Nicole Rycroft – Executive Director of Canopy
Nicole came to British Columbia from her native Australia, in 1996, to participate in the fight to save that province’s old growth forests. In 1999 she founded Canopy with the aim of shifting paper purchasing industries away from paper derived from ancient and endangered forests. Since then, under Nicole’s leadership, Canopy has transformed the purchasing practices of 700 of the world’s largest brands, catalyzed two major conservation initiatives (the Canadian Boreal Forest and Great Bear Rainforest Agreements) and has mentored similar organizations in 13 countries.
Nicole is a recipient of the Ashoka Fellowship, a Canadian Environment Award Gold Medal and numerous print and publishing industry awards. She was named one of Canada’s 50 Most Influential People in Graphic Communication for four years, and has accepted several awards on behalf of Canopy, including the Benny Award for Outstanding Corporate Campaigning.
Project: How do successful not-for-profit organizations most effectively scale up their impact to enable them to deliver innovative and positive models of change in other communities nationally and/or other regions of the world? This question was central to Nicole’s sabbatical study. Her premise is that among a number of possible models, an adapted ‘franchise’ model could prove to be an effective vehicle. She planned to test this assumption and explore a number of related questions. Of particular interest to Nicole is better understanding and addressing the dynamics of campaign/advocacy organizations as opposed to more service-oriented groups, where are greater level of standardization is perhaps possible and even desirable.
Through an evaluation of the mechanics of for-profit franchises, and research and interviews with both successful franchise practitioners and NGOs seeking to move to a level of greater impact, Nicole evaluated models for NGOs to ‘scale up’ their influence and effectiveness, without developing a large and unwieldy structure.