Guidelines: Organization Opportunity Grant Program 2016

Guidelines: Organization Opportunity Grant Program 2016

Application Deadline: April 11, 2016 at 4:30pm MST


  • Program Goal
  • Program Description
  • Eligibility
  • Program Streams
  • How to Apply
  • Assessment Process
  • Application Checklist
  • Fair Notice Policy
  • Notification of Results
  • Contact Information
  • Application Help Sheet

Program Goal

The goal of this program is to provide support for Calgary arts organizations that are poised to enhance their contribution to the city.

Program Description

This program invests in arts organizations that have demonstrated awareness of their challenges and opportunities, and are able to focus on areas that will allow them to more effectively achieve their mandates. Organizations may allocate these funds to any area of their overall budgets.


To be eligible for all streams of this program, an organization must:

  • Operate under an arts mandate.
  • Be registered as a non-profit organization, corporation or society in the Province of Alberta.
  • Maintain operations through the whole or majority of the year.
  • Maintain a significant amount of activities that support Calgary artists or are accessible to Calgary citizens.

Calgary Arts Development staff review all applications for eligibility. For organizations that also have non-arts-related programming or operate in areas outside of Calgary, Calgary Arts Development will determine eligibility through the organization’s commitment to the arts and the scope of its activities within Calgary’s arts community.

This program welcomes applications from organizations not currently funded through the Operating Grant Program. However, no organizations may receive investment through both this program and the Operating Grant Program in any given year.

In 2016, organizations that received an investment of $3,000 or less through the Operating Grant Program are eligible to transfer that amount over and compete in this new program. These organizations had until January 29, 2016 to notify Calgary Arts Development of their decision whether or not to transfer.

The following groups are ineligible for investment through this program:

  • Political, trade union or fraternal lodge organizations.
  • Degree- and diploma-granting educational institutes such as colleges and universities.
  • Organizations that receive operational funding directly from The City of Calgary.

Program Streams

Applicants are encouraged to select the stream that best fits their organization’s mandate, regardless of precedent in other programs. Calgary Arts Development staff will review all applications for eligibility in their selected streams.


Arts organizations that primarily support, present or produce the work of non-professional artists or volunteer professional artists. Organizations that do not intend to provide standard professional artist fees should apply to this stream.


Arts organizations that present or produce the work of professional artists (whether emerging or established), and either provide or intend to provide standard professional artist fees.

Organizations applying to this stream that are not currently able to offer standard professional artist fees will have to present a clear plan to do so, as well as demonstrate a level of professionalism in organizational and artistic practices appropriate to their discipline.

Please contact Community Investment staff for guidance on the appropriate stream.

How to Apply

All applications must be submitted using the online granting interface.

New users must set up an account to access the interface. For instructions on how to use the online grant interface, please refer to the Granting Interface Questions.

If you have any questions about how to access your organization’s account, please contact us at or 403.476.2031.

The application process will be available March 4, 2016 through our online grant interface.

All applications must be submitted through the online granting interface by April 11, 2016 at 4:30pm MST.

If a deadline extension is required, Calgary Arts Development must receive a written request before this deadline. Please read the full Deadline Extension Policy.

Assessment Process

Applicants will be assessed within the context of each organization’s arts mandate. An independent, arm’s-length assessment committee made up of artistic peers and/or community members will consider applications according to the criteria.

This process asks organizations to identify an opportunity that will allow them to more effectively achieve their mandates. The following criteria are then used to determine which organizations represent the strongest return on investment:

  • Awareness: How well an organization understands the context of its work, and the challenges, opportunities and risks around achieving its mandate.
  • Opportunity: The potential for the plans described in the application to positively impact the organization’s ability to achieve its mandate.
  • Capacity: The ability of the organization to achieve its goals and to capitalize on intelligent risks.

Application Checklist

  • Organization information (applicant contact information).
  • 2016 Programming List – Short
  • What is your organization’s mandate (200 words max)?
  • Describe what aspect of your organization represents the greatest opportunity for you over the next two years (300 words max). This aspect can be anything, so long as addressing it allows you to best achieve your mandate.
  • Why does this aspect represent the greatest opportunity for you? Illustrate how you know with specific examples (300 words max). Show what you have learned through both success and failure.
  • What has your organization done to address this aspect (200 words max)?
  • Statement of Resiliency (only applicable to organizations flagged for resiliency through the 2015 Operating Grant Program, see the Fair Notice Policy section below)
  • 2016 Statistical Report – Short. Applicants to the Professional stream may submit CADAC statistical forms.
  • 2016 Financial Form. Applicants to the Professional stream may submit CADAC statistical forms.
  • Most recent financial statements. Applicants must include a Statement of Operations and a Balance Sheet. If audited financial statements are unavailable, applicants must include the signatures of two board members not involved in creating the statements (PDF files only).
  • Organizational structure (uploaded in DOC, DOCX, or PDF only).
  • List of board members (can be uploaded in DOC, DOCX or PDF Format, or through the standard form).
  • Support materials. Provide materials that relate to your application such as text, digital images, audio or video. Limit your support material to a maximum review time of 10 minutes, or 10 pages of text. You may include up to four attachments with a maximum size of 2MB each.
  • Please provide short descriptions of each attachment in the fields provided. Acceptable file formats are PDF, JPG, DOC, DOCX, XLS and XLSX. For audio and video materials, please enter a YouTube or Vimeo link with specific instructions on which sections to view.
  • Certificate of Accuracy
  • Most recent proof of filing from Alberta Registries, or Certificate of Non-Profit Status (for organizations under one year of operation) (PDF only).

Fair Notice Policy

This policy ensures that organizations that receive annual funding from Calgary Arts Development do not see major fluctuations in their investment in any single assessment year. This policy also limits an assessment panel’s ability to remove an organization from the program or significantly decrease an organization’s operational funding without notice. It also creates a platform to measure and record risks within Calgary Arts Development’s portfolio of investments and encourages investment recipients to work with us to create strategies and remedy high-risk conditions.

In addition to the assessment process described above, Calgary Arts Development staff and assessors will review applications to ensure that there are not significant risks to an organization’s resiliency.

Identified risks may result in a resiliency flag and open the organization to reductions to investment amounts as outlined in the Fair Notice Policy.

The full policy is available here.

Organizations Flagged in 2015’s Operating Grant Program

All organizations flagged in 2015 met with Calgary Arts Development staff and received notes outlining resiliency concerns (contact Calgary Arts Development staff if your organization requires a copy of these notes). Flagged organization must provide an update on these resiliency concerns as part of their 2016 application in the Statement of Resiliency section. The Fair Notice Policy addresses ongoing resiliency concerns.

Notification of Results

Applicants will be notified of the results of their applications in writing in July 2016.

Contact Information

Contact the Community Investment Team at or 403.476.2031 if you have any questions about the program.

  • Emiko Muraki, Director, Community Investment & Impact
  • Jordan Baylon, Community Investment Manager
  • Melissa Tuplin, Community Investment Officer

Application Help Sheet

This document is meant only as a guide and there may also be other important and relevant considerations not listed below that demonstrate an applicant’s ability to meet the three main criteria of the Organization Opportunity Grant Program.

Applications to the 2016 Organization Opportunity Grant Program will be assessed within the context of each organization’s arts mandate. An independent, arm’s-length assessment committee made up of artistic peers (1) and community members (2) will consider the applicant’s plans for the year in which they are applying, and their activities in the previous year.

Getting Started: Talking About Opportunity

This application asks you to talk about an aspect of your organization that represents the greatest opportunity for you.

An opportunity is something that you can do that increases your ability to achieve your mandate (your goals) as an organization. It can be anything, including but not limited to:

  • New or existing artistic programming.
  • Community outreach or relationship building initiatives.
  • Strategic planning for staff, leadership and boards.
  • Administrative or professional development support for staff.
  • Volunteer or youth engagement.
  • Educational programming or workshop development.

What is important for one organization may not be the same for another, so make sure that you make a clear connection between your mandate and what you choose to focus on.

The criteria of Awareness, Opportunity and Capacity will help the people reviewing your application determine how well you know your organization and how thoughtful you are in planning. Ultimately, your application will be the most successful if it demonstrates that your organization is a strong investment according to the criteria.

1.) Artists and arts professionals who possess professional experience and knowledge directly relevant to the arts sector.
2.) Calgarians with an appreciation for the arts (any discipline) that actively take part in arts activities.


Awareness is defined as how well an organization understands the context of its work, and the challenges, opportunities and risks around achieving its mandate. This is perhaps the most challenging criterion to address directly, because it depends on all of the parts of the application taken together.

Providing the facts of your organization through things like programming lists, statistics and financial statements is only the beginning. To understand what is important to you and begin talking about why, you need to provide context, defined as the conditions and circumstances, internal and external, that are relevant to your organization.

Some things to consider when addressing Awareness:

  • What does success look like for your organization? Aside from more funding, what do you need to be successful?
  • What, if any, relationships impact your ability to be successful? How effective are those relationships?
  • What role does your organization play in its artistic community? Your geographical or cultural community? The city as a whole?


Opportunity is defined as the potential for the plans described in the application to positively impact the organization’s ability to achieve its mandate.

It is not enough to describe your opportunity in clear detail—you also have to show how you know it is the most important thing you need to do right now.

Some things to consider when addressing Opportunity:

  • Just because you feel that something is important does not necessarily mean that the people reviewing your application share the same view—show importance and be specific.
  • Talk about past failures or challenges and what you may have learned as a result.
  • What internal and external factors make this the right time to address this opportunity?


Capacity is defined as the ability of the organization to achieve its goals and to capitalize on intelligent risks. Intelligent risks are a balance of the most positive possible outcome for your organization and the amount of time, energy and resources you can commit without putting your organization in jeopardy.

Similar to Awareness, addressing this criterion depends on an overall view of what you present in your application. Capacity is more than just your organization’s financial health and the wise management of your resources. It is also about how effectively you can address your needs by generating ideas, planning and assessing changing situations.

In the context of this program, the question of Capacity should be approached two ways:

  1. Are you able to follow through on the opportunity you present?
  2. To what degree can you adapt to changing conditions that impact your ability to achieve your mandate?

Some things to consider when addressing Capacity:

  • What makes your leadership effective within the unique context of your mandate?
  • A general lack of funding is a reality for most applicants—what ways has your organization been effective within those constraints?
  • To what degree does growth for you mean doing more things? To what degree does it mean doing things better?

How Much Funding Should You Request?

You should request the amount of money your organization needs. This program looks at how you talk about opportunity as a way to gauge the value of investing in your organization for this period—you can use the funding you receive for any part of your overall budget.

It is possible that you may receive less than you requested if the people reviewing your application feel you will use the funding effectively to achieve your mandate at some level.

Things to consider when deciding how much funding to request:

  • Show that you are a good investment at any level. It is assumed that if you receive funding you will attempt to address the opportunity presented, but situations change and you may receive a lesser amount than you requested.
  • Do not ask for less than you honestly feel you need—you will not receive more funding than you originally requested.
  • Do not request more funding than you make a reasonable case for in your application—this shows a lack of thoughtfulness that could make you a weaker case for investment.

General Tips

  • Do not just state your points, demonstrate them with specific examples.
  • Use plain language and avoid specialized terms and jargon.
  • Be clear and concise, and break up long tracts of text into smaller paragraphs.
  • Follow instructions on file names and acceptable file formats.
  • Read the guidelines carefully and ask us questions well in advance of the deadline!
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