Community Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador

Strong Harbour Strings is a mentoring artist program that creates equal access to music and education and performance for young people. Their story is shared in CFNL's 2022 Annual Report. Photo Ritche Perez

When Hurricane Fiona ravaged the Southwest Coast, CFNL was part of the response in partnership with Rotary Clubs of NL and the community. CFNL Executive Director, Nicole Dawe, second from left, stands with other community leaders.

Through its scholarship administration program, CFNL enables families and organizations to build legacies for their leaders and loved ones. Here, Jillian Kitchen of St. Michael's Regional High, Bell Island accepts the Doris and Leonard Clarke Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship was established from a gift in the estate of Doris and Leonard.

Empowering Indigenous Women for Stronger Communities is a Newfoundland Labrador province-wide collaborative partnership of Indigenous women striving to end gender-based violence and inspire positive mental health through culturally based programming. Their story is shared in CFNL's 2022 annual report.

supporting thriving NL communities where everyone belongs

In Newfoundland and Labrador, ‘Community’ plays a role in all sections of life.  It’s part of who we are, and it’s influenced by government, business, individual choice, common interests and common goals.  

When community is strong, it can pull all the pieces together and move the needle toward a shared vision.

The Community Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (CFNL) does exactly that - brings people together to create opportunities to build stronger communities for everyone.  This is brought to life through many stories in their 2022 Annual Report.

The organization works with government, business, non-profit and charitable organizations, individuals and all points in between to respond to community needs. Now in its third decade of operation, CFNL has a current focus on equitable, diverse, and inclusive decision-making toward thriving Newfoundland and Labrador communities where everyone belongs


CFNL is a bridge connecting philanthropic and public money with those who make change

Nicole Dawe is the executive director of CFNL.   

A fund developer by trade, one of Nicole’s favourite parts of this work is supporting community action.  

She says, “At CFNL our mission has two parts.  One part is to ‘steward funds’, and the other is to connect diverse people, ideas and resources.  Sometimes these two parts are separate, but more often than not, they overlap.”


CFNL stewards funds in Newfoundland and Labrador

Nicole notes that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are known to be generous people, and there is a high level of philanthropic activity in the province, often just under the radar.  The organization works with municipalities, professional advisors, non-profits and charities and others toward building a province of thriving communities where everyone belongs.

She says, "What we do at CFNL is, ‘steward funds’.  Stewarding funds is all about the wise transfer of philanthropic money from individuals, governments or corporations to community, always striving to centre the community and people closest to the challenge or opportunity in how those resources flow."

Nicole adds, that can include facilitating a granting process that sees community members from across Newfoundland and Labrador allocate funds from the Government of Canada or trusting a local school or charity to allocate the scholarship funds that CFNL stewards. 


CFNL connects diverse people, ideas and resources

CFNL’s varied forms of community support connect people from different sectors and bring together ideas and resources that otherwise could remain in silos. 

Nicole says, “We’re meant to move with community, and respond to their self-identified needs.  We want more people to know we are here and how we can support them. We’re striving to ensure decision-making at CFNL is equitable and inclusive. It’s a work in progress for sure, but that’s the ultimate goal.  

We’re building relationships with more non-profit organizations and charities, municipalities, and professional advisors like accountants, lawyers and financial advisors.  Connection is key!"


three Ways CFNL shows up in community

Though it’s not always obvious, as the organization itself keeps a fairly low profile, it’s hard to overstate the impact of CFNL’s work.  

CFNL guides philanthropic dollars to community 

CFNL stewards funds to community on behalf of donors and charities.  Usually, the donor has a connection with Newfoundland and Labrador.  So when, for instance, an organization offers a scholarship, the inner workings of that scholarship may very well have been coordinated by CFNL. When Hurricane Fiona Struck, CFNL played a role in the response in partnership with the Rotary Clubs of NL.  

CFNL administers community-led granting 

CFNL administers grants for eligible organizations, where generally, the decisions are made at the local level.  The grants can originate from a number of sources -  funds stewarded by CFNL (Smart and Caring Communities), through granting partnerships as part of the Community Foundations of Canada network, including federal grants.  An example of a federal grant would be the Investment Readiness Program, which aims to develop the investment readiness and earned revenue capacity of organizations that work toward solving pressing social, cultural and environmental challenges across Canada.

CFNL connects and shares Information 

CFNL is an on-the-ground entity on a first-name basis with people in the business, development, government, philanthropic, social, and non-profit communities.  Nicole says, “It’s so important for these groups to connect with each other, and making those connections is one of the most important roles CFNL plays.”

CFNL connects diverse people, ideas and resources.  The organization participates in a wide array of local, regional and national conversations about the community sector and philanthropy. 

The familiar research-based publication NL Vital Signs is a project of CFNL.  Prepared in partnership with the Harris Centre at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, NL Vital Signs measures the vitality of NL communities and identifies significant trends.  For instance, the 2021 issue lets you see the unemployment rate, household income per capita, and GDP per capita and in 2022 it focused on the impacts of climate change on the province.

Across the country, Vital Signs is a national project of Community Foundations of Canada.


supporting social enterprise in Newfoundland and Labrador 

Through the Investment Readiness Program, CFNL is empowering nine nonprofits/social enterprises to make change with grants and other supports with funding from The Government of Canada.  The 2023 series Looks Like Social Enterprise, in partnership with Guide to the Good, uplifts social enterprises as they prepare for the next level of community engagement.


CFNL leverages national might for a sustainable future

Newfoundland and Labrador is CFNL’s focus, and the organization is empowered by the strength of Community Foundations of Canada (CFC), the national network for community foundations across the country that, combined, holds $7 billion in philanthropic investments.  There are more than 200 Community Foundations, and all together, they reach about 90 percent of the country’s geography. 

The Community Foundations of Canada unites Community Foundations across the country under the banner of working toward a just, sustainable future. Their approach focuses on

- shifting power to those who best know the needs of communities 

- taking the long view toward systemic change, and 

- strengthening community by investing and supporting all facets of community

These actions cumulatively create systemic change to the benefit of individuals in communities across the country.


community-led action for a sustainable, thriving Newfoundland and Labrador 

Equity, inclusion and diversity have become structural themes in community health, and through stewardship of funds and the capacity to connect people, ideas and resources, Community Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador is part of the response. 

We want to meet community where community is,” says Nicole.  “There are challenges to be sure, but we know the communities themselves know best how to meet their needs and tap into their potential.  CFNL has the resources and the tools to support their efforts, and that’s what we’re striving to do.”


click below for CFNL links and contact info

contacts and links for CFNL


Community Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador is a Grower with Guide to the Good.  Growers are organizations, NGOs, municipalities and other entities that build local, social and green strengths through the services and supports they offer the ecosystem.  Check out Looks Like Social Enterprise - a series created in partnership with Guide to the Good and Community Foundation of NL.