Why We’re Working Openly on our Open Licensing Policy

Our first post in a series on Working Openly at Vancouver Foundation

Vancouver Foundation is Community Inspired.

What this means to us is that community ideas, goals and interests guide us in every aspect of the work we do, and the work that we do is better when community is involved.

Every year, through the generous support of our donors, we fund hundreds of innovative projects – large and small – in areas such as arts and culture, education, children and youth issues, environment, animal welfare, community health, and social development. We call these grants ‘Field of Interest’ grants and their purpose is to fund socially innovative projects that deliver meaningful outcomes in these areas.

Unfortunately, much of the work that flows through our current community-led evaluation process is rarely exposed to the peers, partners, funders and other interested parties that could benefit from the social innovations being produced by British Columbians.

Vancouver Foundation wants to tap into the great ideas and knowledge being generated through this funding stream, and to discover new ways to unlock and share the creative solutions we see every day. One of the ways we have determined to do this is by adopting an Open Licensing Policy for the products of Field of Interest grants, a commitment we made in May of last year, and which we are due to launch in January of 2017.

We believe Open Licensing, using Creative Commons internationally accepted Licensing tools, can help to improve the discoverability and impact of these ideas. We also believe that this idea will help teach us, and other community foundations and charitable organizations how to work more openly, and to consider how the work we fund can be made more accessible to the people who need it most.

We have set some lofty goals for this year – not only will we finalize our Open Policy by the end of December 2016, but we plan to share the experience in getting from here to there with you, our community.  Open Licensing is a new challenge for Community Foundations, and learning to ‘work openly’ is a very new approach for an organization that is almost 74 years old – but we believe that good ideas should be in community hands and that is our ultimate goal with our project.

Right now, we are not 100% certain what the shape of our final Policy will look like. As always, Vancouver Foundation is looking to our community members for help. We are engaging with stakeholders across the organization and across BC for advice, insight and cautions as we plan our next steps.

The broad outline of the upcoming work we will be sharing with you includes establishing connections with our peers at Hewlett Foundation and Creative Commons who are providing significant insight and technical support, as well as engaging in multiple stakeholder meetings with staff, advisory committee members, grantees, our Board of Directors and the public for ideas, support and feedback as we add shape and definition to our policy.

We look forward to you joining us as we move towards our Launch date.



Rebeccah Mullen joined Vancouver Foundation via Mozilla Foundation and has a passion for all things ‘Open’. She will be blogging on behalf of Vancouver Foundation as project lead for 2017’s Open Licensing Policy Implementation.

Trina Isakson is an independent strategist, researcher, and facilitator with a focus on the future of the nonprofit sector, and a convener for nonprofit sector leaders in BC interested in open data. She will be leading project strategy and planning, as well as facilitating stakeholder engagement sessions.



This adaptation of “Why We’re Working Openly on our Open Licensing Policy” by Rebeccah Mullen on behalf of Vancouver Foundation is licensed under CC BY 4.0


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