$15,000 (excluding applicable taxes)
One (1) project at a time per applicant
These guidelines address the essential elements required to submit a proposal under the “Small investment” stream of the Digital Museums Canada program. They are provided for your information while the call for proposals is closed. When the next call opens, please consult the updated guidelines to prepare a proposal.
Administered by the Canadian Museum of History with the financial support of the Government of Canada, the Digital Museums Canada (DMC) investment program invests in online projects by Canadian museums and heritage organizations, helping them build digital capacity and share stories and experiences with people everywhere.
Funding is available for bilingual online projects, modest or ambitious, that provide an interpretation of the subject matter and content as well as an engaging user experience. The “Small investment” stream is intended for small Canadian community museums and heritage organizations that wish to create community-focussed online exhibits with a user-friendly template. These projects are called Community Stories. Organizations whose proposals are accepted receive an investment of $15,000 and the support and guidance of the DMC team throughout the project.
The objectives of this stream are the following:
- Tell stories, past and present, of Canada’s communities and make them accessible to all Canadians.
- Strengthen the capacity of Canada’s community museums to create digital content for use online.
- Increase the online presence of Canada’s community museums.
- Promote collaboration between communities and museums to create online exhibits on local history.
- Encourage Canadians to share their personal heritage with others.
Note: The term “community” refers to a group of people who share something such as an interest, history, geographic location, culture or identity. For example, the ice fishing community, the Syrian community, the community of St. Martins or the LGBTQ community.
DMC issues an annual call for proposals. A proposal must be submitted online before the deadline by the organization responsible for the project, hereafter referred to as the “applicant.” Only proposals that meet the eligibility requirements are evaluated by DMC. Agreements are signed with the organizations receiving an investment.
Applicants can submit more than one proposal in response to a call for proposals. However, DMC will only award an investment to one project at a time.
DMC may reject a proposal if it determines that a participant’s performance in another DMC-funded project has been unsatisfactory or sufficiently poor to jeopardize the success of the new project.
Canadian museums and heritage organizations, including equivalent Indigenous peoples’ organizations, are eligible for the Digital Museums Canada (DMC) investment program.
To be eligible for the Small investment stream, the organization must meet the following criteria:
- Be administered in the public interest for the primary purpose of collecting, preserving, documenting, interpreting, exhibiting and disseminating physical collections and/or intangible cultural heritage. This includes artistic, scientific, cultural and historical material.
- Operate a permanent establishment or site accessible to the public year-round or seasonally.
- Be an aquarium, archive, art gallery, botanical garden, cultural centre, equivalent Indigenous peoples’ organization, exhibition centre, historic house, historical society, library, museum, planetarium, preservation project or site, professional cultural association or group, zoo or other organization that meets these eligibility requirements. 
- Be not-for-profit.
- Not be a member of the Canadian Heritage Portfolio.
- Have completed any projects previously funded by the Virtual Museum of Canada (now called “Digital Museums Canada”) prior to the deadline for this call for proposals, which is November 25, 2020.
- Have a maximum of five (5) permanent, paid employees working full-time, which corresponds to 30 hours or more of work per week. Organizations run entirely by volunteers are also eligible. (For information on DMC investment streams for larger museums, please refer to the Medium and Large investment streams.)
DMC reserves the right to request proof of eligibility at any time during the proposal review process and determine an organization’s eligibility in certain cases.
 According to the International Council of Museums (ICOM) statutes adopted in 2007 during the 21st General Conference in Vienna, Austria: “A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.” This definition is a reference in the international community.
Step by step
The total investment available for this call for proposals for the Small investment stream is up to $200,000.
DMC invests $15,000 (excluding applicable taxes) in each accepted project. To ensure the project’s linguistic quality, the portion of the budget dedicated to text preparation should be $6,000 to $8,000. This includes writing, editing, translation and comparative editing of both official languages.
Step 1 – Consult the program documents.
- Proposal form
- Schedule template
- Budget template
- Technical requirements
- Sample contract
Step 2 – Prepare the proposal.
- Determine the subject and storyline.
- Gather the content.
- Confirm the project team.
- Get support letters from the other participants in your project.
Step 3 – Draft and submit your proposal.
- Complete the proposal form.
- Prepare a schedule (see section 5.1).
- Provide a detailed budget (see section 5.2).
- Upload the proposal form, schedule, budget and support letters online before the call for proposals deadline.
- Receive a confirmation email from DMC.
IMPORTANT: Only proposals submitted online will be accepted. Proposals submitted after the call for proposals deadline will not be accepted. The Canadian Museum of History (CMH), which administers the DMC investment program, disclaims all responsibility in this regard and will not accept any transfer of responsibility. All risks and consequences resulting from an incorrect submission of proposals are the sole responsibility of the applicant.
After a preliminary review, DMC will contact the organizations whose proposals are incomplete to give them the opportunity to respond in a timely manner.
Step 4 – Acceptance or rejection
Once the call for proposals has closed, the evaluation process takes two months, including the evaluation by DMC.
Proposals will be treated as confidential in accordance with the Access to Information Act (Canada) and the Privacy Act(Canada) as well as any other applicable legislation or regulations.
At the end of the process, applicants receive a letter of acceptance or rejection from the Canadian Museum of History (CMH). The CMH then enters into an agreement with each organization receiving an investment which describes the requirements and responsibilities of the project.
Feedback will be provided to unsuccessful applicants upon written request only, provided that the request is received by the CMH within 10 days of the receipt of the letter of regret. Feedback will be provided by telephone. No written summary of the feedback and evaluation scores will be provided.
Proposals for the Small investment stream must be created and submitted online.
The proposal includes the following elements:
- Contact information
- Mandatory criterion
- Exhibit description
- Title – what the exhibit is called
- Subject – what the exhibit is about and what you want to say about it
- Target audience(s) – who the exhibit is for
- Audience outcomes – how you want the target audience(s) to benefit from the exhibit
- Project relevance – how the project is relevant to your organization, your target audience(s), and the broader community
- Storyline – the story you want to tell, which connects the exhibit material and brings the story to life for the target audience(s)
- Content – the material you plan to use, how it supports your storyline, and where it comes from
- Project team – the roles needed and the people who will do the work
- Schedule (template provided) – the tasks and time needed to do the project
- Budget (template provided) – what the project will cost
- Support letters (template provided) – from organizations, community groups, and/or individuals specifying and confirming support
NOTE: Support letters can strengthen a proposal.
For more information, consult the online proposal form.
Once the call for proposals deadline has expired, it takes two to four months to evaluate the proposals, notify the applicants and prepare agreements. The project begins as soon as the agreement is signed. Most projects are ready to be launched within 14 to 24 months after the agreement is signed.
This section deals with the essential elements to present a proposal to the investment component of Community Stories.
For each call for proposals, the investments requested by all applicants greatly exceed the budget of DMC’s Small investment stream. For this reason, the proposals undergo a competitive but simple evaluation process.
Proposal evaluations are based on mandatory criteria (section 4.2) and rated criteria (section 4.3). A proposal that meets all the mandatory criteria will be evaluated against the rated criteria to determine whether it will receive an investment.
To proceed to the evaluation stage, proposals must first meet the following criteria:
- The project described in the proposal must be produced in both official languages.
To facilitate the evaluation process, proposals must clearly respond to the criteria below.
Only proposals that obtain a score of at least 65 points will be considered for investment.
4.3.1 Relevance (8 points)
- The subject is clearly defined and explores a particular aspect of the community’s life, past or present.
- The proposal explains the relevance of the project to the applicant, target audience(s) and broader community.
4.3.2 Target audience(s) (16 points)
- The proposal clearly defines a main target audience for the project and, if applicable, a secondary target audience.
- Clear outcomes are defined for each target audience.
4.3.3 Storyline (24 points)
- The proposal presents a clear, interesting and well-structured storyline that brings the story to life for the target audience(s).
- The material used supports the storyline effectively.
4.3.4 Content (20 points)
- A range of content is clearly defined, and the proposal explains how it supports the subject. Content can include images, archival documents, interviews with community members, audio recordings, videos, and other media.
- The quantities for each type of content are estimated (e.g., six video interviews). The proposal specifies whether the material already exists or needs to be created.
- The material comes from a variety of sources, including museums, community associations or groups, private collections, schools and places of worship.
- Peoples or groups whose histories are represented in the project are consulted.
4.3.5 Project planning (32 points)
- The proposal demonstrates a good understanding of the tasks required for the planning and development of the online project. It also demonstrates that the organization is able to carry out these tasks.
- The proposal describes the roles required to deliver the project, specifies who will fill them and their relevant experience. It also presents a plan for filling unassigned roles.
- The proposal includes a schedule, which indicates key tasks and dates, and a budget, which indicates the costs for all tasks described in the schedule. The schedule and budget correspond to the project description.
4.3.6 Support letters (to validate the information in the proposal)
Organizations, community groups and/or individuals (museums, heritage organizations, schools, libraries, volunteers, legions, retirement homes, municipalities, etc.) can support your project in a variety of ways. For example, they can give you access to their collections, provide interviews, create content, participate in public consultations, contribute financially or in-kind, validate the relevance of the project, and more.
Letters should be provided to validate this support, if relevant, as such letters can strengthen a proposal.
Make sure that the details in the letter match the project description and schedule and, for financial or in-kind contributions, the budget.
Use the support letter template provided.
The online exhibits in the Small investment stream are created with a user-friendly template designed for Community Stories. To help you develop your proposal, this section provides more detail on the content of the project and the structure of the authoring tool.
4.4.1 Subject and storyline
The project must tell a story, past or present, about a community in Canada. This is why this stream invites organizations to develop their online project in collaboration with their community.
Significant events, issues, people or places, past or present, are often highlighted. Here are some examples:
- A major historical or present-day event and its impact on the community (e.g., events related to climate, the economy, public health, war and conflict, etc.)
- An exploration of a community’s natural history
- The changing character of a neighbourhood within the community
- The biography of one or more community builders, young or old, past or present
- The representation of a group of people who share a common interest, history, geographical location, culture or identity
- A community’s contribution to Canadian science or industry
- The artistic achievements of a community member or group
- Traditional ways of life of a community
- The changing character of a community in Canadian society
The project should also have a strong storyline. When deciding on a subject and storyline, consider these five basic questions:
- Why does this story deserve to be told?
- For whom is this story intended?
- Why are we telling this story?
- How will we tell this story?
- What will this story do (what impact will it have)?
4.4.2 Authoring tool
The authoring tool used to create online exhibits includes three sections: a home page, the story pages (between 15 and 20) and the gallery (where each image, audio clip and video has its own page). It allows you to create an online exhibit in a user-friendly and intuitive template.
NOTE: You are not required to provide the content described below in your proposal. It is presented to help you think about and calculate the costs of your project.
The home page includes the following:
- The project title (up to 20 words)
- An introductory text that explains what the project is about and presents the storyline (up to 250 words)
- A main image with a caption (up to 50 words)
- A thumbnail image with a caption (up to 50 words)
Each story page consists of an interpretive text accompanied by images and, where applicable, audio or video clips. It includes the following:
- A title (up to 20 words)
- An interpretive text that tells part of the overall story and relates to the items on the page (up to 250 words)
- Up to four content items (audio and video clips should be one to two minutes long)
- An image caption to describe each item and a credit to the source (35 to 50 words)
- An alternative text for each image (up to 40 words)
- A descriptive transcript and closed captioning for each video clip
- A descriptive transcript for each audio clip
NOTE: Refer to the Technical and Accessibility Requirements (section 4.5.3) for details on content item formats.
The gallery displays the images, audio clips and video clips presented in the story pages and additional content items that you believe can enrich the experience for visitors. The gallery can contain up to 120 content items.
Each content item presented in the gallery should have its own page that includes the following:
- The item itself
- A title (up to 20 words)
- A more detailed description of the item (up to 250 words)
- Copyright and photo credit information (up to 50 words).
4.5.1 Translation and editing requirements
All online exhibits must be available in both official languages. You can develop the project in the official language of your choice, but you must have the original version translated into the other official language and have it edited to ensure that the project is of equal quality in both languages.
Digital Museums Canada will verify the translation and determine whether it requires modifications, additional editing, or both.
NOTE: Your project will not receive final acceptance until both versions are completed.
For more details, please refer to Appendix 1: Rates for calculating translation and editing costs.
4.5.2 Development requirements
Online exhibits under the Small investment stream are created using a WordPress authoring tool, which functions like a template. Organizations whose projects are awarded an investment are given access to the authoring tool and user guide when they sign their agreement with the Canadian Museum of History (CMH). The authoring tool is robust, user-friendly, and ensures a consistent look and feel for the Community Stories exhibits.
NOTE: Organizations wishing to create an online project that differs from what is available with the WordPress authoring tool are invited to consult the Medium and Large investment streams. These streams are intended for projects that are completed entirely by organizations, including web design and development.
4.5.3 Technical and accessibility requirements
The authoring tool for online exhibits is essentially a content management tool. Content is entered into the tool which then generates the web pages.
The texts and content items must meet certain technical and accessibility requirements. DMC will verify whether they meet these requirements and the content requirements and will provide feedback and guidance to the organization.
The technical and accessibility requirements are the following:
- File formats used for images: JPEG/JPG, PNG and GIF
- JPG file sizes: 1000 pixels wide, 72 dpi and 2 megabytes (MB) maximum
- The preferred format is JPG. PNG and GIF file types may be used for specific circumstances (to be discussed with DMC).
- Audio clips (optional)
- MP3 files, 128 kb/s, 44 Hz, mono (approx. 1 MB per minute)
- Video clips (optional)
- The organization will need to create a YouTube account, if it does not already have one.
- Video files must be uploaded to YouTube, where they will be embedded into the authoring tool (videos featured in an online project will also be publicly available on YouTube).
- Web accessibility
- Alternative text is descriptive text that is displayed when content items cannot be displayed or viewed. It may include the following:
- A text that describes an image
- A descriptive transcript that reproduces all dialogue in an audio file and describes all relevant sounds
- A descriptive transcript that reproduces all dialogue in a video file and describes the relevant sounds and scenes without dialogue
- Closed captioning that accompanies a video clip as it plays (captioning will be done by the organization that will embed it on YouTube; automatically generated captioning may be incorrect and will not be accepted)
- Alternative text is descriptive text that is displayed when content items cannot be displayed or viewed. It may include the following:
4.5.4 Copyright requirements
The online exhibit draws on material (photographs, documents, videos, etc.) owned by individuals and groups as well as the organization responsible. The organization must obtain the legal rights from the owner to include this material in its project. DMC will provide sample copyright clearance forms.
For more details, please refer to Appendix 2: Rates for calculating copyright fees.
4.5.5 Linking requirements
Community Stories exhibits completed under the Small investment stream are hosted on the CMH server and appear on the DMC website. DMC will provide the complete URL of the project to organizations, which will be required to add a link to their online project in a prominent location on their website.
4.5.6 Requirements for organizations awarded an investment
DMC will evaluate all proposals submitted by eligible organizations. Early in 2021, organizations will know whether they have been awarded an investment. Program participants will then be required to sign an agreement with the CMH. The agreement includes the following:
- The terms and conditions
- The investment amount and payment terms based on the schedule of deliverables (which will be adjusted before the agreement is signed)
- The scope of the work by the applicant, establishing the organization’s responsibilities
- The scope of the work by the CMH, establishing the responsibilities of the Canadian Museum of History (which administers DMC)
- A detailed project description based on the information provided in the proposal (which could be enhanced before the agreement is signed)
For more details, you can download a sample agreement for the Small investment stream.
NOTE: You will begin working on your project four to eight weeks after the investment is awarded.
Schedule & budget
Please propose a schedule for your online project in the format of your choice. Make sure it aligns with your budget, project description and support letters.
Use the schedule template (XLTX) provided to develop the schedule for your online project. Make sure it aligns with your project description, budget and support letter details.
Online exhibits under the Small investment stream are built over three phases. For each phase, applicants will be required to provide a deliverable: a production plan, preliminary version and final version.
IMPORTANT: Each deliverable will be subject to at least one DMC quality assurance review cycle, which can take up to 10 working days in phase 1 and up to 20 working days in the other phases.
Phase 1 – Production plan
A kick-off meeting between the participant and DMC must take place at the beginning of this phase.
A production plan includes the following:
- A revised schedule
- A revised budget
- A more detailed project description, if necessary
- A relevant sample of the translator’s previous work
Once the final update of the production plan is approved, the participant may submit an invoice for 40% of the total investment.
Phase 2 – Preliminary version
The preliminary version includes the following:
- The preliminary version of the project (in an official language of your choice) delivered using the Community Stories authoring tool
- A translation into the second official language of at least 250 words of project text by the selected translator, to be submitted to DMC for quality assurance review
Once the final update of the preliminary version is approved, the participant may submit an invoice for 40% of the total investment.
Phase 3 – Final version
The final version includes the following:
- The final version of the project (in both official languages) incorporating all the changes requested as a result of DMC’s quality assurance review in the previous phase
- The duly completed DMC landing page form
- The updated final version of the project incorporating all the changes requested by DMC as a result of the quality assurance review of the final version
Once all deliverables in phase 3 are approved, the participant may submit an invoice for 20% of the total investment.
Use the budget template (XLTX) provided to develop the budget for the online project. Make sure it aligns with your project description, schedule and support letter details.
The budget must meet the following conditions:
- Include the costs for all tasks in the schedule.
- Specify which costs will be covered by the applicant, DMC and other participating organizations.
- Explain, in the “Notes” column, how the costs were calculated (e.g., hourly rate x number of hours) and provide a description of the services.
- Include any other supporting document (e.g., supplier quotes) to show that the budgetary items were calculated responsibly.
Note: DMC will not invest more than $15,000 (excluding applicable taxes) per project.
The following budget categories and line items are specified in the budget template (XLSX):
- Coordination fees
- Equipment and software
- Other equipment costs (excluding computers)
- Online exhibit production
- Text writing
- Closed captioning
- Alternative text
- Text editing (original language and translation)
- Populating authoring tool with content
- Other exhibit production costs
- Community consultation
- Room rental
- Other public consultation costs
- Copyright fees
- Online project marketing
- Promotional material
- Social media promotion
- Other project marketing costs
- Other costs (include details)
Your organization is responsible for the following:
- Create a Community Stories virtual exhibit in both official languages on the Digital Museums Canada website.
- Provide the tools and environment for community engagement in the creation of the project (e.g., co-creation, content provision, skill development or public consultation).
- Determine and develop a storyline for the project.
- Choose, create and optimize all the images, audio clips and videos to be included in the project.
- Obtain and pay for the legal rights to reproduce all project materials.
- Write and edit all the text for the project.
- Translate the text into the other official language, and have it edited.
- Ensure that the project is developed according to the guidelines and technical specifications provided with the Community Stories authoring tool.
- Complete the DMC landing page form in both English and French and provide the images and text required.
- Obtain and pay for all intellectual property clearances for content included in the project.
- Create a YouTube account (if the project includes audio recordings and/or videos) and upload any audio recordings, videos and related closed captioning in both official languages to the account.
Once the project goes live on the Digital Museums Canada website, your organization is also required to carry out the following:
- Respond to visitor feedback in a timely manner. Your organization’s email address should be used to receive feedback messages from visitors.
- Conduct quality assurance reviews of the online project and perform any follow-ups required by DMC during its development and after its launch.
- Add a link in a prominent location on your organization’s website which leads to the online project on the Digital Museums Canada website.
- Allow DMC to select up to five digital images from the online project, including the main image, to promote the project or DMC, including on social media.
The CMH, which administers DMC, is responsible for the following:
- Maintain the DMC website and search functionalities to provide access to its content.
- Provide the participant with access to the Community Stories authoring tool and a user guide to develop the online exhibit.
- Provide ongoing support to the participant during the use of the authoring tool.
- Perform at least two technical and content quality assurance reviews (preliminary and final versions) within 20 working days of the receipt of the deliverable.
- Provide an archival copy of the project upon the participant’s request. (The raw data files can be provided as is, and it will be the participant’s responsibility to adapt them to its needs.)
- Provide recommendations on search engine optimization and web writing to assist the participant in developing the project content.
- Provide sample copyright clearance forms and sample consent forms for audio and video recordings.
- Deploy and host the online project on the CMH server and DMC website.
- Promote DMC to the public, including possible promotion of the participant’s online project on the DMC website or by other promotional methods including, but not limited to, social media.
- Incorporate metadata for the online project in the DMC search engine.
- Maintain the online project for the duration of the agreement following the launch of the project.
We funded their project
"Faced with the rigour of the exercise and the expertise of DMC… [our] valiant team is emerging more experienced, more competent, and, above all, proud to have included this gem of a story in this great history. [Translation]"
"The support offered by DMC has allowed us to leave our comfort zone in terms of exhibition scripting and to explore new avenues.... It was a very educational creative process for all team members... [Translation]"
"Our project had been in the works for a long time, but the shape of the resulting exhibition was unknown before we found a great fit with the structure provided by DMC. "
"The funding and helpful guidance we received from DMC made it easy to share our… community story with the world. A great program to help community museums get their stories online."