Canadian Task Force on Social Finance Releases its Report

December 2010 | Susan M. Manwaring

The Task Force on Social Finance was conceived earlier this year by Social Innovation Generation (SiG) to consider opportunities to mobilize private capital for public good within either non-profit or for-profit enterprises. Earlier this month, the Task Force released its report entitled “Mobilizing Private Capital for Public Good”.  The purpose of the report was to respond to the needs of social purpose organizations for new sources of financing.

Social finance along with social enterprise has become much more topical in Canada in the past few years.  This is not surprising given that similar movements in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia are considering whether there are opportunities to mobilize funds to support community and social purpose activities.  The report is directed at governments and the general public, and calls for parallel and concurrent action from the federal and provincial government, the financial sector, philanthropic leaders, and the community sector.  The report contained seven recommendations which, if pursued, would advance social finance in Canada.

These recommendations are:

  1. Canada’s public and private foundations should invest at least ten percent (10%) of their capital in mission related investments (MRI) by 2020 and report annually to the public on their activity.
  2. The Federal Government should establish, in partnership with private institutional and philanthropic investors, a Canada Impact Investment Fund. The purpose of the Fund is to support regional funds to reach scale and catalyze the formation of these funds.
  3. Investors, intermediaries, social enterprises and policymakers should work together to develop new bond and bond-like instruments that could be available to promote the flow of private capital into the voluntary sector.
  4. Governments are encouraged to mandate pension funds to disclose responsible investing practices, clarify fiduciary duty obligations and provide incentives to mitigate perceived investment risks.
  5. Changes should be implemented to modernize the frameworks within charities and non-profits currently operate to permit broader revenue generating activities in support of their missions.  In this recommendation there is a note for the need of a new hybrid corporate form for social enterprise.
  6. A Tax Working Group should be established to consider incentives to provide lower cost and patient capital for social enterprises to enable them to maximize their social environmental impact.
  7. Broaden the eligibility criteria of government sponsored business development programs that currently target small and medium enterprises so as to enable charities and non-profits and other forms of social enterprise to qualify for similar benefits.

Needless to say, this is a large and ambitious agenda.  In the introduction to the Federal Budget 2010, the Federal Government identified the need to advance social enterprise and to work with the sector to permit these types of activities.  The Canadian Task Force on Social Finance is setting the agenda to permit these discussions to move forward and to enhance the policy discussion.

We will keep you apprised of ongoing developments in this area in our Newsletter.

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