artsVest Ontario Guidelines 2015-16

artsVest Program Overview

artsVest is a national sponsorship training and matching fund incentive program created by Business for the Arts and funded in Ontario by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

The program helps build healthy, prosperous and creative communities across Canada by training small and mid-sized arts and heritage organizations on how to forge successful, long-term partnerships with the private sector.  In addition, artsVest provides matching incentive grants for new sponsorships raised by participating organizations to spark local business support of arts and heritage.

Every year, selected municipalities across Canada partner with Business for the Arts to bring the artsVest program to their communities. In order for an arts organization to qualify for artsVest matching funds, its municipality or province must be a designated artsVest community. The 2015-16 Ontario communities and their respective matching funds are:

Barrie $20,000

Brantford $30,000

Orangeville $15,000

Port Hope $15,000

Sudbury $30,000

To learn more about the eligibility requirements and application process for bringing artsVest to a community, please contact Claire Hefferon, National Program Director, at (416) 869-3016, ext. 225 or

The program has two components:

  1. Year-round Training
  2. Matching Funds

1. Year-round training

artsVest offers arts and heritage organizations in-depth sponsorship and board governance training to build capacity within the local cultural sector. artsVest uses four training components to coach arts and heritage organizations through their sponsorship cycle, from developing a strategy with their board to creating a sponsorship proposal.

a) Live workshop – At the beginning of the artsVest program cycle, arts organizations attend a full-day live workshop led by an expert in corporate sponsorship. Here, organizations workshop with their peers and learn valuable tools to secure and nurture long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships with businesses, and diversify revenue streams. Organizations are also given detailed instructions on how to successfully apply for and submit sponsorships for matching incentive grants.

Commitment – 8 hours. For arts and heritage organizations intending to apply for the artsVest program, workshop attendance is required.

b) Ongoing mentorship – Participating artsVest organizations benefit from ongoing training and support through group, peer-to-peer, and one-on-one individual mentoring sessions on a monthly basis with subject matter experts. Organizations receive 10 mentoring sessions in total in the areas of sponsorship and board governance that will equip them with further tools to develop sponsorship opportunities with local business and build organizational capacity to reach future fundraising and governance goals. To meet the volunteer mentors, click here. To see the mentorship timeline, click here.

Commitment – 1-4 hours per month. artsVest organizations are expected to designate a member of staff and/or board director to participate in mentoring sessions on a consistent basis, as well as to notify the Mentorship Program Manager in advance when unable to attend a session.

c) artsVest Team support – Throughout the process, organizations have access to a local program manager who will coach and guide them through the artsVest program.

d) Online training modules – Six in-depth online sponsorship modules are provided to support the artsVest process. These modules allow artsVest organizations to share professional development training with their team, refresh their skills learned at the workshop, and learn at their own pace. To view course outlines, click here.

Commitment – 6 hours, at leisure.

2. Matching Funds

In addition to Year-Round Training and Support, arts and heritage organizations within selected communities are invited to apply for a matching grant to be used as an incentive to spark innovative business sponsorship opportunities, offering the local private sector the potential to double the impact of their investment.  Once pre-approved, organizations have approximately six months to successfully secure business sponsorship and submit documentation outlining their new business partnership, resulting in matching funds.

Please note that in order to receive matching funds, an organization must be consistently engaged in all of the above artsVest program training activities. When possible, it is strongly suggested that two individuals from an organization attend the training activities, including a board member.

How artsVest Works

Click here to see the timeline of activities for participating organizations

Step One: (1.5 month period)

  • Municipalities throughout the province apply to participate in the artsVest program, submitting letters of interest and support from community leaders. 
  • Business for the Arts’ team reviews the applications and choose five municipalities where artsVest will be launched with matching fund grants from $15K to $100K, depending on several criteria such as number of arts organizations and population size.

Step Two: (1.5 month period)

  • artsVest National head office and artsVest Program Managers work with local leaders to plan the launch of artsVest in each community. The municipality’s Mayor, media, high profile business representatives and arts leaders are invited to attend and speak at the launch event.

Step Three: (1.5 month period)

  • artsVest is launched in participating municipalities; BftA staff travels to each community to run workshops and provide support.
  • Arts and heritage organizations are invited to attend the live Sponsorship 101 workshop, delivered by Business for the Arts’ lead sponsorship coach. This workshop is designed for those with little to no experience in sponsorship while also serving as a strong refresher for more experienced attendees.  In addition to the corporate sponsorship workshop, an artsVest information session is conducted to get the participants acquainted with the program guidelines, requirements, eligibility and timelines.

Step Four: (1.5 month period)

  • Following the workshop, arts and heritage organizations in every community submit applications to be pre-approved for up to a maximum $5K from the artsVest matching funds, depending on the size of the community and available matching pot. The organizations outline their organizational details and identify prospective business partners in their community whom they will be approaching for sponsorship to exemplify their subject knowledge. Applications towards pre-approval are only accepted from organizations that attended the full-day live workshop.
  • An independent tri-sectoral jury reviews the sponsorship proposals based on set criteria and award a portion of the $5,000 maximum accordingly.  Assessment criteria are centered on merit of proposal (clear goals, objectives and strategies of sponsorship project) and merit of organization (organizational capacity, effectiveness, level of experience in fundraising/sponsorship, readiness and resources to carry out the program).

Step Five: (6 -7 month period)

  • Arts & heritage organizations are notified of their successful pre-approval status and now have between 6-7 months to get out there and secure their sponsorships in the community.
  • During this period, the new artsVest Mentorship component is launched in each community to offer support and additional education/help in synch with the sponsorship steps that organizations are following. The mentorship component links artsVest organizations with expert mentors who provide concrete and consistent guidance on corporate sponsorship and board governance issues. A combination of group, peer-to-peer, and one-on-one mentoring sessions are employed. The sessions follow the sponsorship cycle content outline (Planning, Prospecting, Making an Approach, Proposal Review and Pitching to Business, Activation and Stewardship), as well as explore relevant content areas in board governance: Board’s Role in Fundraising, Governance Models, Board Recruitment and Diversity, and more.
  • Arts & heritage organizations utilize their training and present sponsorship opportunities to businesses and offer artsVest matching dollars as added incentive to double the impact of every dollar sponsored.

Step Six: (3 month period)

  • The final Sponsorship Confirmation Agreements are submitted to BftA, with sponsorship agreements signed by both participating parties, along with copies of cheques and deposit slips and in-kind invoices. Any matching funds are distributed according to the matching funds grid on page 8.

Step Seven: (1.5 month period)

  • All participating organizations submit Online Final Reports and in-person debrief sessions are organized in each community where participants have an opportunity to share the lessons learned, challenges faced and success stories.

Step Eight: (during the same 3 month period as above)

  • Community leaders, participating arts and heritage organizations and businesses are brought together for an event at the close of the artsVest year to celebrate the new partnerships, garner feedback and success of the program and fortify the relationships that have been built.

artsVest Eligibility

Arts and Heritage Organizations – Eligible

  • Must be located in a community where the artsVest program is operating and provide programming, products or services that are accessible to the public
  • Must be an incorporated, not-for-profit and/or registered charitable arts and heritage organization and have a publicly accountable structure with an active Board of Directors. If the organization is not incorporated, they may apply under the umbrella of a local non-profit designated by the City and Business for the Arts (a maximum of 3 initiatives can come under the umbrella). For details, contact your Program Manager.
  • Must have been in existence for a minimum of two years with active programming
  • Must be an organization with arts and/or cultural heritage as its primary mandate and core activity
  • Collaboration and partnerships between two or more arts and heritage organizations are eligible and encouraged; one organization must be selected to represent the group as a whole. In the event that there are additional funds in a community, priority may be given to collaborative projects.
  • Must be an organization with an operating budget of less than $1.5M for the last two years
  • Must have attended an artsVest workshop in the current year

Arts and Heritage Organizations – Ineligible

  • Individual artists
  • Religious institutions
  • Health, social service, and sports organizations
  • Government agencies and political parties
  • Educational institutions (with the exception of independent, non-profit arts schools)

Business Sponsors – Eligible

Once pre-approved, sponsorships must come from businesses which:

  • Are located in a community where the artsVest program is operating. Where a local cheque cannot be written, we will accept cheques from a corporate office located elsewhere.
  • Are publicly traded or privately owned; this includes owner-managed businesses, limited partnerships, local head offices, and regional/national offices of corporations located elsewhere (i.e. a local branch of a national bank)
  • Are an incorporated for-profit business
  • In the instance of a foundation, must be attached to a corporate for-profit business (i.e, RBC)
  • Shared governance organizations, such as a Port Authority

Business Sponsors – Ineligible

  • Individuals – unless the business can confirm the below in writing along with your submission
  • The reason they are writing a personal cheque is that there is no associated business bank account,
  • Business name, and
  • CRA business number
  • Governmental organization
  • Educational organizations

As a participant of the artsVest program, Business for the Arts may contact your business partner for program-related items, such as case studies and testimonials.

Sponsorship Agreements – Eligibility

  • Must be a true sponsorship partnership, showing mutual benefits for both parties
  • Must have been agreed after the workshop date
  • Only cash or in-kind sponsorships are eligible
  • Sponsorships must equal at least $200 in artsVest matching funds in order to be eligible (see matching fund table on page 7 for calculations)
  • Donated gifts/services will not be matched. This includes but is not limited to; donated gift cards, raffle prizes, cash gifts, professional services and standard discounts
  • Tax on sponsorship agreements will not be matched
  • Conflict of interest may arise where family members, board members and those close to the organization are involved and may be further researched.

artsVest Application Process

All applicants must complete and submit the relevant artsVest Application for Pre-Approval Form online. A list of questions that organizations will be required to answer is available for download in .doc format to allow applicants to gather their answers before beginning the application process, as the online application must be completed in one online session at

Organizations must submit an application for an assumed maximum of $5,000 and will be juried accordingly. Submitting an application does not guarantee the applicant will be awarded any amount.

Pre-Approval Application Form must be submitted electronically by 5 pm local time on the deadline date. Incomplete applications will not be considered. See the artsVest Timeline for key submission dates.

artsVest Application Form for Pre-Approval  – Outline

Section A: The Organization

The applicant is asked to provide the organization’s contacts: an individual who will serve as the primary contact for the artsVest program; an individual who plans to attend the corporate sponsorship mentoring sessions; and if possible, a board member to be assigned to board governance mentoring sessions. The contact(s) listed for different program components may overlap. The applicant must also provide incorporation information and describe the organization’s mission and central activities.

Section B: Financial Information

The applicant is asked to provide a breakdown of the organization’s income and expenses, including earned, private and government revenues. This section includes an opportunity for a financial note.

Section C: Statement of Organizational Capacity

The applicant is asked to demonstrate readiness and resources to carry out the artsVest program and indicate how they will undertake to complete the different components of the program (i.e., capacity to research potential business sponsorships, develop sponsor relationships, etc.). They must also provide the amount of experience with sponsorship, both individually and as an organization.

Section D: Sponsorship Proposal

The applicant is asked to submit a sample proposal for one of the businesses identified as a potential sponsor in Section C of the application.  The purpose of this section is to exemplify learned approach. The applicant should consider the following in the proposal:

  • The business partnership opportunity, including the project;
  • The fit between your organization and/or audience and that of your prospect’s business goals;
  • The benefits you are offering your prospect through this sponsorship.

artsVest Pre-Approval Jury Process

All artsVest funding applications are assessed by an independent panel consisting of artistic peers, private community investment professionals and fundraising professionals who will make recommendations for acceptance to the artsVest program based on the below criteria. An applicant’s success in obtaining artsVest matching funds depends upon the jury’s final evaluation and the funding available within the program.

Assessment Criteria

1. Merit of Organization (50 points maximum)

The jury looks at organizational capacity, effectiveness, level of experience in fundraising/sponsorship, readiness and resources to carry out the program:

1.1 Organizational effectiveness refers to fiscal responsibility, financial stability, diverse funding sources (fundraising, sponsorship, self-generated, in-kind donations, etc.) 25 points maximum).

1.2 Organizational readiness for artsVest program, i.e. availability of staff/board members/volunteers for artsVest program, capacity to research potential business sponsors, write effective proposals, exemplify professionalism, etc. (15 points maximum).

1.3. Successful track record of development initiatives and experience, i.e. demonstrated ability to commit time and energy to fund development (10 points maximum)

2. Merit of Proposal (50 points maximum)

The jury looks for clear goals and objectives of the proposed sponsorship project and appropriate strategies for realization.

2.1 Organization’s proposal is clearly defined in terms of what they have to offer, i.e. sponsorable properties are identified, sponsorship cost (including tangible and intangible values) is reasonably assessed (15 points maximum)

2.2 Prospective sponsor is well researched, benefits tailored to the specific needs of the business are clearly defined and how the business can use the partnership to accomplish their specific goals is clearly demonstrated (20 points maximum)

2.3 The proposal demonstrates a mutually beneficial partnership and shared interests. Synergy and strategic fit in creating a sponsorship relationship is determined (10 points maximum)

2.4 The proposal demonstrates acquisition of the approach taught in the workshop (5 points maximum)

Right to Reassessment

There is no appeal of jury members’ decisions regarding the merit of an organization’s activities or their recommendation of an award amount. Reassessment will only be considered in specific cases where there is substantial evidence of procedural errors and/or when the original application was not assessed according to the stated evaluation criteria.

Sponsorship Confirmation & Allocation of Funding

If an organization is awarded funding, it will receive an email informing them of the pre-approved amount and the Terms and Conditions of funding. Matching fund payments are disbursed upon submission of Sponsorship Confirmation Agreement forms with supporting documentation as well as the Online Final Report (to be sent during program period).

The amount of matching funds that an organization is pre-approved for cannot be changed; however, the organization can submit documentation from multiple sponsors in multiple categories and are encouraged to submit beyond their pre-approval amounts. Organizations are not required to submit documentation for sponsors outlined in the initial Pre-Approval application form if said sponsor was not secured.

Sponsorship Confirmation: Supporting Documents for Cash and In-Kind sponsorship

For Cash Sponsorships: 1) Proof of Payment + 2) Proof of Deposit

1) Proof of Payment

For all methods of payment, proof must include all of the following or it will not be accepted:
☑ Business name
☑ Arts organization name
☑ Transaction number
☑ Date
☑ Amount

Cheque / Money Order Copy of the front of the cheque that shows above details.
Cash / Credit Card Copy of receipt issued by arts organization signed by the business that shows above details. Please provide corresponding invoice number.
Online Transfer Transaction record that shows above details. Please provide corresponding invoice number.

2) Proof of Deposit

For all methods of deposit, proof must include all of the following or it will not be accepted:
☑ Business name
☑ Arts organization name
☑ Date stamp
☑ Itemized amount

Cheque / Money Order / Cash Itemized deposit slip with above details
Online Transfer Screenshot of online bank statement with above details

For In-kind Sponsorships: 1) Invoice

For all in-kind sponsorships, we require an invoice which includes all of the following or it will not be accepted:
☑ Itemized list of goods provided at fair market value
☑ Business name and signature
☑ Arts organization name
☑ Date

Business for the Arts reserves the right to request additional documentation to verify the authenticity of the payment before issuing matching funds. An applicant must submit one Sponsorship Confirmation Agreement for each sponsorship obtained.

On the Sponsorship Confirmation form, organizations are asked to designate a category of sponsorship from the table below. Although a sponsorship may fit with more than one of these categories, organizations must select the best category that fits the agreement.

Sponsorship Category Business Sponsor Criteria Cash Sponsorship Match In-Kind Sponsorship Match
A – The New Sponsor The business has never sponsored this local arts or heritage organization 100% 50%
B – The Multi-Year Sponsor A new or existing business is committing to a new multi-year sponsorship with a minimum 3 year term – artsVest will match the first year. 100% of first year 50% of first year
C – The Increasing Sponsor The business has supported this organization in the past three years – artsVest will match any increase from the most recent year’s amount 100% of increase 50% of increase
D – The Returning Sponsor The business has not sponsored this organization in more than three years 75% 25%

Applicants are encouraged to submit for all sponsorship obtained beyond their pre-approved amount, in the event of extra funds for their community.

Organizations are asked to please wait until after the Launch and Workshop before approaching potential sponsors for artsVest. Matching funds will not be issued for sponsorships secured before the workshop date.

Acknowledgement of Support

Grant recipients are required to acknowledge the support of Business for the Arts, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Ontario Government as follows:

Print materials – By reproducing the Business for the Arts, Ontario Trillium Foundation and Ontario Government logos and making a written acknowledgement using the following formulation:

artsVest™ Ontario is operated by Business for the Arts with the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Government of Ontario.

Acknowledgement should appear in or on public materials (posters, flyers, postcards), informational materials (newsletter, prospectus, program, agenda, schedule), press materials (press release, press kit), and signage where appropriate.

Public announcements Acknowledgement should also be made by mentioning support in public announcements and presentations, press conferences and/or speeches.

Sharing what you do – Where possible, we ask organizations that are funded by Business for the Arts through artsVest to provide BftA staff the opportunity to attend and experience their programming.

Once an organization is approved for artsVest funding, it will receive a link to Business for the Arts’ downloadable logo.  Organizations may also contact us directly for access to the logo at or by calling 416-869-3016.

Reporting and Final Report

All successful applicants are required to maintain complete and accurate records of activities connected with the artsVest program and submit an Online Final Report, which will be available on each artsVest region’s website on A matching funds cheque will not be released until this report is submitted.

Contact Us

For specific inquiries or to discuss your organization’s eligibility, please contact:

artsVest Ontario

Tel: 416-869-3016, ext. 227


Online Application

Pre-Approval Application Deadline:  Monday, August 10, 2015 at 5pm