Spatial Justice for Nonprofits: This is What Inequality Looks Like (Campaign Archive)

Prior to the pandemic, TNN’s membership identified access to space as a “founding and forever” issue. The pandemic magnified the challenges associated with accessing and developing space for Toronto’s nonprofits.   

Torontonians deserve to live within walking distance of nonprofits that deliver services which bring people together and make Toronto dynamic, healthy and vibrant. Yet, nonprofit organizations are being forced out of their neighbourhoods or closing at an alarming rate due to commercial landlords raising rents. Despite being critical community builders, small nonprofits are the most vulnerable to being pushed out. 

Nonprofits in Toronto need access to secure and affordable space now. Join us in advocating for space as a critical element of Toronto’s poverty reduction strategies and help us ensure that nonprofits have a permanent place in our neighbourhoods. 

Our campaign

TNN has launched a campaign focused on community space running from February 12, 2024 to March 8, 2024. Our goal is to raise awareness that Toronto’s nonprofits, grassroots groups and collectives need access to affordable and appropriate space located in the communities they serve.

This toolkit provides a collection of background information about the need for access to secure and affordable space for Toronto’s Nonprofits. Use these key messages, drafts, and templates to help promote the campaign in your communications. Our campaign and messaging runs from February 12th until March 8th. 

Social Media Schedule with Suggested Posts and Images

#SpatialJusticeTO Social Media Posts and Schedule

We have created a series of social media posts with key messages and campaign recommendations you can copy and paste and schedule on the dates indicated. We encourage you to copy and paste and use these messages or re-share them from others to help amplify the campaign. The posts also include quotes from community organizations.

Background information

Nonprofits are being squeezed out of their own neighbourhoods - what we need to do about it

Community and neighbourhood-based nonprofits are being squeezed out of their own neighbourhoods. In a 2022 survey, most nonprofit respondents report challenges in securing affordable and suitable space for current operations. This comes at a time when they also have a rising demand for their services. 

Torontonians deserve to live within walking distance of nonprofits that deliver services that bring people together and make Toronto dynamic, healthy and vibrant.

Why space matters - building a new relationship with the City

The Greater 2022 Toronto Non-Profit Community Space Survey Results report tells us that: “Non-profit organizations need stability and predictability to thrive. The lack of affordable community spaces has serious consequences for non-profits and the communities they serve…

  • organizations indicate a lack of funding and affordable space as a primary challenge
  • few organizations own property
  • current space is not currently meeting the needs of many organizations
  • organizations have seen recent increases in demand for services
  • organizations are willing or are already engaging in a space-sharing arrangement with another nonprofit organization

Looking to the future - good ideas to ensure community space

We recognize that the City cannot act alone to create access to space for community organizations. There are examples of good ideas in our city we can replicate. It is also essential that we work together to promote inter-governmental cooperation that breaks down silos within and across government and other public institutions to support the creation of more social purpose real estate opportunities. 

#SpatialJusticeTO Fact sheet

The City of Toronto is home to more than 14,000 nonprofits. These organizations engage 105,000 full-time workers and 100,000 part-time workers, while volunteers contribute over 1.7 billion hours each year. Though City of Toronto  investments account for only 7% of their total revenue, nonprofits generate more than 8% of the city’s GDP.


The Creation of City Wide Commons 

When the pandemic hit, Family Service Toronto (FST) quickly adapted by adopting a hybrid model which ultimately led them to occupy just  a quarter of their previous space at 355 Church Street. Once FST realized their future was hybrid work and service delivery, they saw that they could shrink their space footprint. Instead of simply downsizing FST also chose a different model of property ownership or landlord. City Wide Commons was born.

It's About More Than Just Walls: CASSA's Path to Community

This story highlight’s one nonprofit's struggle to get good, affordable, and accessible space for themselves and their members in Toronto. CASSA serves over 120 member agencies across Ontario. Many have indicated the need for space. After years of working to secure space for themselves and their members to share they got it in 2023. But that's just the beginning of their space journey. There is much renovation work to be done to make it the Centre of Excellence for South Asians CASSA envisions.

Toronto non-profits meeting in parks, shopping malls as rental space becomes unaffordable

This Future of Good article outlines the challenges groups have of finding affordable space to serve their communities in Toronto. Many non-profits, especially grassroots groups, can’t afford to work in the communities they serve as affordable space becomes hard to find. Not having a permanent space in the neighbourhoods they serve further marginalizes Toronto's vulnerable communities and threatens to close down vital programming.

Communication Templates

Interested in reaching out to local media, other organizations, your City Councillor? We have some letter templates you can use.

Media release 

A news release template you can use to reach out directly to journalists you think might be interested.

Letter templates for organization and community letters to City Councillors 

You can use these letter templates to reach out to other organizations and to City Councillors. They provide information about the campaign and ask for their support and help to amplify the key messages. These letter templates are very similar in terms of providing background information and calls to action.