May 10, 2017 Philanthropy

Social Innovation: Latest Thinking in Canada

In mid-April, Stephen Huddart, President of the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation published a comprehensive reflection on the evolution of social innovation thinking and practice in Canada over the last seven years.  Reviewing the field, he points out several  developments which are reshaping social innovation’s operating environment. In his view, “social innovation has to become more intentional and strategic — one could say political — in the ways that it develops and shares narratives, deploys resources, and builds alliances. Further, in the era of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, social innovation shares a special responsibility with philanthropy, to respectfully engage in the patient, fundamental work of shifting cultures — beginning with decolonizing itself.” He suggests that “inclusive growth, networked social innovation, solutions journalism, and Indigenous reconciliation are approaches to social innovation needed between now and 2030, as well as broad engagement between civil society and government.”

Also in April, the Innovation Policy Lab of the Munk School at the University of Toronto released a white paper on Canadian foundations and their social innovation strategies. This paper, prepared by Munk scholars Kristen Pue and Dan Breznitz, and generously supported by the Lupina Foundation, identifies a distinctly Canadian approach to innovation based on collaboration and adaptation.

The paper identifies five different and practical strategies to promote social innovation as well as fourteen specific tactics to support funders, guide aspiring innovators and facilitate program evaluation.

Download the report