When the Going Gets Tough, Invest in Evaluation

As winter turns to spring, the charitable sector in Ontario is grappling with a new provincial budget that puts funding pressure on a range of public services and deepens the social deficit—the gap between what people need, and what charities and government services can provide. Many charities are already searching the landscape for new funding options, worried they will otherwise …

Turning Entrepreneurship Inside Out

For the last four years, I’ve had the pleasure of serving as an Entrepreneur in Residence at RADIUS, a social innovation lab and venture accelerator at Simon Fraser University. Like all entrepreneurs, RADIUS program participants face myriad challenges, but there’s one problem in particular that always piques my interest. In the first accelerator cohort, there was a young woman who …

Sharing Joy in a Time of Anxiety

The Monday morning of my birthday week I was feeling really gloomy. Downright down, in fact. The tricky tendrils of existential anxiety were taking hold. The previous evening, I had been to see a documentary called The Ponds. It’s an utterly charming film about the men and women who swim year-round in the ponds on Hampstead Heath near where I …

Purpose and Accountability: The Carrot and Stick of Social Impact

Social entrepreneurs are about more than making money. We have loftier goals than mainstream, profit-maximizing business organizations—and that sense of purpose is powerful. New hires are attracted by purpose. Leading investors demand purpose. Purpose brings teams of diverse people together. It’s an essential part of leadership, culture, and storytelling, especially in times of crisis. Purpose sits at the heart of …

Turning Yourself Inside Out?

A few years ago, Randi Zuckerberg issued a provocative Tweet: “Maintaining friendships. Building a great company. Spending time w/family. Staying fit. Getting sleep. Pick 3.” She called this ‘The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma.’ Quickly, thousands were commenting. Many chimed in to agree. “If you’re planning to build a startup, it’s going to take all you’ve got,” they said. “There’s no time for …

Good strategy should make good choices obvious

My friend Roshin says of herself in her recent blog post, “Living car-free was never a conscious choice, just an obvious one.” How can social entrepreneurs make their solutions for complex problems into ‘obvious choices’ that are widely adopted? I contemplate the obviousness of Roshin’s choice having just moved from population-dense urban Vancouver to car-centric suburban Kitchener, where I am …