How We Support Change

To bring about change at the necessary scale, we engage directly with social systems that have become dysfunctional or maladaptive, whether through rigidity, fragmentation or simply not working to full potential. We work with the many people and organizations that also seek change. Although we fund issue advocacy, we don’t stop there. Instead, we invite those with different viewpoints and diverse interests to come together with social innovators, other funders and investors, policy makers and so on, to co-create new solutions. We use this approach with all of the issue areas on which we work.

Re-designing systems calls for new financial arrangements, policy innovation, new relations between government, civil society and the private sector, equitable and effective engagement with affected populations, and alignment with values that foster social creativity and mutual respect.

Here are some of the roles we play in the change-making ecosystem in Canada:

McConnell funds initiatives and partnerships that advance the common good, making grants to organizations and individuals focused on sustainable solutions to complex problems. Additionally, our Social Innovation Fund (SIF) is open to any organization that is proposing to scale up a promising solution, or that is introducing a new business model.

By inviting entrepreneurs, social enterprises, foundations, governments, mainstream investors, businesses and corporations to work with us on Solutions Finance, we seek to expand the available solution sets, reduce and share risk, and take certain initiatives to scale, in situations where granting alone is insufficient to effect change.

To promote and enable the kinds of cross-sectoral collaboration needed to realize extensive change at a generational scale, McConnell brings community organizations, foundations, governments and other stakeholders together to forge relationships built on shared vision and goals.

To strengthen Canada’s nonprofit sector, we offer a variety of support to innovative organizations and individuals. This can mean providing learning opportunities, funding organizational restructuring in order to achieve scale or systems impact, or providing temporary staffing support.

McConnell occasionally advocates for causes, supporting meaningful engagement of communities and individuals who may lack a seat at the policy table. Our role as a non-partisan actor gives us opportunities to collaborate with leaders in the public, philanthropic and private sectors.

We ask questions, challenge assumptions, and seek insights to improve our philanthropic practice and the impact of change initiatives. We act as a strategic partner, convener and co-creator, often helping bring new players and resources to invest in innovative social solutions.

Our Framework

We believe that unleashing innovation, creativity and experimentation is critical to solving society’s problems. But innovation alone isn't enough to achieve impact. With a whole-systems view that reveals the interconnections between organizational, sectoral and disciplinary silos, it is possible to design and implement actions that shift systems to produce better outcomes for people and communities. Social innovation supported by such capacities will help us align many perspectives on a problem, see with fresh eyes, and then test, iterate and implement better responses to society’s toughest challenges.

Social Innovation

Social innovation helps Canadians co-create, test and scale solutions that respond to complex challenges. In keeping with the dynamics of complexity, it helps us see ourselves as part of the

Social innovation helps Canadians co-create, test and scale solutions that respond to complex challenges. In keeping with the dynamics of complexity, it helps us see ourselves as part of the problem, and thus, affords us a role in its transformation.

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Systems Change

We have a commitment to shared learning—asking questions, sharing ideas, and engaging in focused experimentation—to help create the conditions necessary for systems change

 

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Social Infrastructure

In order to transition to a more just and sustainable future, we must adapt and in some cases reinvent our social infrastructure — the organizational norms and relationships that underlie

In order to transition to a more just and sustainable future, we must adapt and in some cases reinvent our social infrastructure — the organizational norms and relationships that underlie society’s systems and institutions.

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Our Approach

SiG

Key to our work is an acknowledgement that no one organization or sector (private, public, or nonprofit) has all the answers to, or ownership of, systemic problems. Innovation and collaboration

Key to our work is an acknowledgement that no one organization or sector (private, public, or nonprofit) has all the answers to, or ownership of, systemic problems. Innovation and collaboration are essential to achieving impact at scale.

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Innoweave

Innoweave helps community organizations learn about and implement the tools of social innovation. It helps organizations clarify their goals and scale their impact, collaborate with diverse partners, advocate effectively, and

Innoweave helps community organizations learn about and implement the tools of social innovation. It helps organizations clarify their goals and scale their impact, collaborate with diverse partners, advocate effectively, and operate social innovation labs.

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Solutions Finance

Successful systems innovation requires adequate resourcing and new forms of capital allocation. The Foundation’s Solutions Finance unit uses an integrated approach to deploying financial capital, such as combining investments with

Successful systems innovation requires adequate resourcing and new forms of capital allocation. The Foundation’s Solutions Finance unit uses an integrated approach to deploying financial capital, such as combining investments with granting, and adapting financial models to catalyze, sustain and scale social systems transformation.

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Impact Investing

Impact investing is an investment tool aimed at intentionally creating positive societal impact beyond generating financial return.

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Social Innovation Fund

Improving the lives of Canadians requires breakthrough ideas and approaches, game-changing strategies and collaborations, and continuous innovation. The Social Innovation Fund supports organizations that are disseminating a social innovation, or

Improving the lives of Canadians requires breakthrough ideas and approaches, game-changing strategies and collaborations, and continuous innovation. The Social Innovation Fund supports organizations that are disseminating a social innovation, or strengthening their internal ability to introduce a new operating model.

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Social Labs

A social innovation lab (abbreviated to social lab, or lab) is a process that enables multi-stakeholder groups to address complex social problems. There are many types of social labs.

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