Application Guidelines – Strategic Initiatives

Canada Cultural Investment Fund

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Objectives and expected results for the Canada Cultural Investment Fund

The Canada Cultural Investment Fund (CCIF) encourages private sector investment, partnership and sound business practices to help arts and heritage organizations be better rooted and recognized in their communities.

The CCIF program has three components that work together in achieving these objectives: Endowment Incentives; Limited Support to Endangered Arts Organizations; and Strategic Initiatives.

Ultimately, the CCIF helps to create an environment in which Canadians value and invest in arts and heritage organizations.

Objectives and expected results for the Strategic Initiatives component

The Strategic Initiatives component provides financial assistance for projects involving multiple partners that help arts and heritage organizations improve their business practices and diversify their revenues. These collaborative projects encourage knowledge and resource sharing as well as strategic use of technologies that strengthen the business operations of arts and heritage organizations, helping them make stronger contributions to Canadian society and the economy.

The Strategic Initiatives component supports projects that are conducted by a lead organization in collaboration with other project delivery or funding partners and have results that are shared broadly. In doing this, organizations become better at what they do through new and innovative projects that lead to a stronger and more resilient arts and heritage sector. These organizations demonstrate sound organizational, administrative and financial health, and thus contribute to a more resilient sector.

Application deadline

The deadline to submit applications in 2023 is postponed to May 19th for projects starting on or after April 1st of the following year, which is April 1, 2024.

When an application deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday or statutory holiday, it is extended to the following working day.

Who can apply

The applicant is the project lead and represents the organization that completes the funding application on behalf of multiple partners for the purpose of delivering the proposed project. The project lead is also legally responsible for the management and implementation of the project and the administration of any funding received from the Department of Canadian Heritage.


To be eligible for funding, your organization must be:

  • a not-for-profit organization, association, institution, or foundation incorporated under the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act or equivalent provincial or territorial legislation, or equivalent Indigenous peoples' institution or organization, including First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and Non-Status Indians:
    • administered by an active board of directors or equivalent Indigenous governing body working continuously for three years prior to the application date;
    • with a mandate related to the arts or heritage sector as outlined in its mandate statement; and
    • with activities and programs that include the arts or heritage sector;


  • a post-secondary education institution;


  • a heritage organization governed by a provincial, territorial or municipal government with distinct objectives, programs and budgets related to the arts or heritage.


Although partners of the project are not required to meet the eligibility criteria of the applicant, they must provide a commitment to pool efforts or resources, with the goal of achieving a common objective in relation to a clearly identified need. Partners can include delivery partners and funders:

  • Delivery partners collaborate in the implementation and provide cash or in-kind resources to achieve the project's objectives.
  • Funders invest cash or in-kind contributions to the project.

Project partners can include not-for-profit organizations, public institutions, the private sector and various levels of government.

It is strongly recommended that arts and heritage service organizations and other membership-based groups demonstrate that their members participate or support the project.

Ineligible applicants

The following are ineligible as lead applicants under the Strategic Initiatives component:

  • The cultural industries and their associations since they benefit from assistance offered by other programs and initiatives of the Government of Canada; and
  • Federal departments and agencies, or other levels of government.

However, these organizations can be considered as eligible partners.


We are responsible for determining the eligibility of each applicant, its project and project-related expenses.

The Strategic Initiatives component is highly competitive. Requests for funding typically exceed our available resources. If your organization is eligible, submitting an application does not guarantee funding.

Eligible projects

To be eligible for funding from the Strategic Initiatives component, your project must concentrate on one or more of the following four key program priorities:

  • Developing and sharing of expertise, best practices and tools;
  • Marketing and audience development;
  • Innovation, experimentation and development of new approaches; or
  • Strategic use of technologies.

Your project must also:

  • directly benefit a number of not-for-profit professional arts or heritage organizations;
  • demonstrate how it will contribute to the improvement of business practices or revenue diversification of not-for-profit professional arts or heritage organizations;
  • involve the collaboration of at least three partners including the lead applicant; and
  • have measurable results in accordance with the objectives of the Strategic Initiatives component.

Needs assessments (research, feasibility studies and surveys) and professional development are eligible activities only when deemed essential for the success of the project and when the results of those activities are implemented within the proposed project. These activities are not supported as stand-alone projects.

Arts or heritage service organizations and other membership-based groups must demonstrate how a project differs from the services they regularly provide to their members.

Examples of eligible projects

The Strategic Initiatives component encourages organizations to develop innovative projects such as, but not limited to, the following:

  • Development and sharing of tools and best practices to address challenges or barriers arts and heritage organizations face in specific areas such as: revenue and sales generation; capitalization; new partnership and sponsorship development; facilities management; contracts management; etc.
  • Development of initiatives to build the capacity of arts and heritage organizations to cultivate private sector partnerships and philanthropy, by developing competencies in fundraising and corporate engagement.
  • Initiatives to collaborate in the purchasing or development of common shared tools or services among similar organizations to realize cost efficiencies and improve effectiveness.
  • Development and implementation of digital marketing and social media strategies and tools to increase public access or to target audiences.
  • Joint marketing and cross-promotional initiatives involving a range of similar organizations (same discipline or market segment) covering a specific geographic area (national, interprovincial, provincial, regional or local) coming together to build brand awareness and audiences.
  • Other joint ventures to innovate and remain relevant in an environment of new technologies, global interconnectedness and increased public engagement.

Ineligible projects

Projects focusing on the following activities are not eligible:

  • the applicant's or a partner's regular ongoing activities;
  • sharing of common human resources between organizations;
  • advocacy and lobbying projects;
  • artistic creations, artistic and heritage production and programming;
  • collections management and archiving; and
  • the establishment of a new legal entity.

Eligible expenses

Only project-related expenses, which can be of cash and in-kind value, are eligible; these may include:

  • pro-rated salaries and wages directly related to the time spent on the project. (Any such claims of salaries and time must be verifiable by an auditor. It is strongly recommended that organizations expecting to claim salaries implement a system to track these costs, such as keeping detailed timesheets);
  • consultant fees;
  • promotion and marketing;
  • technology costs (specialized software, custom programming, etc.);
  • translation costs;
  • evaluation of project results;
  • costs of producing the project audited financial report when the project funding is over $250,000;
  • administration expenses of up to 15% of total eligible expenses; and
  • travel expenses, which must not exceed the rates permitted for travel on government business.

In-kind contributions are considered real contributions to the cost of the proposed project but are not reimbursable. Donated goods and services may be considered in-kind contributions if they:

  • are essential to your project's success;
  • are eligible and would otherwise have to be purchased or paid for by you;
  • can be measured at fair market value (i.e. in relation to similar goods and services); and
  • are balanced by an equal revenue in your budget (i.e. total in-kind expenses equal total in-kind revenues).

The following expenses cannot be funded:

  • expenses incurred by the applicant prior to the project start date;
  • occupancy and operating costs of the organization;
  • hospitality expenses;
  • artistic creations, artistic and heritage production and programming;
  • travelling exhibitions and touring costs;
  • purchase of furniture;
  • collections management and archiving;
  • portion of GST or other taxes that are recoverable for reimbursement; and
  • all other expenses deemed ineligible by the program.

We cannot fund expenses incurred prior to the project start date. If you incur expenses for your project before receiving written confirmation of your funding approval, you will be doing so at your own risk.

Limits of government assistance

To ensure the success of your project, we encourage you to have other funding sources. This may include contributions from your organization, the private sector or other levels of government.

The total financial assistance received from the Strategic Initiatives component and other levels of government (federal, provincial, territorial and municipal) cannot exceed 100% of your total project-related eligible costs.

The maximum amount of funding available for a grant is $50,000 per project. The maximum amount of funding available for a contribution is $1 million per fiscal year. We can fund up to 50% of eligible project expenses. In exceptional circumstances, we can fund up to 75% of eligible project expenses. The specific funding criteria related to exceptional circumstances are determined by the Department and may include projects benefiting rural or remote areas, Indigenous communities, youth, official-language minority communities and ethnocultural communities where the need is clearly demonstrated and justified.

Applying for more than 12 months

You may request funding for a project spanning more than 12 months. You must then show that there is a need for a multi-year commitment and that you have the capacity to complete the project. This is demonstrated with a realistic project timeline and budget projections as well as sound governance.

How to apply

Read these Application Guidelines in their entirety before completing your application. You must meet all eligibility requirements and submit a complete application package to be considered for funding. A complete application package includes the Application Form and the following supporting documents:

  • A Budget Form (Tabs 2 to 8). You must contact us to request the Budget Form;
  • A list of the applicant's full-time employees, including position titles;
  • A list of the members of the Board of Directors for the lead applicant;
  • The resolution of the Board of Directors or equivalent governing body, signed by the Chair:
    1. endorsing the application; and
    2. designating the person with signing authority;
  • A copy of the applicant's letters patent and/or certificate of incorporation as a not-for-profit organization or equivalent document;
  • A copy of the applicant's bylaws;
  • The curriculum vitae of the project manager and key project resources (i.e. employees and consultants), and if applicable, consultants' proposals;
  • The applicant's most recent strategic plan;
  • Signed financial statements for the last two (2) complete cycles (and management letter, if available);
  • A signed letter from each partner confirming the nature of their contribution (amount in cash or in-kind) and extent of their involvement in the project;
  • A support letter from arts or heritage organizations which will benefit from this project that are not partners, if available;
  • If applicable, a signed declaration that any federal public servant or former federal public servant is in compliance with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment and that any federal public holder or former federal public holder is in compliance with the Conflict of Interest Act.

Application process

  • Complete, sign and date the Application Form;
  • Attach all the required supporting documents; and
  • Submit your application through only one means (i.e. by email, by mail, in person, etc.).

Email submissions

We encourage you to submit your application package electronically to the following email address:

The email must be sent no later than 11:59 p.m. local time on the date of the application deadline for your application to be considered.

Mail or in-person submissions

You can mail, courier or hand-deliver your complete application package at the following address:

Department of Canadian Heritage
Canada Cultural Investment Fund
Strategic Initiatives component
25 Eddy Street, 13th Floor, Room 280 (25-13-V)
Gatineau, Quebec
J8X 4B5

Your application must be postmarked or hand-delivered no later than the published deadline to be considered.

How applications are evaluated

We fund projects that have clear objectives and measurable results. Funding decisions are based on the number and quality of applications received for each Strategic Initiatives component application deadline. Your application will be reviewed for eligibility and then evaluated based on the evaluation criteria below by a review committee who will compare it with other applications and prioritize it in relation to the funds available.

Failure to comply with any conditions of a previously funded project will be considered in the evaluation of your new application and could result in the rejection of your new application.

Evaluation criteria

All projects will be assessed against the following criteria:

Project quality (30%)

  • The project meets the objectives of the Strategic Initiatives component;
  • The project is based on an analysis of needs and issues;
  • The level of project support demonstrated by arts or heritage organizations benefitting from this project is appropriate;
  • There are appropriate and qualified human resources assigned to deliver the project; and
  • The timeline is realistic with the scope of the project activities.

Anticipated impact of project (25%)

  • The project will directly benefit a fair number of arts or heritage organizations within its geographic reach;
  • The outputs/deliverables and outcomes as well as their associated performance indicators and targets are measurable and aligned with the project;
  • The performance measurement tools are identified to evaluate the performance of the project against its planned results; and
  • The results of the project will be shared broadly.

Partnerships (20%)

  • The project brings together partners with experience relevant to the nature of the project who share a common goal to help arts or heritage organizations become better at what they do; and
  • The involvement of the partners demonstrates a commitment to the delivery of the project.

Evaluation of lead applicant (15%)

  • The lead applicant has sound management practices in place to manage the delivery of the project;
  • The lead applicant is well positioned to deliver the project; and
  • The lead applicant's financial statements demonstrate financial stability.

Budget (10%)

  • Sources of revenue are sufficient for executing the project;
  • Sources of funding cash and in-kind are already confirmed and supported in writing; and
  • The expenses are realistic, reasonable and aligned with the scope of the project.

Application processing time

Please refer to the Service standards for Canadian Heritage funding programs or contact the Program.

We will acknowledge receipt of your application within two weeks of receiving your application in our office.

Funding decisions

Please note that decisions regarding eligibility and funding amounts are final. 

How funding is provided

We will determine if funding will be disbursed as a grant or as a contribution.

A grant is a payment issued to a recipient for a project. The conditions you agreed to at the time of application will apply. At the end of your project, you may be required to submit a report and/or participate in the evaluation of results.

A contribution is a conditional payment issued for a specific purpose, as outlined in a funding agreement. The agreement is signed by your organization and by us and specifies the terms and conditions to receive payment. At the end of your project, you must submit a final report.

Funding conditions

You may be required to submit interim reports during your project. If you receive $250,000 or more as a contribution, you are required to submit an audited financial report.

Additional conditions may apply and, if applicable, will be included in your funding agreement.

Workplace well-being

The Government of Canada is strongly committed to promoting healthy workplaces where harassment, abuse and discrimination are not tolerated. Organizations that receive funding from Canadian Heritage must take measures to create a workplace free from harassment, abuse and discrimination.

Official languages requirements

We are committed to taking positive measures to enhance the vitality of official-language minority communities and to promote the use of English and French in Canadian society. If you receive funding, you agree to comply with the official languages requirements set out in your application and in your funding agreement.

Acknowledgement of financial assistance

If you receive funding, you must publically acknowledge – in English and in French – the financial support received from the Government of Canada in all communications materials and promotional activities. Additional requirements may be included in your funding agreement.

For additional information, please refer to our Guide on the public acknowledgement of financial support.

Access to information requests

We are subject to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. The information you submit in your application may be disclosed in accordance with these Acts.

Disclosure of information

By submitting your funding application, you authorize us to disclose any information submitted with this application within the Government of Canada or to outside entities for the following purposes:

  • to reach a decision;
  • to evaluate the results of the project; and
  • to support transparency, accountability and citizen engagement.

Audits of recipients and evaluation of the Program

We reserve the right to audit your accounts and records to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of your funding agreement. We also conduct periodic Program evaluations, during which you may be required to present documentation.

You must keep any records, documents, or other information that may be required to perform the audit or the evaluation for five years. Demonstrated failure to maintain such records may result in the repayment of amounts previously received.

Contact the program

For further information, please contact us:

Department of Canadian Heritage
Canada Cultural Investment Fund
Strategic Initiatives component
25 Eddy Street, 13th Floor, Room 280 (25-13-V)
Gatineau, Quebec
J8X 4B5



1-866-811-0055 (toll-free)


1-888-997-3123 (for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired)

Agents are available to answer your questions Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (ET).


Audited financial report

An audited financial report includes a statement of operations for the given period with regard to the Project and is prepared by a certified accountant who is not part of your organization.

Audited financial statements

A complete set of financial statements including a statement of financial position; a statement of operations; and a statement of changes in financial position. Audited financial statements are completed by a certified accountant who is not part of your organization. The certified accountant performs auditing activities in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

Cash flow

A presentation of all anticipated revenues and planned expenses that will occur over the length of your project. At the beginning of your project, your cash flow will have only forecasted revenues and expenses. Over time, your cash flow will be updated to reflect the actual revenues and expenses.

Cultural industries

All businesses that produce goods and services in various sectors of activity such as film and video, broadcasting, television, music, publishing, games and digital media.

Applicants from cultural industries are not eligible for funding under the Strategic Initiatives component.

Ethnocultural communities

A group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage. For the purpose of this definition, ethnocultural communities include Canadians of diverse culture such as, but not limited to African, Arab, Asian, Latin American or mixed heritage.

Final report

A final report is submitted at the end of your project based on the requirements in the funding agreement. Your final report needs to provide the results of the activities you have undertaken for the duration of your project.

Final financial report

A final financial report includes, as separate items, the budget as well as all of the revenues realized and expenditures incurred for the given period with regard to the Project being funded.

Financial statements

A complete set of financial statements, including a statement of financial position; a statement of operations; and a statement of changes in financial position. Financial statements may be audited or unaudited.

Heritage organization

Incorporated not-for-profit Canadian organizations with a mandate and key policies related to the collection, preservation, interpretation, research and study, and/or the exhibition of cultural collections which are open to the public. The following are recognized as heritage organizations: museums, art galleries, archives, aquariums, insectariums, zoos, biodomes and botanical gardens, science and interpretation centres, planetariums and archaeological, historical and ethnographic sites.

Indigenous communities

Indigenous communities are First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

Interim reports

Interim reports are submitted during your project based on the requirements in the funding agreement. These reports indicate the results of the activities undertaken for a specific period. In addition, they include a status report on the work to be accomplished and include updated revenue and expense reports.

Management letter

A letter from a chartered accountant which normally accompanies audited financial statements. Based on the chartered accountant's audit and analysis of the organization's financial records and statements, this letter communicates observations of particular interest to the organization's management.

Not-for-profit professional arts organization

An incorporated organization operating in one or more artistic discipline(s) with a core mission and primary activity of creation or production of professional artistic works; presentation of professional artistic works; and/or training of professional artists. Furthermore, it is an organization that is registered and operates as a non-profit arts entity with a board of directors overseeing its operations. It has a paid artistic director, or equivalent and the organization pays artist fees at established national standards for the artistic discipline(s) and practice in which it operates. Finally the organization has internal or external oversight of the organization’s finances and produces annual financial statements.

Official-language minority communities

The official-language minority communities are the Anglophone communities residing in Quebec and the Francophone communities residing outside of Quebec.


Outcomes are the results of an effort to attain a goal, the consequences of the activities and outputs. They are usually associated with an action word (e.g. "increased", "improved"). They demonstrate the "Why" of the project, and must be measurable and directly related to the objectives.


Outputs are products or services generated by activities, and provide evidence that the activity did occur. They demonstrate the "What" of the project.

Performance indicator

An indicator is a qualitative or quantitative means of measuring an outcome, with the intention of gauging the performance of a project. Performance indicators are the key pieces of information that need to be collected in order to determine if the project has achieved its objectives or final outcomes.

  • Qualitative performance indicators: Qualitative indicators are expressed as opinions, behaviours or attitudes. Whenever possible, these performance indicators are generalized by the use of a rating scale, this will allow for comparability for a given period.
  • Quantitative performance indicators: Quantitative performance indicators are expressed as statistical measurements such as numbers, percentages, or ratios.
Performance measurement strategy

Data sources and methodologies that will be used to collect, measure and analyze performance of the project against its planned results/objectives. The range of information in a performance measurement strategy could include: reach, outputs and outcomes, performance indicators, data sources, methodology, and costs.

Remote region

A community with a population of less than 50,000 which is located more than 200 kilometers from an urban centre with a population over 100,000 or a provincial capital.

Rural region

A community with a population of less than 50,000 which is located between 50 and 200 kilometers from an urban centre with a population over 100,000.

Strategic plan

The strategic plan clearly describes an organization's mandate, its near, mid and long-term goals or objectives, as well as the priority actions necessary to realize these goals and objectives. The strategic planning process should analyze the internal and external factors, assess the risks and determine mitigation plans.

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