Donor Information

Through the Prizes Section, the Canada Council for the Arts awards numerous special prizes that celebrate excellence in individual artists at various stages of their career. Every year, approximately 200 Canadian artists and scholars are awarded $3 million in prizes and fellowships from the Canada Council in recognition of their contribution to the arts, humanities and sciences. Their outstanding achievements inspire and enrich the lives of Canadians. Many of these prizes are privately endowed and are given in perpetuity in memory of the donors. Others, such as the Governor General's Literary Awards are both funded and administered by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Private Sector Contributions

The Canada Council actively encourages individuals, corporations, foundations and organizations to help build Canada's artistic future by contributing financial resources through gifts and bequests, which will enable the Canada Council to sustain and encourage the arts in Canada in ways that are not possible through its regular programs.

The funds to create these prizes have been prudently managed by the Council. The generous donors were visionaries who have contributed significantly to the cultural legacy of Canada.

Donor Recognition:

Donors of endowments receive significant recognition for their contributions at the national level across Canada in press releases, awards ceremonies the Canada Council's Annual Report, website, competition information sheets and other materials. Unless donors request otherwise, their generosity to the Canada Council and to Canada's artists is publicized in all appropriate ways. Donors are also regularly invited to various Canada Council functions in Ottawa and in their local area.

Donations provide a means for honouring and recognizing exceptional individual artists and for investing in Canadian talent. Donations may take a variety of forms, provided the purposes for which they are intended are consistent with the provisions of the Canada Council Act. Donors may contribute by direct gifts, bequests, life insurance policies (the premiums of which are creditable for tax purposes) and gifts in kind (real property, stocks and bonds, artworks or fine stringed instruments). The terms of all major gifts are set out in an agreement with the Canada Council, and gifts are acknowledged by an official tax receipt.

Management of Gifts and Bequests

The Canada Council's Investment Committee is responsible for managing these funds to maintain and increase their value in terms of purchasing power while producing the maximum sustainable net annual returns to finance the appropriate prize or program. The Council's investment portfolio, which includes the initial endowment that established the Canada Council, the Killam, Molson, Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton, Walter Carsen, York Wilson and other endowments from individuals and organizations are worth, based on the fair market value, about $285.1 million (at March 31, 2013).

Donated funds are managed within the Canada Council's general endowment portfolio, but are accounted for separately in the Canada Council's books. Merging the principal of donated funds with the larger managed fund increases their revenue and growth potential. In order to protect the integrity of donated funds and to minimize administrative costs, gifts are normally accepted according to these principles:

  • The Canada Council will accept any amount, large or small, intended for general purposes.
  • The amount of a conditional donation must be appropriate to the purpose and should include provision for administrative costs (such as peer assessment, publicity and presentation costs) in addition to the cost of the award or grant.
  • Ordinarily, costs incurred by the Canada Council in administering donated funds will be charged against the income of such funds.
  • The Canada Council should have the right to determine the frequency of an award in circumstances in which perpetual awards are provided with insufficient endowment funds to sustain the original schedule of awards.

The Canada Council manages and coordinates all activities dealing with distribution of information, adjudication, awarding and publicity:

  • Develop, review and enforce eligibility criteria and rules. 
  • Select the Peer Assessment Committee, following Council's Peer Assessment Policy. 
  • Chair, manage and facilitate the Peer Selection Committee deliberations. 
  • Handle all announcements, press releases and coordination of the prize ceremony. 
  • Report to the Donor at the end of each Prize cycle.

Most prizes and awards are adjudicated through the regular adjudication process of the appropriate disciplinary section. Such awards involve minimal additional administrative costs, which are charged to the prize fund, per the agreement between the donor and the Canada Council. For many major awards and prizes, separate juries are required.

Forms of Donation to the Canada Council

The simplest form of donation is unconditional, leaving the principal or net annual investment returns to be disbursed at the discretion of the Canada Council. Donors may place certain conditions on gifts or bequests. Some examples:

  • Conditional as to principal: The terms of such a donation could specify that the principal be kept intact and that only the net annual investment returns be spent as determined by the Canada Council.
  • Conditional as to purpose: The funds or the net annual returns from invested funds could be used to support a particular arts activity by providing periodic prizes or awards to individuals or grants to organizations.
  • Conditional as to identity of the donor: This kind of donation could specify that the funds be used for prizes named for or by the donor and awarded in perpetuity.
  • Annual donations: Certain donors prefer to make annual donations to Canada Council to fund prizes, either for a limited or long-term period. Canada Council may choose to accept such donations under negotiated conditions. Such donations are also eligible for an income tax credit and are acknowledged by an official tax receipt.