The Foundation of Greater Montréal distributes part of the grants it allocates to community organizations through the granting program it manages. Learn more about the Foundation’s current programs.

Please note that FGM’s granting programs do not currently accept unsolicited requests.

Download our Strategic Granting Framework to better understand the principles that govern our granting choices, or read on to learn more about our trust-based philanthropy approach.

FGM also offers nonprofit organizations the possibility of creating their own endowment funds. The income from these funds is allocated to their operations and their programs. If you are a non-profit organization registered with the Canada Revenue Agency, you could be eligible. Click here to learn more about creating a fund.

What is trust-based philanthropy?

Trust-based philanthropy aims to make philanthropic practices more inclusive and democratic. This approach emphasizes funders’ responsibility to recognize and address the systemic inequalities that philanthropy has historically helped perpetuate.

Trust-based philanthropy encourages funders to rethink their relationships with the organizations they support, to relinquish some control, and to focus on working with the people directly involved in solving the problems funders seek to address. It is based on principles like mutual respect, equity, humility, openness, the redistribution of power, building sincere relationships, and adopting a collaborative approach rooted in trust and knowledge sharing.

These principles translate into practical courses of action, such as establishing multi-year, unrestricted funding parameters, streamlining funding application and reporting processes, soliciting and considering opinions and feedback, and providing support beyond grants. There are several concrete practices that funders can adopt to facilitate the work of the organizations they wish to support. For example, using a conversation-based approach—rather than the typical grant application forms—makes the process more human, collaborative, and rewarding for the community.

The precepts of trust-based philanthropy can also be combined with a participatory approach to grantmaking. By this logic, sharing decision-making powers with a group that is more experienced and more representative of the community and its key stakeholders allows the funder to make choices that are more informed and better suited to the needs of the people it seeks to support. It also allows the funder to open up its funding process to organizations that might otherwise have slipped under its radar or that would not have had the capacity—or opportunity—to participate.

As a whole, a trust-based environment fosters the emergence of reciprocal and enduring relationships between funders and charities, rather than one-off transactions. These relationships in turn allow funders to better understand the work, challenges, and needs of charities. This makes it easier for both sides to get to the root of the issues and help develop and implement the systemic solutions that the community really needs.

How does the Foundation of Greater Montréal apply these principles?

While the Foundation of Greater Montréal (FGM) has always strived to be attentive to the needs of its community, the Foundation had always done so using a traditional grantmaking approach. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the FGM to prioritize the administration of two emergency funds: the COVID-19 Collective Fund, which it created at the start of the crisis; and the Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF), established by the federal government shortly thereafter. This critical period threw the Greater Montréal community into a much more precarious situation, while organizations found themselves on the front lines of the fight against the social, environmental, and health inequalities exacerbated by the crisis. The Foundation needed simpler, faster, and more effective ways to support them. This is what spurred the Foundation to rethink its approach.

The Foundation then developed a new strategic plan emphasizing its commitment to impactful philanthropy based on community needs. Over the ensuing years, the FGM progressively modified its practices and integrated the principles of trust-based philanthropy into the grantmaking processes of the various funds it administers.

Combined with its renewed commitment to the values of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI), the principles of trust-based philanthropy have created a space for reflection and learning, driving progress in FGM’s practices and ways of doing things. While naturally there remains work to do—and likely always will—this journey of change has allowed the Foundation to deepen its understanding of the needs and aspirations of its community and to strengthen its partnerships to address the multiple, complex causes of the issues facing the community.

FGM believes that philanthropic institutions need to better acknowledge their partners’ value in fostering sustainable change that meets the needs identified and expressed by the community. These institutions must draw on the knowledge and insight of the people and organizations on the ground, who have the experience and expertise to understand the nuances and to act more effectively. This paradigm shift, while sometimes uncomfortable, teaches funders to broaden their vision and share their power. The FGM has made a commitment to helping build impactful philanthropy that is truly rooted in the needs of its community.

Overview of FGM’s evolving philanthropic practices

In 2021, the Foundation of Greater Montréal created the Collective Fund for Social Equity (CFSE) to address various issues stemming from social inequality in order to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) across its territory. The Foundation’s primary objective is to support organizations working with historically marginalized populations: Black, Indigenous, racialized, and LGBTQ2S+ people; women and girls; and people living with neurodivergence or physical or intellectual disabilities. With the adoption of its Strategic Plan 2022–2026, these JEDI orientations—combined with the principles of trust-based philanthropy—have been extended to all funds directly managed by the FGM, including the Women’s Impact Montréal Collective Fund (WIM Fund), the Collective Fund for Climate and Ecological Transition, and the Fund to Support Indigenous Initiatives.

The Foundation’s grantmaking practices now rely more on tapping the knowledge and collective intelligence of the entire community ecosystem, as well as on a peer-to-peer decision-making mechanism (participatory grantmaking). The FGM has developed these approaches through in-depth and ongoing dialogue with the sectors in question, actively listening to their needs. These discussions make it possible to first determine the issues on which its funds will focus, and then to identify and communicate with the organizations working in each of these areas that could benefit from support, as well as determining the parameters of this support.

Advisory committees have already been set up for each of these funds, on a number of occasions to date. Composed of partners and representatives from the community, philanthropic, and institutional sectors with relevant experience and expertise, these advisory committees support the FGM team every step of the way. The Foundation’s Community Engagement Committee, which reports to the Board of Directors and helps determine priorities and make decisions for all funding, is another forum that brings in additional expertise and different perspectives from the Greater Montréal community.

Learn more about FGM’s Collective Funds

Useful resources (coming soon)

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