Community Bonds: Turning Social Capital Into Financial Capital

Community Bonds

Today the book The Community Bond: An Innovation in Social Finance by Tonya Surman launched along with its companion website

Tonya Surman is CEO and Director of Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation, affectionately known in local circles as the CSI. The CSI opened its first location on Spadina north of Queen St. in 2004 as a work space for organizations with a social mission. They gradually took over increasing amounts of space in the Robertson Building, until they finally decided to open a second location.

They were able to raise all but $2 million to buy a $6.5 million building at Bloor and Bathurst in 2010 using traditional methods such as securing a mortgage. That was when they decided to find a way to turn their social capital–their strong reputation and standing within the local community–into financial capital to raise the outstanding amount.

They decided to create an innovative approach, the Community Bond, allowing local donors essentially to become investors. According to an August 17 article from MoneySense, Scott Hughs of CapacityBuild Consulting Inc. helped Tonya Surman and CSI structure the community bonds for what is now known as the “CSI Annex”.

Matt Galloway of CBC Metro Morning spoke with Surman about the story of community bonds back in March: click through for audio.

Tonya Surman also spoke passionately about community projects and the use of community bonds at TEDxToronto back in 2010:

As someone who has spent many hours with other consultants and groups at the first two CSI locations, I find this story fascinating. The CSI houses many local agents of change and provides space for many local groups that otherwise would not have a central location. They have also served as a model for ING’s own co-working space Network Orange for small businesses and entrepreneurs on Yonge Street (across from the Eaton Centre). And it appears with this new book venture, their do-good influence is growing.

Additional Resources
Purchase the book (guide) and templates:

Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation:

CSI’s third (new!) space, CSI Regent Park:

Community bond readiness checklist for organizations – Are You Ready?:

How others are using community bonds: &

Note: CBC audio player removed (Sept. 18)


  1. Actually, the audio comes on even if you just go to the main slaw page. Can you please disable this? It is quite annoying.

  2. My apologies–I have now removed the audio player. It wasn’t coming on when I tested it yesterday but you are right, that is annoying.