FAQ – Catalyst

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) – Catalyst program

Eligibility to apply

1. Do we have to be a registered charity in order to apply for a grant?
No. You need only be a nonprofit corporation, university, or community college. If you are a nonprofit with charitable status, please include your registered charity number on your application.

2. Can an individual apply for a grant?
No. Applications need to be made by a nonprofit organization, a university, or a community college.

3. Can an unincorporated committee apply for a grant?
No. The Catalyst program is open only to established organizations and an unincorporated committee does not meet the criteria.

4. Does an organization have to serve more than one geographic community in order to meet the Foundation’s requirement to “provide a benefit to Ontario”?
An organization can serve either a single geographic community or several – what matters is that a benefit is provided somewhere in the province.

5. Do we need to serve the general public?
No. An organization can serve a particular community or group or the general public.

6. Can an organization outside Ontario apply for a Catalyst grant?
Yes. Organizations based outside Ontario can apply to the Foundation for a grant if it serves people in Ontario.

7. The Foundation contributes 75% of its net revenue to Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) which in turn funds Ontario’s legal clinics. Will this affect applications submitted by the clinics?
Legal clinics that receive core funding from Legal Aid Ontario should contact the Foundation to discuss their ideas early in the process. While we are open to receiving these applications, we will consider them in light of the funding the Foundation already provides to Legal Aid Ontario.

8. Ontario law schools receive support through the Foundation’s annual Comprehensive grants. Will this affect applications submitted by the law schools?
Law schools that receive funding through The Law Foundation of Ontario’s Comprehensive grants to law schools should contact the Foundation to discuss their ideas early in the process. While we are open to receiving these applications, we will consider them in light of the funding the Foundation already provides to the law schools.

Funding available

9. Do you have a fixed amount of available funding that is allocated to specific geographic regions?
No. Applications from organizations serving any area of the province are welcome.

10. Do you have a fixed amount of funding allocated to each of your four statutory objects (legal research, legal education, legal aid, law libraries)?

11. Are all organizations applying to the Catalyst program subject to the same limits on the amount of funding they are eligible to receive?
The Foundation has provided core funding to a small group of nonprofits for many years. Some of these organizations were created by the Foundation and some have received Foundation funding since their inception. As part of the Catalyst program, Foundation grantees who already receive core funding will be allowed to apply for amounts in line with what they have previously received from the Foundation. Organizations that have not previously received core funding can apply for up to $150,000 per year.

Eligible activities and expenses

12. We are not exclusively an access to justice organization, but we operate access to justice programs. Can we still apply for a Catalyst grant?
Yes. Catalyst funding may be used to cover program costs and a portion of those core operating costs related to the access to justice activities.

13. We lobby government to make needed changes to the legislative and policy environment surrounding our legal issue. Can we apply to the Foundation for funding?
Yes, but the Foundation’s funds cannot be used for these activities since the Foundation does not fund costs directly related to lobbying, advocating, or promoting a particular position on a legal or public policy issue.

14. Do you fund capital expenditures?
Funding may be used to purchase capital expenditures such as computers and furniture. The cost of these purchases should be reasonable and proportionate to the access to justice activities. We will not fund capital expenditures for immoveable assets (i.e. buildings).

15. Our fiscal year does not align with the calendar year. Can we just submit our annual budget?
No. The budget you submit with your application must cover a January to December time period to align with the Catalyst program’s funding schedule. We will accept past budgets and financial statements that use your organization’s fiscal year.

After submitting your application

16. What happens after we submit our application?
Once the deadline for submissions has passed, your application will be assigned to a Grants Officer for evaluation. Foundation staff may contact you with questions including requests for additional information or clarifications. It is the responsibility of applicants to respond to all inquiries by Foundation staff in a timely manner. Please ensure that if, for whatever reason, the principle contact responsible for the application is unavailable, that an alternative contact is available to respond.

17. Our grant application has been approved – what happens next?
You will be asked to review and sign a standard Letter of Agreement (LOA) for the first year, which may also have special conditions attached that are specific to your grant. Please review the LOA carefully before applying to ensure you are comfortable signing it.

18. What does the Foundation mean when it says it is providing a three-year funding commitment as part of the Catalyst program?
The Foundation wants to be clear about what we can promise to grantees. The Catalyst program will run on a three-year cycle. Foundation revenues vary from year to year, the Foundation has a number of granting programs to consider, and access to justice needs and responses evolve over time. Having a call for applications at the end of each three-year cycle will allow us to review the organizations we support and the level of support in light of these factors. As part of each three-year cycle, the Foundation will select a group of grantees. We anticipate that those grantees will continue in the Catalyst program for all three years. Grantees will receive a one-year grant in each year of the three-year cycle provided the work is proceeding appropriately and the grantee is reporting in accordance with the guidelines. During the third year of the three year cycle, the Foundation will make a new call for applications. Our intention is provide a stable funding source to each grantee for three years, conditional upon appropriate reporting. In this way, we hope the Catalyst program will support the development and evolution of the nonprofit justice sector.

19. How do the payments flow?
If your grant is approved, a payment schedule is developed taking into consideration the information provided in the work plan submitted as part of the grant application and often also in consultation with the grantee. In general, the Foundation makes payments in advance, in accordance with each grantee’s needs, and subject to any special conditions of approval being met. The final payment for each of the three years is a hold-back instalment (typically 10% of the total grant) that is paid out on receipt of the final report.

20. What are your reporting requirements?
All grantees are required to submit written activity reports, as well as budget-to-actual financial reports, over the course of the grant. Additionally, the Foundation has common quantitative measures, which you must report on. Interim payments are always conditional upon receipt of required reports, in accordance with the schedule established between the Foundation and the grantee. A full final report is required in order to receive payment of the final grant instalment. The timing and frequency of reporting is tailored to the circumstances of each grant. More information about the Foundation’s reporting requirements will be provided.