For applicants

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Funding opportunities

We fund activities that align with at least one of our three focus areas: Communities, Reconciliation and Climate. Acknowledging our special relationship with our home city, a separate funding stream with its own criteria is available for Montreal-based organizations. Our Capacity Strengthening stream supports partners to bolster organizational capacity and leadership, as well as networks serving sectors as a whole. On this page, we hope to provide you with everything you need to know to submit an application, including an overview of how to apply, helpful resources and what to expect after you have submitted your proposal.

Applying for funding

We know that applying for funding can take a lot of time and resources. In recognition of this challenge, we have designed a two-stage process meant to minimize the time that we ask of organizations to submit. Stage 1 consists of selecting the focus area your initiative is most aligned with, and submitting a short-form application that helps us determine if there is enough alignment between the proposed work and our funding priorities for the focus area to merit a next step. If there is enough alignment, we will invite you to submit a more detailed Stage 2 application. Our aim in this process is to ensure that only projects that are closely aligned with our funding priorities are required to undergo a lengthier review.

We encourage you to read our What We Fund pages and the application resources we have shared before you apply. You can also learn more about the kinds of projects we do and do not fund in our Applicant FAQ below.

If you have questions about how your work might fit with our funding priorities, you may book a 15-minute virtual office hours appointment with one of our staff.

The application process

Applications follow six steps: 1)Engage and inform, 2) register, 3) short application, 4) strategic review, 5) detailed application, 6)due diligence. A final decision is made by our Board.
Applications follow six steps: 1)Engage and inform, 2) register, 3) short application, 4) strategic review, 5) detailed application, 6)due diligence. A final decision is made by our Board.

Most major funding proposals must first submit a short-form application and, if invited, a detailed application. Both are reviewed by staff before a final decision is made by our Board. This process can last up to four to six months.

Application resources

We invite you to book a virtual office hours appointment with a member of our team if you have questions about how your work might align with our focus areas.

Book an office hours appointment

The guide provides information on the types of funding partnerships we engage in and how we assess proposals.

Funding and Partnerships Guide

The application orientation webinar provides an overview of our focus areas as well as the new process for applying for McConnell Foundation funding. 

View webinar

This document provides instructions and a sample application for our focus area funding streams

Sample application form

Organizations can use this excel budget template to detail the revenues and expenses for their proposed work.

Download template

How to apply

Our focus areas and Montreal funding streams follow two different application processes. Read below to learn more about how to apply.


Focus areas funding  (Communities, Reconciliation, Climate)

Stage 1: Short proposal

Stage 1 allows for a preliminary assessment of the initiative you are proposing for funding. During this stage, you will select a primary focus area, and there is also space to demonstrate how your proposed work might connect to other focus areas.

This stage requests that you respond to six questions and submit the funding request and total project cost. Answers in English are limited to 1,400 characters. Les réponses en français se limitent à 1,775 charactères chacune. We aim to respond to you in less than a month: either with a decision, or with a short phone call or email if we need to learn a little more.

You can view our sample application form for additional details.

Stage 2: Detailed proposal

If your short proposal is successful, you will be invited to submit a detailed proposal indicating the scale and scope of the proposed work, methods of evaluation, answers to specific focus area questions and a detailed budget.

Our staff then reviews your Stage 2 application, and will reach out for a phone call to kick off due diligence. That staff member will be your point of contact and will keep you updated as we move through the due diligence process. The due diligence period for Stage 2 applications varies (three to five months usually) and staff will share updates and timeframes relevant to your proposal.

You can view our sample application form for additional details.



Capacity strengthening funding

We currently support capacity strengthening in three ways: 1) as part of our focus area funding, 2) for initiatives that benefit the sector, and 3) Innoweave. Our resources for dedicated Capacity Strengthening initiatives are limited, as such, we do not currently have a direct application for this type of funding. However costs related to Capacity Strengthening can be factored into applications submitted under our focus area priorities.


Montreal funding

The McConnell Foundation has been supporting Montreal-based organizations since our founding in 1937, and we remain deeply committed to those roots. We allocate approximately $2 million annually to Montreal-based organizations for capital campaigns and the revitalization of heritage buildings for use by the social sector. Applicants for Montreal funding are required to submit a short-form application along with budgetary information. Funding decisions are approved once a year in the spring.

View our Application Guidelines for Montreal Organizations to learn about eligibility requirements and assessment criteria.


To apply

All proposals must be submitted via our Application and Reporting Portal so that they may be reviewed by our team. Please do not send your proposal by email or mail, as these will not be considered.



If you are a Canadian qualified donee (such as a registered charity* or a municipality), a non-profit organization or a non-qualified donee (NQD) as defined by CRA you are eligible for funding from McConnell as long as the activities of your project align with our funding priorities and take place in Canada.

Financial contributions to non-profit organizations without charitable status can be made either through a fiduciary (trustee) organization,** or through a direct agreement with the organization as an NQD.

* Note that non-profit organizations do not automatically receive charitable status, and many choose not to apply for it. For more information about becoming a registered charity, see the Canada Revenue Agency’s publications on this topic.

** See CRA guidelines on establishing a fiduciary relationship with an eligible charity.

See our Funding and Partnership Guide for more information about the types of agreements we enter into with partners.

Aside from the Montreal funding stream, which has its own criteria, we do not consider requests:

  • that are part of a general fundraising campaign
  • to reduce deficits
  •  for university or hospital endowments
  •  for annual operating funds or other recurring costs, unless directly linked to one of our focus areas and the success of the proposed project (see Funding and Partnerships Guide for more details)
  • involving partisan political activities
  • involving strictly religious purposes or activities
  • for purely academic or basic research
  • for organizations or projects based outside of Canada
  • for international development initiatives
  • for projects advancing nature-based solutions such as: reforestation and tree planting, nature conservation or biodiversity preservation
  • for organizational emergency needs
  • from for-profit organizations (except in rare and specific situations)
  • for private schools

Generally, we do not consider requests in which the primary activity is* :

  • the production of a film, video, or publication
  • a conference, workshop, or seminar
  • training, scholarships, or subsidies*Although any of the above can be part of a larger scale project or program

For organizations considering applying to the Montreal funding stream:

In addition to funding Montreal-based projects that advance our three focus areas, we allocate approximately $2 million annually to Montreal charities. Montreal funding is available for major campaign support (to a maximum of $1 million over five years per request), support for the revitalization of heritage buildings for use by charities and nonprofits, and support for healthcare institutions participating in Nourish Leadership programming.

We do not consider requests:

    • for major campaigns at private educational institutions, hospitals and healthcare centres
    • for major campaigns that focus solely on research, programming, annual operating funds or other recurring costs
    • from for-profit organizations (except in rare and specific situations)
    • to reduce accumulated capital or operating deficits
    • for endowments
    • involving partisan political activities
    • involving strictly religious purposes or activities
    • for purely academic or basic research
    • for which organizations or projects are based outside of Canada
    • for international development
    • for emergency needs.

Eligibility criteria for post-secondary institutions

The McConnell Foundation has a long history of partnering with academic institutions, most recently through the now closed Re-Code initiative (2014-2022) to advance positive social impact in their surrounding communities. Through our focus areas of communities, reconciliation and climate, we aim to engage directly with communities and, as a result, to target our support primarily towards community-led organizations. However, in certain circumstances, funding an academic partner may be necessary to achieve community objectives.

Note: The Foundation does not fund purely academic research. We occasionally fund research that is a component of a larger scale project or program that aligns with our focus area funding strategies.

Requirements for academic partners seeking funding for community engagement projects: 

    • The academic partner has specific knowledge and/or skills that are essential for the project’s success.
    • The academic partner has a history of engagement and knowledge of the realities in the community or communities it seeks to engage.
    • The academic partner has strong community support, evidenced by signed/official agreements in place with community partners.
    • The focus of the project is on community impact. Any research associated with the project must be applied, with results to be used by the partner organizations and/or their stakeholders.
    • Community partners are active collaborators as well as beneficiaries to the work.

Academic institutions seeking funding for community engagement projects should apply under the focus area funding streams on our application portal.

Amounts and deadlines

Focus area and Capacity Strengthening funding: 

There are no application deadlines and applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis. Application deadlines are used only when the Foundation requests proposals for specific projects. In these cases, we would indicate the application deadline on our website and on the application portal.

Montreal funding:
While there are no deadlines to apply for the Montreal funding stream, all applications are reviewed yearly in the spring. 

While there is no pre-established funding limit, multi-year funding of around $200K-300K is considered a modest partnership, $500K- $600K is a medium partnership, and $800K+ is considered a larger partnership. Funding typically spans two to three years and occasionally as long as five years. We encourage organizations to apply according to the need and opportunity they have identified. Conversations with potential partners regarding project budgets are part of all application review processes.

To see projects we have recently funded, visit our funding database.

Focus area funding: 

Proposals are submitted in two phases:

1) a preliminary application containing six questions about your work and four budget questions and, if approved,

2) a detailed application form with questions related to your selected focus area. In general, applicants will be notified regarding their eligibility for a Stage 2 application within a month.

The complete review process, from application to approval, can last up to four to six months. Sometimes a proposed project might benefit from being linked with other partners, complementary projects or investment strategies. In these cases, the process can take considerably longer.


Montreal applications are only required to submit a short-form proposal. All applications are reviewed annually in the spring.

Focus areas

We suggest reading the Funding and Partnerships Guide, focus area webpages, and our sample application form to determine if your project aligns with our funding priorities. We also hosted an orientation webinar to help prospective applicants navigate our process.

If you still have questions about whether your work aligns with our focus areas, you may book a 15-minute conversation with a member of our program staff here.

You can also contact us if you have a question about our processes and prefer to correspond by email. We will be happy to direct the inquiry to the best person.

When you submit an application in our Application and Reporting Portal you will be required to select a primary focus area. However, there is additional space for you to describe how your proposed work connects to other focus area(s) within the application form. If your proposal connects to more than one focus area it will be reviewed by staff from each of those areas.


We see MEL as a process  to understand what’s working, what isn’t, and make adjustments, to improve impact. We consider MEL as integral to an initiative’s success, and not an “extra” that is tacked on at the end. As early as the application stage, we encourage you to start thinking about how your project might benefit from a MEL plan.

There is no single right approach to MEL. In preparing your application, think about:

    • What do you want to learn?
    • How will you know if your initiative is working or not?
    • Who will be involved in the process?
    • Who would benefit from the lessons generated?
    • How will you integrate and act on those lessons?

Asking questions like these can help you determine what approach to MEL will be most relevant, and in what form the resulting information will be most useful to your organization or project.

MEL doesn’t have to be burdensome. The method for the evaluation should be considered based on what is appropriate for you and your organization.  There are Indigenous approaches and culturally responsive evaluations approaches that may be more appropriate for you. In encouraging initiatives to integrate MEL we are not aiming to add unhelpful work, but rather to encourage and provide resources to learn and adjust for the benefit of your work and those you serve.

Ready to apply? Log-on to our Application and Reporting Portal to submit your proposal.