Gathering Explores How to Use Money to Serve Life

Organizational psychologist Julie Bourbonnais has been incorporating thrivability into her work and life, and recently attended an Investing in Thrivable Organizations gathering where she witnessed a new conversation emerging about how to use finances towards life-sustaining projects. Photo: Seb Paquet. Creative Commons CC-Zero.


Gathering Explores How to Use Money to Serve Life

‘There’s a lot of work to be done . . . we are just starting to crack that boundary’

People are starting to talk about the relationship between thrivability and money, opening new possibilities and questions for exploration, says Julie Bourbonnais.

“Thrivability is something real and rich, but it’s an emerging movement. It’s full of promise but it’s still soft for some people, so how does that manifest and what does that mean?” Julie asks.

“Thrivability for me is a system that is life-sustaining, that is generative, that is really taking that biodiversity of talents and contribution in service of something that is pure,” Julie says, noting there are some systems that are “efficient and fluid to make it work.”

  The March 16-17 gathering convened people from the areas of social finance, the thrivability movement and a local thrivability community of practice to explore what happens when the spirit and practice of thrivability meets the world of impact investing. Photo: Seb Paquet. Creative Commons CC-Zero.

She was among a dozen participants at a March 16-17 event in Montreal exploring what happens when the spirit and practice of thrivability meets the world of impact investing. The event — Investing in Thrivable Organizations: How can we use money to serve life beautifully? — convened people from the areas of social finance, the thrivability movement and a local thrivability community of practice.

“To get that hard business investing mindset talking with thrivability, getting that richness together and seeing the power of integration — I think I had not seen that. I knew it could be possible but it was fun to see it unfolding,” Julie says.

Julie, an organizational psychologist at Grisvert, says the gathering “opened my eyes and bridged some vocabulary” around impact investing.

“What are the returns we should expect, what types of returns — does it change our vocabulary — and what’s that relationship to money? I think there’s a lot of work to be done to redefine and reinvent and innovate, and I think we are just starting to crack that boundary,” Julie says.  

The gathering provided Julie a better understanding of social finance in terms of where the investors are at, who’s on the radar, what questions they’re asking and how to connect and get conversations going among people working on projects and investors.

Julie says she would like to continue the thrivable investing dialogue and see more conversations underway. She notes it would be interesting to start doing thrivability audits matching people who have a thrivability mindset with a people who have an investor mindset, and when organizations need help facilitators could assist to boost the chances of success for all who are involved.

She says she left the gathering feeling grateful for the opportunity to delve into the inquiry.

“Because I’m not in the investment field or the philanthropy field I didn’t have a specific need, I came in there with curiosity and openness to learn and I was very satisfied. I had some great meetings with wonderful people that I discovered and new questions,” Julie tells Axiom News.

Michelle Holliday, Cambium Consulting founder and thrivability thought leader, co-hosted the gathering and invited Julie to attend. Julie and Michelle have been in conversation since Michelle started sharing her thrivability work. Working in organizational change management, Julie says Michelle’s thrivable organizations map “rang true.”

Julie and Michelle worked together with a Montreal organization now called Space for Life, which is made up of four attractions that form Canada’s largest natural science museum complex. The conversation of how to invest in thrivability and how to get investors interested and involved has been a topic of exploration around their Space for Life work, Julie notes.

Julie says she uses the thrivability framework to guide her work most of what she does, and is interested to continue evolving her practice and have a better understanding of the investment sphere.

— More to Come

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Jennifer Neutel

Jennifer Neutel is a Story Advocate and Generative Journalist at Axiom News. She completed her Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa in 2006, and joined Axiom News in 2007. She has taken on a variety of roles at Axiom including new social media intiatives and has a passion for creating strengths-based questions that can lead to positive change.

Contact Jennifer:, or 705-741-4421 ext. 26.

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