Marcia Carroll, Executive Director of PEI Council of People with Disabilities (PEICOD), attended world forums in Calgary and in Scotland to learn more about how social enterprise can support non-profit organizations.
“There is more competition for government funding, and community organizations need to be innovative in their approach to sustainability. Social enterprise is a model that involves business, community, and government. Dividends earned from the business go to the community.
“Our three programs, the Snoezelen Room, Summer Tutoring Program, and Designated Parking Permit Program, are good examples of the social enterprise model.”
The Snoezelen Room offers relaxation therapy through the gentle use of aromas, tactile, audio and visual stimulation. In 2017-2018, about 730 people with physical and intellectual disabilities, autism, PTSD and mental illness visited this place.
“Also last year, 150 school-aged children completed the Summer Tutoring Program and 7,500 designated parking permits were issued.
“The revenue made from our programs allows the Council to balance our budget, keep our non-profit charitable status, and give money to vulnerable people who don’t fit into existing government programs.”
Advice on starting a social enterprise
“My advice to organizations considering social enterprise is to look at your existing operations,” Marcia says. “Identify your strengths, analyze the gaps, and come up with a business plan. Figure out how to make money from your existing programs and services and invest that money back into the organization.”
Examples of social enterprises worldwide
“Scotland is a leader in social enterprise because their government invested in the model early on, and removed some regulatory barriers. By acting proactively, they supported people before they slipped through the cracks.”
Marcia described a temporary employment staffing agency in Hastings, BC funded by the BC government. The organization was about to run out of money and shut down when a member of its board of directors came up with a business plan.
“They chose to charge employers a fee for staffing services, and in one year, they recorded $10 million in earnings. Hastings is in a poor part of Vancouver where many residents have mental health or addiction issues. During a recent construction boom in that city, the agency matched some residents with contractors, helping them to get clean, and provided work boots, lunches and transportation to the work site.”
“Very often people raising money for the most vulnerable in our society have to go through many layers of government or to foundations. Social enterprises generate money, solve problems, and build community. They help clients with life skills, job readiness, and education planning. We can make a difference in the way we build community and solve some of the huge problems we have on PEI through a social enterprise model.”
The federal government is looking into investing in a social enterprise framework. “I have spoken with government representatives about how charities can become a business to achieve their goals.”
PEICOD at a glance
- Non-profit organization formed in 1974.
- 12 full-time employees
- Serves over 10,000 Islanders with disabilities annually.
- 579 Islanders living with disabilities served through their Community Access Team.
- 628 Islanders living with disabilities assisted with CPP-Disability applications and appeals process.
- $1,187,034 in CPP disability benefits secured for Islanders.
To learn more about the Social Enterprise World Forum, go to www.sewfonline.com.