Social Planning Toronto announces alignment with Public Interest

For 60 Years, Social Planning Toronto has sought to build a fairer, more inclusive Toronto through policy research, analysis and public engagement. But Toronto is growing, changing and facing challenges that have not been seen in its history.

As we approach this milestone, we ask the question: what will Toronto look like in another 60 years from today? How will we leave our city for future generations? Social Planning Toronto needs to position itself to help challenge rising inequality, a growing need for affordable housing and childcare, access to good jobs and a transit system that serves all residents. To do this, the Board of Social Planning Toronto believes we need new tools to engage with Torontonians, carry out and conduct research and capacity building, and structure our organization for greater resilience and viability.


That’s why today, we are happy to announce an exciting new addition to Social Planning Toronto’s family with our new alignment with Public Interest. Public Interest is a social enterprise with 15 years of experience focusing on social research and community development, with an established track record to building capacity and impact in the public and non-profit sectors.

The close partnership between Social Planning Toronto and Public Interest reflects a new and innovative approach to civic engagement and community building. This alignment will deepen the voice of social justice in our city, and create new opportunities for collaboration. 

While Public Interest will continue to operate as a for-profit business, Social Planning Toronto has assumed full ownership of it, and will operate it with a view to increase the range of communities and causes we can jointly serve.

What does this mean to our members?

There is no action required on your part. There are no staff or operational changes expected at Social Planning Toronto or Public Interest except for an upcoming office move for Public Interest.

Still have questions?

Please feel free to contact us with your questions about our alignment with Public Interest or consult the following Frequently Asked Questions.



Q: Why make this alignment?

A: Alignment with Public Interest allows for Social Planning Toronto to serve a wider range of communities and causes, while maintaining its core focus on compelling social research and engagement. Additionally, by owning and operating Public Interest, Social Planning Toronto will benefit from a new revenue source to help fund our efforts in the future.

In short, the success of Public Interest will help fund Social Planning Toronto’s charitable efforts to build a better, fairer and more inclusive Toronto.

Q: Is Social Planning Toronto still a charitable, non-profit organization?

A: Yes! And we still need your support to help build a strong movement. This change does not affect our charitable status, and is modelled off of other charities’ use of social enterprises in their structures, like the retail stores run by Salvation Army for many years, or the Conflict Resolution Training service at St. Stephen’s House.

Q: What changes will occur at either organizations?

A: In the interest of better coordinating the work of the two organizations, the Executive Director of Social Planning Toronto (Sean Meagher) will serve in the same role for Public Interest going forward. Also, Public Interest will soon be moving to the same office building as Social Planning Toronto, but on a separate floor.

The Board of Social Planning Toronto and staff at both organizations will remain as-is.

Q: In technical terms, what has happened?

A: Effective December 31, 2016, Social Planning Toronto has assumed full ownership of Public Interest through a 100 per cent transfer of shares agreement between the owner of Public Interest and Social Planning Toronto. The transaction was consistent with CRA rules governing charities. The Board of Social Planning Toronto will now assemble a smaller Board to operate Public Interest.

Q: How did Social Planning Toronto acquire Public Interest?

A: The share transfer was achieved through a donation, with a tax receipt issued for the value of the business. The valuation was provided by an independent professional valuator selected by Social Planning Toronto's legal counsel.

Q: What process was followed with Social Planning Toronto members?

A: The alignment was first presented in October 2015 to the Social Planning Toronto Board. The proposal was reviewed by an internal committee of the Board to determine if it aligned with our values and served our needs. An expanded committee, including non-board members, conducted a further review with the help of legal counsel to determine if there were viable models for proceeding. The matter was presented at the 2016 Social Planning Toronto AGM where Committee Members were available to address any issues of concern. The matter was then closely assessed by legal counsel in a lengthy due diligence process. Social Planning Toronto weighed the matter carefully, for many months and drew on extensive input and expertise before proceeding with this new approach.

The alignment has proceeded under the leadership of the Social Planning Toronto Board in consultation with stakeholders and non-profit sector advisors.


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