McConnell Foundation: Responsive Grantmaking

The J. W. McConnell Family Foundation

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Grant amount: Unspecified amount

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program

Location of project: Canada

Location of residency: Canada

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The McConnell Foundation is a private Canadian foundation that develops and applies innovative approaches to social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges. We do so through granting and investing, capacity building, convening, and co-creation with grantees, partners and the public.

We seek to deepen the impact of our philanthropy by:

  • advancing our understanding of complex issues
  • learning and adapting as an organization
  • working with strategic intent
  • building strong relationships

Responsive Grants

Responsive grants are given to registered charities. They are a result of unsolicited applications made to the Foundation.

We support organizations whose ideas have potential for national impact. We’re interested in initiatives that seek large systems change.

We fund across Canada while remaining close to our Montreal roots. Here we continue to support institutions that serve vulnerable populations.

Other responsive granting

The Foundation sometimes encounters community organizations that are on the cutting edge of their field; they are already testing promising approaches to stuck problems and are poised to scale. While we will prioritize grants that correspond to our initiatives [see below] we will sometimes consider proposals that contribute to our broader mission of engaging Canadians in building a society that is inclusive, reconciled, sustainable and resilient—and that advances progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Foundation initiatives

  • Cities for People (increasing equality of opportunity; strengthening the civic commons; supporting urban innovation labs and networks)
  • Indigenous-focused philanthropy (reconciliation as social and economic innovation)
  • WellAhead (school-based child and youth wellbeing)
  • RECODE (supporting social innovation in post-secondary education)
  • RENEW: Energy and the Economy (shifting the economy to a sustainable state through changes to energy production, distribution and use)

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Under the Income Tax Act, we can provide grants to “qualified Canadian donees” only. Generally this means federally registered charities* and municipalities.
    • There are exceptions. Sometimes we do make grants to not-for-profits through a fiduciary (trustee) organization. If you would like to apply for support this way, please indicate so on your application.
    • * Note that not-for-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.
  • We fund projects that address our granting priorities or complement current initiatives. 


  •  The Foundation does not consider requests:     
    • to match government funding    
    • which are part of a general fundraising campaign    
    • to reduce accumulated capital or operating deficits    
    • for endowments    
    • for annual operating funds or other recurring costs, unless directly linked to a project that meets our other granting priorities    
    • involving partisan political activities    
    • involving strictly religious purposes or activities    
    • for purely academic or basic research. To learn more about our post-secondary initiative visit the RECODE program page
    • oriented to developing countries
    • for emergency needs 
  • The Foundation generally does not consider requests:
    • in which the primary activity is local. The exception are activities that respond to a pressing national social issue where there is high potential, demonstrated demand, and a clear strategy for the wider application of the project’s lessons
    • in which the primary activity is the production of a film, video, or publication (although they can be part of a larger scale project or program)
    • in which the primary activity is a conference, workshop, or seminar (although they can be part of a larger scale project or program)
    • in which the primary activity involves training, scholarships, or subsidies (although they can be part of a larger scale project or program)
    • in which the primary activity takes place outside of Canada