$3M in federal grants available to London, Ont.-area charities, non-profits impacted by pandemic

The London, Ont., skyline, November 2020. Matthew Trevithick / Global News

Roughly $3 million in federal grants is up for grabs by local charities, Indigenous governing bodies and non-profit agencies, local United Way officials say.

The funding comes as part of the $400-million federal Community Services Recovery Fund, aimed at helping charities and non-profits adapt and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The local share of the fund is being handled by the London Community Foundation (LCF) and the United Way Elgin Middlesex, which will distribute roughly $1.25 million and $1.75 million, respectively, along with the Canadian Red Cross.

“Charities and non-profits are at the forefront of addressing communities’ needs, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many of them are struggling to recover and adapt their services,” to changing local needs, Lori Runciman, director of grants at LCF, said in a statement.

“The Community Services Recovery Fund will give organizations the support they need to serve these communities.”

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Although the three organizations are all involved in the same initiative, they will be independent of one another, said Kelly Ziegner, president and CEO of United Way Elgin Middlesex.

“Our partners at the Red Cross are making investments in people. So if you needed to have staff training, for example, to be able to adapt to post-pandemic realities, you’d apply through the Red Cross,” she said.

“If you’re looking at more systems and processes and perhaps streamlining your back office operations, you’d apply through the Community Foundation. And if you’re looking at doing program innovation, you’d apply through your local United Way.”

The funding is aimed at alleviating some of the resource challenges local charities, Indigenous governing bodies and non-profits have been facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic amid higher demands for service from the community.

Examples of the United Way’s funding, Ziegner says, would include things like recruiting and training staff, new digital technology to log client care, and pandemic-driven program innovations, such as remote counselling, that need to be funded long-term.

“We’re hearing universally across the board that agencies are feeling increased need for service. At the same time, they’re also being challenged themselves by the realities of fundraising in this climate,” Ziegner said.

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“Organizations are seeing decreased revenues as folks have less money to spend on things like charitable donations, and governments are focused on funding some of those more basic needs, so the non-profit sector is really struggling to keep up with demand, yet be able to innovate and be resilient themselves.”

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Grants available from the United Way range from $10,000 to $200,000, and although it’s not clear yet how many agencies may apply for funding, Ziegner says past funding application calls have seen request tallies three times higher than the amount of money available.

“It’ll be a competitive process, but we encourage agencies to get online, check out our website, do what they can to attend webinars, learn about the fund so that they can have the best chance of success,” she said.

Charities and non-profits looking to apply have until Feb. 21 to do so, with announcements and funding expected to flow in May. More information, including details on how to apply, can be found at

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