Did you know that besides government and private sector funding, there are also many non-profit organizations that can help your business grow?

In this comprehensive guide, we cover ten types of non-profit organizations that provide financial and in-kind support to Ontario businesses, along with lists of specific organizations that you can reach out to for help:

At the end of this article is an infographic of 10 Non-Profit Funding Sources for Ontario Businesses.

10 non profit funding sources for ontario businesses


Associations are typically trade groups based on a specific industry or area of an industry. Their membership consists of established companies that represent an industry or sector, such as manufacturing, construction, health services, food service, and many others.

The overall objective of associations is to promote the interests of the industry they represent. This can include:

  • Serving as a go-between with various levels of government
  • Holding educational events such as seminars and workshops to advance knowledge of best practices and new techniques in the industry
  • Sponsoring (through wage subsidies) apprenticeship programs to encourage young people to enter the industry

Business Development Corporations

Business development corporations are non-profits that are funded by government and focus on economic development in rural areas and Indigenous communities.

The largest group of business development corporations in Ontario is the Community Futures Program, which has 61 offices across the province and assists rural Ontario businesses through:

  • Support for community-based projects
  • Business information and planning services
  • Access to capital for small- and medium-sized businesses and social enterprises

Centres of Excellence

Centres of excellence in Ontario are typically non-profits funded by a group of private sector companies, sometimes with additional backing by government.

The goal of these centres is to advance an industry through technological innovation and the commercialization of new technologies.

Centres of excellence support business in Ontario through:

  • Financing
  • Technical expertise
  • Talent development
  • Events

Examples of Centres of Excellence that Support Business in Ontario

Private Foundations

Private foundations are often funded by one or more corporations and are focused on advancing a particular industry through technological innovation, skills training, and a variety of other interventions.   

Private foundations support business in Ontario through:

  • Funding (grants, loans, and equity investments)
  • Education and skills training
  • Partnership development


The main objective of business-focused networks in Ontario is to foster collaboration amoung businesses in a specific industry. In addition to connecting people and businesses, some networks also provide funding for start-ups.

Networks support business in Ontario through:

  • Funding (grants and loans)
  • Education and skills training
  • Events (seminars, workshops, etc.)

Niche Non-Profits

Niche non-profits typically focus on an issue (e.g. mental health or addiction), societal challenge (e.g. climate change), audience (e.g. youth, Indigenous peoples), or geographic region in their support of businesses.  

Niche non-profits provide a wide range of services for Ontario businesses:

  • Partnership development
  • Funding (grants and loans)
  • Research collaboration

Private Sector Funds

A private sector fund is typically a contest or prize sponsored by a large corporation. They’re win-win, because in addition to providing funds for new businesses, they generate good PR for the sponsoring company.

Sector Councils

Sector councils are non-profit groups of employees, employers, educators, and governments that are focused on specific industry sectors. The board of directors for a sector council is often made up of volunteers who are leading executives in industry.

The objective of a sector council is to improve the workforce of a specific industry sector. As such, sector councils concentrate on these activities:  

  • Industry trend research
  • Creating occupational standards
  • Creating career development resources and training programs

Complete List of Sector Councils that Support Business in Ontario

Business, Administration and Sales Sector Councils


Superclusters are non-profits funded by the federal government and bring together for-profit businesses, non-profit groups, and educational institutions to help start-ups with groundbreaking ideas in cutting-edge industry sectors.

Superclusters are meant to significantly boost new job creation for Ontario while increasing Canada's overall GDP by promoting innovation and growth in every sector of business and all sizes and types of businesses.


Many universities in Ontario have programs supporting start-ups (particularly focused on tech sectors), including incubator and accelerator programs.

Ontario University Programs that Support Businesses:





Georgian College

Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre


McMaster University

The Forge


Queen’s University

Queen’s Innovation Connector (QIC) Summer Initiative Program


Fanshawe College

Leap Junction

Western University


North Bay

Canadore College



Carleton University

Lead to Win

St. Catherines

Brock University



Ryerson University

Zone Learning

Seneca College


Centennial College

ACCEL at the Centre of Entrepreneurship

George Brown College


OCAD University

The Imagination Catalyst

University of Toronto

Banting & Best Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship


University of Waterloo


Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre

St. Paul’s GreenHouse

Accelerator Centre

Wilfrid Laurier University



University of Windsor



Business owners in Ontario today have a wealth of non-profit funding sources to tap into for support. Given how competitive markets can be, these sources of grants, loans, equity investments, and in-kind support can make the difference between surviving and thriving!

Infographic of All 10 Non-Profit Funding Sources

10 non profit funding sources for ontario businesses

About the author 


Maurice (Moe) Muise learned the ins-and-outs of government while an employee of the Government of Canada in Ottawa for 10 years. His current focus is helping small businesses in Ontario to identify and maximize government grants to grow their business.
Click here to learn more about Moe's background and how he can help your business.


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