Impact Insider #26: What social impact organizations can learn from NASA

What will it take for us to create moonshot social impact missions?

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This year, the world of social impact in Canada has seen some significant moves and initiatives, from smart cities challenges and Indigenous impact investing to employee activism and humanitarian tech.

Last week, however, there was one question on our minds as we watched the world celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, the first moon landing and arguably one of humanity’s biggest achievements: how can we make social impact missions as audacious and inspiring as space missions? 

While there are clearly a few differences between space missions and the complexity of social missions, there are still a number of lessons that we can take from Apollo 11 and apply to our field. So this week, we did just that, coming up with 10 ways to make social missions as audacious as space missions.

We hope you enjoy it, and let us know how you’re creating your own moonshots.


This Week’s Most Popular in Future of Good

1. Edge & Main, Episode 2: Moving From an Individual to a Collective Worldview with Indy Johar
Why It Matters: Climate change, poverty, hunger, division — these global challenges are all symptoms of a larger root problem, says Indy Johar, co-founder of Dark Matter Labs. To solve them, we need to move in a meaningful way from an individual worldview to a collective one.

2. 3 Ways Technology is Accelerating Solutions for Homelessness by Alison Sinkewicz
Why It Matters:In cities where the tech industry booms, homelessness and under-housing also tend to increase. Homelessness is already an issue that affects an estimated 235,000 Canadians each year. But according to three nonprofits, the same industry that’s contributing to these existing issues holds promise as an innovative way to build, design, and scale new solutions.

3. Edge & Main, Episode 1: Decolonizing Wealth with Edgar Villanueva
Why It Matters:The world of philanthropy suffers from the same colonial structures and deep, systemic issues that affect the rest of the world around us. To truly effect change, we need to heal philanthropy from within.

4. How Well Does Canada’s National SDG Strategy Involve All Canadians? by Katie Miller
Why It Matters:With just over a decade left to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, Canada has put together an interim strategy towards achieving the goals nationwide. But how well does it involve all Canadians, and what can we do to further engage stakeholders?


What To Watch Next Week

Next week, we’ll be sitting down with four emerging leaders from across Canada — John Michael KoffiHeela OmarkhailNicole Gagliardi, and Michael Redhead Champagne — to discuss the future of philanthropy and how to bring fresh voices to the table.


What Matters from the World of Impact

Each week, our editorial team scans the top 50 impact-focused newsletters from Canada and around the world, so you don’t have to. We curate to bring you key news, insights, and analysis.

1. What is the economic value of data? Statistics Canada has some mind-boggling numbers.
Why It Matters: Are you leveraging your organization’s data to its full extent? And if not, how much value are you leaving on the table? According to Statistics Canada’s latest research, it could be a larger amount than you think, considering that the value of data in Canada last year alone hit $217 billion.
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2. Ontario Nonprofit Network shares results of three years of research on women’s experiences in Canadian nonprofits
Why It Matters: 
Even in women-majority sectors like the non-profit world, systemic issues like discrimination, unequal pay, and harassment continue to be a problem. To truly fight for gender equality in the workplace, we can’t only aim to get more women into male-dominated sectors — we need to advocate for women where they’re at.
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3. Do cities have access to the private sector data they need to make effective decisions?
Why It Matters: Cities need access to data for city planning and development — but that data is increasingly held by the private sector. The Open Data Institute has collected (and is still currently crowdsourcing) global examples of cities’ attempts to open up the flow of data. Where does Canada land on the spectrum? 
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4. To make the biggest difference, Big Philanthropy must pivot to local, community-driven solutions
Why It Matters: 
While Canada doesn’t have its own Green New Deal lined up, the deal’s framework is proving a useful way to tackle problems and fund solutions. Big Philanthropy needs to put its funding behind projects that are community-driven, aim to solve more than one challenge, and are funded with no strings attached. 
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5. Knight Foundation announces $50M investment to develop a new field of research around technology’s impact on democracy
Why It Matters: 
In Canada and around the world, technology has been labeled a “real threat to democracy,” especially in the lead-up to federal elections. To help combat the problem, the nonprofit Knight Foundation will fund cross-disciplinary research at 11 universities to research the effect of technology on democracy.
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Opportunities from the World of Impact

We’re testing out a new section in Impact Insider — a community-oriented space to share valuable impact-focused opportunities. If you have something you’d like for us to include, just hit reply to this email.

1. Future of Good is hiring a Digital Marketing Specialist ⭐️
We are searching for a talented digital marketing specialist to join our startup team. The candidate will help amplify our digital content and grow our soon-to-launch membership offering. Apply by August 16.

2. Centre for Social Innovation searching for its next Chief Operating Officer 🔍
A Toronto hub for social innovation, the non-profit Centre for Social Innovation is searching for its next Chief Operating Officer. Apply by August 30.

3. Applications open for the RBC Future Launch Community Challenge 💪
Youth organizations in over 150 communities across Canada are invited to apply for up to $15,000 in funding for youth-led projects that answer the question: “What is your boldest idea to respond to an urgent local need?” Apply by September 18.

4. Apply for the Global Startup Pitch Competition for Diverse Entrepreneurs 💼
SoGal Ventures wants to change the number of women and diverse founders receiving venture capital funding. Startups that are pre-Series A are invited to apply for a chance to join SoGal Ventures’ Global Startup Pitch Competition. Apply by August 1.

5. Applications now open for MaRS’ Healthy Neighbourhoods Data Challenge 📊
How can we improve our neighbourhoods so that people live healthier and less sedentary lives? If you can identify or create new data sets, data sources, and analytical methodologies that will help innovators better understand our physical environments so they can design healthier neighbourhoods, you could be eligible for an award of $10,000. Apply by October 24.


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