What you need to know:

Most Environment Funders Canada members provide grants only to registered charitable organizations and other qualified donees, such as municipal or public bodies, including some aboriginal communities. A few may also provide grants to registered non-profit organizations.

Grants to individuals are usually only in the form of special fellowships.

If your organization does not have a charitable number, you may want to explore whether it is possible – and practical – to apply for charitable status.  See Imagine Canada’s Sector Source website for details on what is involved or go directly to the Canada Revenue Agency site for the appropriate application form.

Applying for a grant

It is important to find a good match between your project (or proposed project) and the foundation.  That means you should carefully research:

  • The mandate of the foundation
  • What it is looking to fund (current programs / grant program focus)
  • Any geographical restrictions (e.g., only available to organizations in a certain province or region)
  • The kinds of projects it is currently supporting (current and past grants)
  • The size of grants this foundation typically provides

When you have found what you think is a good fit, you need to understand the application process:

  • Does the foundation require a Letter of Inquiry or a pre-interview before you submit a full application?
  • When does it accept applications (e.g., anytime or at specific times of the year)?
  • What other materials will be required (e.g., audited financial statements)?
  • Does the foundation accept unsolicited proposals?  If not, have you contacted the foundation about submitting a proposal?

When you are ready to submit an application, think about the following:

  • What impact will this project have on the problem or issue you have identified?
  • Do you have the capacity to deliver all the outcomes you are promising?  If not, how are you going to address these gaps?
  • What strengths does your organization bring to the project (e.g., experienced staff, specialized knowledge, a unique community connection)
  • How clear and measurable are your objectives?
  • How will you measure success?
  • Can the project grow or be replicated to have more impact?
  • Are there opportunities for collaboration, particularly with a broader cross section of interests (e.g., businesses, communities, governments).

The best place to start the process is by visiting the websites of Environment Funders Canada’s members and reviewing their programs and granting criteria.

For some great advice on fundraising for your organization, see Imagine Canada’s Sector Source website.