RESEARCH: How and why individuals are exploring new ways to advance social good

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27 Shift  |  Trina Isakson  |  Posted June 2013

Social Innovation

Beyond giving and volunteering: How and why individuals are exploring new ways to advance social good

This HRSDC-commissioned report looks at how individuals are using consumerism, technology and data, investing, and business practices to support vulnerable populations in Canada.

Executive Summary

While levels of volunteering and donating remain relatively stable in Canada, individuals are finding new ways to advance social good.  They are applying the practices most commonly found in consumerism, use and development of technology and data, investing, and business owner practices in innovative ways to support vulnerable populations.

Through ethical consumption, individuals are buying from social enterprises, from vulnerable populations directly, from businesses that donate partial purchase price to charity, and from local businesses that participate in ‘money mobs’. Individuals are sharing their excess assets, including fruit trees, car rides, and expertise via collaborative consumption practices. Through hackathons and other initiatives, individuals are creating mobile and Web applications intended to support vulnerable populations, often with the use of open or crowdsourced data.  ndividuals are also using online petitions and social media to raise awareness of important issues.

Retail-level and high-net-worth individuals are seeking both social and financial returns on investments through crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, and impact investing. Examples of vehicles for impact investing include community development investment funds, loan funds, social return term deposits, and community bonds. For individuals who own businesses, new business models, as well as progressive employment and purchasing policies, present opportunities to support vulnerable populations.

Thought leaders interviewed for this research expressed observations, opportunities, and challenges related to these new actions taken by Canadians including:

Startups often have no funding but they get support through sharing and collaboration. There is a parallel with vulnerable populations. They don’t just need money, but a supportive, transparent and collaborative eco-system around them to make it work.  Craig Asano, National Crowdfunding Association of Canada

 Download the full 50 page PDF --> here

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