Seed Grant

Apply for funding to help your organization build resilience and capacity to deliver programs and services.

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Next deadline

June 26, 2024 at 5 PM ET (Closed)

Term length

6 or 12 months

Amount awarded (per year)

Minimum $10,000

Maximum $100,000

Build capacity and prepare for future programming

Seed grants help organizations build resilience and enhance their ability to deliver programs and services that directly benefit community members. Applicants can apply for funding to support organizational planning, pilot a new program, and build their capacity to plan for future programs and services.

The grant application period is May 29, 2024 to June 26, 2024 at 5 PM ET.

Who is eligible to apply

OTF grants support the work of eligible non-profit organizations to help them deliver direct community-based programs and services in Ontario. 

Review the eligibility criteria below to help you determine if you are a fit with who we fund.

Interested applicants must:

  • deliver programs and services in one of four sectors: sports and recreation, arts and culture, environment, and human and social services.
  • have a primary purpose, presence, and reputation for delivering community-based programs and services with direct community benefit in one of OTF’s 16 geographic catchment areas in Ontario.
  • demonstrate the financial and organizational capacity to manage OTF funds, and deliver and complete the proposed project as per OTF’s Financial Need and Health of Applicants policy.
  • demonstrate that it is the appropriate organization or community to carry out the proposed project.

In addition to these requirements, applicants must be one of the following: 

Non-profit organizations
The following types of organizations may be eligible for funding. They are required to have at least one full year of registration and/or incorporation and operating.

  • A charitable organization registered with the Canada Revenue Agency
  • An organization incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation without share capital in a Canadian jurisdiction

Indigenous communities
The following Indigenous communities may be eligible for funding:

  • A First Nation
    • First Nations seeking funding for their libraries must apply on behalf of the library.
  • A Chartered Community Council, operating under the Métis Nation of Ontario 
  • An Inuit community

Municipalities, libraries and local services boards

  • A municipality with a population of 20,000 or less, county library boards and local services boards serving populations of 20,000 or less are only eligible to apply for funding in two of OTF’s Funding Priorities:
    • Foster physically active lifestyles; or 
    • Enriching lives through arts, culture and heritage 
  • A municipality with a population of 20,000 or less must apply on behalf of its cultural or recreation agencies, including municipal libraries and museums.
  • Municipalities with a population of over 20,000 are not eligible for funding. 

Learn more about eligibility criteria for applicants.


A collaboration of two or more organizations may be eligible if the lead organization in the collaborative meet the requirements of OTF’s Eligibility Policy. The lead organization will be required to accept responsibility for the application and administration of the grant, including financial and reporting accountability.

Collaboratives are required to include a formal, signed collaborative agreement with their grant application. Learn about Collaborative Agreements.

Religious entities 
An organization that is a religious entity or a faith-based group and is a registered charity or not-for-profit corporation may be eligible for funding. The organization needs to provide direct programs and services to the community at large which are not religious activities and do not include a requirement to participate in any dimensions of faith. 

Learn more about eligibility criteria for religious entities.

Ineligible applicants and activities

OTF funding is available to applicants that meet specific requirements related to their mission and mandate, how they operate, their proposed projects and the community need. Find out who and what is not eligible for OTF funding.

Use the application checklist

The grant application involves specific information about applicants and their proposed projects. The submitted information helps us evaluate if all eligibility criteria are met and eligible projects are then scored for overall strength and clarity.

Along with the application checklist: 

Organization details

  • Incorporation number and year of incorporation (not-for-profits only)
  • Charitable registration number and year of registration (registered charities only)
  • Business number (for all applicants)

Financial information

  • Financial statements for your organization's 2 recent fiscal years, which need to be completed within 5 months of your fiscal year-end
  • Accumulated surplus and deficit documentation (if applicable)

All applicants, except for Municipalities and First Nations, need to comply with and submit financial information that meet Financial Statement Requirements.

Governance information

  • List of current board of directors (required to have at least three members, with 50% of members at arm’s length relationship to each other) 
  • List of current senior staff, Director level and above
  • By-laws 

All applicants, except for Municipalities and First Nations, need to provide governance information.

Not eligible? If applicants do not meet OTF’s requirements, their application will not proceed for a full review.

For each of the following items, use the grant application questions to understand all requirements:

  • Identify your project objective
  • Prepare your project plan
  • Identify budget items that align to your project plan  
  • If applicable, obtain quotes and estimates for goods and services valued above $5,000
  • If applicable, provide photos of non-fixed equipment needed to deliver your project
  • For collaborative applications, obtain a formal, signed Collaborative Agreement. Learn more about what to include in your Collaborative Agreement.

Granting Portal

OTF requires all grant applications to be submitted through its Granting Portal. Before starting an application, you will be asked to complete a short questionnaire to ensure you are a fit for this grant stream.

Final reminders

  • Start your application as soon as it becomes available and work with your team to finalize requirements.  
  • Once submitted, your application is final and cannot be changed. 
  • Applications submitted after the deadline will not be accepted.
  • Learn how OTF makes application decisions.

What we fund

 Explore what we fund below through this grant stream.

OTF invests in projects that help build healthy and vibrant communities. OTF’s funding priorities focus on areas that identify the types of change OTF invests in. Select the funding priority that best meets the goal of your project:   

  • Foster physically active lifestyles
  • Help people build stronger connections and a deeper sense of belonging in their community 
  • Enrich lives through arts, culture and heritage
  • Support youth to develop stronger social, emotional and leadership skills
  • Support participation in the conservation and restoration of the environment
  • Enable economically vulnerable people to meet their basic needs and/or strengthen their financial stability

Explore these priorities as part of OTF’s Grant Investment Framework. If projects do not fit with the Funding Priority selected in the grant application, the application will be declined.

As you plan your application, choose the main objective for your project:

  • Create or adapt organizational strategy to build resilience and capacity to deliver programs and services.
  • Prepare for the future by developing or adapting digital technology to deliver programs and services.
  • Enhance staff and/or volunteer skills to deliver programs and services.
  • Design and/or pilot an innovative program or service to address a community need.

When selecting your objective, think about what you want to achieve with your project and how it will directly impact your community.

You can apply for funding to cover eligible costs that will enable you to deliver your project. Prepare and submit a budget that meets application requirements. See the sample project budget.

Eligible amounts

Your project budget needs to be a minimum of $10,000 and cannot exceed $100,000.

Budget categories

For each Direct Personnel Costs and Direct Non-Personnel Costs, you can have up to five budget items. In the project budget of the application, include a short description for each item and a detailed cost breakdown.

  • Direct Personnel Costs: OTF will support salaries, mandatory employment-related costs and employee benefits for staff positions funded specifically to carry out the project.
  • Direct Non-Personnel Costs – Purchased Service 
  • Direct Non-Personnel Costs – Workshops/Meetings
  • Direct Non-Personnel Costs – Supplies and Materials 
  • Direct Non-Personnel Costs – Non-Fixed Equipment
  • Direct Non-Personnel Costs – Travel
  • Overhead and Administration Costs 
    • OTF will support Overhead and Administrative Costs directly associated with the funded project up to a maximum of 15% of the total budget.
    • These do not include the direct costs to run or deliver the project, including the staff or equipment associated with the project. It does include a portion of regular operational expenses that can be attributed specifically to this project. For more information, refer to the Eligibility Policy

Quotes and estimates

For each goods and services valued above $5,000, a minimum of one quote or estimate is required. However, OTF prefers to receive two or more quotes or estimates to help your organization establish accurate budget amounts and demonstrate the best value for money.

Multiple sub-contracts with a supplier on the same project:

  • Multiple sub-contracts with a supplier on the same project will be considered as a cumulative total. This means if the total of these goods and/or services exceeds $5,000, a minimum of one itemized quote or estimate (preferably two or more from different suppliers) needs to be uploaded. 
  • An itemized quote or estimate breaks down the cost of each good and service into line items.

All documentation needs to be:

  • Prepared by a third-party professional
    • For municipalities, documentation can be prepared by a specialized department within the municipality.
  • Dated and obtained within 6 months prior to the application deadline
  • Completed with information about the vendor or supplier

Ineligible costs

Certain activities and items are not eligible for funding. These include:    

  • Taxes, such as GST and HST, for which the recipient is eligible for a tax rebate, and all other costs eligible for rebates.  
  • Contingency costs: Funds that are reserved or set aside for an emergency 
  • Costs incurred before the approval of the OTF grant   
  • General capital fundraising drives and/or capital campaigns
    • Where OTF funding represents a component of a larger project, applicants must demonstrate either that the OTF funded components can be completed independently or that other funding sources have been secured, before OTF releases any funds to the grantee. If the funds to complete the project are not secured in full within one year of the signing of the Grant Contract, the grant will be rescinded.
  • Fixed equipment costs

Read the full list of what is not eligible for funding.

How we assess grant applications

Submitted applications are assessed by experienced staff and local volunteers. 

Discover OTF’s assessment criteria for grant applications to help you prepare a complete application.

Assessment criteria: Eligibility of applicants

All applicants need to: 

  • Fit with who we fund.
  • Demonstrate a primary purpose, presence, and reputation for delivering programs and services with direct community benefit in Ontario.
  • Comply with requirements around certain political activities.
  • Have the right type of complete financial statements based on its total revenues and fiscal year-end date. If needed, the application also includes required documentation for accumulated surplus and deficit
  • Have a minimum of 3 active board members as of the application deadline.
  • Provide a clear organizational structure and have proper oversight for effective management of conflict of interest and accountability.
  • Demonstrate strong financial capacity and the ability to manage the grant (if applicable, based on past OTF grants).


  • Applicants that do not meet eligibility criteria will not have their applications proceed to a full review.
  • OTF reserves the right to ask successful applicants for updated organization information at any time throughout the life of the grant.

Assessment criteria: Eligibility of projects

OTF reviews the eligibility of projects based on the following areas:

  • The project complies with eligibility requirements outlined in OTF policies and on the grant page.
  • The project fits with the Funding Priority selected.
  • The project fits with the purpose of the grant and the selected project objective.
  • The necessary documentation meets requirements.
  • The applicant has the capacity to deliver the project as outlined.

Assessment criteria: Clarity and strength of projects

Projects are evaluated and scored based on the following criteria:

Community benefit and relevance (30%)

  • The application clearly explains the fit with the selected funding priority and the selected project objective. 
  • The project responds to a community need or opportunity. 
  • The anticipated local benefits are realistic and achievable.
  • The project budget is appropriate to achieve the anticipated impact.

Project plan and feasibility (30%)

  • The project plan is clear and provides details about how the project will be implemented including the deliverables, key tasks, and timelines for the project.
  • The project plan is feasible, ready-to-go, can be completed within reasonable timelines and it demonstrates a high likelihood of success.
  • If it is a collaborative project, the collaborative is suitable to support the project’s success and the collaborative agreement clearly outlines all necessary details.

Project budget (30%)

  • The project budget is clear and the identified costs correspond with the project plan, deliverables and key tasks.
  • The costs are appropriate, reasonable and valid for the activities outlined in the project plan.
  • All funds needed for the project are secured or there is a reasonable plan to secure the remaining funds.

Program participation for populations experiencing barriers (10%)

  • The project will help populations experiencing barriers (e.g., socio-economic, geographic, cultural, gender, abilities and/or racial) to participate in the program.

What happens after you submit an application

After you submit a grant application, there are a few critical elements you should be aware of so you can begin your project efficiently and easily.

Assessing and making recommendations

  • OTF staff first review your application and information available on your organization’s website and social media accounts. 
  • We verify that your group meets eligibility criteria. 
  • If you are eligible, our experienced staff and local volunteers score your application against the project assessment criteria.
  • Local Grant Review Team volunteers make funding recommendations to the OTF Board of Directors. 
  • Learn more about how we make application decisions.

Notification of funding decision

  • The final list of approved grants is sent to Ontario Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) to give them an opportunity to congratulate successful applicants directly, when possible. 
  • All applicants are then notified of the final decision, approximately 4-5 months from the deadline date. 
  • All OTF decisions are final and there is no appeal process.

Orientation meeting

  • Successful applicants take part in a mandatory orientation meeting with an OTF Program Manager.
  • These meetings cover key expectations and requirements of the grant and need to be completed before grants can be activated.
  • As part of the orientation, groups review the Grantee Requirements.

Activating a grant

  • After the orientation meeting, the Signatory Contact for the grant receives the Grant Contract by email, along with electronic signing instructions. The contract is a legal agreement between the applicant and OTF.
  • Once the contract has been received by the Signatory Contact, they must be review it, sign it , and submit it back to OTF  within 60 days of receipt to remain valid.
  • Grants are activated once contracts are signed and returned electronically to OTF.
  • Grant payments are made through electronic funds transfer (EFT) once a grant becomes active.

During your grant

  • Reporting and monitoring
    • Grantee engagements will take place throughout the life of a grant.
    • Grantees submit a final report when the project is complete. The report covers the achievement of the project, metric, and learnings.
  • Grant recognition
    • As outlined in the Grant Recognition Requirements, grantees are to publicly recognize OTF and its funder, the Government of Ontario, at an event and through other recognition activities. 
  • Completion
    • After OTF staff approve the final report, 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.

Most common application mistakes

Review some of the most common mistakes applicants make in their applications. This information will help you prepare a grant application that meets eligibility and application requirements.

Applicant is not compliant with OTF policies

As part of the assessment process, OTF ensures that applicants comply with OTF’s granting policies:

When applicants do not meet these policies, the application will be declined.

Applicant does not fit with who we fund

Applicants are assessed according to OTF’s Eligibility Policy. When applicants do not meet these requirements, the application will not proceed to a full review.  

For example: An organization does not clearly explain that its mission and mandate is to directly deliver programs and services in Ontario. 

Responses do not include enough information

OTF receives a very high volume of grant applications. While we review and assess all submitted applications, applicants can forget to provide enough detail to give OTF a full, and clear picture of their project. This often includes:

  • Answers that don’t provide relevant information about the project and organization.
  • Missing information about how the project will be delivered.

Applications that don’t have all of the answers fully completed will be declined.

Documents are missing or incorrect

Various documentation is required as part of the application. Certain documents are commonly missed or incorrect. Here are some examples: 

  • Quotes and estimates are not submitted, are missing dates or don’t clearly go with a budget item.
  • Photos of equipment needed to deliver a project are not submitted.
  • The wrong proof of ownership documents are uploaded. (Applicable for Grow and Capital grants)
  • A lease agreement does not show a minimum of 5 years remaining at the time of application deadline. (Applicable for Grow and Capital grants)
  • Collaborative applications that are missing a complete Collaborative Agreement. (Applicable for Grow and Seed grants)

Applications that are missing documents or have incorrect documentation will be declined.

Financial documents don’t meet requirements

Wrong type of financial statements

The size of your organization’s revenue determines who should be preparing your financial statements to submit with your grant application. Most common mistakes with this requirement are for:

  • Organizations with revenues less than $99,999: Financial statements can be prepared by staff, internal bookkeeper, board member, or an accountant.
  • Organizations with revenues $100,000 or more: Financial statements need to be prepared externally and with different criteria, depending on total revenues.

Applications that contain the wrong type of financial statements will not proceed to a full review.

Review the Financial Statement Requirements.

Missing surplus or deficit information

Organizations with an accumulated surplus or deficit need to include additional documentation with the application. This information provides further explanation for staff reviewing the application. Applications that do not provide this documentation will not proceed to a full review. 

Review the Financial Statement Requirements and use the Financial Position Calculator to determine if you have an accumulated surplus or deficit. 

Incomplete or inaccurate project budget

The project budget is a critical part of the application. It shows how grant funds will be used and ensures funds are used effectively. There are a number of common mistakes related to the project budget.

Ineligible costs

Budgets often include costs that are ineligible for funding.

Budget items are not aligned to the project plan

Applicants need to clearly explain how their budget items are connected to their project and project plan. Applicants often forget to include:

  • Clear cost breakdowns for each budget item.
  • Appropriate and reasonable costs for the activities outlined in the project plan.

When budgets do not meet requirements, the application will be declined.

Applications do not explain the benefit to local community

The project is not at a community level

OTF has divided Ontario into 16 areas, called catchments, and applicants need to select one catchment area where the primary activities of the project will take place. Applications that indicate impact at a province-wide or national level will be declined. 

The community need is not clear

Ensure that you have created a link between your budget items and the benefit these will have in your community and/or for community members. For example, if your budget includes hiring a volunteer coordinator or purchasing sporting equipment explain how these items will directly benefit community. If the budget does not meet requirements, the application will be declined.

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OTF support can help

We are committed to excellent customer service and offer a broad range of complimentary resources and opportunities to help non-profit organizations. Learn how to directly apply for an OTF grant and receive the most up-to-date information about our grants.

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