going to end Read on. Read More