General FAQs

What does the Investment Readiness Program fund? 

The IRP’s goal is to help social enterprises move towards being investment-ready. Funding can be used to research, launch, design, measure and scale up your social enterprise and move it towards being able to accept investment. Funds are intended to be used to access outside expert advice or services or create dedicated staff capacity. Examples include: 

  • Exploring a new business idea or developing a business plan to test feasibility
  • Creating a marketing plan to reach new audiences and increase revenue
  • Planning new products or services to grow revenue
  • Preparing the documentation needed to approach potential investors as you move towards taking on investment capital 

The funds are not eligible for use towards core operating costs. They should move your enterprise forward along the spectrum from idea to investment-ready. 

Watch the recording of our webinar on the IRP for more details.

What is the purpose of the IRP?

The IRP can help with a project to enable your social purpose organization to eventually make a separate application to take out a loan or to take an equity investment from a social finance intermediary in the future. 

The IRP can help by offering non-repayable capital, workshops, business development programs and many other learning opportunities.

What is a social enterprise?

An organization or program that is mission-driven, aims to sell goods or services to earn revenue, while also achieving positive social, cultural or environmental results. This positive impact grows alongside the success of the enterprise. A for-profit corporation must be a social enterprise to be considered a social purpose organization for the IRP.

What do expert service providers do? 

Expert service providers offer a range of resources, expertise and coaching that align with the needs of social purpose organizations as they progress from idea and profit. Expert service providers can help with many different things, like business ideation, drafting a business plan, preparing for procurement, or finding new audiences. Through the IRP, the Government of Canada has funded several organizations across Canada to get ready to act as expert service providers to help social purpose organizations. In most cases, IRP funding  will be used to purchase the services of an expert service provider, whether from the Government of Canada’s IRP list, or not.

What are the amounts of funding available? 

Social purpose organizations were able to request between  $10,000 and $100,000. Please note there is limited funding available. Applications requesting more or less than the permissible amount will not be considered.


Can I apply to the IRP? 

CFC held two rounds of IRP funding, the second of which closed on October 9th, 2020. There will be no more rounds of funding. 

CFC and the community foundation network are one of five national organizations delivering the Government of Canada’s IRP funding. To learn more about other Readiness Support Partners’ funding programs and application periods, please visit their websites. You can also visit the IRP website at


When can I expect to be notified of the results? 

Social purpose organizations who apply to the second IRP deadline of October 9th 2020 can expect to receive their results early in the new year. 

How will IRP funding decisions be made? 

All eligible applications will be evaluated based on shared criteria by either the community foundation serving your area, or by CFC, depending on the location of the applicant.

What are the criteria by which applications will be evaluated? 

To be considered, applicants must meet IRP eligibility criteria, provide the required supporting documentation and describe their social enterprise’s social, environmental or cultural impact or desired impact. They must also successfully demonstrate: 

  • Being a solid and stable organization
  • How revenue is generated through the sale of goods and services. Or there is a plan to do so?
  • The viability and feasibility of their proposed project to move towards investment readiness
  • Realistic timelines for the implementation of their proposed project 
  • An appropriate project budget, aligned with the amount requested
  • CFC encourages applications from rural areas, Indigenous-led and focused-organizations,  organizations led by and focused on racialized people, linguistic minorities, newcomers to Canada, and other minority communities.
  • Potential impact of the project on the community and the organizations

Funding Usage

What can IRP non-repayable capital be used for? 

Social purpose organizations can use IRP funding for any activity that will help their social enterprise move along the spectrum towards being ready for investment. This includes things like business ideation to exploration, to activities that encourage growth, to preparing to seek investment. For a full list of eligible and ineligible costs, please see the CFC IRP Program Guidelines and application form (available in the resource library on the main IRP page).

Does the IRP fund operations or provide core funding?

The primary objective of the IRP is not to support the basic “core” organizational and administrative costs of a social purpose organization. The IRP is designed to support access to new services and tools that will catalyze advancement through a special project or initiative. Approved budgets can include a reasonable (up to 20%) allocation to related organizational costs such as staffing, administration, rent and other overhead.

Am I required to use IRP non-repayable capital to hire expert service providers listed on the Government of Canada’s website? 

Social purpose organizations interested in engaging the services of expert service providers are welcome to work with suppliers listed by the Government of Canada or a trusted and reliable supplier of their choice.

FAQs for Successful and Unsuccessful Applicants

What was the selection process? 

Applications were evaluated by local evaluation committees, called Regional Partners, led by a Community Foundation. The Community Foundation leaders partnered with local experts in social finance, social innovation, social enterprise and the non-profit sector to evaluate applications. Local decision-making was paramount to this process, however, certain general criteria was used, including eligibility of proposed activities, feasibility of proposed activities (and how they pertain to investment readiness), communities and populations served through the project and the proposed use of funds (budget size and plan). 

What about COVID and the IRP?

  • Can the funds go towards operating costs?

Successful applicants will be made aware of policies for the allocation of IRP funds through their Regional Partner or CFC, where applicable.

  • Does this have to do with the GoC emergency fund?

CFC was recently named as a partner in the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund. This is a different fund entirely, offering immediate relief to qualified donees impacted by COVID-19. The IRP was planned prior to this emergency, and thus is it not an immediate relief package. 

Why wasn’t my application successful?

There are many reasons why an application may not have been selected; the IRP through CFC was competitive and could not fund all of the strong applications this first round. Many applications were rejected as the project focused on a one-time event, a one-time investment or a general renovation/improvement to the office spaces. IRP funds should be used for an ongoing and sustainable project, that will help SPOs develop a source of revenue or increase their source of revenue for years to come. A single fundraising event or new desks does not accomplish this goal.

For more information about your specific application, you can consult your Regional Partner. They may be able to provide insight, however, they are not obliged to do so.

Are some areas more competitive than others?

Regional Partnerships were selected and allocated resources based on population, thus making every Regional Partnership more or less equal in terms of percentage of applications they could fund. 

I’ve been selected. Now what?

After you have signed an agreement and you wish to make changes you must submit a project modification form and request permission to modify your project timeline. Your Regional Partner or CFC will reach out to you with information specific to your application, and should you decide to accept IRP funding, will work with you to make the funds timely and useful while upholding previously-established goals and plans.

Why didn’t I get the full amount I requested?

Certain Regional Partners decided to partially fund applications, for example, to allow them to carry out a certain aspect of the proposed project. For more details, contact your Regional Partner.

Can I get feedback on my application?

This is up to the Regional Partner, some may be willing to discuss your application with you while others do not have the capacity to do so. We recommend reaching out for a discussion, though be aware that the Regional Partners are not obliged to discuss specific applications with applicants.

Can I get support from the IRP in other, non-monetary ways?

Yes! Ecosytem Mobilizers and Expert Service Providers were selected by the Government of Canada to provide supports and services to social purpose organizations in non-monetary ways. They offer trainings, courses, resources and many other important opportunities for social purpose organizations, and many have generated materials dedicated to resilience and capacity-building during COVID. Go to for more information on these partners.

Can I still access the Expert Service Providers even if my project wasn’t chosen?

Yes! Many offer both free and fee-based services, resources and other supports for social purpose organizations.