Winning an OTF Seed Grant

How do You Win an OTF Seed Application?

Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) grants are due February 21 and they represent a great opportunity for non profits and charities to pilot new ideas, adopt new programs or develop conceptual models to a new region.  Seed Grants are about experimenting, trying new things and changing existing models to work in a different way.  Many regional organizations have started their programs as an OTF Seed Grant and have gone on, to obtain funding from different funders.

Having won several OTF Seeds in the last few years, looking back, there are a few key ingredients that go into a successful Seed Application.

1. Identifying your Priority Outcome and Metrics

First and foremost, you need to ensure that you select the appropriate priority outcome. This outcome is WHAT your project will accomplish, for WHOM and HOW.  There are metrics that go with each outcome but selecting the right one for your project can be tricky. It often takes lots of discussion, and really focusing in with your team on the metrics you will use and how. The use of 3rd party sounding board is often useful.

2. Summarizing your Impact in 250 words

Seed Grants do not give you a lot of room. You need to ensure that you are succinct, and able to state your problem and solution in very few words. You do not have room to become a Russian novelist. The impact you hope to have, needs to be phrased in a clear confident tone. You need to be able to link your program design to your potential incomes. It needs to be linear and to make sense. You have about 250-500 words in most text boxes; make the most of it.

3. Using Statistics

Knowing how and when to use statistics in your story-telling is very important.  Very often it is that one fact, statistic or number that can swing an application. The trick is not to overuse statistics, but use them for impact and story-telling in the right places in your application.

4. Using the Attachments!!!!

I often find my clients do not know what to do with the attachment sections of the application. If they are there, you need to try to find a use for them. It is not about simply uploading irrelevant content. Attachments need to have meaning for your project. They are needed to help explain the problem you are addressing, demonstrate the solution, or enhance the story. So find a way to incorporate them.


5. Demonstrating strong links to Mission and Strategic Plan

It is essential that your projects link back to your Mission and Strategic plan.  Your project needs to demonstrate forethought and links to your organizational goals.  Even if you are writing your Seed project the night before (yes, this happens a lot), with creativity, you can still link the project to the Mission and strategic actions of your organization.


If you incorporate these points, your chances of being successful are a lot higher. At least, you will be on track to develop a strong project outline and be able to communicate it well in your application.


If you would like a second set of eyes on your application, or would like assistance in preparing it, don’t hesitate to reach out 519-520-3443 or drop a line to


(The opinions expressed herein are in no way connected to OTF, nor by following the opinions expressed are you guaranteed to be successful).