The Canada Cultural Investment Fund (CCIF), through its Endowment Incentives program, has enabled arts and heritage organizations to start and grow endowment funds, incentivized private donors to contribute to the endowment funds of these organizations and increased the level of financial stability among recipient organizations by helping to diversify revenue streams. The Strategic Initiatives component of the CCIF built new and strengthened existing partnerships related to best practices, marketing, and technology among arts and heritage organizations, improving business practices, and helped these organizations to achieve and demonstrate sound organizational, administrative, and financial health.


Given the success of CCIF, it is a useful model to be considered in terms of support for endowment funding for the private land conservation community. It would be important to consider similarities and differences between the two sectors in the design of any initiative to grow the endowment funds of private land conservation organizations. Some considerations in this regard are:

  1. The Endowment Incentive component of CCIF has been funding arts organizations for 20 years. Is there an imperative to establish appropriate levels of endowment investment more quickly? What would be required to meet a shorter timeline for private land conservation organizations to establish endowments of sufficient size to generate investment income able to reasonably support stewardship activities annually and over the long-term?
  2. Private land conservation organizations depend on many sources of funding to meet their budget needs. Diverting too much funding into an endowment fund that may otherwise have gone into annual operations could jeopardize the organization’s ability to manage their easements and steward their properties to high standards in the short term. Could the program be structured so that organizations have the option to provide match over a longer time frame?
  3. The 1:1 match may be too low to be effective for many private land conservation organizations and therefore have low perceived value. Could the eligibility criteria be structured to allow a higher contribution, like 2:1, from funders to private land conservation organizations that have lower fundraising capacity or fewer funds comparatively already in reserve accounts?
    • The success of the Endowment Incentives component of CCIF has shown the government’s match has decreased over time. In 2022, for example, it came in at roughly 60% match for every match dollar raised by the arts or heritage organization. Could the federal government and/or other funders make the initial investment to build momentum for a private land conservation program, based on the trajectory of growth of investment from private donors as demonstrated through the CCIF program?
  4. Information on the nature and extent of the needs of private land conservation organizations with respect to financial stability and their capacity to sustainably steward their conservation lands and agreements is not well known. As the scale and extent of liabilities associated with the work of private land conservation organizations across Canada is unknown, it may be useful to conduct a needs analysis, ensuring consistency and comparability of such information.
  5. Donors prefer to give to activities rather than investment funds. The Endowment Incentives component of CCIF has shown that donors to the arts community responded positively to the potential for doubling their donation impact through the program. In this regard, it may be useful to consider:
    • Market research to determine the response from private land conservation donors to a matching endowment opportunity
    • Research should also determine what features of the program allowed it to attract new, incremental funding rather than re-allocation by donors of their current level of funding
    • The nature of any support useful to private land conservation organizations such as training, and communications and marketing expertise to create an effective endowment campaign
  6. What would be the eligibility requirements and how would private land organizations best demonstrate due diligence and effective risk management as an incentive to governments and other funders to invest in endowments. The experience of the Terrafirma program in the United States demonstrates that a commitment to accreditation by the land trust translates into increased capacity in all aspects of its operations.(55)

55. Peter Szabo, Bloomingdale Management Advisors (2018), An Impact Evaluation of the Land Trust Accreditation Program’s First Ten Years