Non-Profit Support

Non-profits and community groups are essential to creating and maintaining a vital community. Strong, organized and efficient boards and staff are integral to any organization. A Community Development Coordinator can work with your board, staff team or informal group to help improve efficiency and effectiveness.

In 2021, was developed by the Town of Banff & Town of Canmore as a place for Bow Valley non-profits to access resources, training tools and funding opportunities. It's also a place to connect with members of other non-profits through a forum, or find a local freelance contractor. There is also a free monthly speaker series  for local non profits which have been recorded for continued access at

Some of the ways we can assist with board development include:

  • Providing learning opportunities on topics such as productive and successful meetings, group facilitation, board governance, grant writing, board/staff recruitment and retention. We can also tailor topics in order to meet the needs of a particular non-profit or community group.
  • Assisting with the development of processes related to and the facilitation of strategic and work plans.
  • Supporting groups with application for status, by-law/policy/procedure development, conflict resolution.
  • Providing opportunities for groups to come together to share skills and resources.
  • Regular non-profit e-mails, sharing tips, tools and upcoming events.
  • Town of Banff and Town of Canmore work together to provide workshops and gatherings for the whole Bow Valley – events usually will only be offered in either Banff or Canmore with the expectation participants can travel – this allows for more variety of topics.

For more information on how we can support you and your team or to get your name added to the non-profit e-mail list, email Banff and Lake Louise or call 403.762.1254. Email Canmore or call 403.678.1500

Non Profit Support

Local Resources:

Other Resources:

Bow Valley Non-Profit and Community Group Skills Bank

Do you want to contribute to your community but can't commit to sitting on a board? Do you have skills and expertise in areas that would be helpful to developing boards? If so, then the Skills Bank may be for you. The Skills Bank allows you to volunteer with non-profit and community groups in a short-term capacity. Some of the areas of support include:

  • Strategic and work plan development
  • Board finance
  • Policies and procedures
  • Grant writing and fundraising
  • Hosting special events
  • CRA and Society application process
  • Volunteer program development
  • Marketing and communications

If you have experience that you are willing to share with other non-profits or community groups, please complete the online form below to become part of the Skills Bank. You will be contacted directly by the non-profit or community group.

Grants and Grant Writing

It's Starts With an Idea...

  • Can be the result of identifying a community need, gap in service or seeing a call for grants.
  • Talk your idea through with others, get feedback, find out if other services/projects currently exist. Are there potential partners? Do others have a mandate to fill this need? Is this something that requires funds?
  • Ask yourself the 5 W's:
    • Who is your target population?
    • What will you do and how are you planning to carry it out? What need will this project fill? What will be different as a result of the project?
    • When will you offer the program/service?
    • Where will it be offered?
    • Why are you undertaking this?

Provincial Funding

  • Community Initiatives Program (CIP) supports not-for-profit organizations by providing funds to enhance and enrich project-based initiatives throughout Alberta. Supports initiatives such as community services, seniors services, libraries, arts and culture, sports, educations, health and recreation.
  • Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) assists Alberta's municipalities and not-for-profit organizations with the costs of planning, upgrading and developing a wide range of community-use facilities and places which enhance community life and citizen well-being.

Local Funding Opportunities

TIP: A Grants Database can help you identify grants available specific to your project. The Banff Public Library hosts the Grant Connect Database. A copy of the Canadian Subsidy Directory: Subsidies, Grants and Loans is available through Town of Canmore FCSS.

Keys to a Successful Proposal

Ask tough questions first:

  • Do we have a clear project? Is it more than just an idea?
  • Does the project address a community need?
  • Is the project do-able?
  • Are we clear about what the goals are?
  • Can we measure our success or know if we made a difference?
  • Can we deliver the project if we get the money?
  • Does the project really fit the grantors guidelines or funding interests?
  • How much do we want to change the project idea to fit the funding opportunity?
  • Are there other creative ways to get the project done? Gifts in kind, partnerships, sharing resources, bartering
  • How much time do we have to put into finding funding?
  • What if we only get partial funding?
  • What happens after the grant? - the sustainability question
  • What's the organizations and/ or project's unique factor? What makes you stand out

Tips for a Successful Grant Proposal: 

  • Proper preparation and research
  • Contact the grantor if possible, learn as much as possible
  • Grant alignment with grantors, a tailored application not generic
  • Clear, concise writing with an effective ask
  • Authentic not jargon-filled
  • Get a proof reader who doesn't know anything about the project
  • Document the need/ problem on multiple levels – national/ local/ organizational
  • Balance documenting the need/ challenges with the opportunities so doesn't look insurmountable
  • Show track record of organization and ability to deliver the project
  • Add human elements – quote/ story/ success etc.
  • View granting as a mutually beneficial partnership which meets the needs and offers benefits to both partners
  • Learn from unsuccessful applications and analyze weak points
  • Clear accurate budget with detail where needed
  • Thank the grantor

Why are Proposals Rejected?

  • Did not contact key people
  • Contain poorly formed ideas or good ideas, but poorly written
  • Simple mistakes such as not aligning to grant makers' requirements or spelling mistakes
  • Project need not clearly documented
  • Lack of measurable objectives
  • Not enough granting money

(Info adapted with permission from Kristy Trinier, Research and Proposal Writer, Banff Centre) 

Societies, Charities and Non-Profit Organizations


  • Non-Profit Organization: any organization formed where any profits realized from the activity of the organization are used solely for the purpose of promoting the objects of the organization and are not paid to the members.
  • Non-Profit Company: a term primarily used by the Alberta Government to denote a non-profit organization that will operate a company for profit but the profits will be used solely for the purpose of promoting the objects of the organization and will not be paid to members (e.g. Salvation Army Thrift Shop).
  • Not for Profit or Social Profit Organization: synonymous with non-profit organization. The term was coined to rid the notion that the term non-profit may suggest organizations do not make any profit. Not for Profit means an enterprise can make a profit but the organization does not exist solely to do so.
  • Non-Governmental Organization (NGO): an organization that is not government. Most often the term is used to differentiate between government, which in all respects is a non-profit organization, and other non-profit organizations.
  • Society: an association of persons united by a common aim, interest or principle. Alberta Corporate Registry views a society as an association of five or more people who share a common recreational, cultural, scientific or charitable interest. A society may not incorporate primarily to carry on a trade or business. The Societies Act regulates societies incorporated in Alberta.
  • Registered Society: a society that has been incorporated with the Corporate Registry of Alberta Government Services.

What is the purpose for incorporating a society?

Incorporation is not mandatory; the decision up to each group. There are several advantages to incorporating a group.

  • Members of societies may not be held responsible for the debts of the society.
  • Societies may own property and may enter into contracts under the society's name, as opposed to its individual members entering into a contract.
  • The public's perception of a society is that an incorporated group has a more formal, permanent status than an unincorporated group.
  • How to Incorporate a Society

What is the purpose of registering as a charity?


  • issue official donation receipts for gifts it receives.
  • exempt from paying income tax under Part I of the Income Tax Act.
  • eligible to receive gifts/ grants from other registered charities, such as foundations.
  • increased credibility, as must follow certain rules order to maintain registration.
  • Many goods and services provided by registered charities are exempt from goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST). Maybe claim a partial rebate for the GST/HST they pay.


  • 100% of a charity's programs and projects must be charitable.

Creating a Not-For Profit Organization

Advantages of Incorporation:

  • A not-for-profit corporation has a legal status separate and distinct from its members. Members may come and go, but the corporation continues until it is dissolved or wound up.
  • The not-for-profit corporation can enter into contracts, buy and sell property, etc.
  • Individual members of a corporation have protection from liability for the actions of the corporation.
  • The formal corporate structure facilitates ongoing operations and decision-making.
  • There may be increased credibility with the government, funders, and the public.
  • The not-for-profit corporation has an enhanced ability, through its governing documents, to address membership status issues (e.g., removal for unpaid dues or death, and expulsion for disciplinary reasons).

Disadvantages of Incorporation:

  • Most jurisdictions require an annual corporate filing related to the location of the head office as well as director information.
  • Federal corporations incorporated under the Canada Corporations Act must get ministerial approval to change certain bylaws (though this will change under the new Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act, once the federal corporation is continued under it).
  • There are some constraints placed on the type of activity that the group or entity may engage in.
  • There is a need to devote time and resources to maintaining corporate structure that would otherwise go to carrying out the desired purposes or activities of the organization.

Differences between a registered charity vs. non-profit organization

Registered charities are often referred to as non-profit organizations (NPOs). However, while both types of organizations operate on a non-profit basis, the two types are defined differently for purposes of the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act.