Community Investment Program Application Guidelines

Eligibility and focus areas

About CIRA's Community Investment Program

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority, through this grant program, will make strategic investments in Internet related community projects consistent with CIRA’s Strategic Plan. In addition, the projects selected will need to demonstrate their ability to support one of the fundamental tenets of the organization, which is to develop, carry out and/or support any other Internet-related activities in Canada.

Types of projects funded

Innovative projects that support the development and/or enhancement of the Internet for the benefit of all Canadians will be viewed favourably. Some examples of the types of Internet-related projects that may be considered for funding include:

  1. Community access to the Internet, Internet tools, and devices;
  2. Online services for vulnerable or disadvantaged groups; (these online services must create efficiencies);
  3. Digital literacy and/or web safety;
  4. Infrastructure and Internet security; (infrastructure must bring new or improved Internet services to regional, rural and remote communities);
  5. Research focused on technological aspects of the Internet; 
  6. Knowledge-sharing activities that lead to more effective Internet governance;
  7. Increase public participation in policy making and political processes; and
  8. Address social, economic and/or environmental needs.

We do not fund programs or initiatives outside our funding priorities.

For examples of the types of projects the Community Investment Program has funded in the past, visit our projects page.

Typical grants will be approximately $25,000 - $50,000, to a maximum of $100,000. The projects associated with the grants are not to exceed one year in duration, however the project results will be sustained beyond the initial year. Further, grants are meant to be a one-time investment and not intended as operating funding for an organization.

If you are applying for project funding that is part of a larger project, be specific about the portion for which you are requesting funding.

Who can apply?

The Community Investment Program is open to:

  • Organizations recognized by the Canada Revenue Agency as registered charities
  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Academics and researchers affiliated with a Canadian university

Applicants must demonstrate fiscal responsibility and a solid track record of past success. Organizations must be based in Canada and projects, while they can have a broader impact, must be of benefit to Canadians.

We will accept only one application at a time from an organization, either alone or as part of a partnership. There are no limits for academic institutions; however, the lead researcher(s) may submit only one application at a time.

If you have already received a grant from CIRA’s Community Investment Program, you or your organization can re-apply for the next round of funding. However, your project will only be considered if the final report from your last funded project has been received. Your new application can be for a new project or an extension of the original project, but it cannot be used to complete the original project if you did not achieve your objectives with the first grant.

If you are unsure if you are eligible, please contact

Funding restrictions

What we will not fund:

  • Requests for sponsorship;
  • Training proposals that provide generic IT training;
  • Projects whose main focus is outside of Canada;
  • General fundraising appeals;
  • Ongoing core operations (e.g. permanent staff salaries, administrative functions such as firewalls and intranets, etc.);
  • Projects solely focusing on website development and design (e.g. graphic design);
  • Retrospective costs;
  • Applications seeking IT equipment for general purpose training rooms; and/or
  • Marketing or research associated with marketing activities.

We do support projects and organizations that do not have a .CA through the Community Investment Program. However, as an organization whose initiative benefits Canadians, .CA will help brand you as Canadian online. Learn more about the benefits of having a .CA.

Application process

Application deadline

The complete Community Investment Program online application form with all required attachments must be received by Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 4 pm ET. The system automatically closes after the deadline and applications received after the deadline date will not be accepted.

Please submit your application as soon as possible so staff can review your application for completeness prior to the deadline. Your application must be complete and all of your supporting documentation must be submitted by the deadline for your application to be accepted and move forward for review by the Committee. All applications will be acknowledged by e-mail upon receipt.

The decision-making process

  1. CIRA staff will review all applications to ensure completeness and eligibility.
  2. Only complete applications from eligible organizations will be forwarded to the Community Investment Committee for their consideration.
  3. The Committee will meet to review the applications and make selections for funding based on established criteria and funding available.
  4. The Committee will present their recommendations to the CIRA Board of Directors who will make final decisions.
  5. Approval letters and contracts will be sent to successful recipients in early May. Once contracts are signed, funds will be released.
  6. CIRA staff will communicate with applicants that were not successful and make them aware of the decision in early May.

General selection criteria

The Community Investment Committee will assess the applications against the following general criteria as well as the priorities established by the CIRA Board:

  • The proposal is in accordance with CIRA’s strategic plan and meets the objectives of the Program;
  • The project is of high quality;
  • There is a demonstrated need to be addressed;
  • There are clear social and/or other outcomes; For additional guidance, please see our Project Planning Tool and Measuring Results Tip Sheet.
  • The applicant has a demonstrated capacity and leadership to implement the project;
  • The project is appropriately planned with clearly-defined activities;
  • The applicant has made an appropriate financial contribution to the project (with the amount of the contribution being proportional to the financial strength of the applicant’s organization); and
  • The project is financially viable and the budget is reasonable.

Additional considerations as you complete your application

  • Applicants are encouraged to make their digital tools and applications openly available so others can learn and benefit from the project. For example, applicants can host their documentation publicly (via GitHub or equivalent) and openly license their solutions (via GNU, Apache Commons or similar).
  • Applicants are encouraged to partner with other organizations as appropriate to work together on common issues, share expertise and learnings from the project.
  • Applicants should consider whether their results can be scaled for further impact.

Based on our experience, some of the main reasons why applicants are not successful include:

  • The project outcomes are not clear.  The activities may be described in the application but the outcomes of the project are less clear. For example, how many individuals are expected to be reached and how will this project specifically benefit them?
  • Concerns about the project budget.  For example, if certain project costs lack detail or are perceived as too high or unnecessary. One cost noted in the past has been for the production of videos.  Over time the cost to produce videos has declined; however, if there are specific reasons why your video costs a certain amount, this needs to be clearly explained. Also, the financial ask must be proportionate to the size and capacity of your organization and all in-kind contributions from your organization and others should be reflected.
  • Lack of innovation.  The project may not reflect adequate innovation or an original approach to meeting a community need.

The number of funding recipients is dependent on the number of applications received and the funding ask in each application.  As an example, in our last round of funding we received 171 applications and selected 24 recipients totaling over $1 million. The Community Investment Committee makes its selections based on the individual merit of each project.

Please note that:

  • Applicants should not incur any costs prior to the grant being approved. Any encouragement by CIRA for you to submit an application is not a guarantee of support.
  • CIRA does not provide one-on-one application-specific counselling to be fair to all applicants. Applicants are welcome to attend the applicant webinar to learn more about the application process, or view the recording online afterward.

    After the grant period

    Final reporting (within three months after the project is complete)

    After the grant has been awarded the Canadian Internet Registration Authority requires the following:

    • Written approval prior to any alterations in the project plan or timeline;
    • A final report that includes essential elements of the project i.e. did it meet the criteria of the approved project;
    • An interim report if stipulated in the grant agreement;
    • Appropriate acknowledgement of Community Investment Program’s support in communication materials and events as outlined in the grant agreement.

    The final report asks the recipient to outline their project activities, outcomes (both qualitative and quantitative) and learnings.  Grant recipients will also be asked to report on their actual revenues and expenses as compared to their budget and explain any variances.

    At the end of the grant period, if there are unspent funds, CIRA will request the surplus funds within 30 days.

    How to complete the application

    Materials to gather before you apply

    As part of the application process, you must provide the following materials:

    Proof of eligibility. Examples of proof can include:

    • Documentation confirming your not-for-profit incorporation (e.g. articles of incorporation) and your charitable status, if applicable. Please note that tax forms are not valid.
    • For academic researchers: a letter confirming you are employed by the academic institution

    Non-profit organizations and charities must provide:.

    • a list of their Board of Directors with contact information, including titles and organizations, emails and phone numbers;
    • a copy of their most recent audited financial statements, and
    • a current year 12-month operating budget.

    If your organization does not have audited financial statements, you are permitted to submit your most recent financial statements if they are prepared or reviewed by an accountant and signed by two members of your board of directors.

    An operating budget is a compilation of forecasted revenues less known organizational expenses and expected future costs over the course of a year. The operating budget ideally covers the next 12 months.

    Universities are not required to provide their organizational budgets, but they must provide a resume for the lead researcher.

    The Community Investment Committee will receive and review only the application form and attachments we have requested.

    Application form questions

    All questions are available for reference in the sample application form, which includes project budget sheet details.   

    Tips for completing your online application

    Before you begin:

    We recommend using the most up to date version of Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. Previous versions of Internet Explorer may result in errors or compatibility issues.

    Ensure the internet "cookies" are enabled on your browser.

    Important: system emails

    Emails will be automatically generated as part of the application process from Please do the following to make sure you receive all of these important emails:

    • Review your daily digest quarantine reports for emails from the system that have been quarantined.
    • If you have a system administrator, ask them to add the IP address to your anti-spam appliance (

    Data entry tips

    There is no time limit when entering data in the online application. You will lose your information, however, if you use the browser navigation buttons or close your browser window without using the “Save” feature.

    A save option is provided so you can save your information as you complete the form or if you do not wish to complete the entire application in one sitting. If you click “save & continue” it will stay on the same page, hit “next” will also save the information and have you move on to the next page, and “save & exit” will mark the task as complete. If you decide to close your browser after saving, you will return to the online application site and select a task to complete it, coming back to the last edited page.

    IMPORTANT When the application is complete, including all the relevant documentation, click the Submit button and a confirmation page will immediately appear. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address listed for the contact person in the application. Make sure to check your junk email folder or spam filter if the confirmation email is not received within a few minutes of submitting your application. Please note that the application can only be submitted by the submission owner.


    Contact us with your questions

    The Application Guide should answer most of your questions. Please read it carefully. If you have any other questions about the process, please or email or call 1-877-860-1411 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. ET Monday to Friday.

    If you have additional technical questions, issues with uploading, or experience difficulty in submitting your online application, please contact You will usually receive a response within 24 hours.