Grantmaking Frequently Asked Questions

We aim to keep our grantmaking clear and transparent.

Our grantmaking process is designed to streamline grant awards and deepen our focus on creating greater equity in our region. This process applies to grants awarded through GCF’s Requests for Proposals and Concentrated Investments. Funding from our donor advised funds and our grantmaking affiliates may differ from GCF’s grantmaking processes.

For detailed information on our grant programs, please refer to our Grant Guidelines.


Adison Nelson
Senior Director, Community Investments

Frequently Asked Questions About GCF Grantmaking

Is my organization eligible to apply for a grant from GCF?

We typically support organizations that are a certified tax-exempt 501(c)3 public charity, a unit of government or government agency. These organizations must be based in or benefit our eight-county service area: Hamilton, Warren, Butler and Clermont counties in Ohio, Campbell, Boone and Kenton counties in Kentucky and Dearborn County in Indiana.

How do I know if my organization’s work is aligned to any funding sources?

GCF offers a self-service alignment guide to help organizations determine their alignment to our funding sources. To better understand how your specific project is aligned with our funding opportunities, we developed a streamlined way to connect you to the right opportunity. By answering the questions in the alignment guide, you will find out which funding opportunities are a potential match for the work of your organization. Once you receive your results, you will be directed to learn more about those opportunities to determine if your project is a good fit to apply for funding. For best results, we recommend completing the guide with one project in mind.

Can my organization receive more than one grant per year from GCF?

We will always consider an organization's request through any of our grantmaking processes. However, we will most likely not fund the same program or project in multiple RFP cycles. Additionally, RFPs may specify that organizations may not receive funding two years in a row.

How can I stay in the loop regarding publication of RFPs and other changes to GCF grantmaking?

If you are interested in being notified when GCF's funding opportunities become available, please fill out our Grantmaking Outreach form to sign up for our email list. For additional questions, please reach out to

We also encourage you to monitor our website and social media platforms, which are updated regularly with ongoing work and opportunities.

Are grants funded over multiple years?

As of 2021, GCF has transitioned two of our Request for Proposals to cycles that allow awarded grantees to renew their grant award for an additional year. Applications are accepted when the cycle is open and consideration for renewal occurs at the time of the first year follow up report. Please refer to the specific RFP for which you are applying for more detail. Our concentrated investments are typically multi-year grants.

What is the typical size of grants awarded?

Grant size varies based on the funding opportunity. Our mini-grant programs, Summertime Kids and Learning Links, typically offer $1,250 grants. Regular RFP cycle grants range from $10,000 to $50,000 and the grant size is confirmed when the RFP is published. Concentrated investment grants do not tend to exceed $100,000 per year.

Can I apply for a grant from GCF for a personal need?

As a community foundation, GCF is legally restricted from funding individuals, including restrictions on scholarships and political campaigns for individual candidates.

Find out more about our available scholarships here.

Can my school apply for a grant?

Individual schools are invited to apply to our mini-grant programs, Summertime Kids and Learning Links. GCF does not make grants to individual schools for regular operating costs or capital projects.

Can anyone at GCF help me write a proposal?

GCF does not provide help in writing grant proposals. However, there are several groups that offer in-depth grant writing workshops and training for nonprofits, including the the Grants Resource Center at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, The Cincinnati Area Foundation Directory, The Foundation Center and Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations (OANO). You are welcome to reach out to a program officer for feedback after submitting your project idea through the inquiry or proposal through a RFP.

Are there limits to what type of activities you will fund?

As a community foundation, GCF is legally restricted from funding:

  • Individuals, including scholarships
  • Nonprofits that are not a (501(c)3) public charity, unless it can be clearly demonstrated that funds will be used towards public good
  • Political campaigns for individual candidates

GCF does not typically provide funding for the following purposes, entities or activities:

  • Nonprofits conducting work outside of our 8-county service area
  • Re-granting funds for scholarships
  • Production of books, films or videos
  • Programs with the sole purpose of re-granting the funds
  • Units of government or government agencies
  • Lobbying efforts
  • Religious organizations that require religious activity for participation
  • Playgrounds, sports teams or sports activities
  • Regular operating or capital projects for:
    • Individual public, private or parochial schools or universities (including student clubs, school bands, booster clubs, PTAs, etc.) outside of our small grants programs (Learning Links and Summertime Kids)
    • Hospitals
    • Nursing or retirement homes
  • Routine computer software/hardware updates
  • Vehicles
  • Endowment, capital or annual campaigns
  • Leasehold improvements
  • Debt retirement or funding of an activity after completion
  • Loans
  • Requests that are primarily travel or fees for staff development
  • “Emergencies” that don’t affect vulnerable people’s basic human needs
What if my organization has an emergency?

GCF defines a funding emergency as an immediate need for funding to avoid total stop of services of basic needs to vulnerable people. Emergency requests should be sent via email to a Program Officer and include a clear description of the need, the amount of funding required and context related to the urgency of request. Typically, emergency grants are made to standing GCF partners.

What do you look for in an organization submitting a grant proposal?

Four main characteristics that GCF looks for in an organization submitting a grant proposal are:

  • 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 do you look for in a grant proposal?

The main things that GCF looks for in a successful grant proposal are:

  • Clear alignment to GCF’s Community Impact Strategy and/or specified RFP
  • Clear demonstration of community need
  • Organizational health and readiness, including leadership and finances
  • Clear, feasible and sustainable project plan
  • Collaboration, coordination and alignment within and across nonprofit sectors
  • Support of best practices, innovation and data-driven decision making
  • Commitment to inclusion and reducing racial and ethnic disparities
  • Continuous improvement; measuring and demonstrating results and learnings
How do I apply for a grant from a donor advised fund? What about Private Foundations, the Women’s Fund and HealthPath?

Donors that have set up donor advised funds at GCF make grants to nonprofit organizations based on their own areas of interest and typically do not accept requests from nonprofit organizations. GCF is committed to connecting the nonprofit community with our donors by lifting up requests through our inquiry or RFPs that match our donor's interest.

Application detail for our grantmaking affiliates can be found on their respective websites.

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 Grants 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.

Additionally, referral to other community funders is sometimes made in response to an inquiry submission if we know of resources in the community that are aligned to the proposed work.

Can I get help with your online grants management system?

If you need help setting up a profile on Foundant, our online grants management system, we suggest reviewing these "help" documents:

If you need a contact added to an already established organization or changes made to your individual account, please email

I have a sponsorship opportunity that GCF might be interested in. How do I submit that opportunity?

Opportunities can be submitted through our sponsorship form

Have a Question?

We are here to help! Please email us at If you are interested in being notified when GCF's funding opportunities become available, please click here to sign up for our email list.