Community Building Fund - Operating Stream

Apply for operating funding to help sustain your operations and create new attractions, experiences and events.

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Next deadline

No upcoming deadline

Term length

6 or 12 months

Amount awarded (per year)

Minimum $10,000

Maximum $250,000

Supporting Ontario’s Recovery

The Government of Ontario’s Community Building Fund is investing $105 million to support community arts and culture, heritage, tourism, sport and recreation organizations, that are experiencing significant financial pressures due to the pandemic. These organizations support community engagement, tourism and recreation through a variety of attractions, experiences, programs, events and activities. The Community Building Fund is offering two streams – Operating and Capital. Learn more about the Community Building Fund

The Community Building Fund – Operating stream provides support for non-profits and Indigenous communities in the community arts and culture, heritage, tourism, sport and recreation sectors to help sustain their operations and create new attractions, experiences and events.

Applications will be accepted starting March 31, 2021.

If your organization and grant request are not eligible for funding through the Community Building Fund - Operating stream, we encourage you to explore additional funding opportunities offered by the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries and Grants Ontario.

Plan your application

Before starting an application, review all required application questions and requirements, as well as the type of costs you can apply for. Gather the right information and documents prior to filling out the application.

Review the Community Building Fund - Operating stream application questions.

Eligibility

Review the Community Building Fund – Operating stream eligibility requirements and OTF’s Eligibility Policy to determine if your organization is eligible.

Organization eligibility

Organizations applying to the Community Building Fund - Operating stream need to have a significant presence in the arts and culture, heritage, tourism, sport and recreation sectors, and operate facilities and/or deliver experiences or programs in Ontario that are open to the public, 

and must meet one of the following:

  • A charitable organization or public foundation registered as a charity by the Canada Revenue Agency
  • An organization incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation without share capital in a Canadian jurisdiction
  • A First Nation / Métis / Inuit or other Indigenous community

Ineligible organizations include:

  • Any Municipality or municipal agencies
  • A conservation authority
  • An unincorporated branch or chapter of a registered charity or incorporated not-for-profit organization
  • A for-profit organization
  • A university/college, hospital, school and or an agency of one of these organizations
  • An agency of the provincial or federal government
  • Organizations outside Ontario

Organization requirements

All organizations, with the exception of First Nations, must meet OTF’s financial statement and Board of Director’s requirements. 

Please ensure your organization meets all of the following criteria: 

  • Provides appropriate financial statements based on your organization’s total revenues and fiscal year end date, according to the financial statement requirements.
  • Board of Directors meets OTF requirements.
  • OTF has no concerns with your organization's OTF granting history, for all past applications, either approved or declined.

Financial statement requirements

While all organizations must meet OTF’s Financial Statement requirements, Municipalities, First Nation, Métis, Inuit or other Indigenous communities are not required to submit financial statements with their grant application.

  • Organizations must upload their most recent completed financial statements based on their fiscal year-end date and total revenues. 
  • Financial statements must be completed within 12 months of the organization’s most recent fiscal year-end.
  • For the December 8, 2021 deadline:
    • 2019 financial statements are required (including 2018 comparative details) if your organization’s fiscal year end date falls between December 1 and December 31.
    • 2020 financial statements are required (including 2019 comparative details) if your organization’s fiscal year end date falls between January 1 and November 30.
  • Additional information pertaining to a surplus or deficit will need to be uploaded along with the financial statements, if applicable.
  • Organizations must have at least one year of financial history from their incorporation or charitable registration date based on their organization's fiscal year-end date.
  • Financial statements must be Board approved (draft statements are not accepted).
Review additional financial statements requirements

Organization and grant requirements

While all organizations must meet OTF’s financial statement and Board of Director’s requirements, Municipalities, First Nation, Métis, Inuit or other Indigenous communities are not required to submit financial statements or Board of Director information with their grant application.

Please ensure your grant application meets all the following criteria:

  • All questions, acknowledgments and attachments are complete.
  • Complies with the Eligibility Policy, except where otherwise noted in the Community Building Fund – Capital stream requirements.
  • Complies with OTF policies.
  • Strongly aligns with your chosen Community Building Fund - Capital stream outcome(s).
  • Provides appropriate financial statements based on your organization’s total revenues and fiscal year end date, according to the financial statement requirements.
  • Board of Directors is current and meets OTF requirements.
  • OTF has no concerns with your organization's OTF granting history, for all past applications, either approved or declined.

Board of directors requirements

All organizations must meet OTF’s Board of Directors requirements. However, Municipalities, First Nations, Métis, Inuit or other Indigenous communities are not required to submit Board of Director information with their grant application.

Please ensure your organization meets all of the following criteria:

  • Your organization has a minimum of three board members with active terms. Their terms need to be active as of the application deadline date.
  • At least 50% of the board must maintain an arm’s length relationship to each other. This means that board members and executives are not married or related to each other and do not work as business partners or are in another relationship where interests may be compromised.

Application process

The application process involves various steps for organizations.

Application submission

Visit the grant application deadline page. Once the online application portal opens, you can begin the application. 

Review and assessment

OTF staff will first review your application as well as information available on your organization’s website and social media accounts, to make sure you are eligible to apply, that your application is complete, and is a fit with the grant requirements. Our experienced staff and local volunteers score your application against the grant assessment criteria.

Recommendation and selection

Local Grant Review Team volunteers make funding recommendations. OTF’s Board of Directors approve these recommendations.

Notification

The final list of approved grants is sent to Ontario Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) to give them the opportunity to congratulate successful recipients directly, when possible. OTF then notifies all applicants of the final decision.

Orientation

Successful applicants take part in a mandatory orientation session with their OTF Program Manager.

Confirmation

Successful applicants are sent an email with their OTF Contract.

Activation
  • Grants are activated once OTF contracts are signed and returned electronically. 
  • Next, in order for OTF to release the first grant payment through electronic funds transfer (EFT), the organization’s banking information needs to be confirmed in OTF’s online portal. 
What happens during your grant?
  • Reporting and Monitoring: In addition to grantee engagements as required, grantees submit a final report when the grant is completed. This covers the achievement of the grant. 
  • Completion: After OTF staff approves the final report and the grant recognition requirements are met, the grant hold-back funds are released, and the grant is closed. 
  • Grantee compliance: A random sample of grants are subject to a Grantee Compliance Audit. Grants can be audited for compliance at any point within the grant’s life, or after the grant has been closed.

Operating stream outcomes

Organizations can apply for funding from the Community Building Fund - Operating stream to remain viable to operate facilities and/or deliver experiences or programs to Ontarians in the short and longer term.

  • Transform operations to meet public health requirements  
  • Maintain viability to operate facilities and/or deliver experiences or programs in the short and medium term 
  • Ensure sustainability to operate facilities and/or deliver experiences or programs in the long term 
  • Adapt to new ways of working  
  • Meet the changing needs of program and service delivery 
  • Enhance visitor and participant experiences

How much can organizations apply for?

Organizations can apply for up to 80% of their total eligible operating expenses or up to 100% for First Nation, Métis, Inuit or other Indigenous communities with a project maximum based on total eligible operating expenses (based on 2019 financials).

  • Organizations with total eligible operating expenses of $1,000,000 or more are eligible for up to a maximum of $250,000. 
  • Organizations with total eligible operating expenses of $500,000 to $999,999 are eligible for a maximum of $100,000. 
  • Organizations with total eligible operating expenses of less than $500,000 are eligible for up to a maximum of $50,000. 

Total request amount: A minimum of $10,000.  

Grant terms are six or twelve months. 

Eligible expenses

Grant expenses cover eligible costs you need to sustain operations.
  • Salaries: Salaries, mandatory employment related costs and employee benefits for staff positions. 
  • Innovation and web/virtual costs: Innovation and web/virtual costs involved in the delivery of products, programs and experiences. 
  • Equipment: Equipment to meet the changing needs of the organization, its programs and services, and to adapt to new ways of working e.g. equipment to meet changing technology, health and safety, personal protective equipment (PPE), and service delivery requirements.   
  • Rent/Lease: Rent or lease costs for office or programming space. 
  • Fixed Operating Costs: Operational expenditures such as utilities, telephone and communication services. 

Only expenses that are incurred in Ontario are eligible for funding.

  • Operating expenses incurred before the approval of the Community Building Fund – Operating stream grant application
  • Any expenses not directly paid by the recipient organization
  • Harmonized Sales Tax or refundable expenses (e.g. security deposits)
  • Legal, audit, insurance or interest fees
  • Mortgage payments
  • Translation services
  • Fixed capital assets
  • In-kind contributions
  • Pre-existing budget deficits/long-term debt financing
  • Any expenses covered by another funding source

Application assessment

Applications will be reviewed and scored based on specific requirements for the Community Building Fund - Operating stream.

In addition to the scoring criteria below, ensure your grant request aligns with the following four Community Building Fund – Operating stream requirements:

  • Impacts identified are COVID-19 related
  • Project aligns with Community Building Fund – Operating stream outcomes
  • Request amount aligns with organization’s total eligible operating expenses
  • Financial Workbook includes eligible expenses only

Scoring criteria

1) Significance of organization in the arts and culture, heritage, tourism, sport and recreation sectors and in its community

Only organizations with a significant presence in the arts and culture, heritage, tourism, sport and recreation sectors are eligible for the Operating stream.

All organizations with a significant presence in the sport and recreation sector must operate a facility used for physical activity and/or deliver physical activity experiences and programs.  

Scoring weight: 20%

Key areas of your application to focus on:

  • Organization has a significant presence in the arts and culture, heritage, tourism, sport and recreation sectors that enhances the quality of life for residents and provides visitor experiences, recreational opportunities, cultural programming, jobs and/or services in communities across the province. 
  • Organization operates facilities and/or delivers experiences or programs that are critical to the community and demonstrates community benefit.  
  • Organization contributes to social and economic well-being as a community builder, key heritage, sport and recreation, tourism, culture attraction, job contributor, community partner and/or service provider.  

2) Organization supports diverse, under-represented, and/or vulnerable populations

The Operating stream seeks to support diverse communities and under-represented populations in the arts and culture, heritage, tourism, sport and recreation sectors. In the application, tell us how your organization’s purpose and/or programming positively impacts populations experiencing socio-economic, geographic, cultural and/or racial barriers.

Scoring weight: 10%

Key areas of your application to focus on:

  • Organization has clearly demonstrated that its purpose and/or programming positively impacts populations experiencing socio-economic, geographic, cultural and/or racial barriers.

3) Impact of COVID-19 on organization

Based on the impacts to your organizations, in the application please elaborate how your organization’s ability to operate facilities and/or deliver experiences or programs has been impacted.

Scoring weight: 35%

Key areas of your application to focus on:

  • Organization demonstrated how COVID-19 has impacted their ability to operate facilities and/or deliver experiences or programs. 
  • Organization demonstrated a minimum 50% loss of revenues since previous fiscal year due to COVID-19 and/or 50% loss of attendance prior to the impacts of COVID-19. 
  • Organization demonstrated increased operating costs due to COVID-19. 
  • Organization is experiencing financial strain and has exhausted other funding options.  
  • The facilities, experiences or programs run by the organization were fully or partially shut down due to COVID-19 and have reopened or have plans to re-open.

4) Strategy supports the viability of the organization

Based on the impact(s) identified and outcome(s) selected, how will your organization use these funds to remain viable in order to operate facilities and/or deliver experiences or programs to Ontarians in the short and longer term?

Scoring weight: 35%

Key areas of your application to focus on:

  • Organization demonstrated that the funds will help organization remain viable in the short and medium term to operate facilities and/or deliver experiences or programs.
  • Organization described a reasonable approach to sustain/resume operations and understand what’s needed to support their opening or re-opening plan.
  • The financial workbook is reasonable and aligned to the Community Building Fund outcomes selected.
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