According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Charities Listing there are 137 public foundations in Ottawa. Public foundations fall in several groups: foundations which are the fundraising arm of an affiliated charity, such as the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation; donor advised funds, such as the Private Giving Foundation (Price Waterhouse), and those that raise money for unaffiliated charities, see for instance the Lift Foundation or the Dragon Boat Foundation. In this blog we are mainly concerned with the latter and how to research and select public foundations to apply to in the Ottawa area.

Searching the CRA Charities Listing is a good starting place. Search under Ottawa/Ontario/public foundations/all, or you can get more specific by substituting “health” for “all”. Unfortunately this does not help much if you are looking for a funder for a mental health program, as the 16 organizations turned up are mostly foundations of the first kind, i.e. affiliated with a major institution, such as the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health. However, The Canada Post Community Foundation deserves a look, as it is contains the word “community” and it is related to a company, rather than a charitable organization already active in the field such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation for Stroke Recovery. Look at its purpose and then some of the “qualified  donees” it has given funds to and go from there.

You can also narrow your search further by choosing from welfare, education, religion, benefits to the Community & other. Under “welfare” there are many organizations that are obviously tied to specific organizations, for example Ottawa Boys’ Club Foundation gives all of its funds to the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa. But many are not. One that caught my eye (no pun intended) is The Elvis Sighting Society. Unfortunately a visit to their CRA Charity Listing page says “In active - we are getting old. Haven;t seen Elvis in a while.”(Sic). This really is unfortunate. In 2011, it had raised $35,000 and distributed it among a number of great Ottawa charities including the Parkdale Food Bank. The CRA website is very easy to navigate, so use it to get your search started. As with private foundations, it is good to get more information from Grant Connect, as it will tell you which public foundations fund capital cost, endowment funds, etc. - depending upon your specific needs.

Only 137 public foundations in Ottawa seems to be fairly limiting. However, it is important to note that some public foundations, such as the Community Foundation of Ottawa (CFO), also manage a great many private “funds”. These funds may be designated by their founders for specific purposes. It is difficult to get much information about these funds. Speak to staff at the CFO about your needs. If your program is, for example, faith-based, it may not be eligible for funding under their community grants program, but could get funded through a designated fund created for religious programs by individuals, managed by the CFO with or without active donor input.

Many public foundations have a regular application process, with fixed due dates and standard applications. Some applications are long and detailed. Many have online applications. Often they require documents such as annual reports, audited financial statements, Letters patent, etc. to be included or uploaded. Tip: always locate these forms before you start writing as sometimes they need to be prepared or found. An online application with a fixed deadline such as 5 pm on the 1st of July will not wait for you to find attachments. You have already turned into a pumpkin as they simply stop submitting.

Some public foundations do not have a standard application process or form. Letter proposals may suffice. An example is the Columbus Club - Council 485 Charitable Foundation. There is also the Quickie Community Foundation, which provides support for a number of publicly listed charities “with the sale of break open tickets and contributions to coin boxes in our stores”. It is not clear how to get on that list.

Again, Grant Connect is useful for doing a much broader search, especially if you can not find enough options in your area. There are many public foundations located in Toronto that focus on that City, but have a secondary focus on the province as a whole. It is best to contact them, however, and establish that there is a really good fit. This can be a great time saver.

If, at first you do not succeed, do not give up. It takes on average three tries to be successful. The most important thing is to try and get some feedback from a grants officer, or other staff or volunteer, if a phone number is provided. Sometimes you will learn that you were shortlisted and they will give you some sound advice for improving your application.

Thomas Allgoewer
Allgoewer Consulting

Sept, 12, 2016

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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

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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.