Frequently Asked Questions About Our Grant Programs

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation's grant programs are designed to invest in a more vibrant and prosperous Greater Cincinnati where everyone can thrive. As an exemplary steward of the community’s charitable resources since 1963, GCF awards grants to qualified nonprofit organizations in eight counties:

  • Butler, Clermont, Hamilton. and Warren (Ohio) 
  • Boone, Kenton, and Campbell (Kentucky) 
  • Dearborn (Indiana)

How do I know if my organization is eligible to apply for a Capital Request or Program Request grant from The Greater Cincinnati Foundation?
We make grants to tax-exempt agencies classified as 501(c)(3) organizations, which are public charities as defined by the Internal Revenue Service. The projects we consider for support are located in or serve the eight counties listed above.

Can my organization receive more than one grant in the same year?
Nonprofit organizations may receive only one grant within any 12-month period. Exceptions may be made in cases where one nonprofit organization serves as a fiscal agent for another.  There is no limit on the number of grants nonprofits can receive from our donor advised funds, which are not part of this application process. Please refer to the guidelines for our other grant programs (including our Private Foundations, Women’s Fund, and The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio) about any limitations to funding.

Are grants funded over multiple years?
GCF typically awards grants for one year. In selected instances, GCF will accept requests for multiyear grants. An applicant seeking multiyear support must demonstrate that such support is essential to the success of the project.

Can I apply for a grant from The Greater Cincinnati Foundation if I have a personal need?
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation does not make grants or loans to individuals. As a community trust, it is designed to serve the charitable needs of nonprofit organizations in the Greater Cincinnati area. Find out more about our available scholarships here.

Can my school apply for a grant?
Schools may apply for Grants for Kids. GCF does not make grants to individual schools for regular operating costs or capital projects.

How do I apply for a grant?

If my organization receives a grant, how will we to report results to you?
GCF considers tracking and reporting on grant performance and community impact to be an important element of every grant. All organizations receiving grants are required to identify the Community Investment area that their program is addressing. Grantees are required to submit an end-of-grant evaluation report, and some grantees may also be asked to submit an interim progress report. The majority of grantees will submit evaluation reports using GCF’s online grant management system. A GCF Community Investment Program Officer will notify you about specific evaluation requirements.

Is there a specific application form that must be used?
GCF uses an online grant website. Organizations will need to submit the Letter of Intent (LOI) through this online system. Learn more about this system here

Can anyone at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation help me write a proposal?
GCF does not provide help in writing grant proposals. However, there are several groups listed on our “Other Funding Resources” page that offer in-depth grant writing workshops and training for nonprofits.

What are the deadlines for submitting proposals?
Please see GCF Grant Process page for information about application deadlines. Unsolicited proposals are not accepted and will not be reviewed. If the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline will be the next business day

What is the amount of the average grant?
Grant award amounts vary widely, with an average size of $30,000. The awards are influenced by the type of project for which funding is being requested, the need for the project in the community, amount of the project budget, and the amount of funding requested from other funders. Applicants should request the amount needed to successfully complete the proposed project. See a list of our recent grants here

Are there any limits to what type of activities you will fund?
GCF awards grants to qualified nonprofit organizations in eight counties: Butler, Clermont, Hamilton. and Warren (Ohio); Boone, Kenton, and Campbell (Kentucky): and Dearborn (Indiana).

GCF does not typically make grants from its discretionary community funds for the following purposes or activities:
  • Individuals
  • Units of government or government agencies
  • Religious organizations for religious purposes
  • Leasehold improvements
  • Annual fundraising drives; event/conference sponsorship or underwriting
  • Stand-alone books, films or videos
  • Stand-alone travel expenses for conferences or educational purposes
  • Regular operating costs or capital projects for individual public, private or parochial schools, universities, hospitals, nursing or retirement homes
  • Endowments
  • Scholarships
  • Loans
  • Scholarly or medical research
  • Partisan political advocacy 
  • Debt retirement or funding of an activity after it is completed 
  • Recurring/routine computer software/hardware updates
  • Playgrounds, sports teams, or sports activities

What do you look for in an organization submitting a grant proposal?
Here are four main items GCF looks for in an organization submitting a grant proposal:

  • Established and fiscally sound organization. To a limited extent, GCF may consider requests for start-up funding. Groups requesting funding for a new organization must clearly define the need for a new organization and must present a sound business plan that explains how the organization will sustain itself
  • Strong governance
  • Demonstrated organizational capacity and track record
  • Sound short-term and long-range plans

What you look for in a grant proposal?
Here are eight main items GCF looks for in a successful grant proposal: 

  • Clear fit with GCF’s Community Investment Framework
  • Collaboration, coordination, and alignment within and across nonprofit sectors
  • Leverage of other financial and in-kind resources
  • Supporting best practices and innovation
  • Commitment to inclusion, and reducing racial and ethnic disparities
  • Building the capacity of our nonprofit community
  • Continuous improvement, measuring and demonstrating results
  • Realistic sustainability plan

How long does it take once a proposal is submitted to go through the approval process and to receive funding?
The time from submission to approval for grants up to $25,000 is 8-12 weeks; for grants of more than $25,000, it can be up to 5 months. Once the grant is approved, it takes approximately 10 days after returning the appropriate forms to receive a check. Release of the check is triggered by returning the signed grant agreement and payment release request form.

Can I get a grant from a donor advised fund?
Donors that have established donor advised funds make grants to nonprofit organizations based on their own areas of interest. Typically, donor advised funds do not accept requests from nonprofit organizations. See also Frequently Asked Questions About Donor Advised Funds.

Can you refer me to anyone else for funding?
A good resource for both individuals and nonprofit organizations in the Greater Cincinnati area is the Grant Resource Center of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The Grants Resource Center does not provide funding, but has directories, guides and other resources to help grantseekers identify appropriate funders and develop targeted proposals. Also check out our Grant Resources page.