Innovative Financing for Social Innovation

The reality of government is that there is never enough money. Competing interests, changing economic and political landscapes, and the sheer volume of philanthropic initiatives means that traditional funding is becoming obsolete.

From my academic experience studying politics, public administration, and public management, I know this to be true. And throughout my years of study, I have not yet found a solution to that nagging dilemma of doing what is right while also doing what is feasible.

But what if there was a way to do both? A way to financially support philanthropic initiatives without breaking the bank? A way to fund without relying solely on governmental support? And what if there was even a way to “do good while making good”?

These questions are starting to be answered with the emerging trend of impact investing.

And I would have to say that I learnt the most, in terms of factual, concrete knowledge, from our discussion with Adam Spence, CEO of SVX.

Let’s be honest, I still have questions about bonds, and especially about community bonds. I still don’t fully understand interest, and I simply have no idea whatsoever what blended financing is.

But the fact that there is a way to “do good while making good” is simply fantastic!

Chowdhury, S. (2014, February 17). Impact Investing: Big investment, little financial benefits, more social impact... “What, Why & How?” Business Fights Poverty. Retrieved from http://community.businessfightspoverty.org/profiles/blogs/impact-investing-big-investment-little-financial-benefits-more

Chowdhury, S. (2014, February 17). Impact Investing: Big investment, little financial benefits, more social impact… “What, Why & How?” Business Fights Poverty. Retrieved from http://community.businessfightspoverty.org/profiles/blogs/impact-investing-big-investment-little-financial-benefits-more

And it is incredibly relevant to my studies in public administration and my future career path. I can truly see myself potentially using impact investing as an Intrapreneur within the federal public service, trying to innovate from within. And Adam provided a whole set of social areas where this sort of financing has been applied: poverty reduction; carbon reduction; social housing units; and, energy efficiency.

More importantly, I personally think impact investing is an amazing way to realize sustainability and resilience in governance and philanthropy. These are two sub-categories, so to speak, that I can potentially see myself working with as well.

In other words, I drank the impact investing Kool-Aid!

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My Social Innovation Future

Nicholls, C. (2011, November 15). Online Buyer Behaviour 101 and the Many Paths to Conversion. ClickZ. Retrieved from http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2124273/online-buyer-behavior-101-paths-conversion

Nicholls, C. (2011, November 15). Online Buyer Behaviour 101 and the Many Paths to Conversion. ClickZ. Retrieved from http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2124273/online-buyer-behavior-101-paths-conversion

My hope is that my previous posts have clearly demonstrated what I have learnt from the face-to-face sessions. In addition, I hope they have also raised important questions that I still need to answer.

When I began the course, I had no idea what either philanthropy or social innovation meant. Now that I have finished the course, I still cannot articulate a succinct definition for either, but I definitely know significantly more about each than when I began. I also have significantly more questions about both than when I began as well.

This, however, does not concern me one bit, because this is simply the journey of learning. The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know, the more questions you have, and the more you learn. And that cycle is continuous. I’m young and I’ve only just begun this social innovation journey, so I know there is a lot more to come.

But what do I see happening in the short term?

As you may recall, a previous post mentioned the coop search process that I was going through. Now, as I am writing this final post, my coop search process has come to an end. I have formally accepted an offer at Employment and Social Development Canada, and will be employed as a Research & Policy Officer working on post-secondary education policy starting in September!

I see this as my first real opportunity to explore some of the themes I have discussed throughout this blog. Specifically, I’m looking forward to witnessing first hand if and how social innovation has truly become a more acceptable public policy approach; if and how I can unleash my inner Intrapreneur within a system that is already well established; and, if and how I can incorporate some of the innovative financing options I have learnt about throughout the course.

I’m also looking forward to exploring culture and leadership in the workplace. This will be my first professional placement with the government, and I’m curious to see how culture and leadership work in the public sector, and how I fit into that culture and leadership environment. Will I continue to be the passive observer as mentioned in class? Or, will the proper environment encourage me to be the first follower? Or, even the leader? These questions are just some of the important thoughts I am bringing with me from the course as I move forward in both my personal and professional development.

In addition, a critical next step for me is improving my networking skills. And this is a pretty scary thought for me! It’s something that can honestly give me nightmares if I think about it too much!

If there’s one major overarching takeaway that I have learnt, it’s that every single guest speaker has spoken about the importance of surrounding yourself with people that believe in you. Even with all the ambition and determination in the world, life can sometimes get messy. But if you have a good support network (friends, family, contacts, etc.), you can overcome even the toughest obstacle.

So in conclusion, my social innovation journey has just begun, and so too has my professional journey. This is a confusing time, but definitely an exciting time as well! And I am confident that things can only get better from here!