Non-Profit Funding Sources for Ontario Businesses: 10 Sources You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

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

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

Examples of Associations that Support Business in Ontario

Canadian Tooling and Machining Association
Electricity Human Resources Canada
Information Technology Association of Canada
Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association

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

Examples of Business Development Corporations in Ontario

Prescott-Russell Community Development Corporation
CFDC of Chatham-Kent
Métis Voyageur Development Fund
Wakenagun Community Futures Development Corporation

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

Center of Excellence in Energy Efficiency
Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks
LOOKNorth

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

Examples of Private Foundations that Support Business in Ontario

Canada-Israel Industrial Research & Development Foundation
FACTOR (Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings)
Sustainable Development Technology Canada
Yves Landry Foundation
The Girlboss Foundation

Networks

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.)

EXAMPLES OF NETWORKS THAT SUPPORT BUSINESS IN ONTARIO

Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada
Green Aviation Research & Development Network
MEDTEQ Consortium
SheEO
Startup Canada

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

Examples of Niche Non-Profits that Support Business in Ontario

Business in the Streets

Grand Challenges Canada

The Atmospheric Fund

Digital Main Street

Ignite Capital

VERGE Capital

Futurpreneur Canada

Mitacs

Rise Asset Development

Genome Canada

Ontario Agri-Food Technologies

Cell

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.

Examples of Private Sector Funds that Support Business in Ontario

Telus Sponsorships

FedEx Small Business Grants

Amber Grants for Women

Bell Fund

Visa Everywhere Initiative 

Eileen Fisher grants

Rogers Group of Funds

Cartier Women’s Initiative

The Halstead Grant

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

Agribusiness, Natural Resources and Environment Sector Councils

ECO Canada

Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance

Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters

National Seafood Sector Council

Canadian Council for Human Resources in the Environment Industry

Arts, Culture, Communications, Tourism and Recreation Sector Councils

Cultural Human Resources Council

Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council

Aboriginal Human Resources Development Council of Canada

Business, Administration and Sales Sector Councils

Forum for International Trade Training

Technology Sector Councils

Software Human Resource Council

Biotechnology Human Resource Council

Canadian Technology Human Resources Board

Canadian Council of Professional Engineers

Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists

Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC)

Transportation Sector Councils

Canadian Aviation Maintenance Council

Canadian Automotive Repair and Service Council

Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council

Motor Carrier Passenger Council of Canada

Manufacturing and Trades Sector Councils

Wood Manufacturing Council

Canadian Steel Trade and Employment Congress

Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada

Mining Industry Training and Adjustment Council-Canada

Canadian Plastics Sector Council

Textiles Human Resources Council

Apparel Human Resources Council

Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (as well as CareersInTrades.ca)

Construction and Service Sector Councils

Construction Sector Council

Canadian Equipment Industry Training Committee

Canadian Professional Logistics Institute

Installation, Maintenance and Repair Sector Council

Superclusters

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.

LINKS TO MORE INFO ON THE FIVE SUPERCLUSTERS

AI-Powered Supply Chains Supercluster (SCALE.AI)

Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen)

Ocean Supercluster

Digital Technology Supercluster

Protein Industries Supercluster

Universities

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:

CityUniversityProgram
BarrieGeorgian CollegeHenry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre
HamiltonMcMaster UniversityThe Forge
KingstonQueen’s UniversityQueen’s Innovation Connector (QIC) Summer Initiative Program
LondonFanshawe CollegeLeap Junction
//Western UniversityPropel
North BayCanadore CollegeE-Hub
OttawaCarleton UniversityLead to Win
St. CatherinesBrock University
BioLinc
TorontoRyerson UniversityZone Learning
//Seneca CollegeHELIX
//Centennial CollegeACCEL at the Centre of Entrepreneurship
//George Brown CollegeStartGBC
//OCAD UniversityThe Imagination Catalyst
//University of TorontoBanting & Best Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Waterloo
University of Waterloo

Velocity
////Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre
////St. Paul’s GreenHouse
////Accelerator Centre
//Wilfrid Laurier UniversityLaunchPad
WindsorUniversity of WindsorEPICentre

Conclusion

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

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