Frequently Asked Questions
DRF makes most of its grants to tax-exempt agencies classified as 501(c)(3) organizations (public charities as defined by the Internal Revenue Service) that serve in the City of Danville, VA; Pittsylvania County, VA; and Caswell County, NC. We are a placed-based funder meaning we make grants that directly impact our community. Some grants are also made to government agencies and churches.
Grants to organizations fall within three categories, those that are:
- Proposed by community organizations (responsive grants) and show potential for significantly impacting present problems by converting them into opportunities for ultimate success,
- Initiated by DRF (initiatives) to stimulate sustainable progress in the region, and
- Developed because of unanticipated opportunities where DRF funds, in cooperation with others, can enable productive advances that might not otherwise be attainable.
You can find information about the majority of grants we make in our online Grants Portfolio.
Applying for 501(c)(3) status is a long process. We recommend looking at the Stay Exempt site provided by the Internal Revenue Service that can help walk you through the process.
Of course! When you reach out to us, include an introduction and summary of your project. It's always easier to discuss a project or program once your ideas are written. Just remember, that while discussions with staff are welcome and encouraged, action by the DRF Board is required for an organization to receive a grant.
- Review the grant guidelines on our website.
- Contact our office at 434-799-2176 to find out how to get started.
We generally do not have deadlines as grant applications are reviewed as they are received.
We do not provide assistance with the writing of requests. We suggest contacting the Dan River Nonprofit Network to find available resources for grant writing.
Once your application is received, a program officer is assigned to review your request. They can answer any questions and provide guidance regarding the timetable for making a decision. Grant applications that request significant amounts of funding, those that deal with complex or new programs, or those that have significant unanswered questions will likely require longer review times. In these cases, you should allow 8 to 10 weeks for full review of your proposal.
While discussions with staff are welcome, action by the DRF Board is required for an organization to receive a grant.
We do not set a limit on the number of times an organization can apply for funding. However, we prefer that organizations use discretion and submit requests only for top-priority projects and programs.
There is no set dollar limit on grant requests. We prefer for the proposed work to have funding from diverse sources when possible. When DRF funding is added to other revenue sources, there should be sufficient total funding to allow the work to be successfully completed/accomplished.
The entire grant making process at DRF is determined through the lens of need, opportunity and impact. The majority of grants we make are given broad parameters with which to function as long as they meet these three criteria.
If you’re asking us if you will have discretion over how you spend your grant money, the answer is yes – if it meets the criteria.
If you’re asking us if we will give you a grant to pay off a debt or cover administrative costs only, the answer is no. The Ashby Award is the only grant we make that is allowed to solely cover operating costs.
In general, we look for indirect costs for administration and overhead to be included in your application. But these are not to exceed 10% of direct costs.
At DRF, we don’t award grants just to fill a need or to embrace an opportunity. The grants we fund do both. In addition, they lead to a larger impact that is visible in the community.
Here are four questions to ask yourself as you consider if your idea meets the need, opportunity and impact criteria:
- What issue and/or problem are you trying to change?
- How will you do it?
- Who will you connect to make this successful? What groups will you work with to make this happen?
- What does this change look like if you are successful? How will we know it when we see it?
DRF’s policy is that we only support 40% of the cost of any capital project.
But you may be wondering, what about Foundation Hall at DCC, the Chatham Community Center or the Caswell Senior Center?
Well, those were special cases when DRF was first organized where the IRS said “spend some money quick in your community or give it to us.” So we chose the former.
OK, I understand those, but what about the YMCA? Surely you put more than 40% in that? Well, there you got us, yes we did. In that case, DRF felt like it was a rare circumstance and that potential for dramatic impact on the region was possible. Is it possible we would do something like that again? Possible, but not likely, and the impact on the region would have to be transformational.
We do not make grants to replace government funding.
Our grantees are required to submit reports at regularly scheduled intervals throughout the grant period, as well as a final report at the end of the grant. These reports describe the progress you've made towards achieving the project’s stated goals. They also detail how the budgeted funds have been spent.
Some grants are assigned measurable benchmarks for specific periods of time and those must be submitted to your program officer as outlined in the signed grant agreement.
We have built a page to help explain what we expect from our grantees and partners that you might find helpful. We invite you to visit it here.
DRF does not sponsor events but events may be part of a larger program that is funded. Please contact a DRF Program Officer for clarification if you have any questions.
You will need to partner with an existing 501(c)(3) organization as your fiscal agent. A fiscal agent is an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) entity. You can also partner with units of government such as a town, county or state governmental department.
No, but you will need to partner with an existing 501(c)(3) organization as your fiscal agent. A fiscal agent is an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) entity. You can also partner with units of government such as a town, county or state governmental department.
There is a special section on our website that provides the guidelines, grant examples, and a submission checklist. Feel free to use this as a guide.
No. By law, DRF funding can only go to non-profits or governmental entities. We encourage folks with great business ideas to start with the Virginia Small Business Development Center housed at DCC.
Now you may be thinking, but I see that you’ve worked with the Industrial Development Authority to attract new businesses and you funded The Launch Place. So what’s the difference?
On rare occasions, we look to make investments to support the economic development work occurring all across our region. This is why we will partner with governmental entities to recruit businesses. When our funds, along with funds from the City of Danville or Pittsylvania County or Caswell County, can be used to attract new business, we are willing to participate if certain criteria are met.
The Launch Place is a nonprofit organization with the mission to assist new start-ups in our region. They have two investment funds, through which they can invest in new businesses that meet their investment criteria without our continued oversight.
These are the only exceptions, as we do not fund business requests from individuals or for profit companies.