Community Foundation introduces changes to grant application process

The Kalamazoo Community Foundation is committed to continuous improvement. To us, this means learning, adjust and doing better every day. We also are committed to doing our work effectively and efficiently, which enables us to provide excellent service to the people and organizations we serve.

Over the past year we have used feedback from our grantees and research into national best practices to guide some improvements to our grantmaking process.

Increased Access

We will now accept grant requests for all community investment priorities in every grant cycle. Our four community investment priorities are:

  • Early Childhood Learning and School Readiness
  • Individuals and Families
  • Economic and Community Development
  • Youth Development

Another change that will increase grantseekers' access to funds is that our Community Investment team will now be responsible for determining the specific fund from which the grant will be awarded. In the past, many grantseekers determined for themselves the type of grant they applied for (e.g. a responsive grant or a grant from a specific Field-of-Interest Fund). Grantseeker feedback helped us recognize that they depend on us to help them understand and access the variety of resources available, and that we could serve them better by putting our knowledge to use and determining the most appropriate funding source.

Letter of Inquiry Process

Submitting a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) is now the first step in the grant process. The LOI helps our team assess a grant request's fit with our community investment priorities. It also helps us determine the most appropriate funding sources and staff contact.

LOIs may be submitted at any time. Within two weeks, our Community Investment team will review it and respond to the grantseeker with next steps.

LOIs for grant requests of $10,000 or less are accepted and reviewed on a continual basis.

For requests of more than $10,000, there are LOI submission deadlines. These deadlines will ensure grantseekers have enough time and feedback to complete their formal grant application before it is reviewed by our Community Investment Committee and Board of Trustees. For 2014, the LOI deadlines for requests above $10,000 are:

  • March 10
  • September 3
  • December 4

Click here for more information about the LOI and application process.

Reporting

In 2013, we introduced Results and Learning Forums as a new way for grantees to report on the grant they received from us. After their grant period has ended, grantees are invited to attend a forum to share –– through a short report and conversations with other nonprofits –– the impact of the funded program, what they learned, and advice they have for other nonprofits and us.

If a grantee chooses to not participate in the forum, they are asked to submit a final report online within a month of the end of their grant period.

These new processes will remain in effect through 2014. And because we continue to examine how we can improve our organizational effectiveness, we do anticipate additional changes to our processes in 2015.

If you have questions about these improvements or feedback to share, please contact Suprotik Stotz-Ghosh, vice president of Community Investment, or any member of our Community Investment team.

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