Monthly Archives

March 2021

Satyameet Singh joins the Tapestry Team

By | News

We are pleased to introduce Satyameet (Sattu) Singh as the newest member of our Tapestry Team. Sattu will be joining our campaign team as a Campaign Manager, where he will be working with our Senior Campaign Manager, Jennifer Bryan. In his new role, Sattu will support our clients in building campaign excitement, media attention and demand for their investment opportunities, and more broadly, increase awareness of community bonds as a viable financing mechanism for non-profits, charities and co-ops all across Canada.

Satyameet Singh TapestrySattu brings to our team a wealth of experience in both social enterprise, and marketing and sales. He is a graduate of the MBA program at the Schulich School of Business, and a self professed pragmatic altruist and idealist.

It was Sattu’s education at Schulich that first brought him to Toronto from Delhi, India in 2011, and opened his eyes to the world of social enterprise. Post-MBA, he began his career with WE (Free the Children), where he led the India operations for the charity’s ‘Adopt a Village’ development model. He moved back to Toronto in 2014, to join a social enterprise called Eva’s Initiative for Homeless Youth, where he was a Program Lead. In 2015, he was recruited by Schulich School of Business to lead marketing and administration at their India campus.

“This was actually a great first experience in selling investments, because education really is an investment – and not a cheap one,” says Sattu with a smile. “We needed to demonstrate to prospective students that their time on campus would be transformative and open doors in the future.”

“During my time at the Schulich campus in Hyderabad, I was exposed to all sorts of amazing thinkers and leaders,” he explains. “What really resonated with me was that the world is rapidly shifting to a solutions oriented mindset, and I knew I wanted to be part of the solutions based economy. It was during this time that I made the conscious decision to move back into the social enterprise space.”

He returned to Canada to lead to the marketing and sales initiatives at Good Foot Delivery, a social enterprise that provides meaningful employment to the neuro-diverse community through a professional courier service.

“What excites me most about joining the Tapestry team is the chance to help scale a proven solution. Tapestry has seen the success and impact of community bonds. The method is tried and tested. I am excited to help even more organizations all across Canada to take advantage of this model.”

In his free time, Sattu is an avid violinist and loves to listen to stand up comedy.

We hope you will have the pleasure of getting to know Sattu and working with him on a community bond campaign. “I am always free to have a coffee and a chat,” says Sattu. If you’d like to connect with him, you can email him at satyameet@tapestrycapital.ca.

Kingsway College School (KCS) Senior School

Kingsway College School launches $4M Community Bond Campaign

By | Client Stories, News

We are excited to announce that Kingsway College School (KCS) has officially opened their community bond campaign to the public. KCS is raising $4 million in community bonds, called KCS Bonds, to help build a senior school for their community. 

From their beginnings as a small community school, KCS has grown to a student population of over 500 children. There’s no disputing that KCS’s JK to 8 programme produces great students. The Senior School will meet the same high standards of the Junior School, which was established in 1989, and will be aligned with the KCS vision of developing lifelong learners. 

The new senior school will give students access to open spaces for performing and community-building, science labs for chemistry, biology and physics, and a fitness room to support healthy activity. Most importantly, the Senior School will give KCS students the opportunity to continue their high school education with a school that feels like home, and provide a new independent schooling option to families in Toronto’s West End. 

What is a KCS Bond?

A KCS Bond is a community bond = an interest bearing loan that a non-profit or charity can issue to support a project that they are undertaking. Any individual or institution can purchase a KCS Bond and earn a fixed interest rate each year. Interest is paid out yearly, and the principal is paid out at the end of the term. KCS Bonds are eligible to be held in tax-advantaged accounts, including Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA’s) and Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP’s).

This financing model makes sense for KCS as they were able to set their own terms based on their financial situation, and allows them to involve their community and give back to their supporters simultaneously. Tapestry Community Capital is KCS’s community bond partner for this campaign, and will manage the investments for the length of the terms. 

KCS Community Bond Investments“We’ve intentionally launched a series of bonds to suit a wide array of people in our community, while offering them a competitive return at the end of each year,” says Bronwen Evens, Chair, KCS Board of Governors. “A Major pull is that our bonds are backed and secured by our real estate and are not correlated to financial markets.”

How can you invest?

With over $1.2 million in bonds pledged to be purchased to date, KCS is now inviting the greater community to join the journey. Visit kcsbonds.ca to invest. Register for the KCS Investor Information Session today to learn more. 

Resources for Raising Community Bonds

By | News

Sometimes organizations want to do a bit of their own homework on Community Bonds before they reach out to us. This is why we have launched our new resources page, to give you and your team the tools you need to explore and evaluate the option of community financing at your own speed.

“We want organizations to be able to self-select whether this is a good fit for them or not,” says Ryan Collins-Swartz, Co-Executive Director of Tapestry. “Through our experience helping to raise and manage over $70 million in community bonds, we have come to realize what works and what doesn’t. We want organizations to use these tools to say either, ‘yes, this is a great fit for my project’ or ‘no, we aren’t quite there yet.’

Community bonds are still a very new concept to most. This means there is often a good deal of educating that needs to take place at the Senior and Board level before organizations feel comfortable exploring this idea in greater detail.

“Once they dig into these resources and see how others have done it and succeeded, they walk away confident that they too can realize their visions with the help of community finance,” says Ryan. 

On our new resources page you will find two case studies that can be downloaded free of charge. These walk you through the amazing stories of how the Argonaut Rowing Club and The Mount Community Centre raised community bonds to transform community real estate. 

There is also an in-depth guide written by the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), who have now raised over $8 million in community bonds, that tells their story and shares their wealth of experience.

“We are very happy to have all these tools easily available online now, and hope that this will improve the accessibility, and general awareness, of community bonds across Canada,” says Ryan. 

For those that have explored these resources and wish to move further in their research, we offer a 3-hour workshop designed to bring your team together to further evaluate how community bonds can work for your project. 

Abbey Dawn SolarShare Project

What comes after the Raise? Investor Stewardship and why it’s Important

By | Education

Community bonds can help you scale-up your non-profit, charity or co-op, and take ownership of important assets that you need to achieve your mission. They can also help you to strengthen and deepen meaningful ties to your community.

When a community member invests in your project, they are becoming part of your dream and vision. They are also putting trust in you to carry out your project efficiently and run your operations in a manner that will ensure that investors are repaid.  

You might think that a community bond campaign ends when all the funds are raised. But at Tapestry, we have seen that our most successful clients are those that steward their investors from their first interaction with the organization all the way through to when their bonds mature, and beyond.

So, what does Investor Stewardship mean?

Effective investor stewardship means managing your investors and caring for their needs. You can look after your investors by staying in regular contact with them, giving them news and information about your organization and the project they are supporting, and providing reassurance that your bond campaign and project are running according to plan. In our opinion, the key elements of investor stewardship are:

Investor onboarding: First impressions are everything. This may be an investor’s first transaction with the organization and if you want to instill trust, this is the most important starting point. Information about the investment and organization should be presented clearly and provided on time, someone should always be available to field questions via email or phone, and there should be immediate follow-up once the investment is received.

E-newsletter: A monthly e-newsletter is one the most effective ways to keep in touch with your investors. In your newsletter you can share details about your investment campaign, project updates and highlights, and even industry news.

Social media: Social media provides a more informal channel to give your investors updates about what is happening within your community. Social media also allows investors and influencers to engage with your news and content, and share within their own network.

Seek input: Community bond investors often want to go beyond putting their money in an organization. Occasionally seeking their guidance or input via surveys or at events can help strengthen your relationship by making them feel that they are a meaningful part of your mission.

Professional Investment Management: Ensuring that investors are paid interest or dividends on time and in a professional manner is critical. You will also want to ensure that they receive the necessary tax forms at the appropriate time of the year, and that you can give statements and updates on their investment whenever they request them.

CSI Founder Bricks

The Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) created Founders Bricks for their investors.

There are also many creative ways that you can acknowledge and thank your investors. Some organizations may choose to give investors naming rights of spaces which they are building, as is often done in a capital fundraising campaign, while others might choose to send a small gift.

SKETCH Working Arts recently completed a $1.4 million community bond raise, to purchase their admin and studio space. Over the holiday season, in order to thank investors, SKETCH distributed coffee and brownies to everyone that made an investment.

Small gestures like this don’t have to be costly. In the case of SKETCH, they had the coffee donated and the brownies were baked by volunteers in their community kitchen. This was a low cost but memorable acknowledgement of the role that their investors are playing in bringing their vision to life.

Why is investor stewardship so important?

Your investors will be powerful spokespeople for your project, your investment opportunity, and your mission. If they have a positive investment experience, are able to trust in you, and have access to investment and project details, they will share this opportunity with others in their network.

“Word of mouth is actually the single most important source of new investment,” shares Jennifer Bryan, our Senior Campaign Manager at Tapestry. “In addition to generating new investment, stewarding investors throughout the life of their bond can mean that when their bond matures, they choose to reinvest in any new investment opportunities the organization has.”

Abbey Dawn SolarShare Project

Investors touring SolarShare’s Abbey Dawn installation (pre-covid). This is their 37th project.

SolarShare is a community power co-operative that sells bonds to finance community-owned solar projects. “They have over a 70% reinvestment rate, meaning that when bonds mature, 70% of investors will choose to put their money back in,” says Jennifer. “This pool of dedicated investors meant that SolarShare could scale extremely rapidly.”

To give you an idea of just how quickly they scaled, from 2011 to 2015 they raised $10 million total in investment. Last year, in 2020 alone, they raised $16 million in 9 months. SolarShare started with just one solar project and now has 49 solar projects across Ontario.

The Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) also has a fantastic growth story,” says Jen. Their first bond campaign in 2010 raised $2 million to help them purchase their first building in downtown Toronto. Four years later, in 2014, they were able to turn around and re-approach investors to raise another $4.3 million to purchase a second building.

“What is truly incredible,” shares Jen, “is that in 2020, amidst a global pandemic, CSI was able to raise another $1.9 million in community bonds in just 41 days.” The speed at which their bonds sold out is a testament to the trust that investors have in CSI.

CSI Growth

How can Tapestry help?

Building a community bond campaign means forging lasting relationships with your investors. Building these relationships takes time. “We often find that organizations don’t have the bandwidth to dedicate resources and time to stewarding investors, and this is why we are here to help,” says Jen.

“We see ourselves as a temporary part of your team, providing the additional resources to make sure that your investors receive the attention they need. We can provide advice, tools and templates to help you on your way. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel here,” says Jennifer, “we have done this so many times now that our process and methods are well formulated.”

Are you interested in using community bonds for your project? Get in touch.

Cathy Mann

How to raise donations and investments at the same time

By | Education

Charities are one of three types of organizations in Canada that can make use of community bonds to raise investment from their supporters. What makes charities unique from the other two groups – co-ops and non-profits – is that they also have the ability to seek donations and offer tax-receipts to donors.

As community bonds and philanthropy are so different, yet both important types of financing, we are often asked if the two can work hand-in-hand for charities.

We sat down with Cathy Mann, founder of the Fundraising Lab, to tell you that yes, it can be done and there may be benefits to combining these two types of funding that you haven’t realized yet.

Cathy has over 20 years of experience teaching fundraising in college and university, and over 25 years of experience working as a front-line fundraiser and consultant. Cathy developed the Fundraising Lab to share fundraising skills and her best advice to help more charities achieve their mission.

Cathy Mann Fundraising Lab
Community bonds are an exciting tool for Charities

Community bonds are a social finance tool, similar in many ways to a traditional bond. They are an interest bearing loan from an investor, which has a set rate of return and a fixed term. The major difference is that in addition to offering a modest financial return, they also offer a social or environmental return.

What are community bonds

Most charities will be familiar with traditional fundraising and building relationships with donors. They will also be familiar with donor fatigue and the struggles that can come with trying to align capital fundraising with project timelines. What community bonds do is create a new vehicle for accessing funds that might not otherwise have been possible to tap in to. 

“Impact investing is such a hot topic right now,” shares Cathy, “there are a lot of institutional funders out there that don’t have a place to put the money they have earmarked for impact investment. Community bonds create a new avenue for these investors to make a return while also ensuring that money is doing good in the community.”

And it’s not just institutional investors who are searching for community bond investments. In fact, in a community bond campaign the majority of investors are your average retail investor interested in making an impact, or someone who is already a supporter of the issuing organization. 

“I think community bonds are a really interesting form of financing” says Cathy, “but that doesn’t mean they are for everyone.”

“I don’t want to be a Debby Downer,” she laughs, “but there is a checklist of conditions for charities interested in this tool.” Most importantly, the charity must have a revenue model that will allow them to repay investors over time. The second important condition is that the charity be raising the financing for the purchase or renovation of an asset, most likely real estate.

Community bond checklist
Financing to match project timelines 

One element of community bonds that is often appealing is that they allow charities to access a lump sum of financing upfront. “With a typical capital campaign, donations come in as pledges, and those pledges are paid out over the course of 3-5 years,” explains Cathy. “This is something that many charities engaging in a capital campaign for the first time don’t realize.” Adding bonds into the financing mix can potentially help with project rollout, as these funds are available upfront.

Are charities ready for social finance?

“Some charities are better positioned to take on debt than others, and feel more comfortable,” shares Cathy. “My clients haven’t had a lot of experience in this area solely because most don’t own property, and without property, there is nothing to secure a loan. So many charities just don’t have a lot of experience with taking on financing.”

But that may be changing now with the emergence of community bonds. Charities are becoming more and more inventive with social enterprise models, there is growing government support in this area, and with rising rents across Canada, the business case for owning vs. renting is often there.

“I hope this model of financing becomes more prevalent,” says Cathy. “I think seeing somebody else do it first is going to make a big difference.”

What if Donors only want to be Investors moving forward?

Most recently, Cathy has been working with a charity called SKETCH Working Arts on their capital campaign Project Home. This $1.52 million fundraising campaign happens to be running alongside a $1.4 million community bond campaign that we at Tapestry are supporting with.

In total, SKETCH will be raising $4 million to purchase their studio and admin space, where they support homeless and marginalized youth through mentoring and development in the arts.

SKETCH is a great example of a charity that has been successful in running these two types of campaigns in tandem, and managing both investors and donors at the same time.

“I think there is a legitimate fear that some donors may choose only to invest,” says Cathy, “and this may be the case for some, but what we have learned from SKETCH is that many donors just want to remain donors, or want to donate AND to invest.” 

SKETCH donors and investors

At Tapestry, we’ve also seen that community bonds can re-engage lapsed donors. “Some may have stopped giving years back but are now interested in supporting the organization in a different way,” shares Jennifer Bryan, our Senior Campaign Manager.

The key according to Cathy, is that you need to make sure you have a good plan for both your fundraising campaign and community bond campaign before you begin on either element. “What is really critical is to speak to your donor base when you are in the planning phase to see what their reactions are and which way they will lean,” she says. 

“In our experience, community bonds have actually extended the reach of our community,” says Dale Roy, Marketing and Resource Development Associate at SKETCH. “Community bonds allowed us to tap into a new group of people we never realized were out there. We hope that our investors will continue to support our work even once this project is complete.”

The Giving Bond

“The SKETCH creation of the Giving Bond has been amazing,” says Cathy. SKETCH is the first organization in Canada to utilize this form of a community bond. How it works: an investor purchases the bond, they receive their full principal back at the end of the term and the interest is donated to SKETCH. The investor then receives a tax receipt for the donation.

Charity giving bond

In a sense, the Giving Bond allows investors to make a donation, and gives the charity an interest free loan. “Lots of organizations just get tripped up by the notion of making the interest payments. So for many organizations, it might be easier for them to consider if it can be viewed as an interest free loan,” says Cathy.

The keys to success

One of the main reasons that SKETCH has succeeded, in Cathy’s opinion, is that they had a donor base that would support this kind of initiative. “They have great relationships with their supporters and a sizable group of people that they could reach out to from the get go.”

They also had experience with major gift fundraising, which was a great starting point for them. This meant that they already had a lot of the necessary infrastructure in place. They were able to take these existing tools and knowledge and pivot to effectively communicate with investors, whom require different messaging from donors. 

“The other thing is that people love Rudy,” Cathy says with a big smile. Rudy Ruttimann is the Executive Director of SKETCH and the lead on Project Home. “She is a force to be reckoned with.”

“She was just so determined that this was going to succeed, that people got caught up with that enthusiasm, and believed in it because she believed in it so strongly.” Of course, Rudy also has an amazing team supporting her, to whom Cathy gives her kudos. It was SKETCH’s volunteer financial consultant, Michael Sacke, who initially put forward the idea of alternative financing, and he was a champion for the idea of community bonds from the start.

Some advice to charities interested in Community Bonds

“Prepare for some nail biting,” she says with a grin. “It’s not for the faint of heart. There will certainly be moments of doubt, and ups and downs, but in the end it can really pay off. This is something really cutting edge and exciting, and people want to be part of that.”

Are you interested in using community bonds to raise investment for your charity? Get in touch at info@tapestrycapital.ca.

Join our Board of Directors

By | News

In a time of exciting growth, our parent organization – TREC Renewable Energy Cooperative – is looking to expand its Board of Directors.

TREC has incubated and launched several organizations that solve environmental challenges and advance the power of community economic development in Canada, including WindShare, SolarShare, and Relay Education.

TREC’s most recent venture is Tapestry Community Capital. At Tapestry, we support social purpose organizations across Canada to raise and manage community investment. Our clients are cooperatives, not-for-profits, and charities engaged in developing renewable energy, and social purpose real estate such as: housing, arts venues, recreation facilities, community hubs, co-working spaces, and innovation centres.

We know that more diverse, equitable and inclusive leadership will lead to greater innovation and amplified impact. This is why TREC is actively seeking to improve the diversity of our Board of Directors. We are particularly seeking representation from people of colour, rural communities, Indigenous groups, and those that identify as
LGBTQ2S++, and encourage applicants from equity seeking groups.

In our most recent episode of Café Tapestry, we had the opportunity to speak to Rebecca Black, long standing TREC Board Member, Co-Founder of Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE) and Designer & Communicator at Black Current Marketing. Rebecca shared her experience of being a Member of the Board, what she has learned over the years, and how this opportunity has helped her to develop new skills and shape her career.

Watch the full episode below to learn more about what it is like to be a Member of the TREC Board.

For those interested in applying, please read the full description here.

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