Case Study: Cowichan Social Planning Council
For my co-op work term I have been a research assistant within the organization primarily focused on managing the social finance project in conjunction with the Vancouver Island Social Innovation Zone. Social Finance includes community investing, microfinance, social impact bonds, sustainable business, and social enterprise lending. Outcome-based philanthropic grant making and program-related investments sometimes referred to as venture philanthropy, also fall under the umbrella of social finance. These approaches to investment and funding share the twin focus of stimulating positive social and environmental returns for investors and the larger world. The social finance project focuses on understanding the current state of social finance on Vancouver Island including what investment/financing vehicles currently exist and what opportunities or challenges affect the sector.
Organization Name Community Social Planning Council
Student Position Co-op Research Assistant
Organization Purpose Social Vision, Social Finance, Housing Affordability, Economic Development
The organization was created to focus on improving the quality of life for those in the capital region with a focus on those who are disadvantaged due to poverty or low income. The mission statement for the organization is to engage community members and organizations, businesses and government to research social issues and create sustainable solutions.
Area of Change
The Community Social Planning of Greater Victoria primarily works in improving the social policies or programs affecting many different sectors in the region from social, economic and environmental planning. This is accomplished by engaging community members and organizations, businesses and government to research social issues and create sustainable solutions. The organizations mandate is to improve the quality of life of those who are disadvantaged or facing hardships due to social constraints for those in British Columbia’s Capital Region. This work revolves around social well-being, community health and education and the alleviation of poverty. The organization actively leads these initiatives through program development, public participation, and producing information to allow the community to directly contribute to its own well-being.
Our current managing director is Marika Albert who has had a long history of social research when she worked as a research analyst for BC Stats and began working for the council five years ago as a research and evaluation consultant before becoming the managing director. Another key individual in the organization is Andrew Holeton who is now the program manager in charge of multiple projects including the new social enterprise incubator to support social enterprises that help employ youth facing barriers to employment. He has worked in social enterprise development for many years in Toronto for other non-profit organizations before joining the council in October 2016.
The Community Social Planning Council was founded in 1963 as a non-profit, non-partisan organization and since then has addressed social issues, alleviated poverty, and promoted social justice and became a registered charity in 1966. Today the council is located on Fort St. in the heart of downtown Victoria with a staff of 7 employees working on multiple projects from social enterprise incubation to a BC Transit bus assistance program.
Cross Sector Collaboration
The Council frequently works with the government in a variety of ways through programs such as conducting living wage assessments, participating in the BC Transit bus assistance program or involving government participation in forum events or research initiatives. The council also works with other organizations such as scale collaborative, Vancity, waste/recycling social enterprises, community investments, etc.
The key challenges to sustaining the organization in its programs is gaining funding from donators or government/private grants since it is a non-profit organization and does not generate its own revenue. The council would always be happy to increase its membership base from people involved in the sector or the general public to continue supporting the Council in its initiatives.
In the near future the Council is focusing on beginning the Social Enterprise Incubator program designed to assist with the development of new social enterprises, run by those who have successfully started multiple social enterprises and coached others to achieve their social and business goals; focus on enterprises that employ youth.
The organization is governed by a board of directors who frequently meet to direct the future of the council.