LOS 2016 The annual Leveraging Our Strengths Conference took place on Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

September 28, 2016

Growing Social Enterprise & Wider Social Innovation

People’s creativity and entrepreneurial spirit are the two greatest assets of charitable and nonprofit organizations, which should be freed up to address some of the most daunting problems of our society.

Two trends have clearly evolved in the past few years: The emergence of social finance as a revenue generation alternative and the need for charities and not for profit organizations to explore creative alternatives to diversify and increase funding for their cause.

Social Finance including social enterprise are changing the way we work together to address critical problems facing our communities. Now more than ever before, Canadians are joining forces by using the best of business and community approaches to invest and grow impactful ventures and initiatives that provide a financial return to investors.

The Social Enterprise Strategy for Ontario represents an important new stage in the official recognition of social enterprise and accompanying policy support.


The 2016 LOS conference focused on:

  • Building understanding and awareness of social finance, social innovation and social enterprise
  • Exploring creative ways to diversify and increase funding for your mission
  • Building a social enterprise as a means of generating income
  • Talking to your Board about taking on risk both financially and collaboratively
  • Developing a vision the future of doing good in our community and opportunities to work collectively.

The agenda included a collaborative world cafe session to identify opportunities and shared goals, a social enterprise showcase, and interactive workshops which included:

  • Business Model Idea Generation for Not for Profits
  • Managing Change for Innovation
  • Building a Triple Bottom Line
  • From Sponsor to Impact Investor
  • Leveraging Social Finance Tools
  • Supporting Social Enterprise through Policy

The conference was a "how-to" guide on social finance and social enterprise:

  • Not for Profit/Charitable Organizations gained a better understanding of new tools to leverage for organizational sustainability of your organization, including social finance, new business model ideation, and change management.
  • For Profits gained an understanding of impact investing and integrating social impact measures into their organizational decision making processes.
  • Public Service learned how the public sector contributes and supports social enterprise and innovation through social procurement, community benefit agreements, policy and more.


About Leveraging Our Strengths (LOS)

LOS is a led by a group of partners including the, City of Ottawa, United Way, Community Foundation of Ottawa, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Volunteer Ottawa, and Trinity.

LOS has for the past four years been raising the understanding and offering skill development opportunities in the not-for-profit and charitable sector in Ottawa.

Now in its 5th year, LOS is taking the conversation forward from the theme of Collective Impact to putting the wheels in motion for cross sector action and leveraging tools for the growing social enterprise and wider social innovation sector.

The 2016 theme was the result of growing realization that, along with philanthropy and government aid, private enterprise can contribute to solving social and environmental problems. At the same time, a growing number of investors were expressing a desire to take a different approach to community investment.

Together, we explored creating a common understanding about the social finance and social enterprise needs and opportunities in Ottawa through a series of practically focused presentations and interactive sessions.


Please send your comments to Abid Jan at ajan@unitedwayottawa.ca