- Find opportunities to connect your program with other programs and initiatives your Nation or organization is implementing. Find opportunities for sharing and leveraging resources, in-kind contributions, etc.
- Think creatively about how to fill your funding basket – you may need to develop a mix of funding sources from internal streams, government, foundations, charitable orgs, research partnerships, etc.
- Have a program “elevator speech” – a one or two-page document that describes your vision, program focus areas, activities, key projects, etc. You can easily modify this for different audiences as needed.
- Reach out to potential funders and partners early on in program development. Provide them with information about what you want to do and ask for their feedback to help you craft a proposal they can support.
- Reflect the language and priorities of your funders back to them in your proposal while staying true to your own project goals.
- Build up potential and existing funders’ interest in what you are doing. Share program information, success stories, updates, etc. The more they know and see, the better.
- Maximize opportunities to make contact with funders and make the most of those opportunities to strengthen their interest and commitment.
- Depending on the funder, invite them to come to your community to learn more about your vision and priorities. For certain funders (especially private philanthropists), engaging them on an emotional level may be key.
- Fundraising is more an art than a science – consider the balance between the time and effort to write a proposal and report on the funding versus the amount of funding that is available.
- Coordinate your fundraising efforts with other programs or organizations to avoid competing for the same pool of funds. Consider opportunities to build joint proposals with neighbouring communities.
Resources in chapter Fund an Indigenous Guardian program
Section: What does a program cost?
WAGES AND CONTRACTS
- Wages and benefits - Program manager, guardians, seasonal positions, interns, etc.
- Contracts - Short-term contracts for guardians, technicians, professional services, other contract services (i.e. biologist, lab work, data storage, etc.)
- Required Certifications - First aid, radio operator, swift water rescue, etc.
- Additional Training - Monitoring, conflict resolution, communications, etc.
EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES
- Safety equipment -Radios, sat phone/InReach, first aid kit, life jackets, firearms, etc.
- Field equipment -GPS, tablets, sampling equipment, digital camera, binoculars, etc.
- Equipment storage - Rental lockers, storage units, moorage, shed, etc.
- Program identification - Uniforms, logo, decals, flags, badges, business cards, etc.
TRANSPORTATION AND TRAVEL
- Capital equipment - Purchase or lease of boats, trucks, skidoos, etc.
- Fuel - Gas, diesel, propane, etc.
- Transportation related - Transportation costs, helicopter/flight time, rental fees, etc.
- Repairs and maintenance - Vehicle repairs, annual maintenance
- Travel expenses - Travel/transport, food, lodging for meetings, overnight patrols etc.
OFFICE AND GENERAL
- Office related - Rent, utilities, office furnishings, phones, computers, etc.
- Insurance coverage - For equipment, vehicles, liability, etc.
- Contingency funds - Unexpected expenses (replacement equipment, repairs, emergencies, etc.)
- Community outreach - Community meetings and events, education materials, newsletters, web, etc.
- Honoraria - For elder or community advisor involvement
Typical Budget Categories for an Indigenous Guardian Program
Use this Sample Indigenous Guardian Program Budget as a tool to modify and adjust to anticipate and estimate what your program will cost. All data entered in this budget worksheet are fictitious and are simply there as placeholders to prompt you in your budget building efforts. Customize the information to suit your program's unique expense categories, salaries/wages, program costs, etc. If there are important categories missing here, please let us know so others may benefit from what you've learned.
Sample Indigenous Guardian Program Budget
- Staff wages and benefits can be fairly easy to estimate. Compare the guardian program positions (whether field staff or manager) to similar programs managed by your organization.
- If you know you’ll need to rely on contractors or contracted services, request quotes from potential individuals and companies so you know what fees or rates will look like.
- Research the pros and cons of purchasing, leasing or renting field, safety or other equipment. Keep in mind, you may also be able to share equipment with other programs.
- Things like fuel estimates can be worked out by calculating the number of trips/patrols you expect to run, distance covered, and fuel consumption/km traveled.
- Remember to budget in a buffer. It’s important to anticipate the unexpected and have contingency funds available if you need them.
Ideas for Developing a Budget
Guardian Watchman Funding Opportunities for the North Vancouver Island Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network and Member Nations – Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network
Funding from Your Nation or Organization
Funding for guardian programs can sometimes be found from internal Indigenous government sources such as revenue sharing agreements, resource fees, business income, dedicated trusts, impact-benefit agreements, etc. Internal support may also come in the form of “in-kind support” or the gift of goods and services such as office space, shared equipment, shared staff positions, or fundraising, communications or admin support. These kinds of contributions can significantly reduce the costs of your program. They may also be very valuable when seeking funding from sources that require you to demonstrate matching contributions. The more aligned and integrated your Indigenous Guardian program is with the vision and strategic priorities of your Nation or organization, the more likely it is you will be able to secure this kind of funding and in-kind support.
Funding from Federal, Provincial or Territorial Governments
Many programs are funded in part by federal, provincial or territorial agency program grants or agreements (i.e. Fisheries, Parks, Species-at-Risk), employment and training programs, or fee-for-service contracts (i.e. park management). Often a reliable funding source from one year to the next, this kind of funding can support key staff positions and program costs. If you decide to pursue government funding to support your program, consider coordinating your ask with other programs or departments to avoid competing internally for the same funds. You may also want to look at developing a joint proposal with neighbouring communities or organizations to have more impact and reduce the competition for funds regionally.
Industry or Resource Users
Some communities have successfully supported their guardian programs through industry contribution agreements, referral fees, user fees, licensing fees, or contracts for services related to monitoring development projects. Building formal relationships with industry and recreational users of your lands and waters can help you create opportunities for developing this kind of funding. For an example, see the story about how the Kitasoo Xai'Xais and the Ahousat First Nations are funding their Guardian programs through visitor fees.
Funding from Foundations and Private Donors
There are many private and public foundations, charitable organizations, and private donors whose priorities align with guardian program activities. To apply for charitable dollars directly, recipients must be recognized as a qualified donee under the Income Tax Act of Canada. Qualified donees can be a registered First Nation governing entity (i.e. First Nation Band) or a registered charitable organization recognized by the Canadian Revenue Agency. However, not all First Nation Bands and non-profit organizations are structured as registered entities. Understanding the opportunities and limitations of charitable funding is an important consideration when determining how to structure your program. Organizations like Tides Canada can act as an “intermediary” organization, receiving and managing funds on behalf of unregistered organizations. Keep in mind, however, that the Income Tax Act has strict policies on the activities allowed with charitable funds, in particular with respect to lobbying and advocacy work.
Contributions from Partners
Partner organizations like universities, research institutes and non-profit organizations wanting to do work or research on your lands and waters can become important allies to your stewardship goals. Take a proactive approach to working with these institutions and organizations to ensure you shape and benefit from the work they want to undertake. Developing protocol agreements, research standards, data sharing agreements, mentorship and hiring clauses can help formalize expectations. See more discussion and ideas under the Conduct Research chapter.
Contributions from Your Community
Don’t overlook the importance of community members in supporting your Indigenous Guardian program. Active land users, harvesters, traditional knowledge holders, and companies with operations out on the land and water may contribute significantly to your guardian efforts. Their insights and observations can be a powerful source of information. Developing ways for these users to systematically gather, document, and report information can allow you to harness this information at relatively low cost to your program. See the Monitor and Collect Data chapter for more detailed information.
Potential Ways to Fund your Indigenous Guardian Program
"We pursue funds from anywhere and everywhere including Band Council, Coast Funds, community fundraising, non-profit partners, and university partners. We are always looking for more secure funding for core positions.”
"We pursue funds from anywhere and everywhere including..."
The Ahousaht Resource Stewardship Guardian Program Permit is an example of how communities are collecting fees from tourists and visitors as a way to fund resources stewardship and guardian programs. Link to Permit:
Ahousaht Resource Stewardship Guardian Program Permit
Information from the Canada Revenue Agency about what constitutes a qualified donee for charitable status in relation to First Nations band offices:
Qualified Donee: Municipal or Public Body Performing a Function of Government in Canada
Canada Revenue Agency policy on activities restricted with charitable funds, in particular political lobbying and advocacy work. Learn more at:
Charitable Funds and Political Activities Policy Statement
Review a webinar presentation that explains some legal issues in dealing charities and foundations funding aboriginal organizations and projects that benefit aboriginal peoples. Find the presentation here:
Webinar: Successfully Funding First Nations Communities in Canada in Compliance with CRA Guidance
Find information about Tides Canada's shared platform initiative where grassroots organizations can achieve greater impact through sharing administrative resources and expertise. Learn more here:
Tides Canada's Shared Platform
“Guardian programs are not going to be 100% grant funded. There is going to have to be contributions from the Nation, from own source revenues, and possibly from fee-for-service activities. We are trying to position the work of the guardians as contracts or deliverables to prepare for a more diverse and deliverables-based funding environment.”
“Guardian programs are not going to be 100% grant funded..."
Analysis of Current and Future Value of Indigenous Guardian Work in Canada’s Northwest Territories - Indigenous Leadership Initiative and Tides Canada
- Allocate enough time in your work plans to focus on funding demands (i.e. research funders, cultivate interest, write proposals, administer funds, evaluate outcomes, and report back).
- Know the interests and priorities of your potential funders. Address these directly in any and all communications with them.
- Make the link to your own interests and priorities clear and don’t get swayed off of these in your eagerness to attract dollars.
- Don’t waste time applying to funders where there is not a good fit between your priorities and theirs.
- Reach out and communicate early to discuss your program goals and project proposals with funders.
- Whenever possible, avoid submitting a “cold” application for funds with no prior interaction or contact with the funder.
- Invite potential funders to come and learn about your program in your community or out on the land. Make the work you are doing, and the people that are doing it, real to them.
- Cultivate ongoing interest through phone and in-person meetings, updates, letters of interest, blog posts, etc.
- Wherever possible, show matching funds, community contributions, partners lists, etc. Invite funders to be part of something bigger and more impactful than their contributions alone can support.
- Ask for feedback when you haven’t been successful on a funding application.
- Learn from every fundraising effort and strengthen your approach for the next ask.
Ideas for Successful Fundraising
This useful workbook presents a systematic approach to developing a great proposal by outlining steps that are common in most proposals.
Proposal Writing for Healthy Communities Workbook
This article shares tips and suggestions on how to get the maximum impact from your grant-writing efforts.