Supported by Roza Tchoukaleyska, School of Science and the Environment, Grenfell Campus, Memorial University and PhiLab Atlantic Hub member, Joan Cranston, Executive Director, Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital Heritage Corporation, and Dawn Pittman, Western Regional School of Nursing, Memorial University, Samantha Young researched the role of philanthropic activity in supporting social sustainability in rural Newfoundland. The main focus of this project was on a new health care cooperative and social enterprise that are being established in the town of Port au Choix and in the region of the Great Northern Peninsula. This project was developed to support a new research and community partnership in this area. Using the specific demographic, social, and philanthropic context of the Great Northern Peninsula, three questions emerged:
- What role does philanthropic activity play in rural social sustainability?
- Can the establishment of a social enterprise spur new philanthropic activity?
- How could a social enterprise be structured to ensure effective service provision and financial viability in rural Newfoundland?
The economy of this area is focused on natural resources (fishing, forestry) and tourism. Over the last few decades, many of the residents left the Great Northern Peninsula and there was also a reduction in medical, social, and community services.
In response to these demographic shifts, a new health focused social enterprise has been established in the Town of Port au Choix. Called the “Community Place”, this social enterprise will generate revenue by renting treatment space to health practitioners, through a community kitchen, and additional space rentals for enterprise, health service provision, and community events.
To engage with the research questions outlined above, and in response to the needs of the newly formed Community Place, Samantha Young was hired to complete a literature review on the role of social enterprise in supporting rural community development, and models for building philanthropic giving and activity in coastal and rural areas.
This project produced several outcomes, including a 2-hour hybrid community meeting, a 15-minute presentation titled: ‘Different social enterprise models: What will work for the Great Northern Peninsula?’ and a PhiLab Blog post: ‘Hubs of a new normal – Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland and Labrador’
Below, you will find the plain-language report from Samantha’s research as was presented to the community.
Different Social Enterprise Models (What will work for the GNP?)
- The social cooperative model (SC) – this model is different from a regular cooperative model as it takes into account the interests of the individuals who are involved in the cooperative as well as the community as a whole.
- Social business model- focus on a blended value model, taking into account the wants and needs of shareholders while ensuring those needs fall in line with the social/ environmental values set by the enterprise. These are often small enterprises which keep a balanced goal of social benefits and profit gain.
- Entrepreneurial non-profit – This could be a non for profit of any type and their business can be any form of income even if it has no connection to the goals of the non for profit but all profits are cycled into the community projects.
- Public sector-social enterprise –a social enterprise is owned by a public organization but is run as an independent enterprise to provide public services. These forms of Social Enterprise often focus on social welfare and capacity building
(Defourny, Nyssens, 2017)
Of these four general models, the model which seems to be that of the social business model. With how the Great Northern Peninsula Community Place has been described, this seems to be the most similar to the intentions, values, and goals of the GNPCP Board. The model understands that people working in the community place must make a profit and they are the shareholders of the program, but they are not the only shareholders of the enterprise. The community as a whole will benefit from this sort of model as they now have the ability to receive non-emergency healthcare within their community, while also creating a community place for events, community kitchens programs and many other opportunities for community involvement in the place.
There is planned to be many aspects of the community place which will be integrated into the social programming which will not be directly impacted by the health practitioners in the building. All of the work of the community place does seem to have a focus on community health and wellbeing which can be the defining factor of the program as a whole. The Integrated social business model seems to take into account how there is a separation between the business activity of the health practitioners while recognizing that their goals are interconnected.
The social business model can also be integrated with the idea of the organizational support model as explained by Community sector NL. (CSCNL, 2007). “The Organizational support model operates externally to the organization by selling products or services in the marketplace, including to businesses or the general public and flows revenue back to the organization to cover the costs of delivery of programs to clients (eg, a thrift store run by a health organization)”. This model structure can be combined with the social business model as described above to create the most descriptive terms to define the goals and business plan of the Community Place.
The community Sector Council Newfoundland and Labrador has been looking into the benefits of Social Enterprise (community enterprise) and the social economy as early as 1999. Through work with ACOA, roundtable discussions occurred surrounding how social enterprises could benefit regional development across the province. From this research the main messages which were found were
- The social economy should be incorporated into the policy process from the start
- There is a potential for substantial employment growth in the social economy and
- A program of strategic community investments may help determine the best ways to support economic development, job creation and income enhancement.
A program that focuses on growing will be the way forward for a program such as what is being planned in Port aux Choix. From reviewing these research outcomes from CSCNL, we can gather that this community place project is exactly what is wanted for the community. By focusing on Grants as well as business fundraising, this program will be a community investment for years to come.
Projects like this will always be beneficial to the sustainability and economic, cultural and social resilience of a rural community as it will be bringing in hope for growth in this community. By showing that there is an interest in keeping the community growing and vibrant, there may be additional projects which can grow from these beginnings. While the GNPCP is not the first of its kind, nor is it the first revitalization program for the Northern Peninsula, this is a program that will integrate, community sector, municipal governance, individual business owners and health practitioners, as well as community members to make something which will be a part of the community for years to come.
This project may be the beginning of a new resurgence of the area and may have the ability to bring people back to the area and see that there is hope and a future in these communities if enough people are passionate about it. Another aspect of social enterprise which has been brought up in the Choices for Youth Untapped Potential document, the importance of Scalability is brought up as well as the challenges which can be found when trying to scale up (Choices for Youth, 2018). The GNPCP has such potential to continue growing from where it will begin. This does not have to all be done by the community place itself but other community groups will now have a space and collective where more community programming can be done. This project will pave the way for new programs and groups to continue working on revitalization of the community.
Fundraising and Keeping connections with benefactors
One of the strengths in Fundraising in Rural Communities comes from the personal relationships which many donors will have with both the volunteers, the programs offered and the organization as a whole. When these personal relationships are held between donors and the community foundation or project which they are supporting, longer term or larger donations can often be expected (Klein, 2016 p.65).
One note which will be of possible great importance and has been brought up by Kim Klein, is the importance of Thank you notes for donations of all sizes. This can be of the utmost importance when a large portion of the donations will most likely be coming from members of the local community. A Project such as what is being pushed for in Port aux Choix will be dependent on the response of the people in the community and we must be able to thank those people both for financial input as well as their time, and enthusiasm.
While the fundraising plan is to focus on a majority of the larger scale businesses being run out of the Port aux Choix Region, these same ideas of ensuring a level of connection with them, after they have been a financial donator to the place. These connections should be kept to keep positive thoughts of the Community Place to be shared by business and enterprise owners throughout the community. As explained in Kleins book, in a small community, word may travel fast about a bad experience so ensuring positive relations are kept is even more important here than it would be in an urban centre.
Kim Klein’s book has a chapter which focuses specifically on the special circumstances which come from fundraising in small and local communities. In this chapter she focuses on the importance of recognizing that things can take longer than they do in urban settings. Often community members of rural areas have careers which include high intensity periods of work where it may be challenging to move forward with fundraising and other community dependent projects (Klein, 2016, p 395). The main takeaway from this chapter is that fundraising in small communities is closely related to the groups ability to create strong meaningful relationships with possible future funders as well as keeping strong relationships with funders of the past.
From this research I believe that of the four business models discussed, the social business model will be the most functional for the direction that the Great Northern Peninsula Community Place seems to be directed. This would be a model which can be described as having a business activity which will then fund the social activity of the group as a whole. This could possibly work for the Community Place and show to funders that there will be a source of income coming from the enterprise itself. This income will prove to be a base level for the other projects within the place to be run on such as the community kitchen.
While there is already a business model started, the questions which are asked through the MaRS Start-up toolkit can possibly be used to help define specific answers to questions surrounding exactly how funds will be organized and directed through the direct business enterprise as well as the community programming which can be organized through the Place as a whole.