Grant Proposal Guidelines
Revised March 2012
NOTE: If you are applying for a Make It Happen! grant, the following guidelines do not apply. Please follow this link to information about Make It Happen! grant applications.
The region served by Danville Regional Foundation (DRF) has faced many challenges in the last decade-economic, health, educational, and social. Because these challenges are ongoing, DRF is committed to working with organizations that strive to create a healthy and thriving Danville/Pittsylvania County/Caswell County region.
DRF supports regional improvement through funding initiatives:
- proposed by others (responsive grant making) that show potential for significantly impacting present problems by converting them into opportunities for ultimate success,
- created by DRF to stimulate sustainable progress in the region (request for proposals), and
- developed because of unanticipated opportunities where DRF funds, in cooperation with others, can enable productive advances that might not otherwise be attainable.
DRF will consider requests that reflect its mission, values, and areas of focus (outlined under "About the Foundation"). Beyond these previously stated specifics, funding is given greater consideration when the application demonstrates intersection of three areas: need, opportunity, and potential impact.
DRF anticipates requests will exceed available funds. Grants will be made based on a competitive process; but, regardless, some very worthy projects will not receive funding.
Letters of Inquiry or proposals may be submitted at any time and the review process will begin when they arrive at the DRF Office. Depending on the time of year when a Letter of Inquiry is received (and a possible proposal), the entire process (inquiry to receipt of funds) may take as little as three months or as much as eight.
Please review prior awarded grants for more information.
Application Process for Responsive Grants
The application process for responsive grants traditionally consists of two steps:
- Step One: Letter of Inquiry
- Step Two: Proposal (if requested by DRF after submission of Letter of Inquiry).
Organizations now have the option of submitting either a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) or a full proposal as Step One. While DRF recommends sending the LOI first, some applicants feel that the two step approach (LOI first, then proposal) does not give them the full opportunity to "tell their story" with the Letter of Inquiry.
All potential applicants are encouraged to meet with staff prior to submitting either an LOI or a proposal. While this is not required, it will provide applicants with the opportunity to discuss an idea with a Program Officer and get a better sense of whether to submit an LOI or a proposal as the first step.
Letters of Inquiry, submitted at any time, will be reviewed by staff and the appropriate Board committee relative to date received. Based on the Letters of Inquiry, DRF will select applicants to submit proposals. At that time, applicants will be informed of the deadline for submission.
While discussions with staff are welcome, action by the DRF Board is required for an organization to receive a grant.
Process for Successful Grant Requests
For those submitting an LOI as a first step, the process is:
Meeting with DRF Staff ----->
Letter of Inquiry----->Accepted by DRF--->
Proposal---->DRF Review---->Action by DRF---->Implementation----->
For those submitting a proposal as a first step, the process is:
Meeting with DRF Staff ----->
Proposal---->DRF Review---->Action by DRF--->-Implementation----->Impact---->Assessment
Step 1: Letter of Inquiry
Letters of Inquiry should be directed to:
President & CEO,
512 Bridge Street,
Danville, VA 24541
Alternatively, you can submit a Word document or PDF Letter of Inquiry online.
Letters of Inquiry should be brief (no more than three pages) and should include the:
- name, address, and tax status of the possible applicant,
- the purpose of the possible grant,
- the explanation of how it meets the criteria (mission, values, and areas of focus outlined above)
- Please specify the amount being requested from DRF
- The letter should identify the need, opportunity, and potential impact of the proposal if funded.
- Finally, the letter should briefly identify how the effort will be sustained after DRF funding ceases.
- The Foundation will consider requests that occur in stages, such as a planning grant inquiry followed by implementation as a follow-on inquiry.
DRF's goal is to respond to all Letters of Inquiry within 90 days.
The "Multiplier Effect" is important in grant applications. The region's needs are great, far in excess of DRF's financial means. While needs are important, DRF focuses on opportunities to award grants that reflect not just present need but also create opportunity and potential impact.
In your Letter of Inquiry, DRF wants to know:
- what need(s) will be addressed,
- how opportunity will be harnessed to produce a long-term solution, and
- how the potential impact will demonstrate a "multiplier effect" that goes beyond direct beneficiaries.
An application should show how a grant, combined with other resources, will change the conditions of the region to influence one or more of the outcomes below. DRF's efforts target four areas of focus. Successful grant requests will reflect these outcomes:
Economic Transformation to develop a rising standard of living, including increased income, assets, and economic security across the region.
Educational Attainment to ensure that educational readiness, in-school achievement, and post-secondary success are the regional norm.
Health and Wellness to produce "healthy people in healthy communities."
Community Engagement to build deep civic support for community innovations and to broaden and deepen the leadership base.
DRF believes that long-term investments in these areas are among the most beneficial for the region and its people.
Step 2: Proposal (Step 1 is optional but recommended)
When requested (after reviewing an organization's Letter of Inquiry), proposals are due by the dates identified in correspondence from DRF.
The proposal should include, but not be limited to:
- Summary -- the short version of who, why, what, where, how and how much;
- Organization -- your organization's history, programs, structure, overall budget, board and key staff, accomplishments, other items that establish credibility;
- Need and Opportunity To Be Addressed -- explain why this proposal is important, its relationship to DRF's priorities, present specifics about the basic issues, explain the consequences of inaction, note participation in or lack thereof with regional organizations presently working on this area, make sure the proposal specifically focuses on the community, region, or target populations' needs;
- Use of Resources -- provide a work plan, outline specific activities, explain the target audience and how members will be served, explain worker qualifications and projected employees, and include a specific time line;
- Impact of This Effort -- discuss the difference the project will make and to whom, explain how DRF funding will change the conditions that caused the need/problem, discuss the evaluation or assessment strategies and the person or organization responsible for evaluation;
- Other funding -- include information about other funders and public support, explain where the project fits into your organization's priorities, and discuss the plan for the project's sustainability after DRF funding ends;
- Budget -- Explain how the money will be spent, provide a budget that projects expenses and income including key costs critical to this effort (such as personnel, rent, supplies, transportation, non-staff consultants), show these projections for the life of the request and at least one year beyond;
- Supplementary Information -- Include a Board list with affiliations, tax ruling letter from IRS, full organizational budget, list of funders, a copy of last two audits, resumes of key staff, recent newspaper or other articles about your work, and
- Negative Information -- If your organization is in the middle of a lawsuit, has a funder who is about to drop the organization, has high staff turnover, etc., it is always better to tell DRF rather than have the Board learn it from other sources. Grant application and funding is about trust.
The proposal may be submitted on line using the Grant Application form or the information may be typed and submitted by mail, fax, email, or hand-delivery. The same information is required regardless of the way it is submitted.
If DRF awards a grant, the recipient organization may be required to collect, benchmark, and measure data related to the project.
Early in its history, DRF completely funded several capital projects as part of a settlement with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). DRF may continue to fund capital projects, but only when the projects meet certain criteria.
Capital projects, such as building construction, debt reduction, and endowment, may be partially funded if they are explicitly tied to one or more DRF outcomes, benefit a significant portion of the region, demonstrate broad-based support, have a significant multiplier effect, significantly increase the core capacity of an organization, or have an extraordinary impact in the region. In the unusual circumstance when DRF does choose to fund a capital project, funding would normally be limited to 40% or less of the project's estimated cost.
When considering funding requests, DRF looks for the following qualifications:
- Programs operating or benefiting primarily those who live in Danville and Pittsylvania County in Virginia and Caswell County in North Carolina;
- Organizations that have 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable or government status; however, requests that substitute or supplant funding that is the legitimate responsibility of government will not be considered (see Other Information below, bullet 4).
- Specific, focused requests; however, dinners, benefits, and other fundraisers are excluded.
- If an application is declined, DRF will give the most specific reason possible.
- DRF provides support and limited guidelines to the Community Foundation of the Dan River Region (CFDRR) regarding what is funded from the Danville Regional Foundation Fund; however, CFDRR makes independent decisions about funding.
- Some applicants feel that DRF should be assisting them in fundraising or at least making referrals. Where easy, it makes sense to do this, but DRF does not have the staff to do research for applicants, especially with organizations with whom we do not share mission or strategy.
- On occasion DRF may consider requests to supplement government funds when major benefits to the region and DRF's mission are apparent; however, requests from units of government that have their own capacity to raise funds, or requests that are intended to reduce the funding responsibilities of taxing authorities will be declined (see Funding Requirements above, bullet 2).
- Grants will not be made to faith-based institutions for religious purposes.
- Extraordinary circumstances would be needed in order to fund grants to fire department, rescue squads, and public safety organizations. Projects would need to produce one or more of the Foundation's four outcomes and have a significant multiplier effect upon a substantial portion of DRF's region.
- Individuals, regardless of their situation, do not qualify as eligible grant recipients.
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