Snapshot of Foundation Giving in 2015

Publication date: December 2017

This snapshot provides a data portrait of Canada’s grantmaking foundations in 2015. The snapshot also takes a more detailed look at the largest grantmaking foundations by asset size and by annual grants. It provides a picture of the significant impact and contribution of the largest foundations in the country.

Download the snapshot


PFC Publications

PFC publishes Canadian-specific research on philanthropy across the country, as well as guidelines on grantmaking and governance practice. PFC advocates for public policy change on behalf of its members and others in the Canadian philanthropic community.

  • Policy & regulation

    2017 PFC Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance
    Pre-Budget Consultations

    PFC’s submission features three recommendations to create a more modern regulatory framework for the charitable
    sector, to expand opportunities for financing the sector, and to establish a more solid data framework for the charitable sector.

    Read More

    PFC Statement on the Report of the Consultation Panel on Political Activities

    On May 4, the Canada Revenue Agency made public the Report of the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities (“the Panel”), which was appointed by the Minister of National Revenue in September 2016. This Consultation Panel of five experienced sector leaders and regulatory experts has called for changes to the federal administrative and legislative framework governing the charitable sector. PFC strongly supports all four of the recommendations made to the Minister of National Revenue.

    Read PFC’s Statement

    PFC/CEGN Submission to Consultation on Political Activities

    PFC submitted a letter as part of the Canada Revenue Agency’s consultation regarding political activities. The letter makes three recommendations, to establishing a limitation period outside of which CRA will not audit, to improve timeliness throughout the charity audit process and to adopt a policy under which it limits the stated bases for revocation to significant and serious forms of non-compliance uncovered on audit.


    2016 PFC Brief: Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency

    PFC submitted a brief to the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency for the CRA Consultation on Political Activities. The brief makes two main recommendations to amend the Income Tax Act and to clarify the language around “political activities” in the CRA guidelines.


    2016 PFC Brief: Standing Committee on Finance

    PFC submitted a brief to the Standing Committee on Finance 2016 pre-budget consultations. The brief makes five recommendations to the federal government to build a more productive relationship between the government and the philanthropic sector.


  • Research publications

    Snapshot of Foundation Giving in 2015


    This snapshot provides a data portrait of Canada’s grantmaking foundations in 2015. The snapshot also takes a more detailed look at the largest grantmaking foundations by asset size and by annual grants. It provides a picture of the significant impact and contribution of the largest foundations in the country.


    A Portrait of Canadian Foundation Philanthropy

    Have you wondered about broader trends and practices in the Canadian foundation landscape? PFC, in collaboration with Community Foundations of Canada (CFC), has prepared a profile of the practices of philanthropic foundations in Canada. The study is part of a collaborative global effort led by researchers at the Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University. Through this study, we are becoming better informed about Canadian foundations and their comparisons with peers across the world.



    The Philanthropic Conversation: A Guide For Professional Financial Advisors 

    This guide provides advice for professional financial advisors to guide them in their philanthropic discussions with clients. Based on a series of articles inspired by a unique Canadian research study: The Philanthropic Conversation: Understanding Financial Advisors’ Approaches and High Net Worth Individuals’ Perspectives. 


    Education and Research: A Grantmaking Snapshot

    This snapshot provides a one-year picture of grants made to universities and colleges in 2013 by PFC members. In this year, PFC members made grants totalling $376 million to all funding areas. Of this total, $107 million went to education and research, including universities and colleges. Granting by PFC members to this sector is consistently the largest in terms of the total grant dollars allocated.


    Assets & Giving by Canada’s Top Grantmaking Foundations: Snapshot of 2013, October 2015


    This 26-page research report profiles the assets and giving trends of Canada’s 150 largest grantmaking foundations for the year 2013. These foundations control tens of billions of dollars in assets and disburse over a billion dollars to qualified donees annually, making them significant funders for the charitable sector.


    Assets & Giving Trends of Canada’s Grantmaking Foundations, September 2014


    This 32-page research report, co-authored by PFC and Imagine, profiles the assets and giving trends of Canada’s 150 largest grantmaking foundations and ten largest community foundations over a ten-year period from 2002 to 2012. It also provides a breakdown of the distribution of grants by funding area. Highlights of the report are found in the 6-page Key Facts and Figures.


  • Practice publications

    Grantmakers and Governments: The Possibilities of Partnership, May 2017

    This PFC publication explores the potential opportunities for partnering with government.  It looks at how foundations have moved policy agendas forward in the last few years and includes compelling case studies demonstrating the different ways in which philanthropic funders and networks can participate in public-private partnerships.

    Download the document 

    Small Foundations, Outsized Impact: How Three Canadian Foundations Create Change

    Commissioned by Burns Memorial Fund, Mindset Social Innovation Foundation and Philanthropic Foundations Canada in September 2016, the report is intended to draw out consistencies in the practices and philosophies of high impact but small scale foundations.


    Good Grantmaking: A Guide for Canadian Philanthropists, revised 2015


    This significantly revised guide shares concrete examples and successful practices from grantmakers in Canada on how to navigate the five stages of the grantmaking cycle. There are practical checklists that are useful for seasoned professionals and new grantmakers alike, to help you apply these approaches in your everyday work. Members can access the full guide in the member area. Print copies available for $35 at

    Download the Guide

    Emerging Data Practices for the Philanthropic Sector – June 2015


    The “brave new world” of digital data is not just about numbers but also about images, stories and content… anything that can be digitized and therefore shared, manipulated and used to create more knowledge and better practice. We know this is a very rapidly changing landscape. So we expect that this guide will evolve, as the data innovations described are superseded by other even more exciting applications.


    Good Governance: A Guide for Directors of Canadian Foundations


    This revised version of the popular PFC Governance guide has been redesigned as a user-friendly workbook for current and new directors of Canadian charitable foundations. The updated version features checklists and a new Resource Map to help you find the resources that are most useful to your needs. Available to purchase in hard copy from PFC at $30 per copy for members and $40 for non-members. Contact


    Negotiating Donor Agreements with Universities: A Toolkit for Canadian Foundations – October 2014


    Education is the single largest area of funding interest for Canadian foundations, and many funders provide their education grants to universities. This 55-page toolkit is intended to support foundation boards and staff who are considering or in the process of negotiating a donor agreement with a university.