Frequently Asked Questions about Grantmaking at GCF

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation answers your frequently asked questions about the recently announced changes to our grantmaking process.

Frequently Asked Questions about GCF's New Grant Process

GCF's new Community Impact Strategy has been developed to streamline the process for awarding grants and to provide a focus on Women’s Upward Mobility and All-In Cincinnati. These changes apply to grants managed by GCF. The grant process for donor advised funds and private foundations remain the same. Find out more about Grants at GCF.

Where can I find the Facebook Live video of the Nonprofit Community Reception on June 28, 2017?

Having trouble? View on Facebook.

Can I download the slide presentation from the June 28 2017 Nonprofit Community Reception?
Yes, you can download the We Rise Together presentation [PDF] here

Why is GCF choosing to change in these ways and now?
GCF is proud of our long tradition of being a community partner supporting positive change. We’ve taken time to learn from many of you and others about our region’s pressing needs and how GCF can drive greater positive change. Opportunities to drive impact have changed and so must we. In addition, we’ve heard from many stakeholders that our grantmaking process can be long and complex. These changes are also designed to simplify the grantmaking process for our nonprofit partners.

What is staying the same?
GCF will continue to invest as much as we presently do and the focus will remain the eight counties of our tristate region. As an organization, we continue to be fueled by donors past and present. GCF desires to remain responsive to community needs.

What is changing?

  • We want to make partnering with GCF faster and easier. We have added a simple new Funding Inquiry form at where you can submit a very quick inquiry anytime, and we will triage your request. 
  • We will become more nimble, strategic, proactive, and focused. We are replacing our traditional Spring and Fall Grantmaking cycles with programs aligned to the two areas of strategic focus and a new targeted Request for Proposal (RFP) process.
  • We’re focused on partnering more deeply with our donors to connect them to as many community needs as we can, and we’re committed to enhancing our partnerships to expand philanthropy in our region.

What will be different?
Several things will be different going forward. There is a streamlined way of sharing your ideas and needs online using our Funding Inquiry form, an expedited funding decision process, a more proactive program officer role, more support beyond just funding, more effective presentation of opportunities to our donors.

Is GCF reducing the amount it puts out into the community annually?
No. We are being more focused and intentional to achieve greater impact. With new means of partnering with our donors and the community, we hope to create greater visibility for our nonprofit partners and drive even more local funding in coming years.

Who can submit a Funding Inquiry? How often?
Any 501(c)(3) remains eligible to submit a short Funding Inquiry at any time. Staff will reply within two weeks with recommended next steps. Note: a Funding Inquiry is not the same as an application for funding or a letter of intent. It is simply an entry portal for staff to understand how your idea may or may not fit and to receive a timely response. Organizations can submit several ideas at a time or throughout the year.  A Funding Inquiry is not a mandatory step before responding to an RFP or submitting to a Private Foundation

What happened to the 7 investment areas?
Each of these investment areas remains important for its contribution to the overall vibrancy and success of our community. We are still passionate about thriving people and vibrant places however we are taking a more targeted approach to create impact.

How can I apply?
Application submissions will be accepted in relationship to open Requests for Proposals or invitations to apply once issued by staff. GCF will continue to use our current online grantmaking system, Foundant (See tips about using Foundant here). We are in the process of reforming and simplifying our application. GCF’s grantmaking staff will continue to be your guides throughout our various application processes. 

How much can I apply for?
GCF’s average grant size is $40,000, which is likely to remain similar moving forward. 

How often can I submit an application?
With few exceptions, GCF will continue to invest financially in an organization one grant at a time. 

As we move forward, will I be able to meet or talk with a Program Officer to discuss my funding needs?
Yes certainly, but we will ask everyone to submit a Funding Inquiry prior to contacting Program Officers. If potential alignment with our funding priorities is evident in your Funding Inquiry, a Program Officer will reach out for a meeting when the timing is appropriate.

How can I get on GCF’s radar screen if my nonprofit is operating in one of the priority areas? I want to be sure GCF knows accurate information about my nonprofit, so we can be considered. 
As referred to above, all inquiries will be considered via a brief Funding Inquiry in Foundant, our online grantmaking system. All potential alignment will be vetted and prioritized via this electronic entry point. 

How can I stay abreast of additional new developments? Will I be contacted if there is funding available for my nonprofit’s area of interest? How can I make sure you have the right contact info for me in your system?
If you attended our Nonprofit Community Reception on June 28, 2017, you are on our nonprofit outreach list. As long as you continue to keep your Foundant profile up-to-date in our grantmaking system, we will be able to reach you for ongoing and specialized communications. GCF’s Program Officers will also be doing proactive outreach through community meetings, so be on the lookout for these in coming months. Finally, you are encouraged to proactively monitor our website and social media platforms, as all will be updated regularly with opportunities.

Your RFP schedule refers to quarters of the year. What is your fiscal year?
GCF is on a calendar year schedule: Quarter 1 is January - March, Quarter 2 is April - June, Quarter 3 is July -September, Quarter 4 is October - December.

Will you be funding operating expenses or multi-year grants? 
In limited cases, this is possible. All decisions in regards to operating and multi-year requests will be made in close partnership with your organization with GCF making the initial approach/suggestion.

What about the second year of a grant you already approved for my organization?
GCF stands by any previously made commitments. 

Are you still funding capital projects?
We will most likely be funding capital projects. It will be case-by-case depending on the investment or Request for Proposal

Are there new ways to tap into or have access to GCF’s donors that you can share?
We’re excited to serve the passions and interests of our donors and to serve as a resource to them to grow the collective resources we’re investing in the community in coming years. Donors are and will continue to be the fuel for our work. We will be testing and refining some exciting new models, including Giving Circles and a Donor Marketplace concept in the coming months to increase our investments and drive greater change in the community.

What if my organization has an emergency need? Can I call you?
This type of responsiveness to community need remains important to us. If your organization has an extreme emergency need where services related to basic human needs are interrupted, please call. If the emergent need can wait a couple of weeks, you’re asked to follow our online Funding Inquiry process. Requests deemed emergencies by GCF staff will be thoroughly considered and fast-tracked as possible. Our ability to respond will be case-by-case, though, as emergency funds are limited.

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, United Way and Interact for Health are all changing their funding priorities at the same time. What other funding sources are available to nonprofits who do not see themselves represented in these new strategies? Did the big funders talk to each other as these strategies were being developed? 
These are times of great change in the nonprofit sector, and we will continue to do our best to remain sensitive to this. Though each organization is driven by its own mission and strategic plans, we have remained in communication with other funders, as these changes have unfolded over the past months. We are committed to increasing giving in our region overall and to expand our role as a leader and convener, so we are able to connect donors with initiatives, projects, and organizations aligned with what inspires them to be philanthropic.

My organization operates in the Women’s Upward Mobility and/or All-In Cincinnati spaces. If I wasn’t consulted or included as this plan was put together, can my organization still be considered a partner?
We would love to hear about your work and to include additional partners. To be sure you are on GCF’s “radar” as an organization working in this space, submit a Funding Inquiry, and we will respond accordingly within two weeks.

I heard things are changing with your Private Foundations as well. Can you share more?
The only change with the private foundations that GCF services is your primary point of contact may change. This will be kept updated on our website, so stay tuned!

General FAQs about GCF Grants

As an exemplary steward of the community’s charitable resources since 1963, GCF awards grants to qualified nonprofit organizations in eight counties:

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

17 Frequently Asked Questions about GCF Grants


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