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Shared spaces and social purpose real estate represent a growing trend in the non-profit sector in Canada.

Shared spaces can be defined in a number of ways:

  • Co-location: space shared among a number of separate organizations.
  • Community hubs: space that brings together service providers to help the surrounding area by offering a range of supports such as language instruction, job training, and after school programs.
  • Co-working: sharing of space among freelancers and independent workers.
  • Incubators: provide strategic, administrative and/or financial support to small projects and organizations.1

Social purpose real estate includes properties and facilities owned and run by mission-based organizations that prioritize community benefit over financial benefits.

Shared spaces and social purpose real estate offer many advantages including reduced costs, improved collaboration, and enhanced impact, shared spaces help support broader social purposes and develop a sense of community.

As part of our commitment to build prosperous economies that benefit all Canadians – and to leverage our experience with shared governance and administrative platforms – Tides Canada is exploring how to enhance the potential of shared spaces in Canada through the following activities:

  • Building Capacity, Sharing Values report: To provide up-to-date context for our look into shared spaces, we commissioned a cross-Canada scan of what’s happening in the field. Building Capacity, Sharing Values: Shared Spaces and Social Purpose Real Estate looks at current trends, activities, and needs in the rapidly-growing field of shared spaces and social purpose real estate. It also addresses how shared spaces could be nurtured and scaled across Canada. The full report can be viewed here.
  • Building Opportunities 2015 Conference: The Building Capacity, Sharing Values report will help inform Building Opportunities 2015, a non-profit shared space and social purpose real estate conference taking place in Vancouver this June. The conference brings together delegates from different fields to explore the full complement of real estate activities that the social sector undertakes in North America for a purpose greater than profit maximization. The conference is co-presented by The Nonprofit Centers Network and the Social Purpose Real Estate Collaborative.
  • ‘What Next for Canada’ webinar: Tides Canada held a webinar ‘What Next for Canada: Shared Spaces and Social Purpose Real Estate’ on March 3, 2015 following on from the Building Capacity, Sharing Values report. Findings from the report were used to frame questions to participants to discuss ideas on how organizations and practitioners in Canada can build capacity to create and sustain shared spaces for social enterprise and innovation. View the webinar slides and recording.

1 Centre for Social Innovation publication series: http://socialinnovation.ca/sssi as referenced in Building Capacity, Sharing Values.

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