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Navigating the Complexities of Social Impact Investing: Insights from Experts

Updated: Nov 13, 2023


The recent panel discussion led by Stuart Reid, the Executive Director of Community Foundation Grey Bruce, on social finance and community investment brought together a diverse group of experts, offering valuable insights into this evolving field.

The event focused on the challenges and opportunities within social finance, particularly for not-for-profits and community organizations.

Challenges in Language and Terminology

One significant barrier highlighted during the discussion is the complex language and terminology of social finance. This specialized jargon can often be daunting, creating a gap between not-for-profits and potential investors or stakeholders. The panelists underscored the need for a more approachable language that demystifies social finance for wider accessibility.

The Importance of Education and Clarity

Education and clarity emerged as crucial themes. The experts advocated for the use of plain language and tangible examples to explain the intricacies of social finance. Case studies, they argued, could serve as effective tools to illustrate various investment models and returns, thereby enhancing understanding and engagement in the sector.

Case Study: Habitat for Humanity and Community Bonds

A noteworthy example discussed was Habitat for Humanity's use of community bonds to fund affordable housing projects. These bonds offer a return of 7.25% over two years, an attractive rate made possible by leveraging community wealth. This case study provides a clear illustration of how social finance can be practically implemented while offering tangible benefits to investors.


RELATED: Affordable Housing Solutions in Ontario: Debrief from Ontario Chamber of Commerce & Grey County Reports


Risk Management and Transparency

Addressing the risks associated with social finance investments, the panelists emphasized the importance of transparency and clear communication. While acknowledging these risks, they stressed the need for strategies to manage them effectively, ensuring investor confidence and project sustainability.

The Role of Collaboration and Learning

The panel unanimously agreed on the necessity of continued education and collaboration in the field of social finance. They suggested that organizations engage actively in knowledge sharing and networking to stay abreast of the latest developments and best practices in impact investing.

Dig Deeper!

For those eager to delve deeper into the world of social finance, we invite you to watch the full recording of the presentations and discussions below. You'll gain a more comprehensive understanding and key insights. In addition, for a quick reference or a more focused exploration of specific topics discussed during the event, we have prepared detailed summaries from presenters and key sessions. A lot was covered! Over 18,000 words were spoken!

These summaries provide concise overviews of the major points and themes addressed by our speakers, allowing for a targeted review of the subjects that most interest you.

Social Impact Investing for Community Building & Housing Solutions November 2023

Event Breakdown with Timestamps and Summary

Click on arrows to expand

00:00 - 02:31 | Opening of the Social Impact Investing and Community Building Event

Stuart Reid, the Executive Director of Community Foundation Grape Bruce, initiated the event at the Harmony Center, focusing on social impact investing, community building, and housing solutions.

He emphasized the relevance of these topics to the region's interests and anticipated an engaging and inspiring discussion for the audience.

Carrie Lee, the Chair of the Board of Directors, followed by welcoming the attendees and delivering a heartfelt land acknowledgment. She paid respects to the history, spirituality, and culture of various Indigenous groups, including the Anishnabe, the People of the Three Fires (Ojibway, Odawa, Pottawatomie), the Chippewas of Saugeen and Nawash, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, and the Six Nations of the Grand River.

Additionally, she acknowledged the Metis and Inuit peoples, reflecting on the broken covenants and the ongoing need for justice and respectful relations with all Indigenous peoples.

Lee also informed the audience about the live streaming and recording of the event, cautioning them about their potential appearance on YouTube and the impossibility of guaranteeing privacy during the broadcast. This housekeeping note underscored the event's outreach and digital footprint.

02:31 - 05:10 | Introduction to Social Impact Investing

05:10 - 07:39 | The Role of the Institute of Southern Georgian Bay in Addressing Affordable Housing

07:39 - 11:01 | Habitat for Humanity’s Role in Addressing Affordable Housing

11:01 - 15:27 | Introduction of Presentations and Co-Moderator for the Evening

15:27 - 19:30 | Discussing Social Finance and Social Enterprise in Community Development

19:30 - 28:27 | 10 C’s Journey in Social Finance and Community Engagement

28:27 - 39:00 | Ryan Deska’s Insights on Community Bonds and Affordable Housing

39:00 - 49:24 | Randall Howard on the Expanding Role of Social Finance

49:24 - 1:34:01 | Panel Discussion and Audience Q&A


This event and panel discussion shed light on the intricate world of social finance, highlighting the need for simpler language, education, and collaborative efforts. As the sector continues to grow, these insights are invaluable for organizations looking to navigate its complexities successfully.

About the Author

Chris Herbert spearheads Mi6 Agency, emphasizing small business growth and entrepreneurship. On the agency's blog, he offers practical marketing insights and solutions to unique challenges faced by businesses. Herbert advocates for sustainable and responsible growth. His "Rural Entrepreneur Podcast" extends this mission, providing essential advice and experiences for entrepreneurs. He adopts a comprehensive approach, focusing on building sustainable businesses, community engagement, and active participation in entrepreneurial ventures.

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