Community Financing

Sectors

  • Affordable and inclusive housing 

  • Arts & culture spaces

  • Co-working / innovation spaces

  • Community hubs (bringing community service providers under one roof for targeted and integration services) 

  • Sustainable energy (we didn’t talk about this one in detail but there could be big potential with churches wanting to go green) 

  • Sustainable food systems 

Criteria

1. Most importantly, the project has to be iconic and meaningful to the community. It needs to be a project that supporters are going to rally behind, something the media might talk about, and generate significant environmental or social benefit. It’s important to think about how the broader community (those with shared values) might engage with the project if it does not directly impact them. For example, how could the café in Rodney be framed and pitched to be of interest to potential investors in London, Windsor, etc. 

2. Should be looking to raise a minimum of $500,000 in community bonds. We don’t recommend attempting to raise less because of the fixed costs (primarily legal and marketing) associated with doing a bond raise. In our own modelling, we haven’t found it to be financially viable for a lower amount, though in the case of a church where the community connection is already very strong, it may be true that the marketing expenses could be less. We are really working on this piece as an organization by templating the process down. Our hope is that one day, we could get the fixed costs so low that it could be a tool accessible to groups looking to raise as little as $100,000. We just aren’t quite there yet. 

3. The capital being raised should go to the purchase or retrofit of a fixed asset. As I mentioned, community bonds are not a secured investment but are significantly less risky when they can be backed by a fixed asset. If you want the bonds to become RRSP eligible, this is mandatory. 

4. The project must have a community champion. A capital raise is obviously a large endeavor and will be presumably being undertaken alongside another large project (ex. renovating a building). There needs to be one extremely passionate person who is going to see this project through. We feel this leadership is essential to the success of the campaign and the project. The community champion will be the face of the project and the person that the investors connect/identify with (think Tonya!). 

5. Obviously, there must be a sustainable business model that will allow the organization to pay investors back over time. Bonds can be designed in such a way to meet project needs and future cash flow projections. This would always be part of a feasibility study. 

6. There should be an established community of supporters, which is easy for any church! 

These are the top-level criteria and of course there is more due diligence to be done on a case by case basis. We offer a free half day workshop to any non-profit or co-op group that is interested in community bonds to walk them through the process and do a high-level feasibility assessment. If you think there could be a good fit with one of your churches, we are always happy to arrange these but ask them to do a little prep work and bring in the key decision makers (board members, finance staff, etc.). 

Frances Darwin
Marketing & Engagement Manager - frances@tapestrycapital.ca

Tapestry Community Capital - Finance to the power of community