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The not for profit world in Canada is undergoing a sea change. Not for profits feel that there are not enough volunteers anymore, for delivering their services or for serving on their boards. Yet there is plenty of evidence to suggest that many people are on the sidelines wanting to volunteer their time and energy. Why is there a disconnect?

People who want to volunteer their time and energy do not want to be engaged in menial tasks anymore. They are looking to use their skills or develop new ones. On the other side of the equation are the ‘not for profits’. They are trying to find new ways to ‘increase their capacity’ so that they can engage these skilled volunteers for service delivery or board governance.

They are doing this to keep themselves financial viable of course. And here is an interesting development. As the not for profit organizations develop plans to become financially sustainable they need to be aware of the governance issues around their charitable status versus becoming a ‘social enterprise’. There is legislation governing charitable versus social enterprise behaviour of course.

Does a social enterprise look and feel more like a business? Are the skill sets different? What are the implications for an organization who wants to develop financially sustainable models?

I will explore these issues over the next few months.