Ontario Trillium Foundation Announces New Granting Application Deadlines for 2017
Strategy Improvements Streamline Process, Create Single Annual Deadlines
October 25, 2016—The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) today announced new application deadlines for 2017. The deadlines were revealed as part of a plan that extends recent reform initiatives to ensure OTF operations are more streamlined, simplified and responsive to the needs of community organizations. This plan builds on the successful outcomes-based investment strategy launched last year and reflects feedback from key stakeholders.
OTF will shift to a single deadline per year for three of its four investment streams: Seed, Grow and Capital. Applications for Collective Impact grants will continue to be accepted year-round.
The move to a single deadline is a best practice adopted by many other granting organizations including the Ontario Media Development Corporation and the Ontario Arts Council. It will provide a number of benefits to potential applicants including access to enhanced support and an even more focused and streamlined process. In addition, this move will provide Northern and rural Ontario with better access to a larger funding allocation.
OTF will also deliver enhanced support to community organizations across Ontario, building their capacity to submit stronger and more competitive grant applications, including individual support to potential applicants.
new 2017 deadlines:
In addition to these four investments streams, eligible community organizations will continue to have access to other programs administered by OTF, such as the Youth Opportunities Fund and the Local Poverty Reduction Fund.
As an organization dedicated to continuous learning and improvement, OTF improved its processes based on widespread input from community groups and valued stakeholders. These changes represent the next step in a plan that began last year with the launch of OTF’s new investment strategy which introduced customized investment streams, clarified its objectives through six Action Areas and simplified the application process.
Working closely with our grantees, successful and unsuccessful applicants, government partners, volunteers and community organizations, OTF will monitor these changes closely and remain committed to creating an even higher standard of responsiveness and accessibility. Ultimately, our objective is to not only strengthen the granting process but to support even stronger results and improved outcomes for the benefit of all communities in Ontario.
- OTF, an agency of the Government of Ontario, is one of Canada’s largest granting foundations.
- Since 2003, the foundation has invested almost $1.5 billion in projects to help build healthy and vibrant communities.
- OTF relies on nearly 200 active community-based volunteers across Ontario to review applications and guide granting decisions for maximum impact.
- One deadline per year is a common best practice among other funders, like the Ontario Media Development Corporation and the Ontario Arts Council.
“I am pleased to see the Ontario Trillium Foundation move forward with a new approach that aims to streamline application processes and improve customer service. I look forward to working closely with its Board and Grant Review Teams as they continue to support communities in every corner of the province by providing opportunities for organizations and the not-for-profit sector to deliver important projects and create jobs, while encouraging all Ontarians to reach their full potential.”
Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
“With a keen eye on the future, the Ontario Trillium Foundation continues to seek opportunities to increase our impact. That’s why we are committed to continuous learning and improvement. We’re always looking at ways to improve our systems so that we can help Ontarians make communities healthier and more vibrant.”
Janet Yale, Board Chair Ontario Trillium Foundation
“As one of Canada’s largest granting foundations, the Ontario Trillium Foundation is always learning from our grantees and the programs and initiatives they implement to find creative solutions to complex issues. This new approach is the natural next phase in our ever-evolving strategy to help the public benefit sector create positive change in Ontario communities.”
Andrea Cohen Barrack, CEO Ontario Trillium Foundation
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Questions and Answers
Q. Why is OTF making these changes?
A. In 2015, OTF committed itself to a set of reforms aimed at making our operations more streamlined, simplified and responsive to the needs of community organizations. This resulted in a new investment strategy and an improved application process that has since received 85% approval in our customer service surveys this year. Today’s changes build on that plan by further simplifying the application process and boosting the support made available to community groups.
Q. Why the move to only one deadline per year?
A. We are a learning organization that is constantly listening to the feedback we receive from our stakeholders. Applicants regularly reported missing the support and advice that they used to receive routinely from our staff. Because we operate on a per-capita basis around 16 catchments which vary greatly in size, geography and budget, we also heard that northern and rural catchments were limited in their ability to make larger, deeper grants to worthy initiatives. With this change to a single annual deadline, we will be able to provide more focused and comprehensive support to applicants. They will also enjoy a more straightforward process that will provide access to larger grants. This will be particularly welcome for rural and Northern Ontario where there is a real appetite for access to a larger funding allocation. Please note we will continue to receive grant applications year-round for Collective Impact grants and other programs such as the Youth Opportunities Fund and the Local Poverty Reduction Fund will be unaffected.
Q. Will this mean groups will have fewer chances to seek grants each year now?
A. No. First of all, the number of organizations that would apply for multiple grants in multiple investment streams in the same year is very small. Second, this approach offers applicants access to larger grants – which is what our consultations suggested was the public priority. By moving to a single deadline, we can reduce dividing our grants into smaller and smaller portions and thereby boost real-world impact and results. This is particularly important for rural and Northern Ontario who will welcome better access to a larger funding allocation. Finally, this is a best practice adopted long ago by most comparable organizations, like the Ontario Media Development Corporation or the Ontario Arts Council.
Q. How will the enhanced support to community groups work?
A. During our consultations, it was clear the public wanted access to more individual advice and support during the application process. We will act on that request with enhanced support to community organizations across Ontario, building their capacity to submit stronger and more competitive grant applications. In the weeks ahead, we will elaborate on what precise steps we’ll take and how those resources will be put into place. Starting in January, our outreach activities will offer a comprehensive range of services that will incorporate elements of our traditional outreach activities with engaging activities that will allow for individual support and capacity building.
Q. Didn’t the Auditor General declare that sort of support out of bounds?
A. No. The Auditor General emphasized the need to ensure that if support is being provided to community groups to help them improve the quality of their applications, then that function must be thoroughly distinct from the assessing of applications. That is why we created a Support Centre when we launched our new Investment Strategy last year. This Support Centre ensured that any applicant - wherever they were - always had access to the same consistent information from OTF staff specially dedicated to application support. We’ve heard that people want more, therefore we are committed to enhancing our outreach efforts and individual support to applicants while adhering to the Auditor General’s principle.
Q. Wasn’t there a plan to reduce the number of catchments that OTF uses to award grants?
A. We are a learning organization that is constantly listening to the feedback we receive from our stakeholders. We heard that applicants greatly miss the support and advice that they used to receive routinely from our staff. We also heard that small catchments, especially in rural and Northern Ontario, were limited in their ability to make larger, deeper grants to worthy initiatives, because we operate on a per-capita basis. In order to address these challenges, we considered several options, including a plan to rebalance the regional catchments. However, feedback indicated divided reaction to the proposal. Ultimately, we decided to reject the idea and move ahead with simplified deadlines, enhanced individual support, and increased capacity building.