This new opportunity is for Registered Journalism Organizations, journalism organizations that partner with a charitable partner, or donors that believe that journalism is fundamental to the health of democracy.

The Ottawa Community Foundation believes that informed communities are engaged communities, and that engaged communities are committed to positive, systemic, and sustainable change. We believe that independent journalism plays a critical role in creating healthy and resilient communities. It serves as a source of timely and accurate information, as an advocate for the public, as a support for social cohesion, and as means of holding power to account. By shining light on issues that matter, by giving voice to underrepresented groups, and by sharing vital information with the public, journalism also plays a key role in shaping public policy responses and solutions.

Canadians share this conviction: A 2018 survey of Canadians by Maru/Matchbox’s Angus Reid Forum found that 94% of respondents felt that journalism plays an “important” role in Canadian democracy, with nearly three quarters of respondents responding that journalism plays a “very” or “critically” important role in Canadian democracy.

Information in times of crisis

We know that journalism is particularly important during times of crisis, as communities respond, recover, and rebuild. Through the COVID-19 crisis, Canadians have regularly turned to journalism organizations to make sense of our rapidly changing world.

Despite its important role, journalism and local news have been fundamentally disrupted in communities across Canada. The last two decades have seen cuts, layoffs, and closures to news organizations in communities across the country, radically decreasing the quality and quantity of original, independent journalism. 

Creative and innovative solutions are needed to support the long-term sustainability of independent journalism in our rapidly shifting world. Leading journalism organizations have been exploring alternative business models, and the Government of Canada announced new tax measures to support Canadian journalism organizations in 2019. Philanthropy also has a key role to play in engaging donors and community support for journalism.

Engaging communities in the importance of supporting journalism

In that spirit, the Ottawa Community Foundation is excited to launch a pilot initiative, the Journalism Endowment Matching Program. The program has three objectives: 

  • Strengthen philanthropic support for journalism activities and journalism organizations.
  • Spark donor interest and engagement in supporting journalism.
  • Sustain a mechanism for journalism organizations to support themselves in the long-term, by raising funds from community and donors into their own organizational fund.

How it works

The Ottawa Community Foundation will help create the philanthropic infrastructure to enable journalism organizations to engage donors. Those organizations will then independently lead the development of their organizational fund and journalism-related activities. At its core, this new program is about organizations working to leverage their resources, relationships, and ideas to seed a long-term endowment fund and bring to life important work related to independent journalism. 

How will the endowment matching work?

Journalism organizations will be encouraged to apply to participate in the Journalism Endowment Matching Program. Once accepted into the program, participating journalism organizations will establish an organizational fund at the Ottawa Community Foundation, and will fundraise at least $5,000 to seed the initial endowment. 

Once the journalism organization has seeded its organizational fund with the first $5,000, the community foundation will match that amount with a $5,000 flow-through grant. The organization will be able to use that grant towards their journalism-related activities.

The goal of the program is to seed long-term endowments that will support the capacity of journalism organizations in the long-term, while also unlocking a grant for journalism-related activities or capacity-related projects, helping support these organizations’ activities in the immediate term. 

In total, the Ottawa Community Foundation has committed $25,000 toward the program, and looks forward to supporting up to five journalism organizations.

Our commitment to journalistic independence

Donations made to the Journalism Endowment Matching Program—including gifts made to individual organizational funds—are donations to the Ottawa Community Foundation, a registered Canadian charity. 

Journalism organizations that receive funds from the Ottawa Community Foundation will maintain full editorial control over content that is produced with those funds. Neither the community foundation nor its donors will have input into content, nor will they have special access to reporters or others involved in journalism activities.

For interested journalism organizations

  • The Journalism Endowment Matching Program will accept applications from Registered Journalism Organizations or from journalism organizations that partner with a charitable partner
  • Eligible organizations are encouraged to read the Applicant Guide, which includes information about eligibility, the application process, and the benefits of an organizational fund at the community foundation.
  • Organizations will be required to complete the online application form, and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until matching funds are disbursed in full. A template of the application questions can be viewed here.
    • For new users to the online application system, click here. Carefully follow the instructions provided on the login page. You will receive a confirmation e-mail indicating that you have created a new account.
    • If you have an account already, you can begin a new application by clicking here.
    • To login and modify existing applications, click here.
  • All interested applicants are encouraged to contact Fateema Sayani, Director, Donor Engagement, to discuss the program and their eligibility: fsayani@ocf-fco.ca or 613-236-1616 x 224. 

For donors interested in supporting journalism

  • Individuals that are interested in sparking, strengthening, and sustaining journalism in Canada can:
    • Contribute funds in support of organizations participating in the Journalism Endowment Matching Program by making a donation or transferring funds from your existing fund at the Ottawa Community Foundation.

    • Sign up for our e-newsletter to learn more about this and other Ottawa Community Foundation projects
    • Start your own fund dedicated to supporting journalism in Canada. Contact Fateema Sayani, Director, Donor Engagement, to learn more at fsayani@ocf-fco.ca or 613-236-1616 x 224.