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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Opportunity Watch: Canada’s biggest corporate funders

Canada Day is coming up, so we decided to celebrate the holiday by sharing some of the top corporate grantors from across Canada.

TD Canada Trust’s green logo is a familiar sight to any Canadian and also one of the largest corporate grantors around. However, size is not a sacrifice for quality as TD shows a consistent and diversified funding focus that has supported everything from prominent universities like Halifax’s Dalhousie and city educational boards to local environmental and children’s literacy programs. Canadian non-profits that promote education and financial literacy, environmental stewardship, and opportunities for young people should consult the TD website for details and the application form.

Vancouver-based Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) is a well-known brand for Canadian outdoors folk and a veritable charity powerhouse. With a strong focus on environmental issues, MEC addresses sports and recreation, environmental education and awareness, sustainable communities, wildlife and resource conservation, and grassroots support through capacity building projects. MEC has established itself as a prominent force for good with a variety of application streams, each with specific deadlines, including; land acquisition grants, capacity building grants, advocacy and education grants, access and activity grants, and urban sustainability grants.

TELUS is one of the larger names in the ever-important Canadian telecommunications industry and a huge supporter of Canada’s non-profit organizations. TELUS has made a point to target youth education, with a focus on social and technological innovation. However, this is only one aspect of their far-reaching charitable efforts, which includes arts and culture, health issues, and environmental causes. Their application process explains deadlines specific to each region.

Finally, the Canadian energy sector is full of companies like Suncor Energy that aim to be responsible and sustainable in their business practices. Alberta’s Suncor Energy focuses on advancing education and environmental issues and supports volunteer and charity efforts through a broad corporate giving policy and a national reach. Their application page can be found on their website.

Want a closer look at some of Canada’s finest corporate funders? Contact us at 1-888-406-2524 for a free demonstration of Fundtracker and discover how easy it is to explore funding opportunities through our extensive research tool.

Benchmarking for small shops

Benchmarking: it’s a necessary evil that every executive director and fundraiser has to contend with and something that Boards love to ask for.  It’s also become a really hot topic in the months since Dan Pallotta’s TED Talk, The way we think about charity is dead wrong.

Benchmarking for a charity is more than just reviewing overhead costs.  Where does your charity rank when compared to others of the same size?  How do your annual fundraising goals compare to other organizations in your sector and province?  What about staffing levels and salaries?  Are external fundraisers common in your industry? How much are others in your sector spending on administration?

Many organizations create informal networking groups, which are useful in benchmarking efforts but provide mostly anecdotal information.  That’s where Ajah’s comes in.  Using T3010 data, we created a valuable tool to provide non-profits with the information and statistics needed to establish benchmarks, identify possible allies, learn about norms in areas like staffing and fundraising, and see how these vary from province to province.

There are two search features integrated into  The first allows you to review information on specific charities.  This is an easy way to position your charity against a specific organization.  You can search for a charity by name, or if you aren’t sure of the name, you can look for specific charity records using search filters to define province or sector.  The screen shot below shows you what a charity’s record looks like.


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The second search is invaluable for benchmarking within your sector or province.  It enables you to easily consult information such as total revenue, average staffing levels, salary ranges and breakdowns for revenues and expenses.  The screen shot below is of the main search page, which gives you figures for the sector as a whole.  In this case, we’re looking at the figures for charities in the Arts & Culture sector and we haven’t applied any filters.

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Once you do apply the filters of province or size (or both), the information becomes even more specific.   In the screenshot below, we chose to review the information available for smaller organizations ($100,000 to $999,999 in annual revenue) in Ontario’s health sector.

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So, what does all this mean and how do you make use of benchmarking tools?

Dan Pallotta has started something within the charity sector.   Last week, three large American charity information organizations released a joint statement to donors via a new website – hoping to encourage donors to take more than just “overhead” into account when evaluating a charity.   Wide coverage of the campaign in the US and in Canada has opened the discussion on what to look for in a well-run charity — beyond just salaries and other overhead expenses.

By providing tools like, Ajah is using Canadian data to inform the non-profit sector and helping organizations benchmark in a more meaningful way.

Opportunity Watch: Funding LGBTQ Pride

Summer is the season for pride parades across Canada. In cities big and small you’re sure to find rainbow flags and vibrant crowds taking to the streets. These festivities invite LGBTQ individuals, non-profit organizations and businesses to show their colours and celebrate their triumphs – all while highlighting on-going needs in their communities. In the spirit of these festivities, we thought we’d showcase some funding opportunities available to Canada’s LGBTQ communities.

The Community One Foundation connects donors with innovative programs and services for LGBTQ communities in the Greater Toronto Area. Its Rainbow Grants program awards up to $10,000 to leading human rights, arts, health, advocacy and educational organizations, and applications from registered charities or groups trusteed by a registered charity are due in February.

The Ontario Trillum Foundation’Community and Province-Wide Programs have a strong focus on inclusive communities, human rights, and volunteer engagement. Past recipients include LGBTQ hotlines, festivals and arts organizations. Grant applications are due tri-annually on March 1, July 1 or November 1. Apply online today.

Registered charities across Canada working on AIDS prevention and poverty can apply to the MAC AIDS Fund for support. With special granting programs for initiatives targeting seniors, women, and harm reduction, the fund promotes holistic and creative responses to the AIDS crisis.  Online applications are accepted each year in the spring and fall.

Registered charities across Canada can apply to the Georgina Foundation, a granting agency supporting a wide-range of programs including women’s health, HIV/AIDs, sexual education and gay and lesbian initiatives. Application information can be downloaded online, and should be mailed to the foundation by September 30th.

Vancouver non-profits might consider applying to the Acts of Random Charity (ARC) Foundation. It supports initiatives that fight prejudice and stand up for the marginalized, particularly gays and lesbians. It accepts requests for support year round through its website.

These funders were a snap to find with Fundtracker. Our search tool allows you to quickly identify foundations, government grants and corporations looking to support specific populations such as the LGBTQ community. Take Fundtracker out for a test drive today by calling us at 1-888-406-2524 for a free demonstration.

Happy Pride, from Team Ajah.

Opportunity Watch: Funding the Arts

Summer is a great time to enjoy the arts in Canada, with so many events across country.  Some of our favorites include the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Ottawa BluesFest, the Cavendish Beach Music Festival, the Saskatchewan Festival of Words and the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival.  This week, we thought we’d share some granting opportunities for the arts organizations.

The Toronto Arts Council is an arm’s length body that supports the development, accessibility and excellence of the arts. Created through funding from the city of Toronto, the TAC offers grants programs to the city’s arts organizations and professional artists.  They offer granting programs within six main areas: community arts, dance, literary, music, theatre and visual/media arts.  Deadlines vary depending on the type of support but the deadline for project grants in each discipline is August 1st.

The British Columbia Arts Council offers several granting programs for specific artistic disciplines and also offers professional development grants to artists and administrators who want to take advantage of opportunities which require travel or who undertake specific learning activities to advance their practice or career.   Applications are reviewed three times a year: the next deadline is August 1st.

The Arts and Crafts Development Program of the Nunavut Department of Economic Development and Transportation accepts grant applications year-round.  They offer funding for arts organizations, as well as artists, and will consider requests that include the purchase of art materials, supplies and equipment, website development,  marketing tools and training and programming in the arts for youth.

The New Brunswick Tourism, Heritage and Culture Department administers many provincial grants for the arts, including Touring and Presenting grants.  Open to Francophone arts organizations or artists, these two programs are accepting applications until August 15th and support those who wish to tour with or present a French-language artistic show within the province.

Officially a crown corporation and not a government funding program, the Canada Council for the Arts is the national arts funding agency.  Their database currently lists about 80 different grants available to arts organizations, so be sure to review their website for programs and deadlines.

We quickly identified these funding opportunities by searching Fundtracker for government funders of the Arts.  If you would like to see for yourself how Fundtracker can help you save time and raise more money, call us today at 1-888-406-2524 to schedule a free demonstration.


Ressources additionnelles concernant les commandites et dons d’entreprises

  • L’infolettre de Ajah est diffusée une fois par mois sur le blogue, la page Facebook et le fil Twitter. L’équipe propose aussi régulièrement des capsules d’information concernant Fundtracker, la recherche de financement, les tendances dans le secteur et d’autres sujets via ces médias. Suivez-nous pour être au courant!
  •  La Presse publie régulièrement à propos du secteur philanthropique au Québec dans sa section « Affaires ». Nous vous recommandons de consulter ces articles, dont notamment celui sur les commanditaires.

Commandites ou dons : quelle est la différence?

Les entreprises peuvent soutenir les organismes à but non lucratif de deux façons distinctes – par une commandite ou un don. Malheureusement, ces deux types de contributions sont fréquemment confondus, ce qui peut entraîner des questions de la part de l’Agence du revenu du Canada (ARC) et, dans des cas extrêmes, la révocation de votre statut de bienfaisance. Lisez la suite pour un bref rappel des différences qui existent entre les dons et les commandites.

Selon l’ARC, un don doit être effectué en toute liberté, sans bénéfice pour le donateur ou obligation de part et d’autre. Alors, si les donateurs (corporatifs ou autres) soutiennent votre organisme par leur participation à un tournoi de golf ou encore en faisant l’achat d’articles promotionnels, vous ne pouvez pas émettre de reçu de charité, puisque le donateur reçoit quelque chose en contrepartie. Il en est de même pour un don mandaté par la cour, car celui-ci n’a pas été effectué de plein gré. De façon générale, le donateur ne peut espérer recevoir autre chose qu’un reçu officiel de don en échange de sa contribution. Ces reçus peuvent entre autres être émis pour une portion du coût du billet d’un événement – mais assurez-vous de valider le tout avec votre comptable ou l’ARC, puisque le calcul servant à évaluer la portion qui peut faire l’objet d’un reçu s’avère plutôt complexe.

La commandite est plus simple à comprendre : si l’entreprise jouit d’une contrepartie – telle que de la publicité ou de la promotion sous quelque forme – alors aucun reçu officel de don ne peut être émis, point final! Les commandites sont souvent associées à des événements comme la Marche pour la guérison du diabète TELUS au profit de la FRDJ. Cela dit, le commanditaire ne donne pas toujours son nom à l’événement. Consultez le site Internet d’un événement de levée de fonds et vous verrez la liste des commanditaires qui se sont impliqués de différentes façons en échange d’une visibilité. Certains peuvent exiger que leur logo ou une signalisation à leur effigie soient affichés sur place lors de l’événement, sur certains articles promotionnels ou sur le site Internet. Peu importe les retombées, aucun reçu officiel de don ne peut être émis.

Pas simple!

Souvenez-vous d’une chose : les dons sont effectués sans engagement de part et d’autre, tandis que les commandites répondent à des objectifs promotionnels.

En cas de doute, consultez la section « Réception de dons » du site Internet de l’ARC ou, le site Canadian Charity Law de l’avocat Mark Blumberg (disponible en anglais seulement).

Faire une demande auprès d’une entreprise : ce que les petits organismes doivent savoir

Les grandes entreprises canadiennes sont plus susceptibles de donner que celles de petite taille. De plus, elles possèdent plus fréquemment une stratégie de don claire et mise en œuvre par le département de marketing. Bien que certaines entreprises jouissent de fonds discrétionnaires, la plupart des dons sont octroyés selon des priorités établies au préalable. La stratégie de dons pourra avoir été élaborée pour bien paraître, notamment auprès de la clientèle de la compagnie et du grand public.

Entamer la recherche de nouveaux donateurs est très simple lorsqu’on utilise Fundtracker. En effet, notre outil vous aide à identifier de nouvelles cibles et à éliminer rapidement les entreprises qui prétendent soutenir votre secteur, mais ne le font pas en réalité. Une fois le donateur potentiel identifié, parcourez son profil et portez une attention aux dates d’échéances ainsi qu’à l’historique de dons effectués par le passé. Consultez son site Internet et, s’ils sont disponibles, jetez un coup d’œil au rapport annuel et aux rapports de responsabilité sociale. Ceci vous permettra de mieux saisir le positionnement convoité par l’entreprise et ainsi les causes qu’elle est susceptible de soutenir.

Avant de préparer votre demande, appelez ou envoyez un courriel à la personne ressource au sein de l’entreprise, pour présenter votre organisme ainsi que votre programme ou projet. Assurez-vous de demander des précisions au sujet du processus si vous avez des interrogations. En général, les entreprises apprécient le contact initial et se font un plaisir de répondre aux questions des organismes demandeurs.

Lorsque vous rédigez votre demande, demandez-vous quel sera l’attrait pour le donateur. Contrairement aux fondations privées au sein desquelles les décisions sont habituellement prises par un groupe d’individus intimement liés et voués aux causes qu’ils soutiennent, les commandites et dons d’entreprises sont attribués en fonction d’objectifs qui relèvent de considérations mercantiles. Cela ne veut pas dire que votre argumentaire ne doit pas faire appel aux émotions, mais gardez en tête à qui vous vous adressez. Votre approche doit être adaptée et miser sur les attraits concrets pour l’entreprise.

Additional resources on corporate funding and corporate sponsorships

Here are some of our favorites:

  • Team Ajah’s blog, facebook page, LinkedIn profile and Twitter feed : we send out our newsletter once a month but we also tweet and blog regularly about Fundtracker, fundraising, sector trends and more.  Follow us to stay informed.
  • We mentioned it previously, but be sure to visit the CanadianCharityLaw website for general information on legalities and fundraising.
  • is a crowdblog on fundraising and has some great resources on both corporate fundraising and sponsorships.
If you have favorite resources, share them with us on facebook or twitter!

Asking a corporation for money: the basics for small shops

Large Canadian corporations are not only more likely to donate than smaller ones, but also more likely to have a giving strategy dictated and managed by the marketing department.   While they may have some discretionary funds, the majority of a corporation’s giving will be within a well-defined list of priorities.  The giving strategy may have been chosen with the company’s customer base in mind and to make the company appear to be a good corporate citizen.

It’s easy to begin your search for new corporate funders if you’re using a tool like Fundtracker, which will help you identify new prospects and quickly eliminate companies that say they fund your sector but really don’t.  Once a new corporate prospect has been identified, review their profile, deadlines and history of the organizations they’ve supported in the past.  Make sure to visit their website.  If available, take a peek at their annual reports and Corporate Social Responsibility reports.  This will help you get a sense of how the company wants to appear to its public and the causes they like to promote publicly.

Before you begin the application, 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.

When you are writing your application, remember to ask yourself what is in it for the corporate funder.  Unlike a family foundation where decisions are usually made by a group of closely linked individuals who are committed to supporting causes close to the heart, corporate sponsorship and granting decisions are guided by marketing objectives.  That doesn’t mean you should avoid emotion in your case for  support – but do keep in mind that you are requesting support from a corporation, so the approach should be a bit different and more business-like.

Sponsorships vs donations: what’s the big difference?

Corporate support of non-profit organizations generally falls under two umbrellas and it’s easy to get confused.  Unfortunately, getting confused can also lead to questions from the CRA and even revocation of charitable status.  Read on for a quick reminder on the differences between donations and sponsorships.

According to the Canada Revenue Agency, a donation must be given freely, without benefit accruing to the donor and with no further obligation.  So if donors (corporate or otherwise) support your organization by participating in a golf tournament or even purchasing promotional items, tax receipts may not be issued because the donor is receiving something in exchange.  If a gift is received because it was mandated by a court, it’s also not receiptable, as it is not given with free will.  The only thing a donor should expect to receive in exchange for their gift is a charitable tax receipt.  Tax receipts may be issued for a portion of the cost of event tickets – but make sure you check with an accountant or the CRA, as the calculation of what is receiptable is complex.

Sponsorships are a bit easier to figure out: if the corporation receives a benefit – such as advertising or promotion – then no tax receipt can be issued.  End of story.  Sponsorships are frequently associated with events, such as the JDRF TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes.  Sponsorships, however, are not limited to naming big events.  Visit the website for any fundraising event and you’ll see a list of sponsors, who have agreed to be involved at various levels, in exchange for marketing/promotional consideration. Some may have their logo/name on signage at the event, or in the promotional materials or simply be listed on the website.  Regardless, if they have received any type of marketing benefit, no tax receipt may be issued.

Confusing, huh?

Just remember a basic rule of thumb:  donations are given with no-strings attached, while sponsorships are given for marketing, promotional or advertising purposes.

When in doubt, visit the CRA website’s section on receiving gifts or lawyer Mark Blumberg’s CanadianCharityLaw site.