Why a German social entrepreneur wants to learn from CCVO

by CCVO Visiting Fellow, Sarah Rosenthal This is the first in a series of posts that will record my work with CCVO over the next three months as I undertake research to define Adaptive Capacity for CCVO and the nonprofit sector.   Background I am a social entrepreneur from Germany and founder of the organization Start with a Friend. At Start with a Friend, we bring together refugees and locals 1:1 to create sustainable networks and friendships between people who probably would not have met otherwise. Two friends and I started the initiative in late 2014, and with the vast number of refugees (often referred to as a “refugee crisis”) in the summer of 2015, many volunteers from all over Germany joined our organization. Start with a Friend continuously grew into an organization, which is now active in 23 cities and has brought together 3,500 tandems, as we call the 1:1 friendships between refugees and locals. We aim to overcome social exclusion and parallel societies and instead build an integrative community. By befriending refugees, locals offer refugees access to their social environment and activate their own networks. Furthermore, our organisation facilitates exchange and skill sharing among participants. The success of our work can be measurable by hard endpoints such as improved language skills, successful apartment-hunting, internships or job placements. More importantly though, we want to enhance social sensitivity and reflection on both sides. And last but not least, our tandems have a lot of fun together, show mutual appreciation and the former distinction between refugees and locals has diminished.   My Objective In my work with Start with a Friend...

Building Adaptive Capacity Through Collaborative Impact

On March 6, Mount Royal University students in the Facilitating Social Innovation course were tasked with uncovering how CCVO can support nonprofits in Calgary to adapt and innovate – build adaptive capacity – through disruptive and transformational periods. The format, a World Café Community Conversation hosted by CCVO, was made possible through a partnership with Mount Royal University.

Nonprofit Leaders Meet With Minister Ceci for Budget Consultation

On January 17, 2018, CCVO brought together 25 community leaders from the nonprofit sector for a budget consultation with Alberta’s Minister of Finance, Joe Ceci. The consultation shed light on the sentiments of a diverse group of organizations representing the nonprofit sector in Calgary.

CCVO’s Top Ten Policy Files for the Nonprofit Sector in 2017

During the year, there were a number of important decisions, initiatives, and events, including some potential “game changers” for nonprofits in Calgary and throughout Alberta. Here’s CCVO’s Top 10 List of policy stories of the year that impacted the nonprofit sector.

Optimism Rises Among CCVO Members

Thank you to all the executive leaders who responded to the members’ survey conducted over the summer. The strong response rate (36%) provided valuable feedback and rich insights on CCVO’s work. Many helpful and instructive suggestions were offered, giving much food for thought to a new CEO who’s aiming to sharpen CCVO’s focus! Below is a summary of the results we received.

Keeping your New Year’s Resolutions…

…with a little help from CCVO!

Welcome to the first week of January, a point when a quarter of all new year’s resolutions are abandoned. If you are determined to keep yours – whether for you or on behalf of your organization – the benefits that come from a CCVO membership are there to help. So what’s your resolution?

Empathy: The Next Great Innovation?

By Geoff Braun, Director of Policy and Research, CCVO

News spread quickly through the non-profit sector when, last week, the Social Innovation Endowment Fund was cancelled. Many are disappointed.

But maybe this is an opportunity to take pause and to think about our collective obsession with all things innovative. Why has this become our holy grail? Why is the sector under so much pressure, from government, from donors and from within, to innovate? Are we really so lacking in innovation?


Promoted as a compliment to #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday, #GivingTuesday encourages donors to reach out and support nonprofits as part of their holiday gift strategy. Over 2500 organizations, including many #CCVOmembers, have already signed up to be partners at #GivingTuesdayCA.

Hunting for Icebergs

I had the opportunity to attend a CCVO session today with Ashley Good, the founder and CEO of Fail Forward, as she spoke to an audience of nonprofit folks about fostering a mindset for innovation within organizations. She spoke about the polarity of innovation and stability, but not just as two ends of a single spectrum. Good’s model gave a second dimension, measuring both the pros and cons of each side, rather than focusing more simply on the positive parts of innovation and stale side of stability.

Building Sand-CASLs

The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation took effect July 1, and still many nonprofits and charities are struggling to understand what exactly they need to do to get their organization compliant with the law when sending Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs).

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