Are Community Bonds right for your NFP organization?

In 2017 and 2018, 10C worked with Terrapin Social Finance on a project to summarize some of the current community bond projects in the past 10 years.
Learn more in our report:
The Bond and Beyond
. Key findings from an environmental scan of community bonds across Canada

First, what are community bonds?

Community bonds are a financial tool that not-for-profits can use to support an enterprise that creates a social and financial return. At their essence, community bonds are loans from citizens, companies or foundations to an NFP organization with a compelling project. Community bonds are sometimes backed by an asset, and are changing the way that enterprising NFPs create change.

While this is an emerging field, investors consider community bonds a type of direct social investment that lets them participate in achieving change in their communities. These investors like to see strong local and social outcomes in addition to the financial return. These investments are to be repaid with a financial return, rather than being donated.

Learn How to Launch and Manage a Community Bond Program in Your Community – a toolkit of current research, resources, templates and a hands-on workshop series.

10 Carden Shared Space Inc., an existing not-for-profit co-working and shared community event space, has purchased and is renovating a 15,000+ sq ft facility in the heart of downtown Guelph, Ontario in 2016-17. The 10 Carden model is collaborative, innovative and compelling. It features several trans-disciplinary partners, including the University of Guelph, Chalmers Community Services Centre, the Local Immigration Partnership, Out on the Shelf LGTBQ+ Library, Guelph Arts Council, Guelph Dance, and Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition among others. This project is being achieved with a mix of financing, including a first mortgage, grants, sponsorship, partnerships and nearly $2,000,000 in Community Bond financing.

The physical location at 10C features a shared Community Classroom to be programmed by 10C and community partners. As a key offering in the new Community Classroom, 10C has developed an educational workshop series relating to the emergent social financing model – 10 Carden’s Community Bond financing process – with interested not for profit organizations.

This knowledge sharing project is funded with support through a SEED grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to allow for continued research, documentation, evaluation and insight into approaches that could be transferred to future projects, including those which may enable social finance projects in cities and towns across Ontario to emerge.

10C has developed a toolkit, background report and resources to support and mentor community organizations willing to work through the challenges and opportunities of launching a social financing project.

Toolkit includes:

  • Background Package conveying project vision
  • Legal Framework Documents, Trust Agreement, Bond Certificate
  • Investor Pledge Forms and XLS file structure to collect and organize contact and investor information
  • Promotional email templates
  • Postcard and promotional products
  • Financial Model templates are available for hands-on use to workshop participants only.

These TOOLKIT resources are available to NFP organizations on a sliding scale basis from $200 to $500 based on annual operating budgets. Please email [email protected] to register to request a password to access this information. Those participating in all 4 Community Bond workshops outlined below will receive access to ALL resources at no additional cost during the course material and homework projects.

Social Finance Planning Sessions:

10C Shared Space is presenting an educational discussion and hands-on workshop series relating to an emergent social impact financing model – Community Bond Investment and Financing – with interested not for profit organizations. There are many learnings from the 10C expansion that could be transferred to future projects led by other organizations, enabling new social finance projects to emerge.

These workshops are for you if your Not-for-Profit is interested in:

– developing or expanding place-based project

– creating or strengthening a social enterprise

– learning more about social finance

– financing alternatives such as community bonds

If you are interested in the ways that community bonds may help your organization achieve its goals, please contact [email protected] Individualized or group workshop opportunities are available.

Social Finance Planning Session 1
Why and How. The Model.

In this session, participants will develop an understanding of the model that 10C utilized to undertake the social financing required to redevelop the Ackers Furniture Building, a 15,000 sq ft space in Downtown Guelph. This project was financed in real time by real people. The session includes a storytelling background as a preface, covers structural details regarding community bonds, and details capacities required to open up discussion, questions and brainstorming between the participants.

This is intended for those interested in this model and those interested or working on similar projects. Participants will leave with homework and clear next steps to prepare for Session 2.

Social Finance Planning Session 2
What and When. Creating a Community Bond Offering.

Drawing on ideas from the previous session, participants will work on their draft community bond offering. We also look at the work developed as homework from Session 1. As a group, we will discuss each offering and the business plans. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Through the discussion, we will begin to document the tangible reasons to invest in each project, from the perspective of the organization as well as the investor. You will leave with homework items as you begin to refine the offering and build background materials for your project.

Social Finance Planning Session 3
Who and Where. Engagement Process.

This session develops the myriad of next steps in the community bond engagement process. What is the work of managing a community bond campaign and who will lead, assist and participate in the community engagement required? What resources does your organization need to set aside to achieve success in the campaign? Participants leave with an actionable work plan to begin to move their project ahead. Templates in the Toolkit will serve as inspiration and also give an idea of the scale of the work ahead to establish and organize your campaign.

Social Finance Planning Session 4
Sharing, Practice and Feedback.

Ready or not, this is pitch time. Participants share questions about their project thus far, review items on the checklists and refine upcoming work and systems required. After questions and discussion and a brief break, practice your project pitch with a supportive and inquisitive group of people. This session is meant to reinforce your storytelling and help you see areas for improvement before bringing your project into the world of supporters and actual investors.

Ontario Trillium Foundation10C Shared Space is grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for providing SEED grant funding to enable this research and preparation of shared community resources.