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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 | 5 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

Don’t Let Robert’s Rules Rule Your Meetings

By | Governance, Leadership, Strategy and Advice, Tips | No Comments

So, social enterprise and social impact organization folks, hands up if you’ve ever had this experience: you’re in a critical or an important meeting and the discussion on the issue that must be decided gets derailed because of an argument over whether the sub-amendment can be made to the main motion and whether or not there needs to be a seconder to the friendly amendment.

What’s just happened is that you’ve crossed the rubicon between using Robert’s Rules to help guide your meeting and letting Robert’s Rules rule your meeting. This isn’t a good line to cross. Your organization’s rules of order should be flexible, with a goal of enabling good, productive discussion in order to succeed – they shouldn’t be things that derail discussions.

I’ve got some simple suggestions that you can use very quickly to make your meetings more productive, by not letting Roberts’ Rules rule your meetings. Read on for more! Read More

Make the best possible decisions with a free strategic decision template

By | Dare to Begin: Organisational Resources, Governance, Strategy and Advice | No Comments

Making decisions can be one of the most complex things you might do as a social enterprise or nonprofit organization. And for many nonprofits and social enterprises, one of the most challenging things you can do when you’re making decisions is try to keep them strategic – keep them aligned with your strategic plan. It’s hard to do this because it’s hard to sometimes get enough distance from a really exciting opportunity to carefully analyze it for fit with your organization, fit for your strategic plan, and fit for your social purpose.

And sometimes, if you can’t make these kinds of decisions strategically, you can end up going down the wrong path, ending up in a place where you don’t want to be.

So how do you avoid this? Good news – we’ve got a completely free template you can use to analyze your decisions. Read on to learn about the template, how to use it, and links to a copy you can put to use now.  Read More

Communicating your social impact

By | Social Enterprise, Social Impact, Social Media, Strategy and Advice | No Comments

I’m guilty of using big words when little ones suffice. And that can be a barrier to communicating social enterprise – complex terms can block our messages from reaching the very people we want to reach, and telling the stories we want to tell.

So how do we communicate our social impact? My suggestion: through communicating our values. And more. Read More

Social impact: it’s what your next biggest demographic wants

By | Building Success, Impact Technology, Marketing, Social Enterprise, Social Enterprise, Social Impact, Social Impact, Strategy and Advice, What we're reading | No Comments

There’s much that’s been said and written about millenials – that demographic cohort that followed Generation X and has been roughly defined as being born sometime from the 1980s to the 2000s – but what is incontrovertible is that they are the next biggest market for any business, nonprofit organization, or social enterprise. Which is where Deloitte’s Millenial Surveys come in useful. And what’s interesting is that the surveys indicate that the vast majority of millenials want business success to be defined by more than just profits – instead, they want it defined by values and by social impact. Read More

Let’s Encrypt – nonprofit and community encryption

By | Impact Technology, Social Media, Strategy and Advice | No Comments

letsencrypt-logo-largeIf your organization has a website, you should seriously consider installing an SSL certificate on it to enable encryption. Otherwise, any information anyone sends to your site could be intercepted and stolen. If you handle personal information, that’s an alarming thing to think about.

But if your mind sort of boggled at the term “SSL certificate,” and if you’re afraid of even asking what that means, we’ve got good news – a nonprofit, community-based option has just opened up. It’s called Let’s Encrypt, and its goal is to help enable encryption everywhere on the internet – helping make personal data safer on the web.

First, let’s explain what this means.  Read More

Are you sending your email newsletters legally? An important check!

By | Social Media, Strategy and Advice | No Comments


Are you sending your emails legally?

Many of us in the nonprofit and social impact sectors are aware of the new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), but it seems that not everyone is – or of the potential outcomes if you’re not!

Today, the CRTC issued a press release detailing a $1.1 million dollar fine they assessed against CompuFinder, a company that does training for marketing and social media and other kinds of services. They do a lot of their marketing, apparently, through email.

CompuFinder did a few things wrong, according to the CRTC:

  • They couldn’t prove they had consent to market to the people who received the emails – and CASL requires that you collect express consent from people and document that consent.
  • While they provided an unsubscribe mechanism in their emails, it didn’t work. CASL requires you to provide an unsubscribe mechanism in your marketing emails – a link is often easiest – and it needs to remain active for at least 60 days after you send your message.
  • They accounted, apparently, for about 26% of all complaints in the CRTC’s database!

Many nonprofit and social impact organizations use emails to send notices of training workshops, programs, and other services. If you’re sending emails, make sure that you’re compliant!

Need advice on how to make your email marketing compliant with CASL? We’re here to help. Schedule a consultation and we’ll plan a strategy to keep you onside.

2013 Budget Consultations - Incipe Cooperative

Provide your input to BC’s provincial budget – until October 18

By | Government Relations, Strategy and Advice | No Comments

It’s budget consultation time in British Columbia.

The government of British Columbia routinely engages in budget consultations prior to setting its provincial budget; this year, the deadline to make submissions is October 18.

Each year, the government of British Columbia engages in budget consultations, where the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services travels around the province, hosting forums and public meetings where residents of the province can make submission to the committee that can be considered and included in a report back to the Legislature prior to the submission of the provincial budget.  2013 Budget Consultations - Incipe Cooperative

Budget consultations are excellent opportunities for nonprofits, advocacy groups, membership associations, grassroots groups, and cooperatives to provide input directly to the provincial government on government operations.  The consultations are particularly useful opportunities if your group is one that has, as a part of its mandate or operations, a concern or advocacy positions on provincial government programs, because they give you a regular and formal opportunity to put your concerns on paper, and submit them either in person to a meeting of the committee or via submission of a written report.

We encourage all groups that feel that they have issues that they could comment on to offer a submission as part of the budget consultations.  Your submissions do not need to be in-depth, with hundreds of footnotes and written by a political scientist (though they could – check out our services, particularly Strategy and Advice) – but they should be reflective of your organization, your mandate, your goals, and be connected to provincial government programs, or reasonably linked.

Here are some other tips:

  • Don’t write your submission with one particular political party in mind. Think broadly, and remember that a change of government is likely only a few months away.
  • If you are basing a submission on facts that you and your organization know to be true, work on finding some citations from other organizations that support your recommendation, particularly if your recommendations rely on ‘facts’ or ‘figures.’
  • Do you need assistance in preparing a submission? Get in touch. The Incipe Cooperative can work with you to edit your submission, prepare it for submission, and get it into the hands of the provincial government. Don’t miss your chance.
  • Tell a story with your submission. Explain the background of your organization, why you think the work you do benefits the province, and explain how your experiences bring forward the suggestions you’re making.
  • Keep your suggestions connected to provincial government policy, but don’t be afraid to be pie-in-the-sky. Big ideas can be picked up at any time.
  • Don’t be late. Deadline for submissions is October 15.