2020 rapid response operating grants

Operating grants, funded by the Evanston Community Foundation Rapid Response (ECRR) Fund, are designed to protect Evanston’s vital nonprofit infrastructure so that it can continue to serve our community during and after the pandemic crisis. 

Round Eight applications are due by 11:59pm, Monday February 1, 2021.

Applications are submitted on GLM (ECF's online grants system). To review the guidelines, download the Grant Application Guidelines (PDF), providing all the information shown below. Download the Operating Needs Worksheet (Excel document) and upload the completed worksheet as part of the online application process. Questions? Contact Karli Butler, ECF Program Officer.


This application is for operating grants for Evanston-serving nonprofits facing significant financial challenge due to:

  • Lost earned and/or fundraising revenue and/or
  • Increased expenses due to due to providing increased, new, or changed services in this crisis

Operating grants are for unrestricted use by organizations to cover administrative expenses, including payroll, occupancy, office management, accounting services, and others for the months of February 2021 and March 2021 for Round Eight grants. Grants can also be used for the operating expenses for nonprofits to make accommodations to reopen safely in accordance with local and State guidelines. An operating grants committee, made up of ECF board members and representatives of the Evanston communities, reviews applications and recommends selection. 

funding priorities

  • Organizations providing basic needs services to populations which were already vulnerable before the pandemic or which are disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
  • Organizations providing services other than basic needs to such vulnerable or disproportionately affected populations.
  • Other nonprofit organizations endangered due to the pandemic, with a focus on those that are at a high risk of closure due to inability to meet financial obligations or of widespread staff reductions likely to impair the organization’s ability to carry out its mission either during the pandemic or after it subsides.


  • Any group or organization providing services to Evanston residents may apply for a grant.

  • Applicants must either be 501(c)(3) organizations or must have a fiscal sponsor that qualifies as a tax-exempt organization under Sec. 501(c)(3) of the IRS.

funding parameters

  • Maximum grant is $25,000 or 25% of the annual budget, whichever is lesser.

  • Grant period for Round Eight is February 1, 2021 - March 31, 2021. Funds to be expended by May 31, 2021.

  • New applicants, current, and former grantees, and/or previous applicants to any ECF grants program are eligible and encouraged to apply, including those that received an operating grant in previous rounds.

  • Operating grants are for unrestricted use.

  • For-profit businesses and faith-based organizations are ineligible. 

how to apply

  • All application materials must be submitted through GLM (ECF's online grants system) including uploading the completed Operating Needs Worksheet.
  • Applications may be submitted at any time throughout the grant schedule. The grants committee will make funding decisions monthly. Be sure to submit your request according to the calendar below.
  • If you need access to a computer or assistance submitting online, please contact ECF staff (email). 

dates and deadlines

Round Eight applications are due by 11:59pm Monday, February 1, 2021; funding decisions by March 3, 2021. 

funding criteria

1. Evanston service: How focused is this organization on serving Evanston? How many Evanstonians does it typically serve? How intensive is its service?

2. Clarity of case:

a.Clarity of explanation of lost earned revenue

b.Clarity of explanation of lost fundraising revenue

c.Clarity of costs of added, expanded, and/or adapted services

3. Immediacy of need: Are the organization’s finances being significantly impacted now or are they anticipating significant impact in the future, such that the organization’s ability to carry out its core mission is or will be significantly endangered? 

4. Responsiveness to crisis:

a. Adapting services to new circumstances

b. Providing new or expanded services due to crisis

c. Seeking opportunities for funding beyond ECF (e.g. SBA programs, other foundations, fundraising asks)

application questions

All applications—and their respective questions and materials—are accessible through our GLM online grants system. Please note: For all narrative questions, tell us briefly and directly what you want, what is going on for you, those you serve, and your staff, and what you need. Do not worry about phrasing things just right. 

  • What population are you serving? What percentage are Evanston residents? What are the demographics of the Evanston residents you are serving (if you know)?
  • Do you require social security numbers or other documentation for provision of service, which might be a barrier for community members who are undocumented or mixed-status?

  • Which of the three priorities does this organization fit? (Basic human needs: food, shelter, clothing, medical care, safety)

• Providing basic human needs to most vulnerable populations (by income, race, age, disability)

• Providing services that do not fall in the category of basic human needs (e.g. arts, youth programs, educational programs)

• Other nonprofit at high risk of staff reduction or closure due to inability to meet financial obligations (e.g. childcare) 

  • Constituents: What has the impact of the COVID-19 been on your constituents to date? What do you anticipate the impact to be through March 2021?

  • Services: Has this crisis increased the need for your services or increased your caseload? Have you changed delivery or focus of your services (for example, moving to online delivery or providing food or supplies to your constituents)? Are there costs to these changes? 

  • Reopening: Have you reopened or are you scheduled to reopen? What accommodations are you making to your service delivery to ensure health and safety? Are there costs to these accommodations?

  • Staffing: Have you been able to retain staff? Do you anticipate having to furlough any staff or terminate employment through March 2021? How has or will this affect your ability to fulfill your mission?

  • Income and budget: How has the crisis affected your earned income (e.g. registration fees or ticket sales)? How has this affected your fundraising income thus far? How do you anticipate it affecting your fundraising? If you have had to cancel, postpone, or move a fundraising event to be a virtual event or if you anticipate having to do so, what isI the impact on your fundraising income?

  • Financial information: Submit budget vs. actual and cash flow report for both the previous fiscal year, and the most current available year to date results.

  • Please complete the Operating Needs Worksheet and submit it with your application. 
  • In addition to this request, how are you working to raise additional funds? Share all efforts you are engaged in: 

o Applying for Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan

• Status of application: 

• Amount applied for: 

• Amount approved for: 

o Applying for Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Loan

• Status of application: 

• Amount applied for: 

• Amount approved for: 

o Applying for other foundation grants: 

• Where have you applied?

• Status of applications (declines, approvals, etc.): 

o Have you applied for a loan/line of credit from a bank and/or for a Main Street Loan? Yes/No. If yes, please explain.

o Increasing individual fundraising asks

• Strategy for individual fundraising: 

• Estimate of amount raised thus far: 

  • Does your organization have a financial contingency plan? Please explain. 

our mission

Helping Evanston thrive as a vibrant, inclusive, and equitable community, the Evanston Community Foundation builds, connects, and distributes resources and knowledge through local organizations for the common good. ECF launched the Evanston Community Rapid Response Fund to foster a unified philanthropic response to address the impact of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in the Evanston community.

strategic goals

The Evanston Community Foundation makes investments in organizations and projects that advance the following strategic goals: an Evanston that is inclusive and equitable for all, an empowered and engaged community that collaborates across sectors to define problems and work on solutions, a thriving nonprofit sector.