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NCN Canada Shared Spaces Learning Series: Part 2

Knowledge in Action 2: From Start-Up to Sustainability – Emerging Business Models

Canadian non-profit centres, as one manifestation of social-purpose real estate, are firmly situated in the social economy. While the mix of legal structures varies greatly (from non-profit societies to public foundations to corporations limited by guarantee), non-profit centres exist in service of social missions “searching for a space – distinct from both the state and the market – that offers focal points for constructive forms of civic engagement.”

In support of their missions, centres operate at the intersection of the private, public and non-profit sectors – combining from each sector a bundle of stakeholders, accountabilities and required capacities. Strategic financial acumen – the development, clarification, evaluation and adaptation of your centre’s business model – is one capacity critical to the success of your space and your mission.

Operators of Canadian non-profit centres in both planning and operational stages should find the information here relevant for examining the financial aspects of their work, generating new possibilities, and evaluating these in the context of their organization’s vision and mission to inform fiscal strategy.

Each organization’s context is unique and no general guide can replace the utility of specific research, consultation, and legal counsel. The aim of this paper is to organize information in a complex field, to help facilitate useful preliminary and evaluative conversations, and to help operators clarify the questions relevant to their specific context.

This paper is organized in three sections: Building the Puzzle, Sustaining the Function, and Centre Profiles. The first section focuses on financing capital asset acquisition (buying, developing or improving a space). The second section describes various approaches to balancing revenues and costs while operating a centre. The final section includes brief profiles of two Canadian centres, describing their sustainability strategies in further detail. Sources and additional resources can be found after the final section.

This report is one of three in a series…

Part 1

The information in Knowledge in Action 1: Corporate Structures and Regulatory Contexts is complementary to the information found here.

Part 3

The information in Knowledge in Action 3: Proving and Improving – Evaluation in Shared Spaces is complementary to the information found here.

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NCN Canada Shared Learning Series: Part 2

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