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nonprofit growth & sustainability grants

These grants are focused on organizational capacity and sustainability. One of Evanston Community Foundation’s goals is to support a thriving nonprofit sector in Evanston. For nonprofits to thrive, they must have the ability to support ongoing work and build their capacity. 

This grant program is new in 2021. Grants are for a 12-month cycle. Download the Nonprofit Growth & Sustainabiity Grant Guidelines, also listed below. The Grants Cycle Calendar lists the upcoming grant cycle dates. 

funding priorities

Through this grant, there are two main funding areas.

CAPACITY BUILDING GRANTS
Funding specific projects that support an organization’s long-term growth and development. 

OPERATING SUPPORT GRANTS

  • Demonstrate a commitment to racial equity in mission, vision and practice
  • Offering unrestricted flexible funding to support an organization’s sustainability

how to apply

All application materials must be submitted through ECF's online grant system (GLM). Applications may be submitted at any time throughout the grant schedule. The grants committee will make funding decisions approximately one month after proposal submission. View the Calendar for application dates. If you need access to a computer or assistance submitting online email ECF staff.

who can apply

Any group or organization providing services to Evanston residents can apply for a grant. All proposals must address issues, concerns, or opportunities in the Evanston community. 

Additionally, applicants must fit in one of the following categories:

  • 501(c)(3) organization
  • An organization that has a fiscal sponsor that qualifies as a 501(c)(3) organization

New applicants, current grantees, former grantees, or previous applicants to any ECF grants program are eligible to apply. While your organization is only eligible for one Nonprofit Growth & Sustainability grant per 12 month period, your organization may apply for other ECF grants during the same year.

Please note, we do not fund: endowments, fundraising events or sponsorship of events, religious-based projects (though faith-based organizations may apply for work benefitting the general community), individuals.

funding parameters

  • One-year grants with a maximum amount of $25,000 and not more than 10% of organization’s operating budget.
  • Up to one Growth and Sustainability Grant during a 12-month period

what each grant funds

CAPACITY BUILDING GRANTS - projects such as:

  • Effective planning efforts
  • Technology upgrades and improvements (You may not purchase computers or other hardware with these funds)
  • Racial equity assessment and training
  • Program evaluation
  • Collaborative strategies, including grants to build new strategic alliances
  • Merging with or acquiring other non-profits 

OPERATING SUPPORT GRANTS

  • Demonstrate effectiveness
  • Define expected outcomes for their overall work

criteria the committee considers

CAPACITY BUILDING GRANTS
Capacity Building

  • How does your organization demonstrate the capacity to carry out its mission
  • Movement towards leadership that reflects the demographics of the people you serve
  • How funding will strengthen capacity of your organization to achieve long-term sustainability and results

Goals, Measurement Plan, and Timeline

  • Specific and realistic goals, ways to measure progress and success, and reasonable timelines
  • The ability of the project to extend the organization’s mission
  • How the grant will be implemented and whether it is realistic
  • If applicable, the suitability of any outside vendors related to the project or plans to choose vendors
  • If applicable, plans to fund the rest of the project

OPERATING SUPPORT GRANTS
Operating Support

  • How does your organization demonstrate the capacity to undertake its mission
  • Movement towards leadership that reflects the demographics it serves
  • Leadership’s vision and plan for the organization

Budget and Planning 

  • The board’s role in strategic planning, fundraising, and oversight
  • Strength of your organization’s financial systems to track income and expenses and reflect the goals and outcomes of the organization 
  • Position in the community to meet its mission and collaborate with others

application materials

All applications — and their respective questions and materials — are accessible through our GLM online grants system. Documents to submit include:

CAPACITY BUILDING GRANTS

  • Total operating budget for current and prior fiscal years including revenue sources (if you have it)
  • A project budget using the provided form, including the total cost of project and sources of other funding received to date
  • Page 1 of two most recent 990s (for your organization or fiscal sponsor, unless your organization is brand new)
  • A brief budget narrative to address any significant variances in the annual operating budget or actuals (if needed only)
  • Letters of support from any partners you are collaborating with on this project
  • Overview of Board and staff demographics

Please note: For all narrative questions, tell us briefly and directly about your idea, those you will serve, and why your group is the best fit to make the project happen. Do not worry about phrasing things just right. 

OPERATING SUPPORT GRANTS

  • Total operating budget for current and prior fiscal years including revenue sources (if you have it)
  • Page 1 of two most recent 990s (for your organization or fiscal sponsor, unless your organization is brand new)
  • A brief budget narrative to address any significant variances in the annual operating budget or actuals (if needed only)
  • Overview of Board and staff demographics

Please note: For all narrative questions, tell us briefly and directly about your idea, those you will serve, and why your group is the best fit to make the project happen. Do not worry about phrasing things just right. 

narrative grant questions

CAPACITY BUILDING GRANTS

  1. What is your organization/group’s mission and scope of work in Evanston?
  2. What resources, experience, and/or expertise does your organization bring to Evanston? What other groups or organizations address this need/challenge? How does your organization complement these other efforts in Evanston?
  3. Project summary and description
  4. What steps has your organization taken in the last year or two to address equity issues within your organization? 
  5. What are your organization’s overall goals?
  6. How will this project effort help develop your organization?
  7. Why is this project important at this time?
  8. How will this project be implemented? What is the timetable?
  9. What are the specific goals of this project?  What will indicate a successful outcome? How will you measure the degree to which your organization has been strengthened?
  10. With this increase in capacity, how will your organization be positioned to better serve Evanston?
  11. Will this project advance diversity, equity, or inclusion? If YES, how will this project advance diversity, equity, or inclusion within your organization?
  12. If this project is focused on collaboration, strategic alliances, or a potential merger, tell us about the other organizations involved. (Note: letters from those organizations confirming their engagement must be attached to this application.)
  13. We are committed to advancing racial equity. Tell us about the makeup of your board, staff leadership, and overall staff. Please tell us how the voices of Black, Indigenous, and people of color are an integral part of your overall decision-making process and program development.

 

OPERATING SUPPORT GRANTS

  1. What is your organization/group’s mission and scope of work in Evanston?
  2. What resources, experience, and/or expertise does your organization bring to Evanston? What other groups or organizations address this need/challenge? How does your organization complement these other efforts in Evanston?
  3. What steps has your organization taken in the last year or two to address equity issues within your organization? 
  4. How will this organizational support grant strengthen your organization’s overall capacity? Why is this support important now? What will you be able to do more of or better with this support than you are now doing? 
  5. Describe your staff leadership structure. If you have a leadership succession plan, please describe it. 
  6. Describe your board’s engagement in strategic planning, fundraising, and organizational oversight.
  7. Does your organization have a strategic plan? How is it being implemented? What is your organization’s vision for impact and growth over the next three years?
  8. What are the outcomes you use to measure organizational impact? How do you measure them?
  9. Does your organization or group have a written diversity/equal opportunity/racial equity policy? (Yes, No, In Progress) *IF Yes, answer questions 9a, 9b, 98c. If No or In Progress, move to question10.
    a. What year was the policy adopted? (If you answered ‘Yes’ to question 9.)

    b. What year was the policy last amended? (If you answered ‘Yes’ to question 9.)
    c. Diversity/Equal Opportunity/Racial Equity Policy (Upload)

  10. We are committed to advancing racial equity. Tell us about the makeup of your board, staff leadership, and overall staff. *You will be asked to share more specifics about your board in the following question.
  11. Please attach a roster of board members or governing body. Include name, race, gender identity, and city of residence. If working with a fiscal sponsor, please upload your group's leadership list (e.g. task force, steering committee, advisory board, etc.).
  12. What percentage of people in staff leadership identify as a person of color?
  13. How does your organization’s leadership reflect the demographics of the community you serve to ensure diverse perspectives needed at decision-making levels? You may provide a rationale or action plan with steps toward diversity.
  14. Do you collect demographic information of constituents? (Yes, No, In Progress)
  15. Pertaining to the above questions, what progress have you made in the past year?