Supporting a Strong Not-For-Profit Sector

Funding & Community Foundations Learning Event

Close to forty people braved an unexpected snowstorm in late April to attend this learning event on funding opportunities and community foundations.  Click on the highlighted words to access a copy of the event agenda and a listing of workshop attendees.   The goals of this learning event were:

  • To summarize the work of the Dufferin NFP Support & Capacity-Building Project
  • To profile & learn more about funding sources currently available to area NFP agencies
  • To introduce potential funding options that exist in other jurisdictions
  • To identify opportunities, challenges & interest in pursuing such options in Headwaters region

Representatives from our NFP Support and Capacity-Building Project shared the pilot project’s highlights and accomplishments over the past two years which included investing approximately $125,000 in thirteen innovative NFP projects within Dufferin County, hosting a number of education sessions for Dufferin’s NFP sector and also undertaking much-needed foundational research into the issue of alternative transportation models in rural communities – which had been identified as a sector-wide issue of concern.

Gord Gallaugher, Co-Chair of Headwaters Communities in Action – one of the NFP Project’s founding partners – spoke about the importance of the not-for-profit sector to area citizens and acknowledged the sector’s essential role in contributing to the well-being of the community.  He offered his organization’s continued support to champion efforts to maintain a strong network of not-for-profit organizations across the Headwaters and indicated that they would retain the sector-wide database and use it to help inform and convene the sector on emerging issues and opportunities.

Current Funding Opportunities for Area Not-For-Profits

Presentations from the three primary funders currently operating in Dufferin County then each offered an overview of the diversity of funding opportunities currently available to area not-for-profits.  While each funder had slightly different areas of focus for their investments and different application processes, all emphasized that:

  • The funding process is a very competitive one.  Each funder said they always receive far more funding requests than they can afford to fund
  • They received relatively fewer applications from Dufferin than other parts of their catchment (Wellington County, Guelph and Waterloo) and that those applications they do receive are more often single organization applications
  • They are most interested in grant proposals that are collaborative in nature
  • Their role is, in part, to support interested applicants in developing strong proposals and urged anyone interested in applying to contact them to discuss their ideas and proposals well in advance of grant application deadlines

United Way Wellington GuelphThe United Way of Guelph, Wellington & Dufferin

Brenda Doner, Senior Community Service Planner – This presentation outlines the investment priorities and process used by the United Way of Guelph, Wellington & Dufferin.

Ontario Trillium FoundationThe Ontario Trillium Foundation

Omar Omar, Project OfficerThis presentation offered an overview of the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s priorities and application process from both a province-wide and local perspective.

The Government of OntarioThe Government of Ontario

Barb Elias, Regional AdvisorThis presentation introduced the government’s new Grants Portal and highlighted some funding opportunities to support local projects.

Community Foundations: Another Funding Option for Headwaters

The evening’s discussions then moved from discussing current funding opportunities and began to introduce and explore the concept of a Community Foundation as an alternative option for generating additional funding opportunities for the region’s not-for-profit organizations.

Community Foundations of Canada

Community Foundations of CanadaCindy Lindsay – This presentation offered some information about the history and role of Community Foundations in Canada, explaining how these entities rely on invested endowments to identify and fund community priorities in 175 communities across the country. This presentation sparked questions and conversation about the value and feasibility of establishing a Headwaters Community Foundation.

Participant Dialogues & Initial Reflections

The information shared by presenters generated some good initial conversation amongst with the event participants and whetted appetites to learn more and continue these dialogues.  A complete summary of the participants’ dialogue and feedback is available here.  The highlights include:

  • A recognition of the growing importance of collaboration within the not-for-profit sector
  • A desire to further explore the opportunity of establishing a Headwaters Community Foundation
  • An desire for more sector-wide meetings to help facilitate further collaboration within the sector and more in-depth conversations around shared priorities

A number of attendees also offered leadership support in taking the ideas generated from these early dialogues forward.  Opportunities to reconvene the sector are also now being considered by Headwaters Communities in Action (HCIA) and the other Dufferin NFP Support & Capacity-Building Project members and specific follow-up opportunities will be shared with you through future email communiqués.

Please stay tuned!

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