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Read the thoughts and impressions on a variety of topics written by Foundation staff, as well as occasional guest bloggers about what’s happening at Greater Worcester Community Foundation.


HOW THE COMMUNITY GRANT PROGRAM HAS CHANGED FOR 2022
By Kelly Stimson / February 17, 2022

GWCF’s Community Grant Program has always been the reliable workhorse of our grant making, and that remains true. The program, though, has changed over the years. 

Just a few years ago, we went from two cycles a year to just one. And each year we have modified the guidelines – sometimes making tweaks that sharpen the focus a bit, and at other times making bigger changes. In the past year we separated operating support from project requests; better clarified our funding interests; and, more meaningfully, centered racial equity, community voice, and systems change as priorities for our grantees.

For 2022, we are making changes to the timeline again. Spoiler alert: The magic date is no longer September 15th.

Two Project Cycles a Year Instead of One

This year we are going to be offering two opportunities for nonprofits to seek funding for discreet projects.

March 18 deadline - This grant cycle is recommended for:

  • New projects planned to begin in summer and fall 2022
  • Returning projects that did not receive a community grant in 2021

July 15 deadline - This grant cycle is recommended for:

  • New projects planned to begin winter and spring 2023
  • Returning projects that did not receive a community grant in 2021
  • Renewal requests for projects that were funded in 2021 and have now been completed

Here is why:

  • Money on the organization’s timeline: Budget planning is a lot easier when you know before your budget year starts whether you have been awarded a grant.

  • Money closer to when you want or need it: If an organization decides to try something new, they can’t always, or don’t want to, wait 9 months or more to test the idea with a funder and get started.

  • Consideration of projects when they are ready: We prioritize providing feedback to applicants – drawn from our knowledge of the community – because sometimes a project brought to us, while good in concept, is just not ready for funding. Applicants can integrate the feedback, and not have to wait a year re-apply.

Nonprofits that want to come back to us for renewal funding will wonder what this means for them: When should they come back? And how do these changes impact what they should come back with?

You deserve the opportunity to do the work, and then tell the story. With an annual grant cycle, nonprofits were often required to report on project progress towards outputs and outcomes – with partial data. (i.e. you received a grant in December for work happening the next summer and were in the midst of your work when required to submit your next application.) As a result, nonprofits could not tell their stories well, which made for less compelling applications.

Now if you are seeking renewal support, you can come back when you’ve completed what you proposed in your original application. For a short pilot project, that could mean the next grant cycle. For longer projects or annual work, it might be a year, a year-and-a-half, or even two years later before you consider submitting another request. Allowing you to provide a story about the work you accomplished and what you learned from it that will allow our review committees to make sound granting decisions.

 

One General Operating Support Cycle a Year

For some organizations, what you really need is unrestricted general operating support so you can keep doing your good works in the community. The deadline for general operating support requests is September 30, 2022.

Requests for general operating support are not appropriate for every nonprofit. But, for those with strong alignment with both our strategic focus areas and our key criteria, it may be the right fit.

Learning with You

In planning our 2022 granting, we have strived to anticipate the questions and challenges you may have, but we know we will miss some things. Like all of you, The Foundation is a learning organization, trying to deliver impacts more meaningfully and effectively. We welcome and appreciate your feedback on how we are doing. We seek to be a partner to the nonprofit sector, seeking to move the community forward and striving to make the lives of all of Worcester County’s residents better.

For more information on the Community Grant Program:

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