One of the most burning questions of this election season is how to improve the cost-effectiveness and efficacy of social services. In the context of cash-strapped governments who can’t afford to adequately fund social programs, corporations have recognized the value of bringing a business approach to social issues and non-profit organizations are establishing social enterprises to generate funds in a way that is consistent with their mission. (Free the Children’s Me to Wesocial enterprise is a great example of the latter.)
Here in Ontario, the government’s most recent budget said it will look for opportunities to use social venture financing through partnerships that will save the government money while maintaining or enhancing service levels. In last weeks federal budget, the Conservatives indicated they also want to facilitate new approaches to supporting social services . All across Canada, citizens, businesses, charities and other groups, such as the Canadian Task Force on Social Finance, are working together to develop innovative ways to address local challenges, the budget declared. The government will take steps to complement community efforts by encouraging the development of government/community partnerships …
The Canadian Task Force on Social Finance’s report Mobilizing Private Capital for Public Goodcontains seven recommendations including the need to strengthen the business capabilities of charities, non-profits and other forms of social enterprises by expanding the eligibility criteria of government sponsored business development programs targeting small and medium enterprises to include social enterprises.
The new paradigm of social financing that mobilizes private capital as needed to generate economic, social and environmental value may have the best potential to better address pressing social issues.