The City of Campbell River has officially launched its new social grant program to help fund projects by local non-profits and charities and will be holding workshops to help these organizations develop applications and to gather feedback on ways to improve the new program.
Mayor Andy Adams says the city needed a new way to determine which non-profit projects council would help fund, as the system they had in place wasn’t really working.
“This is addressing a need that we’ve had ever since I’ve been on council – so at least 14 years,” Adams says. “There are so many great organizations doing so many great things in our community who need a little bit of assistance from time to time and we’ve been dealing with those on an ad-hoc basis, whether it’s $5,000 for the new walk-in freezer at the food bank or some other important thing to our community, we really want to be able to help them.”
But until now, Adams says, council has had to decide whether to use its limited “council contingency” budget to fund these types of requests, or find some other pool of money to pull from. So during last year’s budgeting process, they allocated $100,000 to a “Social Fund” for council to pull from.
That $100,000 will be an annual amount allocated to the fund, to be distributed by the recommendation of the city’s Community Partnership Committee, just as they currently do with the current Grant-in-Aid program.
The Social Grant program supports seed funding, small capital purchases and projects by not-for-profit and charitable organizations. Applications must be for a minimum of $5,000 “to generate meaningful and measured impact.”
The other difference the new system presents to those applying for funding is that it will now, in its currently-proposed state, be a once-per-year intake of applications, rather than a “first come, first served” system.
While Adams admits that this will likely work fine for larger organizations which have projects planned well in advance, it could complicate things for smaller groups. It will be up to the Community Partnership Committee to figure out the logistics of how they want application intakes to occur.
“It may become a semi-annual intake and distribution for those smaller groups,” Adams says, adding that if there are emergency funds needed that can’t wait for an intake from the program, the city still has some flexibility to use other funding sources.
“Where are those immediate needs, where there’s a will there’s a way, as they say.”
Mary Catherine Williams of Volunteer Campbell River says the new fund will make a difference to organizations like hers, who often have needs that their regular fundraising efforts can’t quite cover.
“Funding like this can make a huge difference in our community by supporting the work of non-profit organizations responding to important issues,” Williams says. “We also appreciate that Council is seeking feedback about the program at this early stage.”
Two workshops will be held on Friday Oct. 4 to support organizations with the application process and to gain feedback on the program. The deadline for 2019 funding applications is Oct. 18. The 2019 program experience and feedback will be used to refine the program for 2020.
“This program has immense potential to generate positive change, and we’re all eager to see the additional services, collaborations and common initiatives this new funding will support,” said Cleo Corbett, senior planner at the City of Campbell River.
This year’s round of applications will be reviewed and approved by city council in November, after which the Community Partnership Committee will review and make recommendations on how the program should move forward.
Organizations can sign up for an Oct. 4 workshop by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and find more information at campbellriver.ca/social-grants