The Quadruple Bottom Line

What is the Quadruple Bottom Line Framework?


            Mission driven organizations like community development groups need to evaluate their results with more than just profits. The Quadruple Bottom Line (QBL) looks at the impact an organization has on communities, the environment, and culture, as well as profits. Considering leasing models through this lens is will ensure that organizational mission and community are considered throughout planning and implementation of affordable commercial leasing.

Much of this website is dedicated to answering the need for affordable commercial real estate, but the questions of who should rent the space once available and who will benefit are equally important. The answer is based on the organizational mission, the needs of the community, and the public and private resources available. The sections that follow briefly describe the importance of organizational mission and community input in determining project goals.

To ensure the most community benefit, organizations should pursue community based commercial leasing – an approach to leasing that balances “financial and social goals in a way that leverages community assets and responds to community needs” by “incorporating community development and commercial property management fundamentals” in program design and operation.

Local Government & Municipal Knowledge Base

Models for achieving these goals are outlined here

Why should goals for commercial space be defined?

Affordable commercial space is not inherently beneficial, however, it can provide the opportunity for a greater mission. Goals and operating guidelines are dependent on three factors:

(1) organizational mission and capacity;

(2) community input and needs;

(3) project finances

Inclusive of these three factors, common goals for affordable commercial space include the following:

  • Community economic development
  • Job creation, retention and training
  • Business development, attraction and retention
  • Neighborhood stabilization
  • Neighborhood commercial revitalization
  • Community development and empowerment
  • Generating unrestricted income


Organizational Mission and Goals are Essential to Defining Goals for Commercial Space

As CLTs, CDCs and PDAs are mission-driven organizations, organizational goals, along with community input, will dictate how affordable commercial space will be used. Organizational goals include those outlined in the nonprofit’s mission and vision statements. CDCs, for instance, commonly focus on one or more of the following: community stabilization through affordable housing provision, business technical assistance, or art programs. CLTs often seek to generate wealth for low-income families by offering affordable homes for purchase. Organizational mission acts as the catalyst for community action and project strategy will likely be designed to meet a goal like community stabilization. However, intended results can only be achieved if the organization is responsive to the unique needs and conditions of the community.


Why should you get community feedback?

Community feedback is a necessary ingredient in forming strategies and goals, and can greatly impact project direction. As organizations intend to stabilize distressed communities, knowing the specific needs of the community is necessary for designing an impactful program that serves community needs. A community-oriented program with goals like community stabilization and development requires community input and feedback.

Specific benefits of actively seeking and incorporating community input and feedback include:

  • Better identifying unmet needs for goods and services and specific community conditions affecting the community.
  • Assisting with approval of future tenants.
  • Creating a sense of community ownership.
  • Providing a network to support struggling small businesses.
  • Determining what kind of business will be given priority or excluded.


QBL Lens to Commercial Leasing – Balancing Financial and Community Demands

Community needs and organizational mission will demand goals and strategies designed to maximize community benefit rather than economic profit. There will also be significant financial considerations impacting operating goals, but this cannot be discussed with any consistency because availability of resources differs in each community. To ensure that the project’s social and cultural goals remain in balance with financial considerations, an affordable commercial space project should adopt performance measures that capture the full value of the project beyond the financial bottom line.

Looking beyond the financial bottom line is critical for measuring project success and maintaining project focus on the social goals outlined by the community that encouraged intervention. Also, demonstrating a social benefit may open the project to additional investment while proving the concept for other social entrepreneurs interested in a similar project.


Eng, Tiffany, “Community Development Corporations: Commercial Leasing Strategies and Social Objectives.”

SouthEast Effective Development.” SEED. n.d. Web. 11 November 2014.