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AWARD – AFP Foundation for Philanthropy

The AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada is proud to announce that Dr. Pauline O’Connor, with the Centre for Voluntary Sector Studies at Ryerson University, is the recipient of its Research Award for her research project, “A New Regulatory Regime for Social Enterprises in Canada?  Potential Impacts on Nonprofit Growth and Sustainability.”

Dr. O’Connor’s study aims to increase our understanding of how changes in the regulatory environment for social enterprises (SE) may affect SE development in Canada and the nonprofit sector. Specifically, it seeks to determine how prospective regulatory change may affect SE development in terms of their numbers; the types of business activities they engage in; the types of organizations being created (e.g. nonprofit with an arms-length profit-making arm); and the source and level of revenue they generate, for themselves and the nonprofit sector as a whole. 

The rapid growth in social enterprises in Canada (as elsewhere) has the potential to change the landscape for fundraisers. By operating as businesses in the market, social enterprises—whether their business aim is to make a profit, be self-sustaining, or generate modest income for those they serve—may enjoy access to potentially vast new sources of revenue.

The regulatory environment that results in Canada may be key to determining how much new revenue, and what type of revenue sources, Canada’s social, cultural and environmental organizations, including registered charities, will be able to access. 

For example, if Canada creates a separate and broadly defined legal category of “social enterprise,” and allows SEs to raise capital in new market-based ways, Canadian organizations’ access to new revenue sources may expand greatly. If regulatory change focuses on enabling nonprofits and charities to run businesses integral to their social goals (i.e., operating a café that helps integrate street-involved youth back into the labour market) then the ramifications for the sector’s financial sustainability and for fundraisers may be limited.

Again, depending on the regulatory regime that emerges in Canada, Canadian fundraisers may have the opportunity to expand their fundraising strategies to exploit new strategies to generate revenue. By examining trends elsewhere, this project hopes to shed light on these issues.

In its mandate to support research on philanthropy, fundraising and the fundraising profession, The AFP Foundation for Philanthropy - Canada annually invites submissions for research grants. For more Information on grant selection criteria, research project guidelines and submission contact go to

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