FAQs for Grant Applicants

Is there a grant application form?

Yes.  You can download the Grant Application Form directly from the website, or contact the office at (360) 378-1001 to obtain a copy.

When can we apply for a grant?

A  meeting with Foundation representatives is required before a grant application is submitted.  Please call the office at (360) 378-1001 to request a “pre-grant application 1-on-1 meeting”.

Why is a meeting with a Foundation representative required before I submit a grant application?

We have found that an early meeting to discuss your project/program significantly helps both the applicant and the Foundation come to a common understanding of the parameters underlying a grant request and funding possibilities. An overwhelming number of positive reports have been received regarding the value of these meetings which often creatively open up new directions and funding possibilities for an organization.

What are the steps to apply for a grant?

In summary and in approximate sequence:
  • On-line (and up-to date) registration of your organization
  • Pre-grant submission meeting(s) with Foundation representative(s)
  • Submission of the grant application
  • Initial review by Foundation Grants Committee
  • Possible additional questions for the applicant that may require refinement of project/program
  • Grant is "Approved for Fund Development" or, "Denied"
If your application is  "Approved for Fund Development":
    • An Internal review of funding options is conducted by our Fund Development Committee with
      • Possible award from existing internal discretionary funds (rare) or,
      • Active fund raising using many tools including personal meetings with donors, our website, newsletters etc...
    • Regular contact with you for updates on project planning, partner funding, changes in conditions etc...
    • Award(s) (full or partial) and Contract Agreement
    • Project reports to be filed as specified in the award contract

What might be covered during the in-person, pre-application meeting?

The in-person, pre-grant application review will consider some of the following:
  • Leadership. Does your project offer an opportunity to develop community leadership or expand civic involvement?
  • Purpose. Does your project reflect the purpose of the grant program for which you are applying?
  • Impact. To what extent might your project make a lasting and significant difference in the quality of life for San Juan Islanders?
  • Strategy. Does your project address current or emerging community needs or opportunities?
  • Capacity. Does your organization have the resources and leadership to ensure project success?
  • Leverage. Can you show that additional funds, partners etc… are (or have been) involved?
  • Inclusiveness. Are any underserved segments of the community reached by your proposal? Is diversity promoted? How are the stakeholders for this project included?
  • Sustainability. Is the project designed to become self-sustaining and when? Projects requiring unending philanthropy are discouraged. Exceptions apply.
  • Goals. Can you explain what ‘success’ will look like and how will it be measured?
  • Design. Is your project designed in a clear, thoughtful, reasonable manner?
And, is there a sound business plan to support your goals?

What is the process to submit a grant application?

Grant Applications are downloadable and are submitted in writing. Applications may be submitted at anytime following the required online registration and the pre-submission 1:1 meeting with Foundation representatives.  

What is the Foundation’s grant review process?

In summary and in approximate sequence:
  • Online (and up-to-date) registration of your organization;
  • Pre-submission 1-on-1 meeting(s) with Foundation representatives;
  • Submission of application in writing;
  • Initial review by Grants Committee;
  • Possible follow-up Q & A and revisions;
  • Potential refinement of program/project;
  • Grant request is either approved for “fund development” or denied;

How long before we are funded?

Once a grant application has been “Approved for Fund Development” the Foundation’s Fund Development committee starts its work to research sources of funds for the project. These may include existing Foundation discretionary funds, Donor Advised Funds and/or public fundraising through our website (“Giving Center”) and/or our newsletter. The process is very hands-on since almost all funding for a project comes from “new sources” and involves a significant effort of time and energy. The minimum time before first partial funding is typically 3 months but often can extend over years for large projects. The timeline will be discussed in the follow up meetings with the Grants Committee.

I noticed that the Foundation requires partner funding. Please explain.

After years of reviewing and awarding grants the Foundation has determined that including other granting agencies in the project funding process adds significant benefits, including better project review, broader community awareness and advocacy and ultimately more money and support for your projects. There are exceptions but partner funding will be a critical component of each required, pre-submission meeting including careful identification of the resources that will be allocated by the applying organization itself.

Is there a minimum/maximum amount that my organization can apply for?

You may apply for full or partial funding of the project.

Can my organization apply for more than one project/item/event within one grant application?

Yes, but those requests should be consistent with the general intent of the grant request. For example, an organization could apply for funding for office equipment, training seminars, and capital improvements if they are all related to the same project. However, if your organization is requesting money for several projects that are unrelated to each other, then we request submission of separate grant applications for each project.  

The Foundation is also looking to fund sustainable projects. What does that really mean?

The Foundation has determined that in many cases, donors and projects are best served when the project is designed from the beginning to become self-sustaining financially over a few years. Notable exceptions are often those providing basic social services to financially challenged clients. The concept of self-sustainability will be covered in depth in the pre-grant application 1-on-1 meeting.

Do we have to be a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization to apply?

The Foundation only gives grants to tax-exempt organizations which include 501(c)(3)s, local non-profit branches of 501(c)(1)s, government agencies, non-profit schools and religious organizations (but only for non-religious purposes).  

Do you give grants to organizations outside of San Juan Island?

Donor Advised fundholders may request a distribution to go anywhere in the world as long as it meets the IRS charitable organization criteria. Foundation grants, by policy, are targeted to the local community and would usually only be given to an outside nonprofit for work that affected the local community. The ultimate authority on grants lies with the Foundation Board.

Can a school apply for a grant?

Yes if the school is a nonprofit. Scholarships (for the benefit of a named individual) are only awarded to the school or college for further distribution.  

Does the Foundation fund faith-based organizations?

Yes, but only for non-religious and unrestricted public service projects.  

Can I meet with someone at the Foundation before submitting an application?

Yes, in fact it is required.  

Can I get help completing the application?

Yes. Contact the office at (360) 378-1001.  

What size grant does the Foundation generally make?

Grants vary tremendously with the project. Amounts need to be justified using a financial and business planning approach and will be carefully scrutinized. To date, the range has been $500 to $10 Million.  

How often can we apply to the Foundation?

There is no restriction but the Foundation would expect multiple requests for funding to each fit into a well articulated long-range plan.

What are Reporting Requirements?

Every organization that receives a grant is required to report on the results and use of the funds by submitting a Grant Reporting Form within one year of receipt. Additionally, it is important to acknowledge receipt of the grant award in writing. A letter to the editor is a welcomed next step. Letters should be sent directly to the newspaper(s) and you can send the Community Foundation a copy of your letter. Public awareness benefits everyone. Your acknowledgment and thank you letter will be shared with your program donor when applicable. Follow up and financial reporting is one of the ways we distinguish the Foundation from other organizations and is of primary importance. Organizations not in compliance will not be eligible for further funding support unless their reporting is up to date.

May I use the Foundation’s name or logo in our press releases or brochures?

The Foundation requires that any organization using its name submit a draft for review before release. The Foundation logo is not available for use. Please call (360) 378-1001 for further details.  

Is this site secure?

Standard, industry accepted methods are used to ensure website security. Online donations are made through PayPal which uses its standard measures to ensure account information security. While the Foundation will continue to adhere to industry standards for online access, we cannot ultimately guarantee total security. We are prepared to make special off-line arrangements with any donor who is uncomfortable with online access.