According to the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) website there are approximately 100 private foundations in Ottawa and 137 public foundations. What distinguishes public from private granting foundations is a number of things, but primarily who is on their  Board of Directors and where the money comes from. Board members of private foundations tend to be non “arms length”, i.e. they are often related to each other. The money usually comes from a single source such as a family's estate or company. Applying to private foundations usually requires mastering the art of writing letter proposals, though some have standard, online applications. More on this next week, but the Foundation Centre is a great source. This blog looks at how to briefly research and select private granting foundations in Ottawa to apply to.

A list of private granting foundations can be found on the CRA website. In the search page enter only Ottawa, Ontario and click on private foundations. A lot of information can be gleaned from these pages, but the list of “qualified donees” is perhaps the most useful. It will tell you if they fund similar organizations and what the dollar range of grants is. Similar information can be found by searching Chimp. The most detailed and worthwhile information can be found in Grant Connect, but, unless you have money to burn on a subscription, this will likely involve a trip to the local library where it can be accessed for free.

Applying to private granting foundations can be frustrating. Many share only mailing addresses, discourage applicants from contacting them directly and do not even acknowledge receipt of an application, let alone the reason for denial. For this reason, a shotgun approach of sending out scores of applications in the hope a few will succeed can be a tremendous waste of time and effort. It is more helpful to really make sure that the fit is good. You must make sure that they:


  • accept unsolicited applications
  • fund your field, e.g. the arts
  • fund in your region, e.g. Ottawa
  • provide project, capital, or operational funding or whatever your need is. (This is the kind of useful information that can only be found on Grant Connect.)
If they provide a contact name and phone number and appear to welcome, or at least tolerate phone calls, by all means try to reach out to them. Have your elevator pitch ready. Chances are you will be interrupting a TV show, bridge game, or time with the grandchildren, so tell them you found them in this or that directory and run your proposal by them quickly. Almost always they will hedge at first because your call is unexpected, and they get numerous applications and tend to feel a little overwhelmed. Try to get some sense if your need resonates with them. If it does, complete the letter proposal and send it in. If you are unable to reach anyone and you still meet all their criteria, send it in.
Thomas Allgoewer
Allgoewer Consulting

Sept, 8, 2016

Upcoming Workshops

Go to Workshops to register.

Previous events


Cornwall: Fundraising for Organizations Unable to Afford Fundraising Staff - $95.00. Early bird registration until Sept. 11 - $85.00

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800 Seventh St W., Cornwall

See description for above workshop.

Fundraising for Organizations Unable to Afford Fundraising Staff

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Blue Room - 250ne Community, 251 Bank St., Ottawa, Ottawa

This is a one-day workshop for charities and non-profits needing to raise funds, but unable to afford their own fundraising staff. It examines the pros and cons of various fundraising strategies (e.g. special events, foundation grants, major gift campaigns, crowdfunding, etc.) and how to develop a successful fundraising plan which works for your organization. The fundraising tools needed and tasks involved in executing a plan are thoroughly detailed. How will this work be organized? Options for meeting the human resource requirements and delegating the tasks are explored. The Board, Executive Director, volunteers, students, and some existing staff may all have roles to play. This workshop shows that it is possible to be efficient and effective at fundraising without hiring new staff.

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