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Partners and Funding, finding external sources for horticultural society project funds.

by Webmaster



The following list of potential partners or funding sources for habitat projects is by no means exhaustive, and some sources listed may not be appropriate for your particular project. Consider these suggestions but also think about other organizations and groups within your community who might be interested in sponsoring your habitat project.

  • Community leaders and city councillors

  • Local conservation societies

  • Local businesses

  • Youth groups

  • Seniors groups

  • 4-H clubs

  • Schools/teachers, daycares

  • Service clubs (e.g., Lions, Rotary, Legion, or Kiwanis)

  • Church groups

  • Horticultural societies, gardening clubs, native plant societies

  • Garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores

  • Landscapers, landscape architects

Approaching Local Businesses

Businesses like to be involved in community projects. Ask them if they're interested in supplying you with materials and equipment. In return, you can give them free publicity by acknowledging their contribution in a newsletter. Or you can erect a sign at your project site which says, "This project was made possible with help from (name of sponsor)." It's also a good idea to send thank-you notes to sponsors.

Some businesses you could contact and the materials they could supply:

  • Nurseries - trees, shrubs, and plants

  • Landscaping companies - soil, plants, and rocks

  • Excavating companies - backhoe services

  • Hardware stores - shovels, rakes, and trowels

  • Co-ops - seeds for wildlife gardens

  • Drugstores or pharmacies - plastic gloves and bags for collecting garbage

  • Lumber companies - wood scraps for building bird feeders, nesting boxes, bat houses, and other shelters




There are several steps involved in putting together a successful community habitat project. If you go through these steps thoroughly, you'll very likely create a worthwhile project that will benefit both your community and local wildlife.

  1. Identify your project. Look around your community for project ideas. For instance, is there an abandoned lot, roadside ditch, or ravine that could be enhanced? Adapt backyard projects for the community. For example, install a whole network of bird houses throughout your municipality's parks. Or if you are stuck for ideas, talk to wildlife biologists at your provincial or territorial wildlife department. Ask for suggestions on a community project that will benefit local wildlife.

  2. Seek advice before you start. Consult with the experts. Start by contacting your federal, provincial, or territorial government wildlife office. Even though communities mean well, we can sometimes cause terrible problems for wildlife simply because we don't know any better. So be sure to get advice from the proper authorities.

  3. Establish a network. Good information and advice can help you create a great project. Talk with wildlife biologists, naturalists, municipal employees, plant nursery employees, conservation officers, and anyone else you can think of. Contact your town hall or chamber of commerce for a list of local environmental or naturalist groups that can provide useful information and contacts.

  4. Make use of government departments. In tracking down information from government departments, you may have to make quite a few phone calls to locate the right department. Remember that the three levels of government-federal, provincial or territorial, and municipal-are listed separately in the blue pages of the telephone directory. If you can't track down the information, call Reference Canada at 1-800-667-3355, unless you live in Manitoba or Quebec. In Manitoba, call 1-800-282-8060; in Quebec, call 1-800-363-1363. Reference Canada can help you locate federal as well as provincial or territorial government numbers. Or you can check Environment Canada's web site, which has links to the environmental departments of each province.

  5. Develop a community action plan. Ask landowners or the proper authorities if they're agreeable to your project. After obtaining approval, prepare a detailed, written plan. Be clear about what groups and how many people will be involved. Specify what you're going to do; where, how, and when it will take place; who is going to do what; and how wildlife and your community will benefit. Be sure to keep landowners or the proper authorities up-to-date on your project's progress.

  6. Assess the impact. Even well-meaning plans to help wildlife can sometimes upset the balance of an ecosystem. That's why an environmental assessment review is a good idea before you begin. This should describe the purpose of your project and consider what vegetation and animals already exist at the site and how your plans and any plants you're planning to introduce will affect them. You should also consider how the site is currently used; e.g., for walking, biking, or dumping garbage. How will your project improve the site for wildlife? How will you minimize any disturbance to existing wildlife?

  7. Create a committee. If there are a lot of people involved in your project, you'll need to set up a committee. Members with diverse backgrounds will help ensure the project's success.

Remember the little details

As you move your project through its various stages, don't forget small but important details:

  • Write thank-you notes to anyone who helps along the way.

  • Invite people who have helped to any special events connected with your project (for instance, a ceremonial sod turning, or putting up the first nesting box in a municipal park).

  • Keep sponsors up-to-date on your project's progress with a brief, typed fact sheet.

  • Keep the media informed of what you're up to; publicity will help educate your community about wildlife and motivate others to take action, too.

  • Create photo opportunities with your project and invite the media.



Fundraising is an essential part of most greening projects. Remember to look first to your own community for funding. Contact local organizations such as Rotary and Lions Clubs as well as local businesses for contributions of in-kind goods, services and cash donations. Every funding organization has specific requirements and often has a deadline for applications. Call them directly for more information.

Starting Out

  • Ask before you buy. Let neighbours and others know what you need-it's amazing what you can find!

  • Look for local sources of funding. Service clubs like Rotary or Lions as well as local businesses may be prepared to make cash or valuable in-kind donations. Environmental groups, naturalist societies and garden clubs may also have resources and expertise to share. Use your creativity and your contacts to further the project!

  • Do your homework and avoid wasting time! Get the funders' application form and check their criteria to see if your project meets their requirements. Also, find out application deadlines right away.

  • Be aware of your attitude as you approach funders. Remember, you are not begging! You are inviting funders into a partnership that will enhance the lives of the local community and the environment.

  • Get personal. Phone with questions or visit potential funders. Take community members and children to meetings and support the kids to articulate their excitement about the project to funders.

Developing the Proposal

  • Include all stakeholders in the project from the outset! Neighbours, community members, administration, park staff, local businesses (for schools, contact parents, teachers, students, board members and maintenance staff) are among the groups who you should consult early. Clear communication can avoid bad feelings as you proceed.

  • When describing your project, touch on broad themes that encompass your larger vision. For example, you might talk about ecological restoration, naturalization, or transmitting ecological knowledge to the younger generation. This shows your greater vision more than, "we want to plant some trees". Can the funders identify the environmental or other benefits of your project in your application?

  • The cover letter is a good place to freely express your enthusiasm for the project.

  • Consider including a letter of introduction and/or a letter of support, 'before' pictures, and copies of any media coverage. If you're working on an application with specific questions, fill it out completely. You have a better chance of success if you answer every question.

  • Involve everyone in the application process. What does a naturalized area, food garden or school ground mean to local children? Use their quotes and artwork to strengthen the proposal.

  • Your proposal should be clear and concise; numbers and bullets are often better than paragraphs.

  • Use clear headings (typically provided by the funding agency) to break up the proposal and make it easy to read, e.g. Objectives, Participants, Work plan, Project phases, Budget.

  • Demonstrate that you are organized and have a plan. Include photos and site diagrams in your plan.

  • Be specific in your request; include quotes on materials whenever possible. Include a budget. Have a clear idea of what you need and how much it will cost. Tell each potential funder specifically how much you are requesting from them.

  • Include your in-kind donations of goods and services in the budget. List items and funds that have already been donated to the project. This demonstrates resourcefulness and that other people also consider your project worthy of investment.

  • Demonstrate that it is a community effort; include the number of volunteers, donations from parents, teachers, neighbours. List various ways in which the funding organization will receive recognition for their support and ways in which they can be more involved.


  • Convey thank-yous within 48 hours regardless of the meeting outcome. It is a good idea to assign this task to someone specific.

  • Recognize the generosity of funders in a variety of ways. For example, include letters of thanks from children, photos, signage, media coverage when donations arrive or cheques are presented, display their logos in newsletters, provide the opportunity to participate in planting days and other public events.

  • Assign someone to collect the necessary pieces for evaluation and the final report.


  • Be organized and professional, but don't doubt the value of a sincere grassroots proposal.

  • Spend time developing a good proposal; use it again and again



  1. TD Friends of the Environment Foundation

TD provides funding for environment and wildlife initiatives carried out by schools across Canada. Examples include compost programs, tree planting initiatives, school gardens, education programs for children, urban renewal projects, wildlife rehabilitation, and environmental cleanups.. Donations can range from less than $1,000 to more than $25,000 based on the scope of the project and how well the project meets the funding criteria. For more info, check out .

2. Evergreen Foundation

Evergreen is one of Canada's leading funders of community and school greening projects. Since 1991 they have provided over $5.7 million worth of funds to more than 2,500 projects across Canada, ranging from wetland restoration to school ground food gardens.

If your school or community is planning a greening project, check out our grant programs to learn how Evergreen can help. In addition to funding, they also provide training, design and maintenance advice, and a range of print and online resources to ensure the success of your project.

For Schools

Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds School Ground Greening Grants

For schools wishing to create outdoor classrooms and food gardens to provide students with a healthy place to play, learn and develop a genuine respect for nature.

Amount: $500 to $3,500 for publicly funded Canadian schools (JK-Grade 12); $500 to $2,000 for not-for-profit daycares
Next accepting applications: September 2010-June 2011

For Communities

Evergreen's Common Grounds Grants are offered to support community groups in protecting and restoring urban green spaces. All proposed projects must be open to the community, should have a strong volunteer-involvement component, and must be located entirely on publicly accessible lands.

Community groups must be working in partnership with their local municipality or other institutional partner such as federal or provincial government agencies, crown corporations or publicly funded institutions (such as a university or hospital).

Projects on school grounds are not eligible for the grant programs below, but schools or school groups may be eligible if they are undertaking projects in parks or other publicly accessible lands, in partnership with other community organizations.

Walmart - Evergreen Green Grants

These grants are designed for community-based restoration and stewardship initiatives in urban and urbanizing areas, including naturalization, restoration and stewardship, and community food gardens.

Amount: Up to $10,000
Next accepting applications: December 1, 2010 - January 31, 2011

The Rebuilding Nature Grant Program

Supported by The Home Depot Canada Foundation and led by Evergreen

For community groups to cover the costs of tools and building projects, native plants and trees, and other expenses in support of environmental stewardship projects.

Amount: $1,000, $3,000 or $12,000 plus $2,000 in The Home Depot gift cards
The submission deadline for 2010 has now passed.

Unilever - Evergreen Aquatic Stewardship and Conservation Grant

For community-driven restoration initiatives, as well as education projects that promote the wise use of water resources through educational and hands-on activities.

Amount: $3,500 to $10,000
Next accepting applications: In 2010, there will be no intake round for this grant program. Rather, funds will be directed to applicants whom they were unable to fund in previous years.

For more information on these grants, go to

3. The Home Depot Canada Foundation Community Grant Program

The Home Depot Canada Foundation grant awards grants up to $5,000 to Canadian registered charitable organizations or municipalities undertaking affordable, sustainable local neighbourhood improvement projects that incorporate environmentally responsible practices. Grants are made in the form of cash and/or Home Depot gift cards for the purchase of tools and materials. Eligible projects include building, rebuilding, painting, refurbishing, landscaping and planting. Preference is given to projects that make use of volunteer service.

For more info, go to

4. Aboriginal Peoples' Program Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth

CCAY provides funding for accessible, community=based, culturally -focused beautification projects that involve aboriginal youth aged 10-24 that promote cultural development, community engagement, leadership development, youth engagement and life skills and wellness. Projects should be in partnership with aboriginal organizations or advisory committees and should be located in an off-reserve, urban or northern community whose population is over 1,000.

For more information, go to

5. Ontario Horticultural Association Special Project Fund

OHA provides $500 grants to its Societies for projects that involve long lasting benefit to individual Societies or community such as the planting of trees and shrubs and perennials. It does not cover the purchase of annuals or hardscaping materials.

For more information visit

6. Canadian Tire Community Environmental Award Program

This fund provides funds of up to $10, 000 for community-based projects which provide a significant, positive contribution to improving the environment in communities across Canada where Canadian Tire stores are located. Canadian Tire Associate Store employees sponsor award applications from non-profit organizations they support.

For more info, contact your local Canadian Tire Store.

7. Tree Canada

Tree Canada and FedEx work together to make Canadian schools cleaner, greener places by providing up to $10, 000 towards the transformation of school grounds into environmentally enriched learning landscapes. They have no set deadlines for applications.

For more information, go to

8. WILD Education

The program through the Canadian Wildlife Federation provides funding to a maximum of $2000 per class and $500 per school for habitat projects that use native plants, trees and shrubs. All ages of school children are eligible.

For more information, go to

9. Earth Day Canada Community Environment Fund

In partnership with Sobeys this fund provides grants up to $20, 000 depending on the project requirements to support local environmental initiatives and projects in Ontario.

For more information, go to

10. Canadian Biodiversity Institute

The Institute provides funds for School grounds transformation projects. Requests should address health and safety benefits of project along with environmental and educational benefits

For more information, go to

11. Laidlaw Foundation

This fund provides incentive grants for organizations to increase youth involvement in their community.

For more information, go to

12. Fiskars Project Orange Thumb

Project Orange Thumb is committed to encouraging, sharing and inspiring creative expression in gardening projects that contribute to neighbourhood beautification, community involvement, horticultural education and sustainable agriculture.

For more information, go to

13. Communities in Action Fund (CIAF)

This fund aims to bring about physical activity through community sport and recreation (such as gardening) in Ontario.

For more information, go to

14. Ontario Trillium Foundation

This foundation provides funding for projects that are accessed by the entire community. They also provide capital funding for improvements to existing projects as well. Partnerships are favoured. This is a great source for funding the creation of community gardens.

For more information, go to

15. EcoAction

This fund, operated by Environment Canada, supports programs that protect, rehabilitate or enhance the natural environment and build the capacity of communities to sustain activities in the future. Deadlines are February 1st and October 1st of each calendar year.

For more information, go to

16. The Harry E. Foster Charitable Foundation

This foundation provides funding for projects and programs for people with intellectual disabilities. Other areas of interest include Alzheimer's disease and community organizations assisting the disadvantaged. Deadlines for submissions are April 15th and October 1st. This is a great source of funding for large permanent shade structures for sensory and/or therapy gardens. Grants range from $2,000-$30,000, many on a matching grant basis.

For more information, go to

17. Shell Environment Fund

This fund provides monies for projects that propose innovative, action-oriented ways of improving and protecting the Canadian environment.

For more information, go to

18. Green Apple School Program

This program was created by Metro to encourage students to participate in the development of a healthier environment. They award grants of $1,000 to elementary and high schools with ideas for green projects in their communities.

For more information, go to




> Trillium newsletter - back issues and deadlines for submissions

> New pins for long serving horticultural society members

> OHA Corporate Report 2014


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