The primary criterion by which the Foundation evaluates proposals is the degree to which the proposed work aligns with the Foundation’s mission:

Max Bell Foundation reflects the spirit and intent of its founder to improve Canadian society. We encourage the development of innovative ideas that impact public policies and practices with an emphasis on health and wellness, education, and the environment.

In addition to alignment with our mission, we assess proposals according to the following guidelines:

Our strategic priority is to support projects which educate Canadians about public policy and practice alternatives.

We seek to support work that helps Canadians adapt to social, economic, and technological change while positively impacting the quality of life in our communities.

We prefer projects that:

  • value responsibility and self-sufficiency at levels of the individual, family, community, and society
  • identify, develop, and assess alternatives rather than perpetuating the status quo
  • do not duplicate existing work
  • are driven by demonstrable public needs
  • focus on practical approaches that can be implemented
  • recognize and address the complexities of public policy making
  • have, in the view of experts and practitioners, a significant chance of informing policy and/or practice change
  • are likely to generate transferable results so that the project can impact more than its local context
  • promote evidence-informed decision making

Support will not be provided in response to the following types of requests:

  • General administration costs
  • Brick and mortar
  • Emergency funds or deficit financing
  • Capital campaigns / general fundraising
  • Endowments, awards, fellowships, internships, sabbaticals, scholarships, or bursaries
  • Projects with only local impact
  • Grants to individuals, or any organization that is not a qualified donee

The Foundation can make grants only for charitable purposes, and only to organizations which have been issued a registered charity number under the Income Tax Act of Canada.

The following are the most common reasons that grant applications are declined:

  • No relation to Max Bell Foundation mission or program areas: requests must fall within the specified areas of interest for Health & Wellness, Environment and Education.
  • No public policy relevance: the Foundation funds projects with the potential to inform public policy decision made by government bodies and other governing bodies that operate for the public good, and affect the lives a range of Canadians.
  • Grant seeks program support: the Foundation does not support ongoing programs. Instead, we seek to fund projects that have a defined beginning and end, and a tangible outcome caused by the project. Programs currently underway, or that have indefinite end points are not eligible for support.
  • Theory of change: the Foundation funds projects that have a well-developed, feasible plan demonstrating a high likelihood of informing public policy and practice decisions.
  • Local impact only: the Foundation prefers to fund programs that have the potential to impact Canadians at a National or Provincial level.
  • Insufficient impact: the Foundation prefers to fund projects that impact public policy and practice decisions, rather than programs that may impact smaller groups.
  • Pure research: while the Foundation does often fund research projects, the project must have an outcome that will do more than advance the current body of knowledge. The research must have the potential to effect change and inform policy decisions.

We encourage any organization which meets these criteria and whose project aligns with our mission and the above guidelines to apply for support.