As we mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, The Philanthropist is profiling Canadians from across the non-profit sector and putting a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector.
Name: Joanne Cave
Profession (current role in the sector): Research and Evaluation Analyst at Homeward Trust Edmonton (and a part-time researcher with Mowat NFP).
Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: Since I was 12 years old!
Can you describe a defining moment in your career working/volunteering in the non-profit sector?
I’ve always been attracted to grassroots organizations, and I’ve sat on several boards/steering committees where we have had difficult conversations about sustainable funding and the longevity of the organization. One particularly powerful example is the Toronto-based Frontline Partners with Youth Network (FPYN), which folded as a formal organization in 2014 (I sat on their steering committee from 2011 – 2013, as these conversations were starting). It is always humbling and heartbreaking when organizations can no longer continue doing the work that a community desperately needs, and FPYN’s loss of funding really reinforced the precarity of grassroots community organizing. It was also a reminder of the importance of documenting an organization’s legacy and institutional memory and sharing lessons learned with other partners and collaborators.
Describe your desk/workspace.
A complete disaster, to be honest. I do most of my writing/research in an office at home, surrounded by books, articles and cups of coffee. I thrive in chaos!
What are reading that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
One of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever read is The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond The Non-Profit Industrial Complex (written by a collective called INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence). It really helped me understand the relationship between social justice movements, non-profit organizations and conventional funding models. I also really like the work of Lucy Bernholz and Hahrie Han – both of them are doing a great job at drawing connections between community organizing, digital engagement, social change and the nonprofit sector.
In a Canadian context, academics Meghan Joy and John Shields have also helped me contextualize social impact bonds and social finance within the broader context of austerity and the welfare state. Their papers are absolutely worth a read.
For you as a past author with the journal, please share with us your reflections, reaction, thoughts about what has changed and/or stayed the same?
In 2013, I published a piece in The Philanthropist called Climbing The Ladder: The Role of Youth in Setting Sectoral Strategy. This piece was largely a reflection on my work with Connect The Sector, a network of young nonprofit professionals in Toronto that Heather Laird and I co-founded.
My initial reaction to this piece is that very little has changed in the three years since it was published. There are few intergenerational spaces in Canada to discuss the sector’s future, and there has been very limited traction on a national strategy about youth in the nonprofit sector labour force. I’m hopeful that this moves forward in the future, because there is lots of pressure on the labour force (an ageing population, a growing freelance economy) and youth need to be at the table for that discussion.
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