Growing Revenue: Running a Business within a Charitable Model

Room: Westmount 6

Elizabeth Murphy, CEO, Nova Scotia SPCA
Karen Gosse, Thrift Store Manager, St. John’s SPCA

As Humane Societies and SPCAs across Canada address the need to diversify funding streams, conversations often turn to social enterprises and building them outside the charitable structure of the agency.

With four stores now located across the province, hear how Nova Scotia SPCA made the decision to move forward with a business model within their charitable model and how, through careful planning, the results are helping them fund core operations. Explore how they took a model and made it fit within their mandate and how they address competition, how they keep the shelves stocked and how they manage this endeavour internally.


  1. Choosing a model that is right for you: why NS SPCA chose not to set up a separate company.
  2. Competition, location and ensuring you have the right business model for success.
  3. Utilizing volunteers within a business model.

Elizabeth Murphy has worked in the charitable sector for more than 20 years, helping to secure reliable and consistent funding for many worthy organizations. Elizabeth describes herself as: one part executive, one part entrepreneur, two parts cat lady, two parts Mum and half-part control freak (pushed down deep). Her passion for animals and commitment to people living with disabilities is derived from circumstances in her youth and focuses her work on helping animal welfare organizations and health charities that support people living with different abilities.  Currently, Elizabeth is the CEO of the Nova Scotia SPCA. During her five years with the SPCA, she has facilitated the merging of 11 independent Nova Scotian SPCA animal shelters into one provincial organization and increased operational revenues from $1.2 million per year to $4.4 million per year.

Karen Gosse and her family have been actively volunteering with the SPCA for many years. She volunteered a full year with the SPCA on Sunday mornings before taking a position with our first thrift store which opened in 2015. Karen has since then managed the store and under her management the store has thrived, the thrift store has enabled us to operate with the highest of standards and provide exceptional care to our animals. Late 2018 we opened another thrift store under the management of Karen and the second store has been just as successful as the first, the stores made a combined profit of nearly $65,000 in January of 2019. Karen provides exceptional leadership to countless numbers of volunteers and 4 thrift store staff, she goes above an beyond and even today spends just as many or more hours volunteering as she does working.