Have questions about applying for a grant with us? We’ve got answers.
Please be advised that The McConnell Foundation is postponing decisions on new grants until December, 2020. This pause will enable us to complete a leadership transition; to manage the large volume of grants made in response to the COVID pandemic and in line with our commitment to disburse at least 5% of our endowment; and to reflect on our future direction in light of the changing context for philanthropy in Canada.
We recognize that some projects will be delayed as a result of this pause, but feel certain that this time is necessary and will improve our capacity to support grantees and partners. Meanwhile, all previous commitments will be honoured and fulfilled on schedule.
The Foundation’s granting portal remains open for applications, but we caution that it may take an additional three to four months to complete review.
If you have any questions, please visit our granting pause FAQ or email us email@example.com.
Below are the most common questions applicants ask us. Want to learn even more about how to submit a successful grant application?
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Under the Income Tax Act, we can provide grants to “qualified Canadian donees” only. Generally this means federally registered charities* and municipalities.
There are exceptions. Sometimes we do make grants to not-for-profits through a fiduciary (trustee) organization. If you would like to apply for support this way, please indicate so on your application.
* Note that not-for-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.
We fund projects that address our granting priorities or complement current initiatives.
Our Social Innovation Fund supports organizations looking to strengthen their capacities (think business model transition or systems retooling) in order to scale. For a description of the fund’s objectives and parameters click here.
We do not consider requests:
- to match government funding
- 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 a project that meets our other granting priorities
- involving partisan political activities
- involving strictly religious purposes or activities
- for purely academic or basic research. To learn more about our post-secondary initiative visit the Re-Code program page
- oriented to developing countries
- for emergency needs
Generally we do not consider requests:
- in which the primary activity is local. The exception are activities that respond to a pressing national social issue where there is high potential, demonstrated demand, and a clear strategy for the wider application of the project’s lessons
- 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)
- in which the primary activity takes place outside of Canada
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’re invested in visit our Solutions Finance section. You can also contact the funds directly to access their lending or investment criteria.
There is no pre-established limit for grants. Funding typically spans two to three years for initiatives which are Canadian wide in scope. Generally we do not make short-term grants to local projects. To see projects we have supported in the past, visit our grant database section.
Bien sûr! We’re always pleased to receive requests in both official languages.
Our grant application review process 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.
Please be advised that The McConnell Foundation is postponing decisions on new grants until December, 2020. Learn more.
There are no application deadlines for grants. We review applications on an ongoing basis. Application deadlines are used only when Foundation initiatives seek request for proposals for a specific project. In this case, we’ll list the application deadline on our website.
Priorities, Restrictions and Categories
Our mandate is to address issues of national significance. At the same time, we recognize how much creativity and how many new ideas emerge at the local level. So, occasionally we do support the dissemination of locally developed and tested projects. For examples, see Opération Nez Rouge, Centre for Children Committing Offences SNAP program, Roots of Empathy, and JUMP Math.
The Foundation can only make grants to organizations defined as “qualified donees” by the Federal government. Please see question 1 in the eligibility section for more information.
Of course. Requests are considered on their inherent merits, and not on the basis of a specific requirement to match another donor’s contribution. Many of our initiatives are supported by a range of funders: foundations, government, private sector and communities.
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 fund. We consider them an integral part of the grant, and not an “extra” that is tacked on at the end. As early as the grant application stage, 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 you might want to conduct an evaluation
- what you want to evaluate
- who would benefit from the lessons generated
- how you will 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.
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.
There are some excellent online resources about evaluation models. These are our favourites:
- W. K. Kellogg Foundation: One of the early pioneers in evaluation for grant makers. You’ll find free resources under their knowledge base section.
- Harvard Family Research Project: Focused on family research, but also provides broader thinking about evaluation.
- The James Irvine Foundation: Strong focus on evaluation with resources available for non-profits and foundations.
- Outcome Measurement Resource Network: A wide variety of resources on the evaluation of American United Way projects.
- Canadian Evaluation Society: Useful resources oriented mainly toward evaluation practitioners.
- Voluntary Sector Evaluation Research Project (VSERP): The Project’s goal is to improve the capacity of voluntary organizations to evaluate their work and communicate their effectiveness. They have an extensive variety of publications, links, research and other tools related to evaluation.
- Social Return on Investment: Calculates a price on social value through metrics that quantify and monetize social value. Their site includes a web tool for non-profits to calculate their own SROI.
For more information on developmental evaluation please see A Developmental Evaluation Primer and DE 201: A Practitioner’s Guide to Developmental Evaluation.
If you have read about our granting priorities and believe that your project addresses an area where we are inviting proposals, please submit an online application. This ensures that your request receives full and fair consideration. The online form is brief and simple, making it easy for you to submit a preliminary proposal. If more information is needed we will contact you. So there’s no need to call or email us.
We operate with a relatively small staff. This makes it infeasible for us to meet with everyone who would like to discuss their project. It is also much more effective for us to discuss a project once we have been able to study both the application and the surrounding issues.
Therefore we ask you to submit your proposal using our online form (mcconnell.fluxx.io). It’s easy. We’ll then carefully review your application. If more information or a meeting is required, we will let you know.