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How the Recovery & Resiliency Fund is a Shift in Our Grantmaking

Applications Now Open for Charities and Non-Profit Organizations
Sun sets behind an ocean landscape in BC

As we begin to turn our focus towards pandemic recovery and long-term resiliency, what has become clear is the critical role the charitable and non-profit sector in BC has had in supporting community through such a challenging time.

Together, the Government of BC, Vancouver Foundation, United Way BC, and New Relationship Trust have partnered on the Recovery and Resiliency Fund to bring $34 million to help those organizations that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

“This new money for the sector is also bringing a new opportunity to do things differently,” says Kevin McCort, president and CEO of Vancouver Foundation. “We’ve come together with some of BC’s biggest funders with a shared desire to explore and test different ways of innovating grantmaking. In doing so, our goal is to meaningfully shift and share power with the communities we serve.”

First, we’re trying to disrupt the policy within the funding system that requires organizations to have charitable status to be eligible to apply for funding. This eliminates a lot of groups doing critical work such as grassroots organizations – often these groups are led by and serve equity-denied communities. Getting charitable status can be a barrier for these organizations so we’re making it possible for non-profit societies to apply for a grant. As long as the society’s purpose is to benefit the community-at-large, they’re eligible to apply while also allowing us to comply with CRA guidelines.

Second, we’re trying to disrupt the idea that this sector can and should do a lot with little. With limited resources and capacity, especially during the pandemic when demand for services has gone up, charities and non-profit organizations have had to work hard to stretch themselves to meet those demands. Some of have managed while others have unfortunately had to close their doors. The Recovery and Resiliency Fund is offering three-year, flexible grants of $50,000 and $72,000. Multi-year grants offer longer-term stability so that organizations can invest in their recovery, build their capacity for long-term planning, and most importantly, continue to serve their communities. The flexibility of these types of grants also shifts the decision-making power to the grantee to decide where the funding will best support their recovery and resiliency plan.

Next, we’re trying to further center equity in our grantmaking by prioritizing organizations who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Research has told us this includes smaller organizations (with annual expenses of less than $1 million), those in rural and remote communities, and those that are led by equity-denied communities. We know the pandemic has affected all types organizations within the sector but this Fund is primarily focusing on addressing the challenges of organizations that have been hit hardest and will continue to feel the effects of the pandemic if they can’t access funding now.

Lastly, we’re trying to disrupt the practice of placing applicants in a competitive process based on merit by introducing a randomized selection process. This process will pool eligible applications based on region and then by Base Amount or Top-Up Amount eligibility, then randomly selected, and then validated for eligibility and need. Traditional adjudication processes often privilege certain types of organizations that, for example, may have the capacity for a grant writer or can “speak” academic language steeped in colonial worldviews. This puts a disadvantage on organizations that simply don’t have the resources or capacity to compete within this type of funding system. The randomized selection process will remove competition, minimize adjudication bias, and focus awarding grants solely based on eligibility.

These are just a few ways in which we are taking up the challenge as funders to reexamine how we fund and shift and share power with the organizations that are at the heart of the communities they serve. We’ve heard the call from the sector and together, we are committed to responding to that call to not only inject new money but also doing it differently. 

Applications are now open until September 30, 2022. To learn more about the Fund, please visit: https://www.vancouverfoundation.ca/grants/recovery-and-resiliency-fund

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