Impact Investing

For the Catherine Donnelly Foundation, Impact Investing means purposefully advancing our social and/or environmental objectives by making investments which achieve financial returns through social and/or environmental impact-generating activities. The Foundation therefore seeks an integrity of return from all of its Impact Investments wherein the investments produce a return if and only if their activities generate a desired social/ environmental impact. Here are some of our current impact investments:


The Foundation made its first impact investment in the spring of 2014 – a $100,000 investment in SolarShare bonds. SolarShare is a leading Canadian renewable energy co-op that develops commercial scale solar energy installations. Investors earn a return while doing something good for the planet.




The Foundation recently has invested in a $100,000, seven-year Community Bond issued by Zooshare Biogas Cooperative toward the development of a 500kW electricity generation facility at the Toronto Zoo. This is a $6 million project to construct North America’s first zoo-based biogas plant including a primary digester, two storage tanks and a generator connected to the local distribution grid and sold to the Ontario Power Authority. Fuel for the plant is 14,000 tonnes of inedible food waste from a major grocery retailer and 3,000 tonnes of animal manure from the zoo.

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CDF invested $250,000 with CoPower Inc., a leading Canadian clean energy investment platform.The first $2.5 million tranche of Green Bonds is backed by two portfolios of loans to over 150 LED lighting retrofit projects in condominiums across Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. With a $200 million project pipeline, CoPower expects that the next loans to be added to the portfolio will come from geoexchange heating and cooling projects in Quebec and solar projects in Ontario.



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Hypertension Social Impact Bond
The Community Hypertension Prevention Initiative is a lifestyle-change program to help seniors at risk of developing hypertension adopt healthier habits to lower their blood pressure. To fund the project, MaRS Centre for Impact Investing has worked with Heart and Stroke and the Public Health Agency of Canada to structure a social impact bond and the CDF invested $150,000. “This is the first time social impact bonds have been used by the government of Canada in the public health space, and we look forward to assessing their effectiveness and how they might be used elsewhere in the future,” Jane Philpott, former Health Minister pictured here with former CDF Chair, Jason Dudek.

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CiCan Essential Skills Social Impact Bond
Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is implementing the first social finance project of its kind in Canada for the Government of Canada.

The Essential Skills Social Finance (ESSF) project is a collaborative partnership between the federal government; CICan; College Service Delivery Partners; private investors; and, the Social Research and Development Corporation.

Investor capital is used to fund four College Service Delivery Providers to raise the essential skill levels of unemployed adult Canadians. The Government of Canada will repay investor capital and any earned return on capital if an independent assessor confirms that essential skills gains have been achieved and objectives have been met.

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New Commons Development
The CDF provided a $400,000 investment to New Commons Development, an innovative initiative that is helping to address housing affordability in Canada. As a non-profit developer, New Commons is advancing the interests of some of Canada’s most marginalized communities by building and protecting community real estate assets, specifically affordable housing.