A Guide to Community Capital


Year: 2014

Business owners and social entrepreneurs in many communities struggle to access the funds they need to launch or expand their businesses and initiatives. At the same time, most of our financial investments go to unfamiliar, opaque investments in far way places and have impacts from which we are disconnected. It doesn’t have to be this way. Innovators across North America are creating ways of re-directing financial resources to businesses and organizations that are serving the communities in which they are located by providing needed goods and services, creating high-quality jobs, restoring the environment and enabling prosperity for all through the development of local living economies.

The Guide to Community Capital is designed to provide an introduction to the ideas and language of community capital, and to pique your interest in learning more by providing descriptions of existing tools with brief examples from communities across North America. This guide provides a high-level primer and a map for readers to connect to a range of resources to learn more. It is divided into four parts:

  • Sources of Financial Capital – Overview of capital sources and potential partners that may exist in your community.
  • Tools for Deploying Capital – The tools that entrepreneurs and innovators are using to tap into community capital.
  • Investment Offerings and Community Capital Platforms – Options for structuring investments, with a review of some of the existing innovative platforms and mechanisms.
  • Glossary of Financial Terms – Simple definitions for financial terms.

Table of Contents

The Need for Community Capital
What is Community Capital?
Our Definition
The Longer Version
What’s in this Guide? 
Sources of Capital 
Donor-Advised Funds
Credit Unions
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)
Angel Investors and Venture Capital
Community Capital Tools
Grants = A gift (usually with some strings)
Equity = A stake in the ownership
Debt = Borrowing money (often with interest)
Secured vs Unsecured Debt
Hybrid & Non-Traditional Investments
Investment Offerings and Community Capital Platforms
Direct Public Offerings and Private Placements
Direct Public Offerings (DPOs)
Private Placements
Community Capital Platforms & Mechanisms
Investment Clubs
Local Investment Opportunities Networks (LIONs)
Impact or Targeted Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
Local Exchanges
Partnership Lending
Lending Circles
Peer-to-Peer Lending
Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)
Pooled Investment Notes
Ok, so what’s next?
Glossary of Terms