The Government of Canada’s new $350M Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) is a unique, responsive granting program unlike any other we’ve carried out to date – and an opportunity to enable organizations working in the community to have an even greater impact. Our goal, alongside the Canadian Red Cross, United Way Centraide Canada and in collaboration with community foundations across Canada is to reach vulnerable communities, impacted by COVID-19,  who most need support during this time. 

We extend our appreciation to the federal government for this financial support that will ultimately assist organizations working to ensure no one is left behind—including equity seeking communities such as racialized communities, Indigenous communities, people with disabilities, people struggling with addiction, and women, girls, and trans and non-binary people. 

We won’t hide the fact that this is an extraordinary moment that is stretching and challenging us all to work differently and better than ever before. Our response and actions must be extraordinary. We are asking ourselves, and encouraging foundations to be bold: in their thinking, in their planning and in their granting. In this crisis, we all need to take courageous action. 

To that end, we ground our work on this emergency response with the following guiding principles in mind. These principles are inspired and reflective of the work CFC, and our network, has been undertaking as we have refreshed our purpose and embarked on powerful collaborations including the Equality Fund and work with a variety of partners pursuing equity-based approaches.

Together, we aspire to reduce the power imbalances inherent to funder/grantee relationships, and we encourage community foundations to do the same. A first way CFC will do this is by taking a gender-based analysis lens through its funding stream. We are further  committed to: 

  • To use participatory decision-making processes to shift power so that vulnerable populations most affected by COVID-19 are informing and included in the funding decision making process. 
  • To take the lead from and learn from those on the frontlines of challenging inequalities and building more equitable, sustainable and just communities.
  • To challenge the broad social and economic power imbalances that give some people privileges and disadvantage and oppress others, including by taking a gender-based approach in decision-making.
  • To pursue the work with truth, reconciliation, and decolonizing practices in your hearts and minds, as well as in our collective outreach, grantmaking and communications efforts. 
  • To fund organizations led by people they represent and acting on the concept of “nothing about us, without us.” 
  • To place trust and confidence in applicants. Fund projects at their full request—applicants know best what support they need. 

We know this is an ambitious list and there is much work to be done. But, as the maxim goes, the time is now. It’s time to think and act more boldly than ever before. It’s also time to consider that charities and non-profit organizations – as pillars of our community – will need more than just emergency support to weather this storm.

As a sector that employs 12.8% of working Canadians and contributes 8.5% of Canada’s GDP, community organizations will be vital to helping rebuild and recover as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. Together, let’s take the long view, and turn the dream of just, equitable, resilient communities into reality. 


Andrew Chunilall, CEO
& Andrea Dicks, President