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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Extraordinary gift announcements: don’t get discouraged!

Most fundraisers pay attention to gift announcements.  It’s an easy way to keep abreast of general trends in philanthropy and can serve as an unofficial benchmarking tool for your own fundraising.  If you have been following the news, then you have probably been struck by the number of really, really, really large gift announcements made lately.  In this month alone, at least five gifts of more than $100 million each have been announced in the United States.   Canada has also had its share of large announcements lately, with the Taylor family donating $40 million to the University of Calgary  while a “smaller” gift of $12 million was made by Joseph and Rosalie Segal to the Vancouver General Hospital, designated for the building of a mental health treatment facility.

It’s easy for fundraising staff at smaller or less established non-profit organizations to get discouraged when they see such large gift announcements.  Remember that every non-profit organization has a different definition of what constitutes a major gift.  Some charities may consider a $1,000 donation to be a major gift, while for more established non-profit organizations, such as universities and larger hospitals, the threshold may be $25,000 or more.

Regardless of the size of the gift, the same fundraising principles apply:  Always do your research.  Make sure you’re asking the right funder to support the right program at the right time and for the right amount.

When you use a tool like Fundtracker to support your prospect research, you’re able to quickly and easily identify new foundation and corporate funders that are active in your sector – and you can consult their previous giving history, enabling you to target your ask more effectively.

There are many grants out there that are much more “attainable” for smaller non-profits.  In fact, of the gifts made in 2011 currently in our database, over 34,000 of them were grants under $100,000 made within the social services sector.

Our advice to you is to never lose hope and always do your research!

Grants under $100,000 made by foundations to Canadian charities in 2011.


Opportunity Watch: Calling Friendly Manitoba

Some have claimed that the mostly flat geography of Manitoba is boring.  This week, our research team has tracked down some granting opportunities that are anything but boring!  Read on for some great finds for non-profit organizations operating in Manitoba.

Created in 1986, the Thomas Sill Foundation funds four general areas: Environment, Education, Heritage and Health.  Their fifth area of support, defined as Responses to Community, includes poverty, women’s shelters, daycares and other initiatives that contribute to a vibrant Manitoba community.  The average grant awarded in 2011-2012 was almost $13,000.  Applications are accepted year round.  Contact them by phone for a preliminary eligibility discussion and to receive an application form.

The Wasyl Topolnicky Memorial Foundation supports the preservation, promotion, and advancement of Ukrainian arts, culture, heritage and education in Manitoba.  Grants offered are generally to a maximum of $2,500, although higher funding for special projects may be considered.  The application form is available online and includes a list of required documentation.  Applications are reviewed three times per year; the next deadline is May 31st.

Created in 1978, Francofonds is the charitable foundation that supports Manitoba’s french-speaking communities.  They have distributed over $3m to organizations that promote the French-language in Manitoba or support the province’s francophones.   A detailed application form is available online and must be submitted no later than September 15th.

The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba supports registered charities through three granting programs, each with specific deadline dates.  The Grants Program provides one-time funding for projects serving Jewish charities as well as those serving the greater Manitoba community.  Annual deadlines are June 15th and December 15th.   The Special Grants Program funds projects that address the needs of Winnipeg’s Jewish community.   This program has an annual deadline of September 15th. And finally, the Women’s Endowment Fund Grants provides one-time funding to projects and initiatives that support women throughout the province.  Deadlines are March 1 and October 15 of any given year.  All applications are found online.

Good luck with your applications, Manitoba.


Opportunity Watch: Grants without deadlines!

Fans of our Opportunity Watch posts know that we normally share time-sensitive granting deadlines.  This week, we thought we’d share a few corporations that accept grant applications year-round, so you can apply whenever you have time.

Spectra Energy is a natural gas pipeline company with offices in Calgary, Halifax and Vancouver.  They support two main sectors: education and community vitality (for example arts/culture and environmental conservation efforts).  They will also consider support for projects initiated by their employees.  Registered Canadian charities in the communities where their operations are located should consult the online application form.

Vancouver Airport Authority is another corporation that accepts applications year-round.  In addition to supporting employee-driven initiatives, they also fund projects that benefit families, communities and the First Nations of BC.  Consult their website for tips on applying and the application form.

Boralex is a Quebec-based company which specializes in hydroelectric, wind, thermal and solar power-generation.   They support environmental and sustainable development projects, as well as social/community development in the areas where they have installations.  Consult their website for more details, including a full list of the information that  must be included in the application.

3M Canada, the company behind products like Scotch tape and Post-it notes, is another corporation that accepts applications year-round.  They support initiatives that encourage health and wellness, education and the environment.  In addition to grants, they will consider requests for product donations from organizations that fall within their giving criteria. Applications must be submitted online.

That’s it for this week – good luck with your requests!

Application deadlines: How important are they?

If you follow our blog, you know that we regularly share funding opportunities from across Canada, posting information about grants that have applications due within 4-8 weeks.  But what happens if you miss the application date? Should you bother to apply anyway?  Before we answer that question, let’s review the standard steps in a job search (there is a link, bear with us).

You’ve identified a job that interests you.  You write a great letter, identifying your skills and how they would benefit this company. With any luck, you’ve been able to identify contacts in your network that are connected to the company and ask them to put in a good word. You apply online and cross your fingers.  On the recipient end, the hiring process goes a little like this: applications are scanned upon receipt (either by an automated system or by a single person).  Applications that do not meet the basic criteria are automatically discarded.  Then another review: Did they include the writing samples as requested? Are there any standout applicants? Who has the potential to be a great asset to the team?  Applications are prioritized and a short list is presented to the hiring committee.  The hiring committee comes back with an even shorter list of who they would like to meet in person.  You meet, you talk, you discuss. A decision is made. You jump for joy. Money appears in your bank account. You jump for joy again.

Would any of that have happened if you applied late?  It’s possible, but unlikely as many HR managers won’t even bother looking at an application once the posting date has passed.

Applying for a grant isn’t any different than applying for a job.   Most funding agencies, whether foundations, corporations or government, have a strict enforcement policy when it comes to deadline dates.  There has to be an end date, otherwise they can never move on to the next phase, which is reviewing all those applications and then awarding funds to the lucky recipient organizations.

As an organization applying for funding, do your utmost to meet granting deadlines – it’s a sign of respect for the agencies that offer them and for the other organizations that have struggled to get their application in on time.

If you’ve missed the deadline, don’t despair.  Take the opportunity to introduce your organization to the funder well in advance of the next deadline and keep looking for for other prospects.

P.S. Check back in a few days for this week’s Opportunity Watch:  we’re sharing a few grants without deadlines!

Insider tips for corporate granting success

We recently told you about Fundtracker’s new corporate granting histories and some upcoming corporate grant deadlines.  Today, we thought we would share a few tips on applying for a corporate grant.

Once you have identified a new corporate prospect, review their funding priorities and their granting history. Get to know the organizations they have funded previously.  This will help you better understand their charitable focus.  Before you begin the application, give them a call or send an initial email to introduce your organization and your program/project.   Be sure to ask for clarification if you have questions about the application process as most granting officers appreciate the initial contact and welcome questions from non-profits.

Next, look for links between your organization and the company.  Consider sending an email to specific volunteers, such as board members, letting them know that you are applying for a grant from XYZ Corporation and asking if anyone has a connection to the company.  You might find out that your treasurer plays golf every week with the VP of Finance at XYZ Corporation.  This is a great way to find champions inside the company!

If the corporation has a retail outlet in your service area, consider introducing yourself to local employees.  Make sure you tell them about your funding application and ask for their endorsement.  And then don’t be shy about name-dropping when you submit the grant application.  The support of local employees is a great selling point.

Outline the links between your organization or project and the corporation’s public profile. Remember to ask yourself what’s in it for the corporate funder.  Don’t forget that funding decisions are frequently business decisions  and may be guided by marketing objectives instead of emotions.  That doesn’t mean you should avoid tugging at heart strings when stating your case for support – but do keep in mind that a request to a corporation should have a more professional and business-like feel than a request to an individual or even a foundation.

Good luck on your search for corporate funders!

Opportunity Watch: Grants for kids!

Spring has sprung and it’s time to get the kids outside (we’re ignoring tomorrow’s snowfall warning for some parts of the country).  This week’s funding finds are for the benefit of young people across Canada.

The For Kids Sake Fund (a.k.a. the Ontario Endowment for Children and Youth in Recreation) of  The Temiskaming Foundation supports registered charities providing community recreation programming to children and youth under the age of 18 and located within the District of Temiskaming.  This year’s deadline for projects that provide a better life for the kids of the community is April 30th.

The GoodLife Kids Foundation supports initiatives across Canada that encourage physical activity in kids aged 4 to 14.  To be eligible, the primary basis of the initiative must be children participating in physical activity for a significant portion of the project (nutrition and education components may be complementary elements but should not be the main focus).  Visit their website for an online application that must be submitted before April 30th.

The Medavie Health Foundation supports initiatives in Atlantic Canada in the area of child and youth mental health (including early detection and stigma reduction through education and awareness) and Type 2 diabetes (focusing on prevention and self-management).  Applications must be completed online before April 30th.

The mission of the Evergreen Philanthropic Foundation is to make cities more livable.  It is one of the leading funders of community and school greening projects in Canada.  The Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds Greening Grants are available for schools and non-profit daycare centres wishing to create outdoor classrooms and food gardens to provide students with a healthy place to play, learn and develop a genuine respect for nature.  Apply before April 30th.  Grants are awarded in amounts up to $3,500 for school and $2,000 for non-profit daycares.

Good luck!

Connie Hubbs: Bringing professional development to charities across Canada

At last year’s AFP Toronto Congress, we had the opportunity to meet Connie Hubbs when the Ajah booth was located next to hers.  We thought what she was doing was really innovative and decided it was time to get an update from her.

After a successful career in sales and fundraising support, Vancouverite Connie Hubbs recognized that the time was right to make a change.  By her own admission, she was passionately committed to her work and regularly put in 12 hour days at the office.  “When I do anything, I do it all the way,” she laughs.  With a desire for a different quality of life, not to mention time to travel with her husband, she left her job and created a company that offers online education geared to fundraisers and executive directors.

“My inspiration was small community organizations who can’t afford professional development…I wanted to offer them accessibility and affordability.”   From her work with the charitable sector, Connie knew that not all fundraisers live close to an urban centre with access to training, and travel costs to large conferences such as those offered by AFP, CASE or AHP may be out of reach for smaller organizations.   Webinars offer those in the sector the opportunity to learn about trends or keep up with professional development in fundraising, at a reasonable cost and from the comfort of their office.  An added bonus for many fundraisers is that the sessions qualify for CFRE education points, enabling those who are working towards receiving or maintaining their certification to do so easily and cost effectively.

Since her first webinar broadcast in January 2012, Connie has offered sessions on everything from philanthropic habits of so-called Snowbirds to family foundations and prospect research.  She tries to go beyond the trendy – and admits that some webinar ideas stem from her own personal interests.  “I’m sometimes surprised at the response certain workshops get.”  One such webinar was on labour philanthropy.  “Labour unions are giving out millions of dollars,” she says, and it is a largely untapped sector of funds.  It was a topic she had explored at panels in Vancouver in June 2006 and at the AFP Toronto Congress of that same year and felt it was time to revisit.  To her surprise, “it ended up being the highest attended webinar of 2012.”

Some of the trending topics she will be covering in the coming months include global giving and social enterprise, an area that is “exploding,” according to Connie.  Another hot topic is diversity, which will be covered in two upcoming sessions.  Cultural communities are donor bases sometimes ignored by fundraisers because they are simply unsure how to approach specific communities.   “We’re going where fundraisers have rarely gone before…learning how to engage those communities.”

As she continues to offer professional development webinars that meet her mandate of accessibility and affordability, Connie’s latest venture is a welcome addition to the non-profit support sector.

Connie’s upcoming webinars include Five Common Mistakes in Selecting Donor Databases (and how to avoid them) on April 25th  and Reaching Diverse Communities on May 2nd.

Opportunity Watch: Upcoming Corporate Deadlines

We recently updated Fundtracker to include corporate granting histories, which will help you prospect much more efficiently when looking for corporate funders.  In this week’s Opportunity Watch, we’re continuing our corporate giving theme, with upcoming deadlines from corporations across the country.

Based in British Columbia, Canfor considers requests from charitable organizations who are active in any of the following five areas: youth/education, community enhancement, forestry/environment, amateur sports or health/wellness.  Organizations located in Canadian communities in which Canfor operates are eligible.  Requests are made via an online application form and are accepted between April 1 and June 30 of each year.

BC Ferries funds projects in coastal communities of British Columbia through a combination of donations, sponsorships and employee volunteerism.   Their current funding priorities include festivals, events and sports. To be eligible for sport funding, organizations that apply must be a member of  Sport BC.   Registered charities should fill in the online application no later than June 30th.

Casino Rama Community Wellness Program is based on the First Nations medicine wheel, stressing balance in all parts of one’s life. Food banks, women’s shelters and seniors groups are a few of their funding priorities.  Projects must target those over the age of majority and, with very few exceptions, be located in the Simcoe County area.  An application form is available online.  Applications are reviewed four times a year; the next deadline is April 30th.

Take a peek at our new corporate granting histories by signing in to Fundtracker today.  And if you’re not already a Fundtracker user, why not sign up for a free trial?  We’re convinced that after using Fundtracker for your prospect research, you won’t be able to do without!





New in Fundtracker: Corporate Donation Histories

Ajah’s database of previous grants and gifts was already the biggest and most comprehensive in Canada. Now, with the addition of 20,000 previous corporate gifts in Fundtracker, we’re happy to announce that we’re tracking grantmaking by all types of funders.  These new corporate giving histories enable you to accurately see which charities specific corporations have funded in the past, which corporations are active donors in specific sectors or even perform a reverse search to view the corporate funders of specific charities or sectors.

Why are corporate donation histories important and how will they help you?  Instead of having to guess about the likelihood of a prospect saying YES to your $10,000 request based on a sparsely detailed website, Fundtracker now provides you with a snapshot of the corporation’s granting history to better gauge the likelihood of success.  If they say that they prioritize education and health, but all of their grantees are religious organizations, then you can assume that they will continue that practice and decide whether or not it’s worth your time to apply.

Here are some examples of the new donation histories and tips on how to use them to assist you in finding prospects.

Search for a corporate prospect either by name, sector or geography.  Once you’ve identified a corporation you would like more information on, open up their record and scroll to the giving history.  The snapshot below is of TELUS Corporation’s giving history.  Note that we have included links to the charities they have supported in the past.  By reviewing the mandates of the organizations who have been previously supported, you’ll be able to ascertain if your organization is a good fit.

Detail of corporate gifts made by Telus Corporation.

In our TELUS Corporation example, one of the corporate gifts made was to The Nature Conservancy of Canada. If you were to click on the gift while in the TELUS profile,  your screen will look like the image below and you’ll see that The Nature Conservancy of Canada received 47 gifts from 10 different corporate donors.  If you work in the environmental sector, you have just quickly identified 10 corporate prospects who have a history of supporting charities with missions similar to yours.

Nature Conservancy of Canada – detail of record


You can also quickly locate corporate donors to a specific sector using the search field. On the search below, we looked for corporate funders to environmental charities, without filtering based on the size of the charity or the location.  When you click on the charity’s profile, you’ll see exactly who those corporate donors are.  By searching in this manner, you can quickly identify potential corporate funders in a specific sector or geographical location.


You told us that corporate giving was important to you, and we listened.  These changes have made it easier to locate corporations likely to support your mission,  making you more efficient and effective in your fundraising efforts.