Canada Interactive Fund
Program and Application Guidelines
Our Contact Information:
For any questions about project eligibility or the application submission deadline, or if you would like further information on the Canada Interactive Fund, please contact the Fund Administrator.
Table of contents
- Program objective
- Expected results
- Approval Process
- Assessment process
- Assessment criteria
- General information
- How to prepare your application
- Project Budget
- Application deadline
- Submission of applications to the Department
- Conditions of funding
- Contribution agreement
- Technical Requirements and Recommendations
- Reporting requirements and performance measurement
- Funds audit
- Important additional information
Part I - Program Information
1. Program objective
The Canada Interactive Fund (CIF) aims to support the creation of digital and interactive Canadian cultural content, developed by official-language minority communities (OLMCs), Aboriginal and ethnocultural organizations, and other non-profit organizations. The CIF focuses on the creation of interactive products and applications to allow these organizations to use and fully benefit from emerging technologies.
2. Expected results
The CIF targets the following results:
- Leading-edge digital cultural content and interactive applications are created and presented online;
- Canadians can access and participate in interactive online applications and cultural content;
- Not-profit cultural organizations throughout Canada thrive in the digital environment; and
- Funded projects have a social and economic impact on the communities they serve.
All proposals must meet all the applicant and project eligibility criteria set out below. If you cannot demonstrate that you meet these criteria, your application will be rejected.
3.1 Applicant eligibility criteria
The Applicant, meaning the organization that undertakes and is accountable for the project, must play a significant role in the project. The organization is responsible for all reporting and other contractual obligations. The Applicant will also be responsible for communicating with the Fund Administrator, as it is the only party to enter into an agreement with the Department of Canadian Heritage should the project be accepted for funding.
Note: An Applicant that is responsible solely for the project's financial management and that acts on behalf of a contributor is considered ineligible.
All not-for-profit organizations must be registered or incorporated under Part II of the Canadian Business Corporations Act, or its equivalent in a province or territory. The registration or incorporation must be effective, not in progress, at the application submission deadline.
Organizations may only submit one project proposal per call for proposals.
Applicants previously funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage are eligible only if they are in compliance with previously signed contribution agreements during the entire period the application is under consideration, including all reporting requirements.
3.3 Project eligibility criteria
User experience is a key element of the CIF. The Fund will provide funding to projects that are based on interactivity and innovation, offering users unique, personalized and enriching experiences through cultural content.
3.3.1 Cultural content
The CIF considers cultural content as cultural expressions resulting from the creativity of individuals, groups or societies, which have symbolic meaning, an artistic and/or cultural dimension and can originate from or express cultural identities.
Interactivity is the engine which transforms digital content and applications into an experience where the user can control and/or manipulate the content, leading to an outcome which is virtually unique to the user.
An innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product or service with respect to its capabilities, user experience, technology, components or system.
Funding is available in the 2012-2013 fiscal year. Contributions made under the CIF cannot exceed 60% of total eligible expenses or $500,000, whichever is less.
The CIF provides financial assistance on a per project basis. Thus, this does not constitute ongoing operational support. Please note that an organization cannot be approved for more than $1 million in funding in a given fiscal year through the CIF.
Applications for $200,000 and over must include the cost of preparing an audited final financial report of revenues and expenses at the end of the project.
The CIF is a cost-shared program. Applicants are expected to make cash and/or in-kind contributions to their project. A minimum of 40% (in cash and/or in kind – see notes in part II, section 3.2.2) of eligible costs required to complete the project must be contributed by the Applicant or other sources of revenue for a project to be considered eligible to receive money from the CIF.
5. Approval Process
The assessment of applications is a competitive process and the CIF has limited resources. In meeting criteria at each phase, funding decisions are also based on the number and quality of requests received.
Phase 1: Verification of eligibility
Phase 2: Assessment of applications by Program Advisory Committee
Phase 3: Thorough analysis of successful applications
Please note that we expect the number of applications received to exceed funding capacity. Thus, funding cannot be guaranteed even for projects that meet the eligibility criteria.
6. Assessment process
A Program Advisory Committee will review all eligible applications based on the degree to which they meet the assessment criteria set out in part I, section 7.
At any time during the assessment of the application, the Applicant may be required to provide additional information not contained in these guidelines.
Following a thorough analysis of the information received, and depending on the availability of funds, applications require final approval from the Minister. The Applicant will be informed of the decision in writing.
The Department reserves the right to require changes to any portion of an application, at any point during the assessment process.
7. Assessment criteria
When preparing your application, remember to clearly identify your project's strengths in relation to the assessment criteria.
Funding applications will be assessed based in as much as they meet the following criteria:
|Long-term viability of product (five years)
7.1. User experience
User experience is a key element of the CIF. The Fund will provide funding to projects that offer users unique, personalized and enriching experiences.
The degree of interactivity is measured against the interactivity scale proposed by the CIF.
Note: To determine if a product is interactive, the CIF will look at the project in its entirety. An eligible project may contain both interactive and non-interactive components, as long as the overall user experience is primarily interactive.
The user experience is enriching and captivating.
The product should keep the user actively interested and engaged. The experience should offer a multitude of options, learning opportunities and challenges through distinctive content or presentation elements.
The content is presented in both official languages.
The product must be presented in at least one of the official languages. However, the CIF will give preference to products in both official languages.
Innovation can be expressed through the originality of the content, its presentation, the use of technology or a combination of these elements. The CIF encourages applicants to demonstrate how their product is innovative.
The Content presentation is original. The Applicant must demonstrate in what way the product contains distinctive elements in the presentation of the content.
Technology is used in an innovative manner.
The Applicant must demonstrate how the product stands out in terms of the use of technology (or a combination of technologies) in comparison with existing products in its activity sector.
In keeping with the program, the use of the latest technology and platforms must serve the product and the user experience.
Technology is used properly and with optimal effectiveness.
The Applicant must demonstrate how the selected technology supports user experience and is the most appropriate solution for the product.
7.4 Long-term viability of product
To achieve the CIF's expected results, the Department wants to ensure the funded products are active for at least five years following the end of the project.
The product falls within the organization's current activities.
Since the Applicant commits to ensure the product's long-term viability, the CIF expects the product to play an important role in the organization's normal activities. The Applicant will have to demonstrate how many resources will be allocated to maintain the product (content and technology) and how this will be done. The costs of maintenance over five years are inadmissible expenses.
The product is relevant to the target audience.
The Applicant must demonstrate that the product will remain relevant to the target audience by describing how it plans to use performance measurements for its product to identify and maintain audience interest in the long term.
Part II - Funding Application
1. General information
The Applicant must use the “Application Form” template, which can be downloaded at http://www.pch.gc.ca/eng/1273769820147/1273769914568. You have to contact by email the administrator of the Canada Interactive Fund (firstname.lastname@example.org) to receive a copy of the “Detailed Budget” template. All electronic forms can be printed once completed. Any documents in addition to what is requested will be destroyed.
For funding applications received by the deadline, a program officer will determine the applicant and project eligibility through an initial screening process. Only completed funding applications that meet all the eligibility criteria will proceed to the next step. Applicants whose projects do not meet all the eligibility criteria will be notified as soon as the eligibility assessment is completed.
Successful applicants will have to submit the following documents at a later date:
- Up-to-date proof of legal status, such as non-profit incorporation papers, legal proof or other documentation legally enacting the existence of the applicant organization, including by-laws, charters or letters patent, as applicable;
- Signed copy of the most recent audited financial statements (for funding of $200,000 and up) or a copy of the most recent financial statements covering the past two years, signed by two members of the Board of Directors;
- Submissions received for each external service contract worth over $25,000; and
- Letters of support confirming amounts from funding sources for the project, as applicable.
Recommendations for funding are subject to the Access to Information Act, the Privacy Act and the Public Acknowledgement of Canadian Heritage Financial Assistance Guidelines.
2. How to prepare your application
- Follow the instructions carefully.
- Do not send any appendices that are not requested.
- Throughout the assessment process, several individuals with different backgrounds and areas of expertise will be reviewing your application. Draft your proposal in a way that will be easily understood by someone who is not an expert in your particular field.
3. Project budget
Funding will be available for the 2012–2013 fiscal year, and projects must be completed within a twelve-month period beginning on April 1, 2012. Contributions made under the CIF cannot exceed $500,000, or 60% of the total eligible expenses, whichever is less.
3.1 Detailed budget
Identify all cash and in-kind revenues and expenses according to the specified categories and identify the amount of funding requested from the CIF.
Note: All expenses incurred will be assessed by CIF staff to determine eligibility. Expenses must be reasonable, well supported and justified. Excessive, inflated or unreasonable costs will be rejected. In-kind costs are not reimbursed.
When preparing the “Detailed Budget” template, please note that:
- Total project revenues must equal total project expenses;
- Revenues from all government sources must not exceed 100% of total project expenditures. If at the end of the project, total government assistance from federal, provincial/territorial and municipal sources exceeds 100% of total project expenditures, the recipient will have to repay the amount of the federal contribution to the Crown; and
- In-kind contributions are eligible, but not reimbursable.
3.2. Detailed budget template
Applicants have to contact by email the administrator of the Canada Interactive Fund (email@example.com) to receive a copy of the “Detailed Budget” template in Excel format (ZIP and PDF formats will not be accepted).
The budget template has eight separate tabs. Please read carefully the instructions at the beginning (Tab 1) and at the bottom of each tabs.
Tab 2 – Salaries
Provide the names and titles of key staff members assigned to the project, their salaries and rationale for the portion of the salaries allocated to the project. Staff time allocated to the project should be reasonable.
A salary that is paid to an individual who is working directly on the project should be considered as a cash contribution. The amount should be prorated to the time the employee actually spends on the project. Any such claims of salaries (cash or in-kind) must be verifiable by an auditor. It is strongly recommended that organizations expecting to claim salaries implement a system to track these costs, such as by keeping detailed timesheets.
Tab 3 - Professional fees (consulting)
Provide the names and titles of consultants, their hourly fee and the number of hours allocated to the project. External service contracts exceeding $25,000 must be supported by at least three offers from different suppliers.
If a consultant gives a discounted rate, the rate that is being charged is considered a cash expense, and the difference between the discounted rate and the usual rate is an in-kind expense. This in-kind expense would equal the in-kind contribution of the consultant, and this would be reflected in tab 7 - "Funding Sources of the Project".
Tab 4 - Marketing and promotion
Indicate expenses related to the marketing and promotion of the project and the final product.
Tab 5 - Technical and technological infrastructure
Identify all costs related to the purchase and/or rental of equipment and software used directly in developing the final product. The value must be calculated based on demonstrable amortization and should not account for a significant portion of the project costs.
Tab 6 - Other
Identify all other costs related to the project which are not captured in the previous tabs.
Tab 7 - Funding sources for the project
Identify all sources of cash and in-kind contributions, including the amount requested from the CIF. Ensure to indicate in the appropriate column if the source of revenue is confirmed in writing by the contributing organization or not.
Tab 8 - Overall budget
This tab is intended as a roll-up of the previous tabs and is calculated automatically based on the information completed in the other tabs.
3.3 In-kind contributions
Contributions intended to cover project expenses may be in the form of an in-kind donation. The term “in-kind” means any non-monetary good or service provided by an interested party without any expectation of reciprocal favourable treatment.
For goods and services to be considered an eligible in-kind contribution, the expense they are to cover must:
- be essential to the project's success;
- represent an amount the Applicant would normally have spent; and
- be substantiated by fair market value. Fair market value is a realistic expression of the value of a good or service.
All in-kind costs must be offset by in-kind revenues.
Payments made under the CIF may only be used to pay cash expenses and transactions. If eligible in-kind contributions cover more than 40% of the revenue needs, the CIF will only refund the project's actual cash expenses (up to 60% of the total eligible budget).
Note that the value of any materials or equipment identified as an in-kind contribution must be prorated according to its cost if leased or loaned for use during the project.
For an in-kind contribution to be considered eligible, the Applicant must indicate the fair market value and provide written proof. For example, if the Applicant has an arrangement whereby it normally has access to a preferred rate for goods or services, fair market value is that preferred rate, not a standard rate. If an asset theoretically has revenue-generating potential but has not been doing so, and there is no demonstration of future opportunity in this regard, the asset cannot be valued at its full original cost. If the contributors can benefit directly from the completion of the project, their contribution would not have the same value as an arm's length transaction.
The Applicant must provide, as supporting documentation, independent professional appraisals, a tax receipt issued to the contributor, a letter signed by a contributor, or fair estimates for similar goods or services based on competitive bidding or solicitation.
3.4 Eligible expenses
All expenses incurred will be assessed by CIF staff to determine the eligibility. The following is a list of eligible expenses that may be included in a project:
- Salaries, wages and contractual costs associated with the project team (overall project management, preparation, consulting fees);
- Travel and accommodation for staff working on the project;
- Content adaptation and presentation costs;
- Copyright/intellectual property clearance costs and licensing fee for content;
- Printing and distribution costs related to promotional materials;
- Communication, promotion and marketing activities;
- Certification costs for a mobile application;
- Project audit fees for all applications of $200,000 and over;
- Translation and interpretation fees;
- Administrative expenses directly applicable to the project;
- Costs of purchasing or renting equipment and software related directly to the development of the final product.
- Training costs directly related to the development of the final product.
3.5 Ineligible expenses
The following expenses are not eligible and should not be included in your overall budget. These are examples only and should not be considered an exhaustive list:
- Recoverable portion of GST—only the amount of GST (or other taxes) that is not recoverable may be included as an expense in your budget;
- Indirect expenses—include various overhead costs, ongoing operating expenses, staff time not spent directly on project-related activities, and rent;
- Software costs when offered as in-kind contribution;
- Equipment costs if bought before CIF funding decision;
- Costs related to e-commerce (online services or tickets purchasing)
- Contingency fees (incidentals);
- Volunteer time;
- Fringe benefits—for example, company car, costs of delivery;
- Basic research costs (for content);
- Costs of maintaining the product for five years;
- Hospitality—food and beverages at events and meetings;
- Production of CDs, DVDs, etc. (unless used for promotional purposes);
- Creation or printing of learning materials that are not offered online;
- Training on the use of the final product.
To ensure all the required documents for phase 1 are complete, fill out the checklist included at the end of the application form.
Do not send any materials other than those requested. Any additional appendices will not be considered in the assessment of your application and will be discarded.
5. Application Deadline
Submit your application by January 9, 2012.
6. Submission of applications to the Department
Email all documents mentioned in phase 1 to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 9, 2012. The sent date will be proof of compliance with this eligibility criterion. An acknowledgement receipt will be sent electronically by e-mail within 15 days after having received the application.
The signature on digitized application forms sent by email must be handwritten and legible. Unsigned applications will be considered incomplete.
Part III - Information for Successful Projects
1. Conditions of funding
Funds are subject to examination of the recipient's accounts, records or other documents deemed necessary under the circumstances, up to and including a financial audit. Funding must be used solely for the purposes indicated in the letter of approval signed by the Minister of Canadian Heritage and in the Contribution Agreement. Any funding not used for these purposes must be returned to the Department.
Applicants who start the preliminary phases of a project while the Department is assessing their application do so at their own risk. If the Department approves a contribution, payments can only be made for expenses incurred from April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013.
2. Contribution agreement
Successful applicants will receive a letter from the Minister of Canadian Heritage, indicating that a contribution has been approved for their project. Recipients are required to sign a contribution agreement, which is a legal contract outlining the responsibilities of both the Department and the recipient. Once funding has been approved, no changes can be made to the project without the prior written consent of the Department.
Before signing the Contribution Agreement, the Applicant must submit letters of support confirming financial assistance from each source of revenue.
The Contribution Agreement binds the Applicant and the Department of Canadian Heritage. The Applicant represents the entire partnership for the Contribution Agreement, and governs its relationship with the contributors through a separate partnership agreement that does not include the Department.
The Contribution Agreement takes effect on the day it is signed by the Minister or his delegate.
All contribution agreements include an indemnity clause whereby the lead organization must indemnify the Crown against claims, damages and expenses due to the acts of the lead organization and/or the contributors. This clause cannot be amended or removed.
Successful applicants must confirm and guarantee that no formerly or currently employed public servant or federal public office holder who does not comply with the Code of Public Service Values or the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders may benefit directly from the Contribution Agreement.
The Contribution Agreement will require the recipient to obtain licences to allow the Government of Canada to use the content to promote the funded project and/or the CIF.
3. Technical Requirements and Recommendations
Recipients must comply with all technical requirements and recommendations of the Guide to the Canada Interactive Fund (CIF) Technical Requirements and Recommendations, Version 5.0. This document can be downloaded at http://www.pch.gc.ca/pc-ch/org/sectr/ac-ca/bdc/tech-eng.cfm.
The guide provides a complete description of the technical requirements that projects funded by the program must meet. It also includes a series of recommended practices that the designers and developers of CIF-funded projects are urged to follow.
CIF-funded projects will be evaluated against the requirements. Following this technical evaluation, fund recipients will be asked to revise their Web sites to comply with any requirement that has not been followed.
The requirements should be viewed as an investment that will:
- make a Web site more accessible to all Canadians, regardless of geographic location, technology, or disability;
- make a Web site more visible, for instance in search engine results;
- contribute to a Web site's long-term viability; and
- help the migration of the Web site to newer versions of browsers and other devices, such as cell phones and personal digital assistants.
Web standards offer a common set of rules and terms that every developer should follow and understand, thus shortening development time and yielding pages that are easier to maintain.
The CIF requires that product certification be obtained for mobile applications from the appropriate authorities to allow publication on platforms used for application downloads, such as App Store, Google App Store and BlackBerry App World.
4. Reporting requirements and performance measurement
The recipient is required to submit interim and final activity reports, and a financial report for the signed project (audited, if required)*. The activity reports must include information such as a summary of activities, accomplishments and setbacks, and progress on deliverables and dissemination of activities. Financial reporting for interim reports must be in the form of a cash flow detailing actual and projected expenses and revenues.
*Please note that the audited financial report is separate from any audit that may be performed by Canadian Heritage.
In addition to the reporting outlined above, the recipient will use the template provided by the CIF to collect performance measurement data and conform to the Department's performance measurement requirements for a period of three years after the end of the funding period. The Performance Measurement Requirements and Reporting Guide can be downloaded at http://www.pch.gc.ca/eng/1273769820147/1273769914568.
Finally, for the CIF to collect standardized information for Web-based projects, the recipient will be required, as a condition of funding, to insert software code in programming the Website to allow the CIF to automatically collect user traffic statistics. Specific details on the code to be inserted is available in the Guide to the Canada Interactive Fund (CIF) Technical Requirements and Recommendations, Version 5.0.
5. Funds audit
Funds paid out under the terms and conditions of a contribution agreement may be subject to examination of the recipient's accounts, records or other documents deemed necessary under the circumstances, up to and including a financial audit.
Funding must be used solely for the purposes indicated in the letter of approval and the Contribution Agreement. Any funding not used for these purposes must be returned to the Department.
6. Important additional information
Applicants must retain a copy of their application and related documents for their files. These documents form part of their commitments under the CIF should their application be approved.
Funding is available for projects starting no earlier than April 1, 2012, and ending by March 31, 2013. Applicants who start the preliminary phases of a project during the period in which the Department is evaluating their application do so at their own risk.
Audit Examination of a recipient's accounts, records, or other evidence deemed necessary in the circumstances.
Business plan Clearly written document that describes an organization's mandate, short-, mid- and long-term objectives, and priority actions to take. A business plan includes a timeframe for its execution, and identifies who, within the organization, or what outside agent will be responsible for carrying out the actions for the completeness of the actions necessary to achieve the set objectives.
Contribution Conditional transfer payment to an organization for a specified purpose pursuant to a contribution agreement that is subject to being accounted for and audit and review.
Contribution Agreement Formal document that must be signed by the Department of Canadian Heritage (the funder) and the prospective recipient of a contribution, describing each party’s obligations.
Consultants Individuals or groups of individuals with specialized knowledge and/or skills. They are not part of an organization's staff, management or board, but rather are contracted for a fee to provide specific services to an organization.
Cultural (cultural content or cultural organizations) in the context of the CIF, ‘cultural content' includes:
- Contemporary cultural expressions. For example, film, video, new media, music, literature, dance, visual arts, theatre and crafts;
- Historical and heritage cultural expressions; and
- Instructional and educational aspects of cultural expressions.
“Cultural organizations” are those whose mandate and business plan pertain to the types of cultural activities outlined above.
Digital application Software designed for end users that run on computers, mobile devices or other platforms.
Educational institutions Universities, colleges, primary and secondary schools, school boards
In-kind contribution Donation to a project by an individual, business or organization of materials, goods, services or time that would otherwise have been paid for by the recipient. It involves non-cash asset transactions, such as securities, land, buildings, equipment, use of facilities, labour, and goods. To be eligible as an in-kind contribution, the donation:
- must be essential to the project's success;
- must represent an expense that would otherwise be incurred and paid for by the recipient as part of the project;
- must be mentioned in the recipient's contribution agreement, documented and recorded in the recipient's accounting books; and
- can reasonably be estimated at fair value on the date it is made, using either market value or an appraisal.
An in-kind contribution is a real contribution to the total cost of the project, but is not reimbursable as no monies change hands.
Innovation A process that leads to the development and implementation of creative ideas to provide new or improved content or application.
Interactivity Media that moves away from a sit-back type interaction to engaging audiences. Users can view content and become immersed in the experience on several levels, including a combination of the following:
- commenting on it; and/ or
- customizing it; and/ or
- repurposing it; and/ or
- contributing to it; and/ or
- sharing it.
“Interactivity” can also be defined as a participatory experience between the user and the content and/or application, or the user and other users through the content and/or application.
Non-interactive Web sites This type of Web site or application usually displays the same information and content to all users. Users cannot control what information they receive and must instead settle for whatever content the Web site has to offer at that time. This may include information and content in the form of text, photos, animations, audio/video, and browsing scheme.
Operational expenses Cash expenses paid by an organization in return for goods or services that are not incremental to the project. These expenses are ineligible for funding.
Outcomes Changes resulting from project outputs. They are the external effects of the project that are considered significant for its initial commitments. Outcomes must be measurable and may affect organizations, communities, and individuals. They may relate to behaviour, skills, knowledge, attitudes, values, conditions or other attributes. Although there is less degree of control over outcomes; however, there should be a direct relationship between outputs and outcomes.
Outputs The most immediate effects of the project. The direct products, services or applications produced and delivered to a target group or population, such as an exhibition, a collection or an application.
Performance measures Indicators that provide qualitative and/or quantitative information needed to measure the extent to which a project has achieved its intended outcomes. Qualitative data can be expressed in terms of change or comparison between two states, while quantitative indicators can be in the form of a ratio, percentage, comparison, or figure.
Project Set of activities or functions that a recipient proposes to undertake with the financial assistance provided by a department. A project has a clear start and end date, occurs within a reasonable period and demonstrates measurable outputs and outcomes.
User data (traffic) The number of total visits, number of unique visitors, average length of each visit, number of returning visitors, number of downloads (if applicable), and search engines used.
Web 2.0 Web 1.0 is generally associated with the early era of the World Wide Web culminating with the popularity of the Netscape browser and transition of publications such as encyclopedias from a print to an online reference tool. The Web 1.0 model is one that comprised of hyperlinks and the digitization of resources provided users enabled access to vast amounts of information. Web 1.0 also introduced open standards for creating and viewing content, generally using a static format. With limited opportunities for interaction, Web 1.0 can be described as a “read-only” digital environment.
In contrast, Web 2.0 describes the state of the Web resulting because of technological innovations that are changing the way we use the Internet. The Web 2.0 model focuses on enhancing user experience, moving from a “read-only” to a “read/write” context. The shift from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 can be described as one where users have more opportunities to provide/publish/create content for the Web and communicate with one another online. Web 2.0 is based on a participative and collective approach. For example, individuals participate in building the content of a tool such as Wikipedia rather than reading a published encyclopedia. Early Web 2.0 tools and applications include blogs, wikis, social media sites, crowd sourcing and mash-ups.