In November 2019, over 50 people began a journey to explore Social Innovation at an event hosted by the Institute of Southern Georgian Bay. There was great interest in using the social innovation process to ensure greater success in dealing with the complex issues our communities were facing. In 2020, the pandemic hit, and it became clear that access to capital for addressing social issues would become even more of a challenge. The idea of a Social Investment Strategy was explored in the Mapping Our Road to Recovery series.
In 2021, the Institute formed the Social Finance Learning Group to explore tools and strategies being used in other jurisdictions to support progress on issues, including housing, climate change, and food systems. That group evolved into the Social Finance & Housing Working Group. In 2022, this group is creating a Social Finance toolkit that can be used by municipalities and housing advocates to accelerate progress on the housing issue.
This document shares links to important event recordings, notes, articles, and reports, so this knowledge can be shared widely across Southern Georgian Bay.
Social Innovation – What is it and why now? – Public presentation and workshop; Tonya Surman presented highlights of the Centre for Social Innovation journey, including introducing social finance tools, November 2019
Mapping Our Road to Recovery Part 3: Strategic Investments – Municipal Collaboration for Recovery, Wednesday, June 10th, 2020, 4:30-6:00pm via Zoom – – idea of a social investment strategy emerged
These 5 recommendations include:
- Adopt “collaboration” as a necessary part of every solution
- Realize that flexibility is key
- Focus on how needs can be met locally
- Understand that technology has emerged as the most powerful enabling factor
- Recognize that Social Finance can play an important role in addressing the anticipated capital shortfall for recovery
The conversation about social finance emerged in Canada because of reductions in government funding through the mid-90s and the decade that followed. There was recognition that the biggest barrier to the Canadian social sector doing its job of tending community wellbeing was access to capital. By 2010, there was enough experimentation that the McConnell Foundation funded the Task Force on Social Finance. The report Mobilizing Private Capital for Public Good: Canadian Task Force on Social Finance called on institutional investors, corporations, philanthropists, foundations, and governments to work together to build a robust impact-investing marketplace. This Primer explores the current range of social finance instruments that communities like ours could access.
Creation of the Social Finance Learning Group
The Social Finance Learning Group, a project of the Institute of Southern Georgian Bay, grew out of several community conversation events from the online series Mapping Our Road to Recovery. We realized that our small municipalities are potentially missing some new approaches to financing sustainability and social wellbeing (think housing, employment, green development, social enterprise, social procurement) if we are just thinking in more traditional taxes and granting terms.
So, we put together a learning group of over 20 leaders from business, government, nonprofit, social enterprise, and philanthropic sectors, with the general idea that, from our conversations and learning together, we should be able to collaboratively create a social finance strategy for our region to support more innovation in community financing. We focused quite a bit of our conversation on social procurement – if this is new, check out Buy Social Canada.
In the summer of 2021, the group decided to focus our Social Finance learning on how it can be used to accelerate progress on the housing issue.
Social Finance and Housing Working Group
Social Finance – levers to advance social and economic prosperity by Jack Vanderkooy, Social Finance Learning Group, and Board Chair, Habitat for Humanity South Georgian Bay
By Shirley Keaveney, Deputy Mayor, Meaford, and member of the Institute’s Social Finance Learning Group. This is an abridged version of Shirley’s remarks at the Institute’s Sustainable, Attainable, Affordable Housing event held on December 1, 2021. You can watch the video of the event here
Jack Vanderkooy, Social Finance Learning Group, and Board Chair, Habitat for Humanity South Georgian Bay