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Your Choice for a Tax Deductible Contribution

December 31, 2013

There are lots of great causes out there that we can all support.   We just wanted to let you know about ours in case you are wondering about a good use for your charitable donations.

Spectrum Consulting.  Collaborative: Learning, Research, Press is run as a social enterprise, and is an independent division of Spectrum Society.   The idea of a “social enterprise” means vastly different things to different people.

A definition of social enterprise that we like is this:

Three characteristics distinguish a social enterprise from other types of businesses, nonprofits and government agencies:

It directly addresses an intractable social need and serves the common good, either through its products and services or through the number of disadvantaged people it employs.
Its commercial activity is a strong revenue driver, whether a significant earned income stream within a nonprofit’s mixed revenue portfolio, or a for profit enterprise.
The common good is its primary purpose, literally “baked into” the organization’s DNA, and trumping all others.  (Social Enterprise Alliance)

For us, this means that our approach is entrepreneurial – after spending four or five years with entrepreneurs in our work with Michael Walsh and Kaizen Consulting, we believe that entrepreneurism is based on a different kind of accountability that we hope to investigate and emulate in authentic ways.  This also allows us to delivers services and goods for payment.   Our books and products allow us access to whole new communities (such as libraries around the province and around the world – where the ideas of those we support are now part of what’s available, with a great deal of positive feedback).  Being able to provide services also allows us to speak to one of our earliest conversations, in which someone said, “We keep wondering how we can ask you for support but we don’t know what you might be available for.”   Since making it easier to know what we might do together we’ve worked with about 25 different organizations in various ways, hopefully leaving stronger local leadership in place.    What this also means is that in negotiating curriculum and training we can include self advocate leaders, facilitators and artists.  Response to this has been phenomenal.

“Each individual experienced outcomes of increased community and supports from a variety of personalized sources. … the following feedback was provided by the participants: insightful, amazing, so proud, so many ideas on what you can do, rethinking how we see someone, reassuring & reaffirming, motivating, breakthroughs, more of a vision – can see where we can go, best of the best, amazed – our staff are on the right course, love, etc.

“I have worked in this field for over 25 years and have found this to be one of the more important, worthwhile projects helping people to have individualized, inclusive lifestyles in their communities that involve a variety of natural supportive networks that are self-sustaining and based on community.”  Agency feedback on a project in their area.   

In the last six years we’ve met our goal of doubling the payments (wages, honorariums, royalties, consulting fees) to people with disabilities each year and in increasing their opportunities to be at the front of the room, leading.   We’ve published our 9th book and have plans for three more in 2014, and have developed a distribution method for books we like by other publishers; our website and newsletter have had more than 50,000 hits.   We’ve started a conversation that has been taken up by approximately 150,000 people, some of them in other countries where people with disabilities have no rights and all of those conversations with people who want to do things that are person centred and community based.  Locally, we’ve been supporting literacy through story-telling, dialogues and facilitation.   We love what we’re doing.  We hope you do too.  This year we’ve got more exciting plans around literacy, leadership, network building, community development and helping people deal with challenges that affect them and those they care about by building their own skills around planning and communication.

If you’d like to help, you can make a one time donation or set up a monthly donation here on Canada Helps.    On the second page you’ll have a chance to donate  to literacy programs or the research and development.   You can also use this downloadable donation form – if your preference is specifically to support some of the work we’re doing here, please make a note on the form or in your email when you return it, or just call and let Judy know (604-323-1433).   

“For the last nineteen years I’ve felt like I was talking to myself – finding you has meant I don’t feel alone anymore!”   A mom.  

“They don’t ask if the glass is half full or half empty – they allow us to wonder together about how to fill it and, in the conversation, it fills…”

Thanks for considering us in your plans.

To learn more about social enterprise check out these links:

Social Enterprise on Wikipedia is a great place to start learning!

Pioneering social enterprise thinking happened here in B.C. with Enterprising Non Profits.

The Social Enterprise Alliance, “Where mission meets marketplace,” is a great site with lots of information.

Also check out the B.C. Centre for Social Enterprise.

Pioneers Post: Social Innovation in the U.K.  

“The Family Support Institute was formed by families who believe in the power of families to make a difference in the lives of their family members with a disability and their communities. Spectrum Consulting is a group that is doing just this too. Families have come together out of need and a desire to provide people with disabilities meaningful community inclusion and the same opportunities that everyone should have. As a family-governed organization, it places people with disabilities and their families at the center of the decision-making process and not only builds the knowledge and skills of its self-advocate, but also strengthens family bonds and builds community capacity. These are values that the Family Support Institute holds and we are pleased to support Spectrum Society to engage in this type of community development.”  No greater praise than the words of an organization we respect so much.  

Here are some books we’re reading and thinking about at Spectrum Consulting: 

John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan’s The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World

David Whyte’s poems: The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America

Starhawk has taught us so much about collaboration with different groups, and also has made us braver in our outreach, through this book: The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups

Finally, we’re most proud of letters like this: 

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 4.17.33 PM

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