Have questions about applying for funding? We’ve got answers.

Our new Funding and Partnerships Guide provides an overview of how we make funding decisions. With helpful background and information on our funding protocols and decision making criteria, we hope this guide serves as a practical resource for potential applicants. 


The Foundation’s application portal is open for applications.

What can we help you find?

Funding questions

Our new focus areas were announced in our Strategic Direction in April 2021.

We suggest reading the Funding and partnerships guide, focus area webpages, our Apply for Funding page and our sample Application Form to determine if your project aligns with our strategy. We also hosted an orientation webinar to help prospective applicants navigate our process.

If you still have questions about whether your work is a good fit, you may book a 15-minute conversation with a member of our program staff here.

If you have a question about our processes and prefer to correspond by email, please write to information@mcconnellfoundation.ca  and we will be happy to direct the inquiry to the best person.

The Social Innovation Fund is now closed. In an effort to focus our impact, we are now channeling support to projects related to our Focus Areas of Communities, Reconciliation and Climate. If you have a project that would have fit under our prior Social Innovation Fund, we encourage you to explore the criteria for our Focus Areas and see if there is a fit under that funding stream’

In 2023, we are shifting to a targeted and proactive approach to identify and respond to key gaps in the climate mitigation funding ecosystem. We will continue to fund Climate projects throughout 2023. We will do so through proactive partnership development and invitation-only calls for proposals to complement the work we are supporting already.   

This means that: 

  • Our application portal will no longer be accepting Climate funding applications, as of December 20, 2022.  
  • We will provide updates on reopening the portal for new Climate applications, in late 2023. 
  • We will maintain virtual office hours for the climate focus area at a reduced frequency until the application portal is reopened. 
  • Applications that have already been submitted through our application portal will be evaluated in the coming months. Organizations will receive notifications by end-March 2023 or early April 2023. 

Please note that the portal remains open for Reconciliation and Communities applications. 

Find ou more

When you submit an application in our portal you will be required to select a primary focus area. However, there is additional space for you to describe how your proposed work connects to other focus area(s) within the application form.

We recommend you do not send a proposal by email or mail, as these will not be considered.

Eligibility criteria for post-secondary institutions 

The McConnell Foundation has a long history of partnering with academic institutions, most recently working with post-secondary institutions through the Re-Code initiative (2014-2022) to advance positive social impact in their surrounding communities. Through our new focus areas of climate, reconciliation and communities, we aim to engage directly with communities and, as a result, to target our support primarily towards community-led organizations. However, in certain circumstances, funding an academic partner may be necessary to achieve community objectives. 

Note: The Foundation does not fund purely academic research. We occasionally fund research that is a component of a larger scale project or program that aligns with our focus area funding strategies.


Requirements for academic partners seeking funding for community engagement projects: 

  • The academic partner has specific knowledge and/or skills that are essential for the project’s success. 
  • The academic partner has a history of engagement and knowledge of the realities in the community or communities it seeks to engage.  
  • The academic partner has strong community support, evidenced by signed/official agreements in place with community partners. 
  • The focus of the project is on community impact. Any research associated with the project must be applied, with results to be used by the partner organizations and/or their stakeholders. 
  • Community partners are active collaborators as well as beneficiaries to the work, as evidenced by one or more of the following possible examples:

– The project budget is prepared transparently with full knowledge, engagement and support from community partners.  

-A significant portion of the funds flow directly to community organization(s). 

-Community partners have decision-making power (e.g., through steering Committees and/or Advisory Committees comprised of community representatives, community members are core members of the planning team, etc.). 

-Community partners have direct contact with funders. 

-Community partners have control over the cadence and rhythm of project implementation. 

-Community partners are authorized to speak publicly about the project. 

Academic institutions seeking funding for community engagement projects should apply under the focus area funding streams on our application portal.  

Eligibility Questions

We do not consider requests:

  • that are part of a general fundraising campaign
  • to reduce accumulated capital or operating deficits
  • for endowments
  • for annual operating funds or other recurring costs, unless directly linked to one of our focus areas and the success of the proposed project
  • involving partisan political activities
  • involving strictly religious purposes or activities
  • for purely academic or basic research
  • for which organizations or projects are based outside of Canada
  • for international development
  • for projects advancing nature-based solutions such as: reforestation and tree planting, nature conservation or biodiversity preservation
  • for emergency needs.

Generally we do not consider requests:

    • in which the primary activity is the production of a film, video, or publication (although they can be part of a larger scale project or program)
    • in which the primary activity is a conference, workshop, or seminar (although they can be part of a larger scale project or program)
    • in which the primary activity involves training, scholarships, or subsidies (although they can be part of a larger scale project or program).

Under the Income Tax Act, we mainly provide funding to “qualified Canadian donees”. Generally this means federally registered charities*.

Please note that we can make financial contributions to non-profit organizations, either through a fiduciary (trustee) organization,** or directly as a non-qualified donee through a contract agreement***. If you would like to apply for support through a fiduciary, please indicate so on your application.

* Note that non-profit organizations do not automatically receive charitable status, and many choose not to apply for it. For more information about becoming a registered charity, see the Canada Revenue Agency’s publications on this topic.

** See CRA guidelines on establishing a fiduciary relationship with an eligible charity..

***See the following question, below, for a list of eligible non-profit organizations though they are not registered charities.

Yes. We enter into program-advancing contract agreements with non-qualified donees  under the following circumstances:

  • You are a co-op
  • You are a non-registered Indigenous entity or band
  • You are a not-for-profit but without registered charitable status
  • You are in the process of applying for charitable status.

We fund projects through three different channels:

(1) Our focus areas

(2) Innoweave

(3) Montreal-based organizations.

Visit our Apply page for more information about how to apply.

We do not lend directly to individual social enterprises. We invest in them only through intermediaries (investment and loan funds). For information on the funds we are invested in visit our Impact Investing page. You can also contact the funds directly to access their lending or investment criteria.

Montreal Funding

Our founder, John Wilson McConnell, was deeply committed to improving the lives of Montrealers. He supported a wide range of organizations including hospitals, youth serving organizations, churches and social service agencies. For more than 80 years, the McConnell Foundation has sought to continue J.W. McConnell’s legacy through our commitment to his adopted home.

We want to support Montreal organizations and projects that do not necessarily align with our focus areas. However, we are only able to do so in a limited capacity, and according to following criteria: major campaign support, support for the revitalization of heritage buildings for use by charities and nonprofits, and support for health care institutions participating in Nourish Leadership programming.

For other organizations, if aligned, please submit an application under a focus area funding stream. Download the full application guidelines here 

If you are unsure which funding stream to submit your application under, please email montreal@mcconnellfoundation.ca.

The Montreal funding stream is intended for capital campaign requests only (to a maximum of $1M over 5 years per request) and revitalizing heritage buildings for use by the social sector. If you are a Montreal-based organization seeking funding for communities, reconciliation or climate, please submit an application through the McConnell Foundation’s focus areas funding streams. If you are not sure if your work is highly aligned under one of the focus areas, please submit under Montreal.

If you have more questions, please email montreal@mcconnellfoundation.ca.

We are dedicating funding to Montreal hospitals participating in Nourish Leadership — a national community of practice empowering healthcare leadership in climate action and health equity. Nourish supports healthcare institutions and networks to leverage the power of food to address three interconnected impact areas: 1) Climate; 2) Equity, and 3) Community Wellness.

Learn more about Montreal funding for Nourish Leadership participants here.

We accept proposals for projects that have a wide range of funding needs, including the developing financial models, space analysis, consultancy fees, construction , renovation, etc. While there is no maximum that any one project may request, the total annual allocation for all Montreal funding is limited to $1.5-$2 million. Funding for individual projects will depend on the number of funded proposals. 

Amounts and Deadlines Questions

There is no pre-established limit. Funding typically spans two to three years and occasionally as long as five years. We encourage organizations to apply according to the need and opportunity they have identified. Generally, we do not make short-term funding to local projects. To see projects we have supported in the past, visit our funding database.

Proposals are submitted in two phases: 1) a preliminary application containing five questions about your work and three budget questions and, if approved, 2) a detailed application form with questions related to your selected focus area. In general, applicants will be notified regarding their eligibility for a Phase 2 application within a month.

The complete review process, from application to approval, can last up to four months. Sometimes a proposed project might benefit from being linked with other partners, complementary projects or investment strategies. In these cases the process can take considerably longer.

There are no application deadlines. We review applications on an ongoing basis. Application deadlines are used only when the Foundation requests proposals for specific projects. In this case, we’ll list the application deadline on our website.


We’re big fans of evaluations. We see them as a tool to improve our own work, as well as that of the organizations we support. We consider them integral to the funding, and not an “extra” that is tacked on at the end. As early as the application stage, we encourage you to start thinking about how your project might benefit from evaluation.

There is no single right approach to evaluation. In preparing your application, think about:

  • why might you want to conduct an evaluation?
  • what would you want to evaluate?
  • who would benefit from the lessons generated?
  • how will you integrate and act on those lessons?

These are important questions to ask. They will determine what approach to evaluation will be most relevant, and in what form the resulting information will be most useful.

We encourage you to consider one or more of these evaluation approaches:

  • Summative evaluation: Undertaken at the end of a project. Answers the question: Did the project work? It’s used to help decision-makers determine whether to continue, expand or disseminate the program model being tested.
  • Formative evaluation: Implemented in the middle of a project. Answers the question: Is the project working? It’s used by practitioners to improve project performance and by program designers to fine-tune the model they’re testing.
  • Developmental evaluation: Employed over the course of an initiative. Answers the question: What are we learning? It’s used to identify emerging dynamics and outcomes that can foster alternative program strategy decisions and design questions. For more information on developmental evaluation, please see:

Funding Database

Focus Areas