The Community Bond: An Innovation in Social Finance

They say necessity is the mother of invention. The Centre for Social Innovation was dealing with some necessity of its own when faced with a $6.5 million price tag to purchase an additional building, the CSI Annex. As an organization with almost no accumulated surplus, creativity was key. So the CSI team brought together some incredibly bright minds and conceived of the Community Bond — an innovation in social finance that allows regular citizens to purchase RRSP-eligible bonds in support of the CSI Annex project.

This is the story of the how CSI succeeded and bought a building. It’s also a DIY guide to help your organization leverage its most important asset — its social capital — to pursue its mission, build resiliency and create more vibrant communities. This guide is for:

  • Nonprofits and charities with an existing revenue model that want to acquire a property
  • Nonprofits and charities that own property and need financing for leasehold improvements or green retrofits
  • Social enterprises that require financing to grow their business and expand their social impact
  • Community power organizations that require financing in order to purchase equipment
  • Policy makers and public servants looking for innovative ways to empower the work of nonprofits
  • People who want to come together to undertake a project that would benefit their community
  • Individuals and organizations generally curious and enthusiastic about the possibilities of community finance
  • Social innovators of all stripes who can take the seed of an idea, grow it, transform it and spread it far and wide

An accompanying series of templates (available separately) provide a sense of the legal framework required to issue Community Bonds.