By: Deanna Green

From December through February, our grants program staff hosted a total of 78 nonprofit professionals for two grantmaking information sessions at our new location and responded to roughly 85 phone calls and emails about our online grant system.

It was an extremely busy two months, but it was very much expected with the recent redesign of the Community Foundation’s discretionary grant programs. We were ready to provide our nonprofit partners with more communication and support.

As outlined in this story from The Columbian, instead of applying for funds from geographic- or mission-focused funds, nonprofits serving southwest Washington can apply to distinct grant categories: Focus, Enrichment, Catalyst and Capacity Building. Each of these grant categories is better defined on our Grant Programs page to help any organization identify which funding source best suits its needs.

In addition to restructuring our grants program, the Foundation also unveiled its new online grant application system, powered by SmarterSelect. Our hope was that the software would make the application and review process more efficient all around—for grantees, staff and committee members. The feedback was extremely positive as organizations logged in and submitted their proposals. And, with an impressive 102 applications submitted during our first grant cycle, we feel it’s already working out for the best. We also learned the following helpful tips and tricks along the way:

Save your credentials. If you submitted an application for the first cycle, be sure to save your username and password for future applications. By logging back into the system, you can create a new application, review your history or make changes to your profile.

Be clear with your request. We allow plenty of space to explain your proposal, but the first thing committee members want to know is, “What are you asking for?” Follow up the request with supporting information that will demonstrate how important your proposal is to your organization and the community.

Save and return. The online program allows you to complete the application at your own pace. This means you can complete a segment, save your work and come back later to finish the application. Approaching the application piece-by-piece may help you focus and submit your best work.

Submit as soon as you’re finished. When you get to the end of the application form, click “Submit” instead of “Save.” You can still come back and edit your submitted application until the final deadline, but this way—when the application deadline rolls around—you won’t miss your chance or have to wonder if you clicked the final button.

Triple-check your work. Typos happen, but you want to make sure your finished application is spotless. Pay special attention to your address, email, and tax ID number.

Keep these tips top-of-mind, because the Community Foundation grants program has also moved to a twice-yearly granting schedule. Our second round of 2015 discretionary grants is right around the corner, with applications being accepted from June 1 to July 31. Plus, if you applied for a grant during our first round and don’t receive funding, your proposal may be carried over and considered again during the second round.

Until then, the Discretionary Grant Committee will be hard at work pouring through each of the applications we received. In April, the committee will select their final grant recipients and follow-up with public award notifications in May 2015.

If you have any questions regarding the application process, email us at [email protected].

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About The Author

Deanna Green

Deanna was born and raised in Vancouver, Washington and graduated from both Clark College and WSU Vancouver. Her personal and professional experiences have made her passionate about providing equitable opportunities for students. Outside of work, she enjoys spending free time with her family and friends, attending community events and taking spontaneous drives through the Columbia River Gorge.

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