Capacity Building Application Process

Application process

2019 Grant Timeline

  • June, July: Attend a mandatory pre-application information session
  • July 17: Application opens online in the Grants portal
  • August 7: Deadline to submit a new profile OR updates to an existing profile for review
  • August 21: Deadline to submit application online in the Grants portal
  • September 25: Applicants notified via e-mail whether they are invited to continue in the grant process by hosting a grant committee site visit
  • October, November: Grant committee site visits with second round applicants 
  • Mid-December: Applicants notified of funding decision via e-mail
  • January 1 – December 31, 2020: Grant term

A complete application includes a published, reviewed profile, a current strategic plan approved by the organization’s Board of Directors, and a line item project budget (including all project revenues and expenses). The strategic plan may be uploaded to the organization’s profile. The project budget should be submitted along with the application through the Community Foundation’s online grant portal. To access the grant portal, click here.

All eligible applications are reviewed by a Community Foundation grant committee to determine which applicants are invited to move forward in the process and host a site visit. (If your organization is invited to host a site visit, further information and instructions will be provided upon notification.) Members of the committee then attend applicant site visits, before making funding recommendations to present to the Community Foundation’s Board of Governors.

Grants are awarded for a 12-month term, and all funds must be raised and spent by the end of that term. Grantees are required to complete two grant reports, one at 12 months after the completion of the term and the other at 18 months to share the project’s short-term impact on the organization. All reports are completed in the online grant portal.

Evaluation by committee

The volunteer grant committee is composed of 10-15 members who reflect our community and/or serve on the Community Foundation’s Board of Governors. Committee members have significant nonprofit leadership experience, other deep industry experience, and/or are engaged donors to the foundation. All members understand the grant requirements and are given a grant evaluation tool by which to guide their decision making.

How are applications prioritized?

All else being equal, the grant committee gives funding priority to the following.  

Applications that:

  • Clearly define the challenge the proposed project will address and how this addresses goal(s) in the organization’s strategic plan
  • Demonstrate potential vendors, consultants, and/or products for the project have been thoroughly researched and identified
  • Include a realistic timeline for completion and demonstrate that ongoing maintenance and/or costs have been accounted for, if applicable
  • Show evidence of sufficient internal capacity to implement the project
  • Include a clear, detailed, and feasible project budget
  • Clearly define success for the project that can be easily communicated to stakeholders
  • Outline a clear strategy for raising matching funds and how this grant can provide leverage to attract donors or serve as a final element to fully fund the project

Applicants that:

  • Have a history of success in the community they serve
  • Have stable revenues and expenses
  • Can demonstrate appropriate diversity in board and staff leadership, specifically in ethnicity and gender

Matching policy

If awarded a capacity building grant, nonprofits are required to raise funds to match the Community Foundation’s grant dollar-for-dollar. This requirement is intended to help the nonprofit leverage funds for the project by reaching out to new donors and funders. Policies for the match include:

  • Nonprofits are required to raise funds equal to the grant amount, and therefore the grant amount requested should not exceed 50% of the total project cost. For example, if the total budget for a project is $30,000, the nonprofit may only request a grant of up to $15,000 and must raise the additional $15,000 to complete the project.
  • The match is expected to be cash, not in-kind, donated in response to the grant and specific to the capacity building project. Other arrangements may be discussed on a case-by-case basis.
  • The entire match does not have to come from one source. The strategy for raising the match should be thought out before an application is submitted and in most cases a nonprofit’s board or development committee should be involved.
  • No grant funds will be released from the Community Foundation until the nonprofit has raised 100% of the matching funds. The full match must be raised no later than nine months into the grant term. When the match has been raised, the nonprofit will complete a request for funds in the online grant portal (see sample form), and the grant check will be processed in 2-4 weeks.
  • Individual donor contributions towards the match should be received before submitting a request for funds. If another foundation is awarding funds towards the match, a grant letter is sufficient, but a verbal commitment is not. 
  • Funds should not be drawn from the nonprofit’s reserves or operating budget. Organizations may start raising funds before receiving a grant, but documentation that the funds are being raised specifically for the capacity building project is required.
  • If the grant project is approved by our committee and is already being partially funded by another foundation, Nonprofit Capacity Building grant funds can be used to match the other grant. Additional matching funds would not have to be raised. Please be sure that Community Foundation staff is aware of the situation if this is the case with your grant proposal.


Email(ewarren [at] cfgm [dot] org) Director of Grants & Initiatives, Elizabeth Warren, or call her at (901) 722-0022.