A statement from Philanthropic Foundations Canada, Environment Funders Canada, Community Foundations of Canada and The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada

You can find further resources about equity principles in emergency grant making in our Lightning Talk series located in the resource library.

COVID-19 is a major test of collectivity and solidarity for Canadians. During these uncertain times, we all have a role to play. As a philanthropic community, there are several things foundations can do right now. We can help by acting quickly and collaboratively, as well as by stretching beyond our conventions and norms as organizations to adapt to the new realities imposed by COVID-19. 

With input from the charitable and nonprofit sectors, we’ve outlined five guiding principles to assist foundations in supporting their grantees through this time. We invite foundations across the country to adapt these to their context and join us in their implementation so that the organizations we fund can carry on their important work in our communities throughout and after the crisis. 

Five Guiding Principles for Supporting Grantees:

1) Be flexible, pragmatic and proactive in grant-making 

  • Convert restricted grants to unrestricted funds or, at a minimum, loosen restrictions on existing grants
  • Demonstrate flexibility on reporting timelines and deliverables
  • Accelerate payment schedules (regardless of upheavals in the market)
  • Simplify application guidelines
  • Provide unrestricted emergency grants to existing partners and expand funding scope
  • Continue whenever possible regular grant making cycles to protect the operational capacity of partners

2)   Collaborate on or contribute to emergency funds at the community and national levels as they emerge

  • Avoid duplication and red tape. Reach out to partners and look for practical ways to enhance funding on the ground
  • Amplify the essential and lead role of public health agencies and governments

3) Stretch and deploy expertise and funds to protect the capacity and resilience of nonprofit and charitable organizations

  • Offer expertise and funding tools, including endowments and assets, to support the capacity of partners to manage cash flow and preserve or augment operations during the crisis
  • Provide bridge funding, loans, equity investments, impact investments and core funding for partners to reorganize operations
  • Resource and support Indigenous leadership and organizations doing their work in the context of pre-existing health and welfare disparities and a history of pandemics in Indigenous communities
  • Take risks and invest in nonprofit organizations in new ways, with a goal to build and strengthen community-led infrastructure for a more inclusive and liveable post-recovery Canada

4)  Support Advocacy 

  • Support and amplify community-based organizations so that their needs are heard and met. This is particularly true for equity-seeking groups, notably Indigenous communities and Indigenous-led organizations, Black, people of colour, queer, and non-binary led organizations
  • Understand and support the imperative for public policy makers to deliver sustainable, equitable, just responses and programs
  • Employers, workers, women, newcomers and others need responses that bridge gaps now and that set up for a positive and progressive recovery. No one can be left behind

5) Take the long view and stay engaged  

  • Provide emergency funding AND take the long view
  • Remain open to addressing the gaps and needs that will emerge post-crisis in periods of stabilization, recovery and rejuvenation
  • Invest time and energy to notice, make visible and share with others new ways and norms of approaching our work that result in deep change and can be scaled up toward equity and justice in the months and years to come

We invite you to consider and adapt these principles to your own context, and then adopt and share them widely with your own stakeholders so they can take advantage of the measures and continue to work to their full potential and impact. Together, let’s work to give our communities the best support we can to weather this storm.  


Philanthropic Foundations Canada:
Jean-Marc Mangin, President & CEO | jmmangin@pfc.ca 

The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada:
Kris Archie,
CEO | kris@circleonphilanthropy.ca

Environment Funders Canada:
Thea Silver, Interim Executive Director | thea@environmentfunders.ca

Community Foundations of Canada:
Andrea Dicks, President | adicks@communityfoundations.ca & Andrew Chunilall, CEO | achunilall@communityfoundations.ca