OTF staff Explore Innovation and Collaboration
The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is obviously best known for its grantmaking. But increasingly we are becoming recognized for our research and policy work in the not-for-profit sector. Foundation staff members recently published three articles in the quarterly, The Philanthropist.
Take a look at what they are saying
A Kaleidascope of Innovation
Tracey Robertson, a Waterloo-based OTF program manager, recently took a six-month secondment to lead a complex and ground-breaking "Community Innovation discovery process" in Waterloo Region.
The Community Innovation effort - with the support of OTF, Tides Canada and others - was an exploration of what it would take for Waterloo not-for profits to become as innovative and open to new ways of thinking as the likes of their better-known K-W neighbours, such as RIM or the Perimeter Institute.
The article chronicles the journey of this 'community innovation' effort, with Robertson as its "Community System Entrepreneur" - an individual who, situated outside the regular group of not-for-profit players, could bring a system-wide perspective by acting 'between the spaces' to connect individuals, groups and innovations.
It was a process Robertson often found 'extremely difficult and uncomfortable'. Read what she and her team discovered about the process of innovation in the article she co-authored with Diana Denton: A kaleidoscope of innovation: designing community impact in the Waterloo region
Social Innovation: Examples from the Youth Sector
OTF Program Manager Arti Freeman collaborated with peers from Laidlaw Foundation and the J.W. McConnel Family Foundation on a Philanthropist article exploring the ways in which the three different funders supported social innovation in the youth sector.
Freeman highlighted a collaborative between the Foundation, Laidlaw and Tides Canada Initative and other partners to examine a growing gap in the youth sector: the need for a sustained infrastructure to help youth take on more proactive roles in their communities. Read the article
What do Starlings and Collaboratives have in common?
OTF program manager Marilyn Struthers authored "Reflections on Starlings, Collaboratives, and the Nature of the Nonprofit Sector
" in the fall issue of The Philanthopist.
In it, she describes how starlings fly in a flock:
each bird navigates its place in the flock by watching the seven other birds in its peripheral vision. No map, no guidance system, no strategic plan - just a highly adaptive capacity
Struthers then creates an analogy for how she sees that Ontario not-for-profits, like starlings, collaborate and work together within the tension of constant and evolving change:
"Not only change but collaboration within a collectivity is at the essence of the work of civil society organizations. In my corner of Trillium, our most important review question about a project funding decision is: Does it change the landscape on which this organization is working? The focus is not only on the impact of funding on the recipient organization but also on those whose work will be changed because they share the landscape of the work.
This is what the nonprofit sector is for, many people in organizations working in a constant process of change to public benefit
That is the value proposition perhaps of the sector - that capacity to learn and change faster than any other mechanism on the public stage."