Supporting local merchants and strengthening community resilience during COVID-19

OTTAWA, April 29, 2020 – The COVID-19 crisis is putting thousands of small owner-operated merchants and restaurants in jeopardy. Having to pay fixed costs while revenues dwindle — in some cases to zero — they risk having to shut down and declare bankruptcy. That’s why the Wellington West Business Improvement Area (BIA) and Crowdfund Canada are today announcing, a joint crowdfunding program to support more than 550 member businesses across the Ottawa neighbourhoods of Hintonburg and Wellington Village. This is the first pilot for the Community Wealth Sharing Initiative, supported by the McConnell Foundation, and is offered to Wellington West member merchants at no charge, thanks to the partners involved.

The Community Wealth Sharing Initiative aims to support examples of civic resilience, such as empowering collective action by merchant groups and their communities to help small businesses survive the COVID-19 lockdown. In the Wellington West BIA prototype, residents can invest in the success of local merchants through an online platform, while businesses raise desperately needed funds through donations. In return, merchants can choose to offer rewards like store credit, services, or product giveaways to be redeemed whenever they decide, even after the COVID crisis. 

While residents are often passionate about supporting businesses in their communities, there are few existing mechanisms (aside from regular purchases) to express this support in sustainable, long-term ways, especially while businesses are closed.

“During this difficult time, we looked into many options for helping our merchants, like virtual gift cards or traditional incentive programs,” says Dennis Van Staalduinen, Executive Director of Wellington West BIA. “Only the Community Wealth Sharing model allowed us to appeal to the community’s altruistic desire to help their neighbours while also giving the flexibility for merchants to offer whatever incentives made sense for their customers. ” 

“We see this initiative as one of many next steps towards ‘building back better’ after COVID-19 — strengthening the links between businesses and the communities they serve,” explains Stephen Huddart, President & CEO of the McConnell Foundation, a pan-Canadian, family foundation based in Montreal, which has provided initial funding to this pilot project of the Community Wealth Sharing Initiative.

“We are very excited to be working with Wellington West BIA and McConnell Foundation, for what has turned out to be an ‘unexpected’ start to Crowdfund Canada’s launch.” says Simon Deverell, Creative Director and Founder of  “Over in the UK, where we are an estimated 4 weeks ahead on the COVID-19 curve, we’re helping to raise millions of pounds for thousands of businesses facing financial issues as a result of the crisis, we’re delighted to be bringing the same crowdfunding service to Canada.”  

Community Wealth Sharing offers a new way for residents, business associations and philanthropy to work together to ensure that small businesses can remain strong during these turbulent times. The McConnell Foundation is helping support the pilot of the Community Wealth Sharing Initiative and similar projects across Canada as part of its commitment to COVID-19 recovery efforts and its Civic Capital platform. More case examples of community wealth and civic resilience and documentation of initial projects will be shared soon at: Civic.Capital.


For media inquiries about

Kevin Falkingham, Wellington West Business Improvement Area

613-729-0363 ext.103 or


For inquiries about the Community Wealth Sharing Initiative:

Laurence Miall, McConnell Foundation

438-878-1703 or


For inquiries about Crowdfund Canada:
Simon Deverell
+44 (0) 7525 245717 or