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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 launched in 2021. Grants are for a 12-month cycle. Download the Nonprofit Growth & Sustainabiity Grant Guidelines: Capacity Building Grants or General Operating Grants. The guidelines are also listed below. The Grants Cycle Calendar lists the upcoming grant cycle dates. 

apply by March 13, 2023

 Applications are now being accepted through ECF's online grant system (GLM). Interested organizations are encouraged to attend one of the two upcoming information sessions to learn about this grant program and to address your questions.  

Community Information sessions will be held virtually on the following dates: 

  1. Thursday, February 23, 2023 1PM-2PM (CST). Please join the session through the following link: 
    •  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89472957277  
    • Meeting ID: 894 7295 7277 
    • +13126266799,,89472957277# US (Chicago) 
  2. Wednesday, March 1, 2023, 5:30pm-6:30pm (CST). Please join the session through the following link: 
    • https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89094390686  
    • Meeting ID: 890 9439 0686 
    • +13126266799,,89094390686# US (Chicago) 

If you would like to request a virtual meeting with an ECF Program Officer to discuss this grant opportunity. Please schedule through this link

overview

General Operating Grants: Unrestricted funding

We provide unrestricted, flexible general operating funding to current or previous ECF grantees with a demonstrated commitment to racial equity in mission, vision, and practice.


This grant is open to Evanston-based nonprofits with IRS 501(c)3 tax status or fiscal sponsor that serve the Evanston community.

What is a fiscal sponsor?

View the Calendar for application dates. 

Learn More

Capacity Building Grants: Project-specific grants that help grow your organizational capacity

We fund specific capacity-building projects that support an organization's long-term development and growth. Example projects could include racial equity assessment and training, program evaluation improvement, and software upgrades that enhance your work.

This grant is open to nonprofits with IRS 501(c)3 or 501(c)6 tax status or fiscal sponsor that serve the Evanston community.
 
What is a fiscal sponsor?

View the Calendar for application dates.  

Learn More

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 two months after proposal submission for Capacity Building grants and General Operating grants. View the Calendar for application dates. If you need access to a computer or assistance submitting online, call 847-492-0990 or email ECF Program Officer, Jenna Beltrano.

application materials 

You can find all applications — and their respective questions and materials — through our online grants system (GLM). You will need to submit:  

  • Current fiscal year operating budget including revenue sources (if you have it)  
  • Prior fiscal year operating budget including revenue sources (if you have it) 
  • Prior fiscal year budget-to-actuals 
  • Page 1 ONLY of two most recent 990’s  
  • A brief budget narrative to address any significant variances in the annual operating budget or actuals (if needed only) 
  • Board roster with demographics 
  • Diversity/Equal Opportunity/Racial Equity Policy 

If you would like to preview the application in advance of applying, please refer to the following pdf: 2023NGSQuestionList 

If you are not able to access the linked pdf file, please reach out to an ECF staff member and we would be happy to provide support. 

capacity building grants

ECF funds specific capacity-building projects that support an organization's long-term development and growth. We encourage you to reach out to ECF staff if you have specific questions about eligibility or intersecting project ideas. 

which organizations are eligible
We invite you to review the following checklist to determine if your organization is eligible to apply for this grant opportunity:  Have IRS 501(c)3 or 501(c)6 tax status or fiscal sponsor

  • Demonstrate a strong commitment and presence in the Evanston community now and in the future  
  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) 
  • Demonstrate how this project will support your organization’s growth and sustainability 

projects should fit into one of the following categories:

  • Board Governance 
  • Technology (such as improved software, data systems, websites Etc.)
  • Strategic Planning
  • Racial Equity
  • Program Evaluation and Assessment
  • Fundraising
  • Communications and Marketing
  • Merging with or Acquisition of Another Non-Profit

this grant opportunity will not support the following:

  • Endowments,
  • Fundraising events/sponsorship of events, or individuals.
  • Racial Equity Assessments for organizations that are in the beginning stages of their racial justice journey. ECF plans to launch a broader initiative to support racial equity assessments in 2024.

funding parameters
Your organization can apply for:

  • One-year grants up to $25,000 that do not make up more than 15% of your organization’s operating budget
  • Up to one Growth and Sustainability Grant (either capacity building OR general operating support grant) during a 12-month period – you may apply for another open grant opportunities, such as E-Town Innovation

general operating grants

ECF provides unrestricted, flexible general operating funding to current or previous ECF grantees with a demonstrated commitment to racial equity in mission, vision, and practice. 

which organizations are eligible

We invite you to review the following checklist to determine if your organization is eligible to apply for this grant opportunity:

  • Have IRS 501(c)3 tax status or fiscal sponsor 
  • Have an Evanston address AND serve the Evanston community 
  • Have been in existence for at least three years (or be the result of merging organizations with at least a three-year history each) 
  • Have received and successfully completed at least two ECF grants in the last four years   
  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion 
  • Have at least one paid administrative staff who has been on the payroll for at least one year
  • Have a current strategic plan and/or strategic framework as well as a method for measuring progress and community impact 
  • Demonstrate effective board governance  
     

funding parameters

Your organization can apply for:

  • One-year grants up to $25,000 that do not make up more than 15% of your organization’s operating budget
  • Up to one Growth and Sustainability Grant (either capacity building OR general operating support grant) during a 12-month period – you may apply for another open grant opportunities, such as E-Town Innovation.