As a CF, how do you determine who is eligible to receive your annual unrestricted grant dollars?

Our unrestricted Community Endowment has received its first large estate gift. To this point the grant distribution from the Community Endowment has been very small. We would like to learn more about the process to determine grant recipient(s).

  • Does the community foundation have specific areas of interest when granting funds from your unrestricted endowment?
  • If so, how was this area of interest determined? And, how often do you review and update this area of interest? Does it align with goals in your strategic plan?
  • If not, are all nonprofit organizations serving your community eligible for the funding and what type of criteria is used?
  • From your experience, please share any suggestions on how these types of grants can make more of a difference in your community or tips on the processes?
  • Are there any lessons learned that you could share with us, good or bad?
  • When the unrestricted endowment gets to be large enough be provide more impactful grants ($100,000 or more), do you provide larger grants to fewer recipients and/or consider multi-year grants?
  • Do you hold part of the annual endowment distribution in reserve for a disaster or crisis that might occur to a local nonprofit? If so, is a certain dollar amount or percentage of the distribution held?
  • Is there anything that you would change or recommend avoiding in a competitive grant process? 



  • RandMorganRandMorgan Posts: 40
    World Traveler Third Compass Anniversary 10 Comments 25 Likes

    We have been concerned about the divisive nature of society, so we have been using our unrestricted grants specifically for things that build community and bring community together. One of my favorite things is the 7th inning stretch at a professional baseball game. In that brief moment in time, it doesn't matter which team you're rooting for, what jersey you're wearing, what political leanings, what religious group you belong to, what your racial or gender identity is. In that moment the whole stadium stands up and sings a silly song. TOGETHER. Then a peppy tune comes on the loudspeakers, the dance cam pans the stadium catching people dancing in the aisles, they see themselves on the big screen, everybody laughing, everyone having a great time.

    Those are the kinds of moments we try to create with our unrestricted grants where people are brought together, where our divisions don't matter. Some examples: We commissioned the best-known Colorado landscape photographer to come out and photograph our county over three years in all seasons, in all weather conditions. He then published a coffee table book which was then made available to the public, in an effort to connect people to place. We've sponsored free weekly outdoor summer evening concerts on the lawn of our local university campus. We commissioned a well-known artist to build a two-story multi-sensory children's installation inside our new public library. We commissioned our local symphony's composer-in-residence to compose a seven movement symphony depicting our area's history into orchestral form. We are working with partnering with a municipality who recently acquired a large open space to make improvements to that area and to build an amphitheater and children's play area. All of these with the intent to bring people together and to build community.

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