Projects We Support

Projects We Support

The Nanaimo Foundation recognizes that the most persistent funding gaps for many local charities are in relation to capital projects and pilot projects. Thus, these represent the entire scope of grants available from the Nanaimo Foundation Vital Fund.

Capital Project Definition

A capital project is a project that helps maintain or improve an asset. To be considered as a ‘capital project’, a project must meet one of the following criteria:

  • It is a new construction, expansion, renovation, or replacement project for existing facilities. The project must have a total cost of at least $10,000 over the life of the project. Project costs can include the cost of land, engineering, architectural planning, and contract services needed to complete the project
  • It is a purchase of equipment (assets) costing $10,000 or more with a useful life of at least 10 years.
  • It is a major maintenance or rehabilitation project for existing facilities with a cost of $10,000 or more and an economic life of at least 10 years. Major maintenance is defined as maintenance or repair of capital assets that are not needed on an annual or biennial basis and that it is not the function of regular maintenance.

If a project relates to a building, then it must enhance the value of that building. A capital project includes acquisition of capital assets or improvements and additions to these. A capital project DOES NOT include preventive maintenance consisting of normal upkeep or repairs to keep capital assets and their fixtures in their present condition, state of usefulness, or to prevent their deterioration.

Pilot Project Definition

A pilot project is generally a project which is designed as a test or trial to demonstrate the effectiveness of a full program. A pilot project tends to involve fewer participants, covers a smaller geographical region, and lasts for a shorter time than a project with proven effectiveness.

A pilot project helps the proponent gain experience and reduce risk by shining light on ideas to reveal flaws or to surface new ideas or surprise trends before investing in long-term initiatives. Thus, a pilot project provides opportunity to test and refine hypotheses while enabling those managing the pilot project freedom to apply adjustments, new measurements, and to eliminate components that don’t work.

The fundamental reasons for a pilot project are to:

  • Manage Risk – A pilot project can be used as an opportunity to implement a solution in a limited capacity where the impact of failure is mitigated. Because pilot projects are limited in both duration and scope, it is important that such projects are designed to discover answers to the most pressing questions regarding the validity of the solution proposed.


  • Validate Benefits – A pilot project must begin with some reasonably perceived benefit in mind as well as a clear sense of how a resulting project or program with proven benefit could be accommodated by the proponent and funded. A pilot project is a great opportunity to discover and/or validate benefits by applying solution concepts in a limited-scope fashion. Thus, it is important to have measurement methodology in place in order to gain insight regarding the benefits being explored so as to inform future decision-making and attract funding.


  • Promote Positive Change – A pilot project can effectively spread a good idea throughout an organization, community, or even throughout an area of professional practice. When important decisions are being made by organizations charged with funding projects and programs—people who, to a certain degree, must take the attitude of ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’, the measurements from a pilot project can provide the necessary justification for investment that would not have happened otherwise.


The key to pilot project success is to focus on the details needed to justify a full-blown project/program solution. Without solid, verifiable details regarding the risks, costs, and benefits of the project, the pilot will not lead to broader acceptance and investment. The pilot project objective should be to provide a clear example of success. Other success factors include:

  • Calendar defined timing
  • Project leadership
  • Talented project contributors
  • A staged approach with regular process evaluation
  • Slightly more than adequate resources for each stage

It is important that the project contributors and evaluators maintain a ‘pilot’ mind set in their work. Their objective is to produce a first working version of something. The experience acquired in the pilot project should provide value in showing what to do or not do in future planning. The team must also ensure that their work does not lead to long term operational commitments no matter how successful. Extended commitments should remain as part of the eventual roll out of the working version of the project.

In general, the Nanaimo Foundation supports growth and innovation through project-based grants for new initiatives that:

1. are community self-directed

  • demonstrate commitment from applicants and their partners
  • link to the organizations’ mandates and strategic plans
  • build upon community strengths
  • show evidence of collaboration with others in the same field
  • are funded by 50% or more from other sources
  • involve those affected by the proposal in the development, implementation and evaluation of the proposal
  • use, enhance, mobilize or expand the skills, capacities and assets of local people and communities

2. lead to measurable and sustainable impact

  • are likely to be effective and to serve as a model for others
  • address root causes
  • respond to identified needs and priorities

3. show evidence of significant, appropriate and local support

  • provide realistic plans for longer-term funding, if the project will be ongoing

The Nanaimo Foundation will consider requests for multi-year funding for initiatives or activities that may take longer than one year to fully develop, and/or to achieve/document results that are meaningful, or to build sustainability. Applications of this nature should generally not exceed a two-year (24 month) time frame.