Charting a Path for Social Purpose Administration: An Update

A CAUBO and RECODE joint project

How can higher education finance and administration leaders contribute to their institution’s social ambitions?

RECODE and Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) are collaborating on a national initiative to support post-secondary institutions across Canada in exploring emerging trends and expectations in social purpose administration. The partnership draws upon RECODE’s insights and networks in advancing community-centered solutions and CAUBO’s mission to enable excellence in Canadian higher education administration.

This initiative stems from broader research RECODE and Simon Fraser University pioneered last year on the roles post-secondary institutions can play to enhance community well-being – including and beyond their primary mandates of teaching and research. This concept–known as social infrastructure– is described in their report, Maximizing the Capacities of Advanced Education Institutions to Build Social Infrastructure for Canadian Communities, which lists the capacities and assets of universities, colleges and polytechnic institutes that can be mobilized to meet community needs.

The partnership complements three additional projects RECODE is pursuing with Universities Canada, Colleges and Institutes Canada, and a cohort of BC institutions under co-leadership with Simon Fraser University.

These are the instruments which advanced education institutions have in the toolbox to further contribute to the prosperity of Canadian communities. The Financial and Physical instruments are in the domain of chief administrative and financial officers and the subject of this partnership. 

CAUBO and RECODE seek to identify industry best practices and support administrators in learning about embedding greater social value in domains such as human resources, facilities management, procurement, investment, risk management, planning and budgeting and ancillary services. While many administrative officers are already familiar with social and sustainable procurement and social and sustainable investment, the aim is that eventually, all core administrative functions will have a more explicit social component. This initiative is designed to:

  • Outline these opportunities;
  • Learn about and overcome the barriers; and
  • Support advanced education administrators in building the capacity of their institutions in this evolving field.

Click here to view the Social Purpose Administration Primer

“Choosing to say yes when it would have been easier to say no – is absolutely critical to  driving innovation in large complex organizations like universities where the easy thing is not always the best thing to do. We were REALLY lucky to have innovative and collaborative leaders in Finance and Administration that looked  for out of the box solutions to support an out of the box social venture.”

– Wendy Cukier, Co-Founder, Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge, Professor Entrepreneurship and Strategy,     Ryerson University

Spring Consultation

In the Spring of 2018 CAUBO and McConnell consulted with university and college administrators at the following workshops:

Highlights from these consultations include:

  • There is considerable enthusiasm for scaling and accelerating the concept of social purpose admin and finance

  • Many social purpose admin and finance initiatives are already underway, and there are many good practices to be shared across institutions

  • Social purpose admin and finance requires a senior champion to be successful

  • It needs to be included in the strategic plan for it to become an institutional priority

Webinar Series

The partners are now hosting a webinar series to help institutions learn from each other, through sharing and replicating best practices.  Efforts are also underway to determine how best to incorporate social purpose administration and finance into institutional strategic plans. CAUBO members say this is an important and necessary prerequisite to increasing innovation in this area of professional practice.

Coming Soon: Inventory of Best and Emerging Social Purpose Administration and Finance Practices

The partners also collaborated on a survey to create a database of practices at Canadian institutions. This database will be available soon.

Please contact Jennifer Gammad Lockerby at jlockerby@mcconnellfoundation.ca for more information.