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Education

How does a community bond campaign work?

Par | Education

Community Bonds are a proven social finance instrument that allow people of average means to transform from occasional donors into citizen investors, giving them the opportunity to align their money with their values. Once we have worked with your organization to determine that a Community Bond is a good fit, your organization will be ready to launch a Community Bond campaign!

The Tapestry Process will guide your organization from workshop to successful campaign in 12 months. This ensures that the campaign will be managed effectively, and every step needed to have the campaign be a success is put in place:

The Tapestry Process

  1. Structure
  2. Raise
  3. Manage

A clear process takes the guess work out of developing a community bond, and helps you  focus your energy on actually bringing the project to life, knowing that the required funding will be secured.

Community Bond - Planning and Feasibility
Planning and Feasibility (Typically 3 months)

Before we begin a Community Bond campaign with our clients, we have a range of services that allow us to prepare our clients for a successful campaign, and ensure that the intended project is a good fit for a community bond. Among these services, the Planning and Feasibility phase is one of the most crucial. This pre-campaign process allows us to test if a project will be successful. Some of the factors we look for include:

  1. Is this a project the community would be excited about?
  2. Is the project well defined?
  3. How much of the funds can be raise through the Community Bond?
  4. How will revenue be generated to repay the bonds?
  5. What bond price and interest rate will be attractive to the community of investor

Upfront work helps to avoid unpleasant surprises well into the campaign, and guides the structuring of the community bond.

Tapestry’s role

Even before the Feasibility Assessment, Tapestry offers a Community Bond Accelerator workshop where we conduct an initial assessment of the project idea. If we determine that the idea is viable, we’ll invite you to participate in the Planning and Feasibility phase. This includes:

  • Investor Research
  • Financial Feasibility
  • Resource Planning

One of the major deliverables that is produced from this phase, is a financial model that can be presented to investors, and clearly outlines the bond repayment plan. We bring our years of experience to help you determine if a Community Bond fits your project and forecasts the resource demands on your organization.

Community Bond - StructureStructuring the Bond (Typically 3 months)

Structuring the bond refers to all of the communications and resources that have to be brought together or created to issue a bond. On the most basic level, this refers to the bond prospectus or offering statement. This document provides potential investors with all the information they need to know about the organization and the bond before making an investment decision.

Once this work is complete, a strategy and tools focussed on effectively educating the community on the project, and selling the bond have to be developed. This can include a marketing and communications strategy, campaign website, and a variety of marketing collateral.

Finally, resources should be considered to communicate with investors for the life of the bond following the completion of the campaign. A bond campaign does not end once the raise is over–investors are interested in the project, and receive interest payments over the life of the bond. In addition, the capital investment is typically repaid at the end of the bond term. As such, some mechanism for tracking, communicating with, and paying investors on a regular basis needs to be put in place.

Tapestry’s role

Our structure module can more accurately be described as the structure and infrastructure module. It is during this time that we leverage all of the information that we gathered from your organization through the planning and feasibility module, to build the perfect bond campaign for your community!

This includes the development of a business plan, creation of an offering statement and investment package, required legal work, development of a campaign website and marketing strategy, and configuration of our investor management platform Atticus.  We help design campaigns that have all of the elements to attract community investors, corporate investors, institutional investors.

Community Bond - Raise

Raising the Investment (6 months)

Once your Community Bond is structured, it is time to raise the required capital to finance your community project! It’s at this time that your organization will engage in activities to both educate your community about the project and sell community bonds.

The most successful community bond campaigns have had a combination of both citizen investors, and institutional investors (often in the form of foundations).

It will take a strategy of ongoing and timely engagement to keep the momentum of your Community Bond campaign going, and to ensure that the full raise can be achieved.

Tapestry’s role:

Tapestry provides both the resources and expertise to supplement the experience already present on your organization’s team. We work alongside your organization to manage the community bond campaign and bond investors by: ensuring that key events are held; managing the distribution of important communication materials to investors; and closely monitoring milestones for the life of the campaign. With our assistance, your organization will be able to turn your passive supporters into active investors.

Community Bond - Manage

Community Bond Management (Ongoing)

The time allotted for a campaign raise is fixed, and once it has concluded, your focus will shift to managing investors for the life of the bond.  Investor management includes: investor onboarding, monthly/annual reporting, interest distributions, tax documention, and redemptions at maturity.

This step should not be overlooked. Aside from the legal requirements, it is important because happy investors are more inclined to reinvest in future projects!

Tapestry’s role

We help support communication with the Community Bond investors for the life of the bond. We’re able to do this effectively through the use of our proprietary investor management platform, Atticus. With our processes and through Atticus, we have been able to raise and manage $61 million dollars from 4400 investors.

What’s Next?

Community Bonds can be effectively leveraged for a variety of projects. While the process can seem daunting, the support of a partner like Tapestry makes it simple to manage.

Do you think you have a project that would be a good fit? Click the link below to contact us and start your project or attend our next Community Bond 101 webinar.

Get in Touch

How Inspirit Foundation does impact investing

Par | Education

A Conversation with Jory Cohen: Inspirit Foundation

At Tapestry, we’re on a mission to help the not for profit sector more effectively pursue sustainable financing for their iconic community projects. To accomplish that goal we’re endeavouring to speak to as many stakeholders as possible!

This includes both people who have created iconic projects, and those who fund those projects. One of the key partners that help to bring these projects to life in the not for profit world is foundations.

We spoke with Jory Cohen, Director of Social Finance and Investment at Inspirit Foundation, to get his perspective on what makes for a worthwhile investment. Jory leads Inspirit Foundation’s finance and investment strategies. He is a leader in the Impact Investment field, and with the support of the Inspirit Foundation board, is leading Inspirit to a 100% impact investment portfolio. Before Inspirit, Jory was the Managing Director of Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund (YSI), an impact investing fund.

The full audio of our interview with Jory can be found at the end of this post.

About Inspirit Foundation

Inspirit is a public foundation based in Toronto. They work to build more pluralist societies–one where multiple groups can coexist. Inspirit works towards this mission through granting, impact investing, and working to make systemic change through young change leaders. The foundation’s granting activities are focussed on the main priorities of reconciliation and addressing islamophobia through a media and arts lens.

Our main interest in speaking with Jory was exploring the criteria that Inspirit Foundation uses to evaluate organizations from an impact investment perspective. The conversation was wide-ranging, but he provided three key takeaways that organization should consider when positioning themselves for investability.

 

Key Lessons Learned

“There is a higher likelihood of financial profitability alongside higher levels of impact (or), at least the intent of impact…”

There is sometimes an aversion in the non-profit world towards thinking of organizations like a business. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, this can result in short-term decision making that prioritizes direct program delivery over the long-term health of an organization. What Jory has found through impact investing, is that impact and profitability do not have to be mutually exclusive, and in fact, can go hand and hand.

As Jory explains, an investor can decrease their volatility by investing in organizations that have a focus on impact. The chances of a crisis arising, and a subsequent dramatic drop in the company’s value, is lessened when social good is at the centre of their business practice. This is part of the reason why Inspirit has moved towards 100% impact investing. It’s just good business.

To learn more about Inspirits impact investment practices, click here.

 

“We don’t like investing under $250,000.00 because investing is a lot of work. Every investment takes a few months from start to finish.”

Inspirit Foundation does not have a large team of people assessing investments. For that reason, Jory has to be selective about the types of investments that the foundation chooses to take on, and any opportunity under $250,000.00 will likely be too low for consideration.

In positioning an organization for investability, it’s important for organizations to be conscious of not asking for too little. While an organization may think that a smaller ask makes them more attractive because the amount is more accessible, it can actually have the opposite effect.

 

“Quite honestly, most (organizations) come to us. Canada is a small market for impact investing still and I think we’ve got the word out that we’re active impact investors, active in the sense that we like making investments.”

Inspirit doesn’t need to seek organizations out.

While the ecosystem is small, Canada still provides a healthy pipeline for investors seeking impact investment opportunities. What that means for not for profits developing investible projects is that they need to be proactive in seeking organizations out. This means more than just putting up a website.

Get your pitch ready, have your financials in order, and set up some meetings!

 

Full Interview Audio

If you’re interested in learning more about Inspirit Foundation, what they look for when investing in Community Bonds specifically, and how they approach impact investing more generally, check out the full audio of our conversation below.

If you’re interested in reading about Jory’s journey towards 100% impact investing, you can view his blog, Impact Invest with Me, by clicking here.

And, if you want to receive more stories like this directly to your inbox, signup for our newsletter The Threadby clicking here.

How the Argonaut Rowing Club raised $1 million in 4 months

Par | Client Stories, Education, Success Story
Jason van Ravenswaay, President of the Argonaut Rowing Club

In March 2019, following a six month pre-campaign planning process, the Argonaut Rowing club launched Argonaut Rowing Club NEXT (ARC Next), a rebrand of their five-year revitalization project, designed to support current and future rowers for the next 50 years. Over the next 5 years, the club aims to attract over 80 new members, reach 15 local schools and support 80 young athletes.

In support of the campaign, the club is raising $1.2 million dollars through a community bond raise, to fund the essential upgrades that would offer a fully accessible facility, increased member capacity and youth programs. To date, there has been just over $1 million pledged to the campaign in under four months, with a deadline of September 15, to raise the final amount. We spoke with Jason van Ravenswaay, President of the Argonaut Rowing Club to get his perspective on the campaign so far.

What is the vision of ARC Next and what makes this project iconic?

Argonaut Rowing Club boat racks

In part, what makes the project iconic is that the rowing club has been around for a long time. We’ve had our, ups and downs over that time. At one point the rowing club even burned down. We’ve always come back stronger. The opportunity that we have is really bringing the club to the next level, reaching more youth, and becoming completely accessible for our para-athletes.

That’s the primary vision. Right now, we’re investing a lot in our youth. About 3 years ago, our junior program was 3 – 5 people. And, we’ve actively been growing that program, investing in coaching, in safety, in new rowing shelves so that these athletes can compete and have the opportunity to be successful.

With this ARC next campaign, we’re able to open up more space so that we can grow this program even further. Right now, we’re at 60 junior athletes, which is a lot. This program doesn’t really make money for the club. It actually costs us money, but we’re very passionate helping people get introduced into the sport of rowing and creating that passion.

Why is this so important?

For me it’s important because rowing has been an outlet. It’s been a way to be healthy, to enjoy the city, and the beautiful lake that we have the privilege of living on. And, I think what’s great is that rowing is addictive.

I want people to have the opportunity to feel what that’s like and to fall in love with the sport.

For yourself, what has been the biggest challenge in this bond raise so far?

Probably the biggest challenge is—we have a phenomenal leadership team behind this bond raise and on the board of directors, but the reality is that these leaders for the club are all volunteers. Everyone has jobs and careers outside of the rowing club. So, the challenge is really getting people energized.

We’re working late nights to get a lot of this stuff done, and you know, a lot of planning goes into this campaign. With the financial modelling, and the business plan and really thinking through what the next five to seven years look like. We’ve been thinking about and planning for this investment. We knew that we needed to do something, in particular looking at the flooding that’s been happening in our changing room.

Argonaut Rowing Club practice with woman's team

We’ve been making small investments in our program, that have moved us forward, but planning such a big one-time investment that gets us everything that we need to push all of our programs forward and to reach more in the community is a heavy lift. We’re really lucky that we have the leadership team that we do because they’re putting in tonnes of hours getting this done.

That’s been the hardest part of this campaign.

What has been the biggest surprise throughout this whole campaign?

The biggest surprise has been that a lot of people have the same passion for our club and for the impact that we have. They have come through and invested in ARC next.

I think probably the investors that kind of give me goosebumps are really the parents. People that aren’t rowing, but their kids have been through our programs and just how they reflect on their children’s experience and how it has changed their lives. How it’s gotten into their schools and how it’s created a network of friends that are strong, motivated individuals.

The parents want the club to be able to scale and have this impact on their children. Some of the parents that are sitting on our committee, their kids are actually off to university now, and they’re participating in the bond raise—whether that’s investing or actually being on the team—because of the impact that we’ve had on their kids in previous years.

It sounds like you’ve been able to cultivate a really amazing community around the club!

We’ve been really lucky and we have a lot of really great volunteers that are really driving the community and culture. We’re super grateful that everyone has been so engaged.

Argonaut Rowing Club woman rowing

You have surpassed the $1 million pledges milestone, what do you feel has been the biggest factor in your success to date?

We have a pretty strong vision and we have been working on a number of micro initiatives that have all kind of lined up right in front of this ARC Next campaign. As an example, a year and a half ago we assembled a grant committee, and they began figuring out what do we need to support our programs and what kind of grants are out there. Writing grant proposals is very time consuming and we had all that work done upfront and we successfully were awarded a grant at the beginning of this fiscal year which helped pushed this campaign forward.

So, for you it was all the prep-work that was done beforehand?

The prep work and the vision of all the different micro-components, like the banquet facility, which is critical to supporting this investment. With the banquet facility, really understanding the feedback from our client to know what types of investments are really going to elevate the space and allow us to demand higher fees and get more revenue out of that space. And, even before that making sure that we had the right management in place for the banquet space and we had some issues with water coming into the building so investing and building a wall at the front of the building to divert water away and into the lake. There’s just so many different components that have all come together this summer, but the club, it’s different. It’s a different space, it’s a different feel, it’s a different energy, and people are really excited and they want to be down there.

Argonaut Rowing Club woman and coachWoman being coached on rowing

How has Tapestry helped to bring this campaign to life?

Tapestry has been a tremendous support; we really didn’t know where to start only that we didn’t want traditional financing. Finding community bonds and Tapestry made our vision possible; especially for a volunteer organization like ours it would have taken years of work to get where we are today without Tapestry.

And, if you were going to give advice to someone who was considering embarking on a community bond campaign, what would you tell them?

Focus on impact. What is the impact that you’re going to have on your community. On the people or the environment, and really paint a picture of what that feels like. It’s important that people get the feels for what you’re doing. Sometimes it’s hard to communicate the motivation behind something but emotion is powerful.

The Argonaut Rowing Club staff, board members and committees are coming together to celebrate the momentous achievement of reaching the $1 million milestone on July 17th at the clubhouse to encourage the last round of investments from members, parents and stakeholders.

To stay engaged and up-to-date on all things ARC Next and to learn more about the project, visit www.arcnext.ca. See you on the water!

Where do Community Bonds sit on the Investment Continuum?

Par | Education

What are Community Bonds?

Community Bonds are an innovative social financing tool issued by a non-profit, charity or co-operative organization to finance projects that have a community impact. Figure 1. demonstrates the social investment continuum of financial instruments used by various organizations. The left side of the continuum is dominated by grants and philanthropic mechanisms, while the other end consists of instruments typically used by for profit corporations when pursuing growth opportunities. These instruments on the right side of the continuum are typically supported by the securities market trade.

Figure 1: Investment Continuum

The Investment Continuum Defined:

  • Donations: capital given by anyone for charitable purposes and to benefit a cause.
  • Grants: funds given by a specific granting body, particularly the government, corporations, foundations, educational institutions, businesses, or an individual. To receive a grant, an application is required.
  • Forgivable Loans: a form of loan in which its entirety, or a portion, can be forgiven or deferred for a period of time by the lender when certain conditions are met.
  • Social Enterprise Investments: investment funds that can be accessed by social enterprises.
  • Community Loan Funds: a fund that provides loans to the community usually for the purpose of financing a community project.
  • Social Impact Bonds: a tool based on the pay-for-performance principle where the government agrees to repay investors for the improved social outcomes of the project/program.
  • Community Bonds: an interest-bearing loan with a face value, fixed term and set interest rate. Community bonds always generate a social or environmental return, in addition to a fair financial return.
  • Debt: money that is owed or due to another institution or individual.
  • Corporate Bonds: a debt security tool issued by a corporation and sold to investors in order to raise capital for a variety of reasons. In return, investors receive repayment in terms of financial capital.
  • Equity: equity financing is the process of raising capital through the sale of shares. By selling shares, the company sells ownership in their company in return for cash.
  • Venture Capital: capital that usually takes monetary form but can also be technical or managerial expertise. Investors provide to startup companies and small businesses that are believed to have long-term growth  This type of financing usually comes from accredited, high net-worth investors, investment banks and other financial institutions.

Community Bond Benefits

Community bonds sit close to the centre of the continuum. They are more closely aligned with tools typically used by for-profit organizations, but still very much rooted in community engagement and support. In recent years, Community Bonds have emerged as an innovative financial tool used by non-profits, co-ops and charities to attract capital beyond traditional philanthropic sources. This tool enables organizations to receive funding from citizen investors to finance a project in their community. At Tapestry, we ensure that the issuers we work with are giving their investors a world-class experience by providing all of the necessary information on the bond before they make an investment decision, at the time they purchase a bond, and throughout the entire term of their Community Bond. Since a Community Bond is an interest-bearing loan, at the end of the term, investors get paid back their capital investment, a fair financial return on that invested capital, and a tangible social return in the form of the community benefit.

As one tool among many on the social finance continuum, it is important for organizations to closely evaluate the purpose of the financing when determining what combination of tools would be best suited for their goals and the vision of their organization.

Are community bonds the right fit?

Some of the questions that organizations can ask when making this determination are:

  1. What type of organization do you represent?
  2. What is the nature of the project in need of funding (operational, capital development, research, etc.)?
  3. How much funding is required for the project?
  4. Do you already have funding from other sources?
  5. Does your organization have a revenue generating business model?
  6. How quickly is the financing required?

These questions are not definitive or exhaustive, but in answering them organizations can have a better sense of what finance tool is most appropriate for their purposes.

If you think community bonds may be among the tools that make sense for your project, fill out the below qualifier survey and get in touch. We want to hear from you!

Two people reading a contract

Differentiating Community Bonds and Social Impact Bonds

Par | Education, News

Over the last decade, governments and social purpose organizations have been responding to the growing need for social and environmental services by developing and using innovative finance tools to both grow the base of community assets, and expand programming. Two tools that have received a lot of attention, and are gaining traction, are Community Bonds and Social Impact Bonds.

At Tapestry, we’re often asked what the difference is between these two tools, so in this article we will attempt to set the record straight.

Community Bonds, by definition, are a debt financing tool issued a by non-profit, charity or co-operative organization. In simple terms, Community Bonds give these organizations the opportunity to take loans of varying sizes directly from their community of supporters. Both sides win – their supporters are paid interest for investing in a project that is meaningful to them, and the issuing organization gains access to the capital they need to grow.

In order to repay their investors, organizations issuing Community Bonds must have a revenue model. For example, an artist co-operative might issue community bonds to purchase a building. They will have revenue streams from operating a storefront, leasing studio space to their members, and renting out their event venue. This artist co-operative would be a good fit for a community bond raise because they have a way to repay their investors and have a strong base of supporters through their co-op membership and patrons.

Social Impact Bonds are similar in some ways because they are issued by community focused non-profits and charities. They too, create impact investment opportunities for individuals who believe in the mission of the issuing organization. The main difference is that the issuing organization has established an agreement with the government, where the government will pay for performance by the non-profit or charity. The payment from the government is tied to clear social or environmental outcomes to which the issuing organization has committed. These are the funds that are used to repay investors. So rather than investing in the business model of a social enterprise (as is the case for Community Bonds), investors in SIBs are investing in the organization’s ability to realize detailed social or environmental outcomes.

For example, a community service organization that houses and provides employment training to homeless youth could establish a pay-for-performance contract with the government where they commit to housing and employing 80 youth. This organization could then issue debt in the form of an SIB to their community of supporters. Their investors will be repaid at the end of the program, assuming the organization has achieved the outcome to which they committed with the government.

According to the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, “SIBs are not bonds, per se, since repayment and return on investment are contingent upon the achievement of desired social outcomes; if the objectives are not achieved, investors receive neither a return nor repayment of principal. SIBs derive their name from the fact that their investors are typically those who are interested in not just the financial return on their investment, but also in its social impact”.

Where do these tools sit on the Investment Continuum?

What are the main characteristics of Community Bonds vs. SIBs?

How do the investor groups differ?

As SIBs aim to solve big social challenges on behalf of the government, these programs often require larger capital injections than a project that may successfully issue Community Bonds. Thus, the investors targeted for SIBs are often high net worth, accredited investor. On the other hand, Community Bonds enable people of average means to transform from occasional donors or volunteers into citizen investors.

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