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News From the Sector

Launched! A new landscape tool to help the sector find out who is doing what

We’re excited to present a new tool that we have built with support from Community Foundations Canada and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. We presented the tool during a session at the CKX summit yesterday, and now we are releasing it as a free publicly available resource.

The tool is for everyone who needs to find out who is doing what in their geographic or issue area. We’ve collected data from multiple funders on the projects they are supporting, and presented it in a interface that can be searched by keyword, city, province and other criteria. Do you want to know what youth projects are happening in your region? Or find out who is focused on capacity? You can use the tool to answer those questions.


We wanted to give the sector access to information they could use for landscape mapping, and we expect it to help increase collaboration by helping organizations find similar projects, as well as help reduce duplication of effort in the sector.

We also wanted to show funders the importance and value of their grantmaking data — this information is manually gathered from multiple sources, and it only becomes truly useful when it can be gathered and presented together. If funders can share their grant-making data in a standard way, then tools like this can be easily built and the sector as a whole benefits.

We hope to continue to add data sources to the tool and adding new features it, so keep checking in and using it.

You can see the tool here:

We are excited to talk about different applications for this data, so don’t hesitate to touch if you have any questions or suggestions.

Opportunity watch: Economic Development funding

Welcome to another edition of Ajah’s opportunity watch. This week we are looking at a few funders who promote economic development – specifically two government programs and a credit union to see how they can encourage economic opportunities in the communities they serve.

In Quebec the government put in place the ClimatSol program. Projects admissible for this program are meant to not only stimulate the economy but also to ameliorate the environment and reduce carbon gas emissions. Both organizations and individuals can apply for funding to the provincial government who has set 60 million dollars aside until March 2015. This program not only seeks to create jobs but the jobs created will help foster sustainable practices.

In Newfoundland and Labrador you can find the Cultural Economic Development Program which helps professional arts organizations stimulate sustainable economic development of the Province’s cultural resources. The program helps promote self-sustaining art activities, mainly in the cultural tourism industry and by doing so provides financial assistance to individual artists. The deadline for sector-based organizations is coming up on April 18, although small performance series can apply year round.

Finally, Affinity Credit Union, which has has over 40 branches in Saskatchewab, sponsors community groups, charities and organizations that require funding for various events, projects, and programs. Their aim is to contribute to community sustainability and stronger local economies by supporting initiatives that promote self-reliant approaches to community economic development. They fund a variety of projects including those related to health, social services, education, the arts and the environment.  The deadline for Community Development Funding is September 30, while sponsorships are available year round.

That is it for this week. We can help you find many more funders in your region with Fundtracker Pro if you need funding for economic development projects. To find out more you can contact us for a demo.

Opportunity Watch: Aboriginal and Metis funding

Ajah’s opportunity watch is taking a quick look at funders that support Aboriginal and Metis peoples around the country this week. All of these founders emphasise the importance of preserving and transmitting the culture and knowledge of native peoples.

In the east we have the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Program supported by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador.  This government program invites both cultural organizations and professionals to apply for funding and the deadline is approaching fast, on April 15. The advisory committee is made up of various native community representatives including Innu, Inuit, Mi’kmaq and Metis.

In Saskatchewan we found two programs offered by the SaskCulture, a non-profit, community based organization. The first is The Aboriginal Arts & Culture Leadership Grant  and it supports arts and cultural leaders within the Aboriginal communities.  The grant is available for First Nations bands or for schools that have a cultural mandate. The deadline to apply is April 15 as well.

As for the Metis communities in Saskatchewan, we found the Métis Cultural DevelopmentFund another program of SaskCulture. This fund encourages sharing, learning and celebrating the Metis culture of community groups in the province. It provides support to cultural organizations in areas not typically funded by conventional systems mainly looking to benefit children through skill development and mentorship. The next semi-annual deadline to apply is April 30!

That’s it for this week folks! There are many more governmental programs and organizations to be found on Fundtracker.  Don’t hesitate to contact us.

Opportunity Watch: Funding Local Communities

Ajah’s opportunity watch is back.  This week we are looking at community foundations.We have narrowed down a few foundations across Canada that empower charities and organizations located in their areas and improve the quality of life of their citizens.

We begin with the Kenora & Lake of the Woods Regional Community Foundation which has donated over 150 000$ in 2012 to various community centers and organizations that support health, environment and the arts among other services in that region. This foundation enables efficient use of community resources and addresses root causes of issues in order to maximise the social benefits of its grants. The first semi-annual deadline is February 28.

If you are living in the North Caribou region in British Colombia, the Quesnel Community Foundation should be of interest to you. It began its operations in 2001 and it has provided funding for a wide range of community needs, such as education, the arts and social programs. There is an application deadline coming up on  February 19. Visit their website  for more information.

The Interlake Community Foundation in Manitoba also provides funding for a wide range of community needs in its region. This foundation, like the others above, is helping improve and strengthen the community in question as a whole, instead of focusing on a specific sector. Their annual application deadline is approaching on February 28.

If you call Calgary your home, take a look at the mighty Calgary Foundation. It supports a wide range of organizations from those that are well-established to grassroots resident led-projects in all parts of the charitable sector.  Since the devastating Southern Alberta Floods of June 2013, The Calgary Foundation created the Flood Rebuilding Fund, which supports qualified organizations in long-term rebuilding and recovery efforts. For more details and for a list of project grants, visit them online . The deadline for community grants is February 15.

The South Saskatchewan Community Foundation covers three hundred communities and seven cities. Three different grant streams from the foundation focus on different social needs like education and social services. Over the years the foundation has awarded grants equally among the organizations and charities that focus in different sectors. The deadline for the Moffat Family Fund  is February 28.

Community foundations work as catalysts of positive changes in a community. We hope you liked this brief glimpse into some amazing opportunities offered by them.  No matter where your charity is based, you can contact us at  or at 1. 888.406.2524 and we will provide you with a free demo of Fundtracker Pro to help your charity to find  the best funding opportunities.

Notes from the Philanthropist and the state of youth in Canada

There’s a lot of concern about today’s youth. From Time Magazine’s unsavory portrayal of Millennials to cartoonist Matt Bors’ witty rebuttal, inter-generational anxiety seems to be at an all time high.   Fortunately, this topic was examined with a great deal of candour and respect in the latest issue of Canadian non-profit journal The Philanthropist. Guest editors Irwin Elman and Fred Mathews with their assembled authors weighed in on the challenges and rewards that lie in bridging the widening gap between young people and the philanthropic organizations that seek to serve and engage them.

With a sharp decline in donations and volunteerism between generations and with the perceived lack of opportunities for youth to voice their concerns, the questions raised in this issue will only continue to grow in importance over the coming years. This week we highlight a part of this wider conversation –  how can nonprofits engage with young people?

Barriers to Equality

It can be difficult for young people to feel valued and respected in the third sector. A re-occurring complaint from young leaders is a persistent feeling of subordination within nonprofit and governmental organizations. Joanne Cave suggests that rampant tokenism and managerial hierarchies are to blame, resulting in a failure on the part of the third sector to provide youth with any sense of ownership over the process of change. This sentiment is echoed in Jocelyn Formsma‘s appraisal of this problem among indigenous youth, noting that the unique perspectives of young people are persistently ignored in one-directional mentorship opportunities, board meetings and public forums. Challenging the assumption that experience follows from age could be an important step towards gaining greater youth participation, to even better effect.

Using the Right Message

A different issue altogether seems to lie in the types of messages with which we try to reach young people. Fred Mathews points out that this media-saturated demographic has a low tolerance for insincerity, judgement, and special appeals. A quotidian rather than emotionally alarmist approach may actually be more effective in reaching Gen Y donors and volunteers.

Participation by Any Other Name

Another issue raised in this conversation concerns the forum through which youth engagement takes place. While social media has attracted a lot of buzz within the fundraising world and beyond, April McAllister suggests that presents the ideal avenue with which to increase youth interaction on their own terms. This is no small task, however. As Keenane Wellar notes, an artificial or sporadic use of social media can appear inauthentic to youth, thereby disincentivizing their support and engagement.

Inviting New Perspectives

A good avenue to welcome and integrate new perspectives in your organization may be as simple as hiring more young people. As Mathews notes, nonprofits that target youth should think seriously about reflecting the populations they serve in their own staff. From summer jobs and internships to youth-run programs and grant-making initiatives, providing (and paying for) leadership opportunities will bring new voices into your organization and can cultivate the next generation of philanthropically-engaged professionals. Moreover, these initiatives could be cheaper than you think – check in on Thursday for a special Opportunity Watch highlighting wage subsidy programs available for young hires.


This snapshot only offers part of the picture. You can find more via The Philanthropist, but we’d also like to hear from you. What have been your experiences engaging with and adapting to youth in your organization?

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.

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.


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: Literary Grants

This week has turned up some fantastic opportunities for organizations with a love of literature.

For non-profits publishing arts periodicals in B.C., the British Columbia Arts Council is offering grants to help fund operations costs. The goal is to support the development of stable, well led periodicals that publish regularly – this means a minimum paid circulation of 500 copies per issue. Applications are accepted until March 15th.

Toronto Arts Council is offering a grant for non-profit literary organizations in Toronto to encourage publication and the appreciation of literature and literary artists. This grant covers organizations operations and artistic expenses. The deadline for consideration is March 1st.

For book-lovers and wordsmiths outside of BC and Toronto, Canada Council for the Arts has two more grants for organizations anywhere in Canada.

The Literary Reading and Author Residencies Program is for organizations that would like to host at least four full public readings. The goal is to increase the exposure of Canadian writing and authors to the general public through readings. The readings must take place between 1 July and 30 June.  Apply by March 1st.

Canada Council for the Arts also offers Grants to Literary and Art Magazines in order to increase the excellence and awareness of arts and literary expression in Canada. Publishers and magazines can apply for funding and will be evaluated based on excellence in publication and need. Apply by March 1st.

Good luck and happy grantwriting!

Grants from Community Foundations

Our research team found great funding opportunities from some community foundations this week. As you can see from these grants, a community foundation generally has a very specific geographic focus, but a fairly broad mission within that area.

The following grants are all from communities in Ontario. But don’t worry, there are community foundations across Canada. These are just a few that have upcoming deadlines. You can check out the community foundations near you on Fundtracker.

Sudbury Community Foundation is open for the first round of applications to their community grant program. The foundation focuses on nonprofit projects in the Greater Sudbury Area and prefers projects that are focused on prevention, inclusivity, sustainability, and citizen involvement. Applications are accepted on or before March 1st.

Kenora Lake of the Woods Regional Community Foundation accepts proposals twice a year and the February deadline is coming up.  Grants are available to local nonprofits that work in community services, health and wellness, social welfare, the environment or arts and culture. Apply by February 28th.

The Aylmer Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life in the Aylmer area. If your oganization’s work falls within that broad definition, the foundation considers proposals from nonprofits for projects as well as capital purchases. Applications are accepted year round and the next review date will be March 1st.

Good luck and happy grantwriting!