Chasing Funding “To Eat Our Own Tail”: The Invisible Emotional Work of Making Social Change

Keywords: Social innovation, Nonprofit, Canada, Homelessness, Feminist, Neoliberalism / Innovation sociale, Le secteur sans but lucrative, Itinérance, Féministe, Néolibéralisme


This article presents findings from a multi-site study conducted in Montréal, QC, and Toronto, ON, Canada, on “social innovation” networks, focusing on the forms of emotional and relational work that many participants described. The article explores how these tasks related to how workers in the two nonprofit “backbone” organizations described their contributions to the impacts they hoped to make. The intersections of these forms of work and particular identities are framed within a feminist lens—when and how are these forms of relational work recognized or made invisible? This work is contextualized within neoliberal reforms, the restructuring of the state, and external funding requirements and how these determine what forms of work are deemed “impactful” in making significant social change around broad issues of homelessness and social exclusion.

Cet article présente les résultats d’une étude multi-sites sur les réseaux « d’innovation sociale » menée à Montréal, QC et Toronto, ON, Canada, et met l’accent sur des formes de travail émotionnel et relationnel décrites par de nombreux participants. Les auteurs explorent la relation entre ces tâches et la manière dont les travailleurs de deux organismes à but non lucratif centraux décrivent leurs contributions aux impacts qu’ils espéraient avoir. Les intersections de ces travaux et des identités particulières s’inscrivent dans une perspective féministe—quand et comment les formes de travail relationnelles sont-elles reconnues ou rendues invisible? Cet article s’inscrit dans le cadre des réformes néolibérales, de la restructuration de l’État et des besoins des bailleurs de fonds externes, et comment ceux-ci déterminent quelles formes de travail sont considérées comme ayant un impact « décisif » sur le changement social important autour des grandes questions de l’itinérance et d’exclusion sociale.


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