IRP FAQs

What does the IRP fund? 

The IRP’s goal is to help social enterprises move towards being investment-ready. Funding can be used to research, launch, design, measure and scale up your social enterprise. Funds are intended to be used to access outside expert advice or services or create dedicated staff capacity. Examples include: 

  • Exploring a new business idea or developing a business plan to test feasibility
  • Creating a marketing plan to reach new audiences and increase revenue
  • Planning new products or services to grow revenue
  • Preparing the documentation needed to approach potential investors as you move towards taking on investment capital 

The funds are not eligible for use towards core operating costs. They should move your enterprise forward along the spectrum from idea to investment-ready. 

What are the amounts of funding available? 

Social purpose organizations can request between $10,000 and $100,000.

What is a social enterprise?

An organization or program that is mission-driven, aiming to sell goods or services to earn a revenue, while also helping achieve positive social, cultural or environmental results. Consult our IRP glossary for more terms and definitions.

Who can apply? 

You can apply to the IRP if you are a: 

  • Charity 
  • Non-profit 
  • Co-op 
  • For-profit social enterprise

I live in a rural or remote region. Can I apply?

The IRP is open to social purpose organizations in every part of  Canada, including in rural and remote regions, and the North. Over 20 community foundations across the country have partnered with CFC to deliver, promote and implement the IRP in their regions. In this way, over 95% of people across Canada will be able to go through the application process with the help of an organization in their local region or community.  Find out if a local community foundation is administering the IRP in your community. In all cases, applicants are required to submit their application via the same online portal. If your area is served by a community foundation administering the IRP, it will be evaluated locally. If not, applications will be directed to CFC.

When can I apply to the IRP? 

CFC and community foundations will hold up to 3 funding rounds before March 31, 2021. The application period for the first round runs from January 8th 2020 to February 10th 2020. Subsequent rounds will be held in 2020. Follow CFC’s social media channels for up to date information. 

CFC and the community foundation network are one of five national organizations delivering the Government of Canada’s IRP funding. To learn more about other Readiness Support Partners’ funding programs and application periods, please visit their websites. You can also visit the IRP website at www.irp-ppi.ca.

How do I apply to the IRP? 

Interested applicants can submit via the IRP application portal. The portal will be open to accept applications starting January 8, 2020 at 10 a.m. EST. You can prepare your application responses in advance using the downloadable PDF forms in our resource library.

I don’t have access to reliable internet and will have difficulty applying online. Can I still apply?

Yes. If your social purpose organization is located in a region with limited or difficult access to broadband internet or if you have accessibility issues, please be in touch with our team. Paper applications can be made available upon request. Contact us at readiness@communityfoundations.ca or 613 236 2664 ext 339. 

Can I apply to the IRP more than once? 

Social purpose organizations may only submit one application per IRP funding round. They may resubmit their project for further consideration in our second and third rounds of funding. They may also submit an application for a different project in a subsequent funding round. 

Can I apply to multiple IRP funders for the same project?  

No. Social purpose organizations may apply to only one IRP funder for a given project. Social purpose organizations may however, apply to other IRP funding partners for different activities.

When can I expect to be notified of the results? 

Social purpose organizations who apply to the first IRP deadline of Feb 10th 2020 can expect to receive their results before the end of April 2020.

What can IRP non-repayable capital be used for? 

Social purpose organizations can use IRP funding for any activity that will help their social enterprise move along the spectrum towards being ready for investment. This includes things like business ideation to exploration, to activities that encourage growth, to preparing to seek investment. For a full list of eligible and ineligible costs, please see the CFC IRP Program Guidelines and application form (available in the resource library on the main IRP page).

Does the IRP fund operations or provide core funding?

No. The IRP does not provide funding to support the basic “core” organizational and administrative costs of a social purpose organization. The IRP is designed to support access to new services and tools that will catalyze advancement through a special project or initiative.

What do expert service providers do? 

Expert service providers offer a range of resources, expertise and coaching that align with the needs of social purpose organizations as they progress from idea and profit. Expert service providers can help with many different things, like business ideation, drafting a business plan, preparing for procurement, or finding new audiences. Through the IRP, the Government of Canada has funded several organizations across Canada to get ready to act as expert service providers to help social purpose organizations. In most cases, IRP funding  will be used to purchase the services of an expert service provider, whether from the Government of Canada’s IRP list, or not.

Am I required to use IRP non-repayable capital to hire expert service providers listed on the Government of Canada’s website? 

No. Social purpose organizations interested in engaging the services of expert service providers are welcome to work with either suppliers listed by the Government of Canada or a trusted and reliable supplier of their choice.

Can my social purpose organization apply even if it is not profitable?

Yes. We welcome applications from social purpose organizations at any stage of development, whether you are generating revenue or intend to. For more information about eligibility, please see our program guidelines.

My business creates positive impact in my community. Am I eligible to apply to IRP?

The definition of a social enterprise extends beyond corporate social responsibility or the contribution of some profit to social causes. A social enterprise is an organization or business that uses business approaches and the sale of goods and/or services to pursue a positive impact (social, cultural or environmental). Some factors that contribute to distinguishing a social enterprise include: 

  • Impact objectives are embedded in the organization’s purpose,
  • The operating model, value chain,  and organizational culture are mission-aligned
  • A reasonable percentage of profits are re-invested in the purpose 

The IRP aims to support social enterprises keen on expanding the impact of their social, environmental and/or cultural mission, not to maximize their profits. Eligibility it outlined in more detail in the program guidelines.

Who is ineligible for the program?

IRP funding cannot be used for a single individual (sole proprietors); federal, provincial or municipal government agencies (they can be involved but the grant will be made directly to the social purpose organization). Projects outside of Canada are also ineligible.

How will IRP funding decisions be made? 

All eligible applications will be evaluated based on shared criteria by either the community foundation serving your area, or by CFC, depending on the location of the applicant.

What are the criteria by which applications will be evaluated? 

To be considered, applicants must meet IRP eligibility criteria, provide the required supporting documentation and describe their social enterprise’s social, environmental or cultural impact or desired impact. They must also successfully demonstrate: 

  • Being a solid and stable organization
  • How revenue is generated through the sale of goods and services. Or there is a plan to do so?
  • The viability and feasibility of their proposed project to move towards investment readiness
  • Realistic timelines for the implementation of their proposed project 
  • An appropriate project budget, aligned with the amount requested