Before you apply

Read the guidelines for the Documentary Heritage Communities Program (DHCP) to learn about the program and find additional resources.

Important notice

Did you know that another funding opportunity is offered to First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation organizations seeking support in their efforts to digitize their existing culture and language recordings? Consult the Listen, Hear Our Voices initiative web site for more information, or to apply.

Guidelines 2021–22


Library and Archives Canada (LAC) provides $1.5 million in contributions each year through the DHCP (“the Program”).

This is a conditional payment issued to a recipient organization for a specific purpose, as outlined in a funding contribution agreement. LAC and the recipient organization sign a contribution agreement, which specifies the terms and conditions to receive payment. Every recipient organization is required to submit an interim report and a final report to LAC.

LAC receives applications once every year through a call for proposals and funds the best project proposals after rigorous reviews of eligibility, feasibility and merit.


The DHCP aims to ensure that Canada's continuing memory is documented and accessible to current and future generations.

The DHCP provides financial assistance to the Canadian documentary heritage community for activities that:

  • increase access to, and awareness of, Canada's local documentary heritage organizations and their holdings; and
  • increase the capacity of local documentary heritage organizations to better sustain and preserve Canada's documentary heritage

Who can apply

Local documentary heritage organizations eligible to apply to the DHCP are non-profit organizations that hold collections of mainly local or regional significance:

  • Archives
  • Genealogical organizations/societies
  • Historical societies
  • Indigenous organizations/government institutions
  • Libraries
  • Organizations with an archival component
  • Professional library or archival associations

All applicants must be privately funded (50% or more) with the exception of Indigenous organizations/government institutions.

Different funding conditions apply to incorporated and non-incorporated organizations.

Ineligible applicants

  • Businesses (for profit)
  • Government institutions (except Indigenous government institutions)
  • Publicly funded organizations (such as municipal libraries)
  • Educational institutions (such as schools, colleges, universities)

Furthermore, non-profit organizations that are administered by a government entity or that receive more than 50% of their annual operating funding from any level of government without having to request it, are ineligible to apply for funding under the DHCP.

An ineligible applicant can still participate and/or collaborate in a project submitted by an eligible applicant, by providing the latter with in-kind or financial assistance. However, an ineligible organization cannot act as a co-applicant or official partner, nor can it benefit financially from the contribution.

What can be funded

The DHCP can provide funding for projects and activities that relate to either or both of the program's objectives.

Objective 1: Increase access to, and awareness of, Canada's local documentary heritage organizations and their holdings.

  • Collection-, catalogue- and access-based management
  • Commemorative projects
  • Conversion and digitization for access purposes
  • Development (research, design and production) of virtual and physical exhibitions, including travelling exhibits

Objective 2: Increase the capacity of local documentary heritage organizations to better sustain and preserve Canada's documentary heritage.

  • Conservation and preservation treatment
  • Conversion and digitization for preservation purposes, including recording interviews for oral history projects
  • Increased digital preservation capacity (excluding digital infrastructure related to day-to-day activities)
  • Training and workshops that improve professional competencies and build the organization’s capacity
  • Development of standards, performance and other measurement activities

Eligible projects and activities


  • Migrating a collection or holdings to an online database
  • Enhancing your finding aid with archival standard descriptions, translations and transcriptions
  • Recording interviews with local veterans about their experiences during the Second World War or interviews with local Indigenous Elders about their experiences, traditions and culture (oral history interviews - see note below)

  • Please note that recording an oral history interview is an eligible activity under the DHCP, whereas editing the recording is not (with the exception of adding subtitles and translations). Editing oral history recordings is considered to be creating new documentary heritage, such as books, documentaries, podcasts, etc.

  • Conserving and/or restoring portraits or photographs of historical and/or local significance
  • Creating an exhibition based on a specific collection
  • Developing and sharing best practices and policies for processing holdings
  • Digitizing a mixed media collection or local oral history interviews
  • Digitizing newspapers for which the applicant owns the copyright
  • Organizing a documentary heritage conference

Organizations applying to the DHCP must own the documentary heritage collections for which they seek funding. This means your organization must have cleared any questions related to rights and permissions before you submit your application.

Furthermore, artifacts or objects (such as statues, globes or medals) are not eligible for inclusion in projects funded under the DHCP.

Ineligible projects and activities


  • Acquiring a new collection
  • Projects involving documentary heritage collections that the applicant does not own, or for which the applicant does not hold appropriate rights and/or permissions
  • Activities related to artifacts or objects (such as statues, globes or medals)
  • Creating a book, magazine, theatre script, documentary film or podcast that features a collection
  • Editing oral history recordings into documentaries or short clips for publication on the web
  • Clearing backlogs of received materials, which the applicant organization would normally process as part of its ongoing operations
  • Developing an exhibition with material that is not in the applicant's custody
  • Renovating a building

Eligible costs include

LAC may provide financial assistance for project-related expenses only, which may include:

  • Translating project-related communications material or descriptive information (such as metadata) into English or French, particularly for official-language minority communities
  • Administration, shipping, promotion and communication expenses related to the project
  • Salaries and wages for project staff and consultants, as well as honoraria for Indigenous Elders and any travel expenses (consistent with the National Joint Council's Travel Directive)
  • Buying and/or renting equipment and software required for the project (for example, to convert, digitize, preserve or catalogue)
  • Purchasing materials required for the project (such as archival boxes)
  • Project launch event costs, such as hospitality and acknowledgement/visibility of the contribution provided by the Government of Canada
  • Gifts to Indigenous Elders, valued at less than $100 each
  • Insurance costs for a travelling exhibition
  • Professional costs for conservation/preservation treatments
  • Project results evaluation costs (for example, staff or consultants to report on progress and results)
  • Training, competency and capacity-development activities

Expenditures for general administrative (such as office supplies) and travel costs combined must not exceed 20% of the total contribution provided (this does not apply to projects involving travelling exhibitions or workshop delivery/attendance).

Ineligible costs include

LAC does not provide funding for salaries, wages, travel, material, supplies, capital assets and other costs related to ongoing operations, as well as to costs related to:

  • Acquiring documentary heritage
  • Expenses that would have been incurred if the project had not been undertaken
  • Capital expenditures (related to fixed assets)
  • Creating content about documentary heritage (like books or documentaries based on a collection)
  • Developing a project proposal or application for the DHCP or other funding programs
  • Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan and other benefits
  • Hospitality, other than the exceptions listed above
  • Maintenance costs including office space rent/lease, heating, repairs, and maintenance of the building, systems and/or equipment
  • Salaries paid to staff at any level of government
  • Percentage for contingency expenses
  • Taxes (for organizations that are exempt or eligible for reimbursement)

Available funding

DHCP funding can cover up to 100% of a project's eligible expenses. However, we encourage organizations who have received funding from the DHCP in the past to submit applications in partnership with other eligible organizations, as well as to secure other sources of funding.

The Program offers two contribution categories:

Small contributions: Up to $24,999

  • Both incorporated and non-incorporated non-profit documentary heritage organizations can apply.
  • Indigenous organizations/government institutions can apply.
  • Multi-year funding: Only recipients who have received DHCP funding in the past may submit a multi-year funding request for up to two years. Total funding cannot exceed $24,999.

Large contributions: Between $25,000 and $50,000 (or up to $60,000 for organizations located in remote areas)

  • Only incorporated non-profit documentary heritage organizations can apply.
  • Indigenous organizations/government institutions can apply.
  • Multi-year funding: Only recipients who have received DHCP funding in the past may submit a multi-year funding request for up to three years. Total funding cannot exceed $150,000 (or $180,000 for an organization in a remote area).

Additional assistance for organizations in remote areas

Since the cost of living and business is higher in remote areas, the Program provides additional assistance to organizations in remote areas.

Consult the Canada Revenue Agency's list of locations included in prescribed zones to help determine your eligibility as an “organization in a remote area.” Your organization also qualifies if it is located 80 kilometres or more from the nearest established community with a population of at least 1,000 people.

Summary of available funding
Available fundingSmall ContributionsLarge Contributions
Maximum funding per year$24,999$50,000 ($60,000 for organizations in remote areas)
Multi-year project funding available (for past DHCP recipients only)YesYes
Maximum duration of multi-year projects2 fiscal years3 fiscal years
Maximum funding for multi-year projects $24,999$150,000 ($180,000 for organizations in remote areas)

Limit of government assistance

To ensure your project's success, we encourage you to secure other sources of funding. This may include contributions from your organization, the private sector or other levels of government. The maximum level of financial assistance from LAC and other levels of government (federal, provincial or territorial, and municipal) for the same project cannot exceed 100% of eligible project-related costs.

How to apply

Before you start:

  1. Read these guidelines in their entirety.
  2. Complete the questionnaire in the LAC funding portal to determine organizational and project eligibility.

You must meet all eligibility requirements and submit a complete application package prior to the application deadline to be considered for funding.

Apply through the LAC funding portal

The LAC funding portal enables you to submit your application and complete any requirements easily and securely. Please note that LAC will not accept any application submitted by another method, such as email or mail. LAC strongly recommends that each applicant organization create and use only one account. Once created, the account can be used for multiple funding requests.

Applications must be submitted in either English or French.

During the call period, you may save your information on the LAC funding portal and later return to complete your application.

Once you have submitted your application, you will receive a confirmation email. At this point, your application will be locked and you will not be able to make any further changes.

Completing the application package

A complete online application package includes the following:

  • Organization profile, including supporting documents as requested in the LAC funding portal:
    • Proof of non-profit status or registration as a charitable organization (see note below)
    • Proof of incorporation, if incorporated (see note below)
    • Letter of reference (if not incorporated), from a recognized national association or any level of government (municipal, provincial or territorial - see note below)

    • Please note that the three previous supporting documents are required from all applicants, with the exception of Indigenous government institutions.

    • Financial statements for your last two completed fiscal years (audited if available)
    • Annual report or strategic plan
    • Organizational chart
    • List of current board members and full-time staff
  • Project information, including mandatory forms as requested in the LAC funding portal:
    • Project Budget Form
    • Project Timeline Form
  • Depending on the proposed project, you may also need to include the following supporting documents:
    • Proposals, agreements and/or terms of reference for tenderers, consultants, etc.
    • Letters of intent or confirmation letters (for example, from project hosting venues)
    • Confirmation of other sources of funding
    • Partnership information (if you are submitting a project in partnership with another eligible organization)
      • Identify the organization as partner in your application
      • Provide an organization profile and supporting documents (see list above) for your partner
    • Confirmation of copyright, if a project involves a newspaper collection

If your organization submits more than one project, you must clearly indicate the order of priority.

Application deadline

The deadline for submitting a completed application package is January 12, 2021, at 11:59 pm Pacific Standard Time (PST). We will not accept proposals received after the deadline.

Deadline for submitting questions

  • General questions about this call for proposals: December 18, 2020, before noon PST.
  • Technical questions related to the LAC funding portal: January 12, 2021, before noon PST.

In keeping with our service standards, we aim to respond to telephone and email queries within three business days.

How applications are evaluated

Assessment process

To be considered for funding, organizations must meet the eligibility criteria and submit a complete application package.
LAC evaluates all applications in three phases:

Figure 1. Assessment process
LAC advisors first review applications for eligibility. LAC experts then review applications for feasibility. Finally, the External Advisory Committee focuses on the merits of the projects.
Figure 1 - Text version

The 3 phases of evaluation:

  1. Eligibility (LAC advisors)
  2. Feasibility (LAC experts)
  3. Merits Comparison (External Advisory Committee)

The DHCP assessment process is guided by the Program's objectives, LAC's priorities, and broader government of Canada objectives. In addition, the Program is focused on continuing to strengthen local documentary heritage communities and networks across Canada.

We encourage organizations to work together when developing and pursuing their projects. Collaboration and partnerships are particularly valued in cases where past DHCP-funded organizations play a leadership role in the documentary heritage community. Furthermore, we encourage non-incorporated organizations to partner with incorporated organizations.

LAC bases its funding decisions on organizational and project eligibility, project feasibility, comparative merit, program priorities, available funding and regional representation.

The DHCP is highly competitive. Total requested funding always exceeds available resources. If your organization and project are eligible, submitting an application is therefore by no means a guarantee of funding.

Funding decisions

The DCHP External Advisory Committee recommends the most meritorious projects to the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, who makes the final funding decision.

The funding decision of the Librarian and Archivist of Canada is final and not subject to review or appeal.
We usually announce DCHP recipients in the spring.

Project assessment criteria

Relevance and community engagement:

  • The project clearly aligns with DHCP objective(s).
  • The applicant organization clearly identifies the relevance and benefits of the project (for example, collection, learning events and other activities) to its target audience.
  • Applicant organizations partner with each other to develop and pursue projects. This is particularly relevant in the case of past recipients partnering and/or collaborating with new applicant organizations, especially with small organizations and/or organizations in remote areas.
  • The project responds to a need (internal or external) demonstrated by the applicant organization.

Large contributions only:

  • The applicant organization demonstrates its relevance and role in the documentary heritage and broader community (for example, by playing a leadership role or by collaborating or working in partnership with organizations, including organizations in remote areas or in official-language minority communities).
  • The project is relevant and has a significant impact in the documentary heritage community and in the broader community (for example, it fosters collaboration or sharing outcomes such as knowledge or resources with organizations in remote areas or official-language minority communities).

Project planning and management

  • The project budget is feasible and human resources are adequate to accomplish the project.
  • The organization demonstrates sound project-management methods, including realistic and attainable timelines for project activities, implementation, milestones and deliverables.
  • The organization clearly outlines project activities and planned risk mitigation measures.
  • The project incorporates relevant best practices and established standards, or innovative design and/or delivery elements that contribute to achieving the expected results.

Budget analysis

  • The applicant organization provides a forecast and timeline of eligible expenditures and revenues for the project.
  • The project receives financial or other support from other sources.
  • The contribution amount requested meets the minimum level required to support the achievement of the stated objectives and expected results.
  • The contribution amount requested is appropriate, given the other sources of funding provided to the applicant organization.

Evaluation/expected outcomes

  • The evaluation strategy includes clearly identified qualitative and/or quantitative performance measures, is based on clearly articulated outcomes that align with project objectives, and is adequate to assess the success of the project.
  • The selected sources of data, the collection methodologies and the tools are identified.
  • The project and its short- and long-term outcomes are clearly identified and realistic.

Applicant organization's capacity to deliver

  • The applicant organization's operating budget reflects fiscal responsibility (in other words, expenses and revenues are appropriate).
  • If an applicant organization is seeking funding for more than one project, it demonstrates its capacity to undertake and manage multiple projects simultaneously.

Large contributions only

  • A comprehensive and effective governance structure is demonstrated through a clear organizational purpose; a governance structure; the balance of skills, experience, background and knowledge on the governing board; and a strategic plan/annual report which demonstrates sound organizational capacity.

Risks associated with the proposed initiative

  • The project proposal demonstrates knowledge of potential risks (for the applicant organization, partner organization and/or the proposed initiative) and potential mitigation measures.

Application processing time

Please refer to the Documentary Heritage Communities Program service standards or contact the Program.

You will receive a system-generated email within 24 hours of submitting your application package through the LAC funding portal. That email serves as an official acknowledgement of the receipt of your application.

After you apply

How funding is provided

LAC provides financial assistance in the form of contributions. A contribution is a conditional payment issued to your organization for a specific purpose, as outlined in a contribution agreement. LAC and the recipient organization sign this agreement, which specifies the terms and conditions to receive payment.

Both parties must sign a contribution agreement before LAC can provide funding.

Recipients of small contributions (up to $24,999) will receive 100% of funds at the beginning of the project (this does not apply to multi-year funding).

Recipients of large contributions ($25,000 and over) will receive 85% of funding at the beginning of the project and LAC will withhold 15% percent until it has received and approved the Interim Report.

The Program may provide advance funding based on a demonstrated need, such as the recipient organization's identification of cash-flow requirements. Advance payments may be non-conditional (issued without receipt of a report) or conditional upon the receipt of a financial report and/or other report deemed relevant to the Program.

Recipient organizations may redistribute funding to one or more eligible third parties, but must indicate the name and contact information of all third parties and the nature of the work they will undertake.

Funding conditions

For a complete description of funding conditions, consult the General Terms and Conditions of the Contribution Agreement. Please note the following:

  • LAC provides financial assistance in the form of contributions and may modify the requested funding amount following its review of projected expenses.
  • All recipient organizations are required to submit an Interim Report (October) and a Final Report (April) through the LAC funding portal—exact dates are indicated in the contribution agreements.
  • For multi-year projects, recipient organizations must complete and submit an Interim Report and a Final Report for each government fiscal year in order to receive the subsequent year's funding.
  • Should recipient organizations not submit a Final Report, they will not be eligible for future DHCP funding and may be asked to repay the contribution received.
  • Once the contribution agreement has been signed and funding has been allocated, recipient organizations may transfer up to $5,000 between expenditure categories in their project budget. If more than $5,000 is to be re-allocated, recipient organizations must contact the DHCP Team in order to obtain written approval from LAC.

Official-languages requirements

The DHCP ensures that all necessary measures are put into place to support the development of official-language minority communities in Canada and to promote the full recognition and use of English and French (Advancement of English and French, section 41 of the Official Languages Act) in Canadian society.

The term “official language minority communities” refers to English-speaking communities in Quebec and French-speaking communities in the rest of Canada.

The DHCP encourages organizations that apply for funding to provide their products in both official languages (for example, translations of item descriptions).

Public acknowledgement of financial assistance

In accepting funding from LAC, all recipient organizations are required to publicly acknowledge the financial assistance they receive as per the Guide on the Public Acknowledgement of Financial Assistance from Library and Archives Canada. All funding information is considered confidential until LAC has made a public announcement of the funded projects.

Disclosure of information

By submitting your application package, you authorize LAC to disclose any information submitted with this application within the Government of Canada or to outside entities for the purposes of:

  • reaching a decision
  • evaluating the results of the project
  • transparency, accountability and citizen engagement

Audit of recipients and evaluation of program

The Librarian and Archivist of Canada reserves the right at any time during the term of the contribution agreement with a recipient organization and, for up to five years after the end of the agreement, to undertake an evaluation to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the agreement.

Tools and resources

Refer to the DHCP Glossary to clarify the terms we use in these Guidelines.

Visit our Tips for success page to get a selection of useful resources to help you in your application process.

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