Non-profits want to work with people, not tell them what to do – but how does that work in practice?

This organization is changing how they work, making their design processes more collaborative with community members

Why It Matters

Social research and development, like R&D in any sector, brings new tools and strategies that can improve people’s lives. As COVID-19 completely disrupts business as usual, there may never be a more important time to reimagine how they work.

This story is in partnership with Ontario Trillium Foundation.

“Knock Knock,” say the cards hanging on doors in a seniors’ community housing building in Parkdale, west Toronto. Much like “Do Not Disturb” signs in hotels, they tell staff and volunteers from the local non-profit West Neighbourhood House that they should knock to check in and make sure otherwise isolated residents are ok. 

Many of the building’s few hundred senior residents have been worried about isolation, and during COVID-19, those fears have intensified.

This small creative tweak — hanging signs to let staff know they are welcome to check in with the resident — has reassured seniors that people are looking out for them, says Maureen Fair, executive director of West Neighbourhood House, which provides a variety of services to people who are vulnerable, including to man

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