Community wealth building - Ontario Nonprofit Network


Community wealth

ONN’s goal is to ignite nonprofits as major players in growing an equitable, inclusive, and caring economy to address social and environmental challenges.
Community wealth Social procurement

Community wealth building

An economy that works for all communities and our environment is possible and nonprofits can lead the way

Nonprofits are on the frontlines of addressing and challenging the harms of our current economic system, which is extractive and prioritizes profit over people, communities, and the environment. Traditional approaches to economic development fail to keep wealth generated by communities circulating in the local economy; instead, wealth is being extracted for shareholder profits. 

In addition, structural racism, colonialism, and economic exclusion have particularly prevented Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities from building generational wealth as the current economic systems are built on the theft of Indigenous lands and resources, and the extraction of free labour and wealth from the same communities. 

As a sector, nonprofits have a responsibility to create a more equitable, inclusive, and caring economy that also centers anti-racism and reconciliation.

Community wealth building (CWB) means doing community economic development in a way that is sustainable and permanently keeps resources within the community through enterprises that are local, democratic, and inclusive. 

Many nonprofits are engaging in community wealth building activities, either as community wealth building enterprises themselves (such as social enterprises, cooperatives, and community land trusts), as ecosystem builders and conveners, or as advocates for inclusive local economic developments. 

Public policy that supports community wealth building activities enables nonprofits to tackle the root causes of complex social and environmental issues so that it produces better outcomes, working in service of people, place, and planet.

Key areas of focus for advancing CWB

Building community wealth requires increasing both the supply and demand for locally sourced goods and services from community wealth building enterprises, and nonprofits have a unique and important role to play in both sides.  

We advocate for:

Provincial and federal community benefits framework that embeds Community Benefit Agreements in public infrastructure projects. 

Provincial and federal social enterprise strategy to sustainably scale up efforts, so nonprofit social enterprises and cooperatives can develop and grow.

Community Finance Policy Framework for Ontario to advance locally driven community investment mechanisms (like community bonds) for individuals with savings, nonprofits with assets, and other institutions to channel investments into public benefit nonprofits

Employee and community-based ownership succession and buyouts.

Ways nonprofits can take action to advance community wealth building

  • Connect with us if you are working on a Community Wealth Building policy issue or if one in this focus area bubbles up for you and your networks. Put it in on our radar to engage in potential collective advocacy efforts.
  • Learn more about community wealth building through this resource page and this reading list.
  • Access and share our blog on community wealth building to help your network engage with this policy topic. 
  • Amplify our policy briefs on Community Benefits Agreement and Social Procurement.

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September 25, 2019
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