Grants aren’t a giveaway

Free money?  No way. Grants are not a giveaway.

When nonprofits accept our grant money, they agree to meet our requirements regarding our return on investment in their organizations. This is critically important, because the reality is that the grant money has originated from you, our donors, who want to positively impact the lives of people in Frederick County.

These requirements are not a secret. All nonprofits planning to apply for grant money must attend a grant training meeting to receive updated information about funding criteria, amounts available, the time frame in which the grants must be used, and documentation necessary to receive reimbursement. As a result, the Grants Committee has found that the quality of the nonprofits’ applications has improved since it started mandating attendance at these grant training meetings.

Once a grant application has been accepted for funding by the Grants Committee, the nonprofit is now called the “grantee.”  What are our requirements and expectations of our grantees?

First, the grantee must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, a government agency applying for an extraordinary project not funded by tax revenue, a religious organization requesting funding for non-sectarian activities, or a civic group that is not a 501(c)(3) requesting funding for a community cause. The grantee must be in good standing with the IRS at the time of application and must anticipate continuing to be in good standing during the grant period.  Additionally, the grantee must certify that it is has filed the necessary paperwork with the Maryland Secretary of State Charitable Registration Division and the Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation.  Compliance and filings are state requirements all nonprofits should be doing without our mandate, but regretfully, we sometimes find that nonprofits forget or choose not to file or they don’t know that they should file at all.

Next, the grantee must show proof that it has used the money in the designated time frame before the Community Foundation sends the grant check.  The “proof” can be documentation of clients served, the program implementation, or the equipment purchased.   In the latter case, the Community Foundation may pay the vendor directly rather than forwarding the money to the grantee. In any situation, these requirements help us ensure the grant is used for the purpose stated in the grant application only.

Lastly, the grantee must report its outcomes – the number of people served, the long-term and short-term benefits to the community, and the number of units provided, such as bed nights provided, meals served, mentors matched, doctors appointments scheduled, counseling sessions held, lessons taught, etc.  This is where the grantee shows the impact of the Community Foundation’s investment.  The Grants Committee pays careful attention to these quarterly and final reports to fulfill its responsibility to our donors to ensure that the money is used in the most impactful way possible.

Grantees that don’t comply with these requirements cannot submit grant applications in the subsequent funding cycle.

So grant money is not a giveaway.  It’s a transaction, with clear expectations and requirements about what the Community Foundation wants to see for the return on your investment.   Yes, your investment.  Our generous donors have invested in the Community Foundation so that it in turn can invest in the areas of greatest need in Frederick County.

Grantmaking is serious business and the Community Foundation is making serious investments, with lofty goals for services in Frederick County, and with a continuing focus on impact that is For Good. Forever. For Frederick County.


written by kathy davis, 2012-09-12
excellent message about the importance of understanding the CFFC's grant application process!

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