Foundation Grants

Every year, the Community Foundation provides approximately $300,000 in grant money to registered charities in the South Okanagan Similkameen. Consider applying for a grant to fund a project or program in your community!

Who can apply

Registered charities in the South Okanagan Similkameen, as well as some other qualified groups such as municipalities and registered amateur athletic associations, may apply. If you are not a registered charity, but are a group or association doing work that is charitable or in support of the community, we may be able to help you qualify for funding. Please contact grants@cfso.net for more information. If you’re an individual hoping to host a neighbourhood event or fund a small local project, please consider applying for a neighbourhood small grant here.

When to apply

This year’s Foundation grant cycle is now closed. The chart below details the typical timeline from application cycle through to a grant’s availability for payout.

mid-August mid-October October – November
End of November
Early January
Application cycle beginsApplication cycle ends. All applications must be received by 5pm.Grants and Community Committees review applications and make recommendations.Board of Directors approves grant recommendations. Applicants are notified.Grant payments can be made to successful applicants.

Initial Steps

  • To learn how to write a winning proposal, visit our: Grant-writing Workshop page.
  • We invite you to learn about all the different types of charities that have received funding. View our Recent Grants page.
  • Plan your application in advance by using the forms below. Please note that these documents are for planning purposes only! Please do not submit a PDF as your formal application.  When ready, you must submit your application using our online application form.

Planning Documents

Please read through the Funding Guidelines before you start your application:

If you are planning to request more than $2,000, plan your application using the long form application:

If you are planning to request less than $2,000, you can plan using the short form application:

View sample applications:

For questions or inquiries please contact grants@cfso.net.

Applying for a Grant

Note: you will only be able to complete an application during the current year’s application cycle.

Applications will only be accepted through our online application software. 

When you are ready, and the application process is open, click on Start Your Application button below.

If you applied for a grant in the past, then you will already have your organizational information in the system.  You will simply use the same email and password. If you don’t remember your password simply click the “Forgot password?” link to reset your password. Your profile is associated with the email you used last year to apply.

If you haven’t applied for a previous grant then you will click the “Create New Account” button and start to fill out your information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Grant decisions are made by a volunteer Grants Committee that reviews applications received. The Grants Committee is made up of 7 to 9 independent community members from across the South Okanagan Similkameen.  Smaller, community-specific committees may also contribute to the process by evaluating applications from their community/area and providing the Grants Committee with their non-binding recommendations.

We do not make grants for projects specifically intended to promote a specific faith or faith-based perspective.  However, faith-based organizations are encouraged to apply for projects that provide direct support or benefit to the wider community.

No. We provide grants to charities and non-profits operating within the boundaries of the RDOS.

We have more than 100 endowment funds, and all have the opportunity to assign grant criteria to their money.

Some of these endowment funds restrict granting based on geography (only Penticton, for example) and/or a field of interest (only animal welfare).

So the answer is, yes, demographics can play a role in granting decisions. However, these decisions are made based on the criteria chosen by the donors, not by the CFSOS.

The Foundation is only able to fund qualified donees as defined by Canada’s Income Tax Act. If you are not a registered charity, it is in your best interest to ensure you have a sponsoring charity in place before you submit your application. There is a form you can fill out between the 2 organizations that will be required prior to receiving funding.

If you forgot to submit your report for a previous year’s grant, please contact our office before proceeding through the application process. We will still accept your report, but your application will only be eligible for funding if the report is in before the application deadline or you have made prior arrangements with the Grants Manager.

Grant awards are generally approved at the Board meeting following the Grants Committee’s decision-making process; this Board meeting is usually held in late November. Grants are payable starting in January of the following year, assuming the project is ready to receive the funds. 

We do not release money until the charity confirms they are ready to use the money.  For example, if your project begins in March and you won’t be spending money on it until June, you will be eligible to receive the money in June. It’s important to note that you will not receive the money until you formally request the funds.

Applications are initially reviewed by Foundation staff to ensure they are complete, meet the basic requirements for applying, and include enough information to allow the Grants Committee to make informed decisions.  Staff also provide additional information to supplement the application, including a history of past grants and other background details that may assist the Grants Committee in making its decisions.  

Grants Committee members first review and rate the applications independently. Applications are ranked on merit using five key criteria that remain confidential.  This means that a seniors’ project will be ranked in direct comparison to a heritage project, for example. The individual rankings are combined by staff to create an aggregate ranking of all applications. 

The Committee then meets to discuss the specifics of who will receive grants, and for how much.  A initial review of the aggregate rankings takes place, which sometimes results in an application moving up or down the rankings list.  After this initial review, the Committee begins to make its funding recommendations. The process generally moves from the top of the rankings list downward until all available funding is allocated. 

As the Committee recommends a grant amount for an applicant, staff immediately confirm which endowment fund is available to grant for their application.  Because most endowment funds have some grant criteria, it is possible funds will not be available to grant to a specific project, even if it ranks very high on the list.  For example, if the top three projects happen to be for youth, we may run out of “youth-specific” funds after we award #1 and #2.  In that case, the third high quality youth grant request could potentially not receive funding. 

Foundation staff take the Grant Committee’s funding recommendations to the Community Impact Committee, a sub-committee of the Foundation’s Board, for review and approval. Finally, the Foundation Board confirms the Community Impact Committee’s decision.  

From application deadline date (usually mid-October) to final approval by the Foundation’s Board (usually end of November), the decision making process typically takes 7 to 8 weeks.

After the Board’s approval, all applicants (successful and unsuccessful) are notified by email. This generally happens in the first week of December.

The Foundation will accept application requests for most types of expenses.  In fact, it’s easier to consider what we won’t fund as you will see in another FAQ.

We will fund the start up of a new charity or project, wages associated with a specific program, bridge financing, capital costs, training costs, operating expenses like rent (under certain circumstances), and most other things you can think of.

It’s important for applicants to understand that the Foundation wishes to invest in change, but we recognize that change takes time.  We don’t want to be a revenue line item on your annual operating budget, but if you need an infusion of cash to get started (or stay afloat) then perhaps we can work together.

If you have plans for how to improve the long-term prospects of your charity or clients, but need funding to test the idea and move towards measurable outcomes then, again, maybe there’s a fit.

The total amount of funds available for granting is determined annually. In 2023, we had over $375,000 available to grant.  However, about 1/2 of this annual granting is pre-designated by donors.

Keep in mind that the Foundation doesn’t usually have FULL discretion with its grant decisions.  Most of our funds have some criteria that we must honour when selecting recipients.  For example, the Smith Family Fund may have $10,000 available for granting, but if Mr. & Mrs. Smith have specified animal welfare projects as their area of interest, then we can only grant to groups that fit that criteria.

• Establish or add to endowment funds
• Establish or add to operating reserves
• Projects whose primary purpose is to provide political or religious activities

In 2023, most of our grants fell in the $5,000 to $15,000 range. However, we encourage you to apply for the amount you need to successfully run your project or program.

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