General Grant Guidelines
Who is eligible to apply for a grant?
Eligible applicants for funding include 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, Native nations, local units of government and school districts. Partnerships and networks are encouraged to apply using an eligible organization as a fiscal sponsor.
Private foundations and individuals are not eligible for grant funding.
Generally, start-up organizations are not eligible for Rotary Charities grants. Prior to applying, the applicant should have 501(c)(3) status and have been providing services for at least one year.
Applications from units of government, governmental departments, organizations, and schools must be approved by the elected body that is ultimately responsible for the grant funds and implementation.
Please refer to "General Funding Requirements" in our Grant Guidance Document.
What is Rotary Charities' service area?
Our service region covers Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau counties in Northwest Lower Michigan. Organizations located outside the five-county area may be considered for funding if their work impacts area residents, and those services can be clearly measured and/or documented.
What kind of initiatives does Rotary Charities fund?
We support initiatives that develop, strengthen or build community assets that are available to all, or make an existing asset more widely available through our Assets for Thriving Communities grant. Our Systems Change Accelerator grant supports innovations that target the root causes of complex community problems leading to a more fair, thriving, and resilient region. Seed grants fund the beginning stages of projects with the potential for broad community impact that may eventually be strong applicants for our larger grants. Take a look at our Grantees from recent years to see what we've funded.
Is there anything Rotary Charities will not fund?
Please refer to "General Funding Requirements" in our Grant Guidance Document.
No part of a grant may be used for, or applied to:
- Debt service
- Endowment funds
- Immediate short-term emergency needs of clients (for rent payment, gas money, food, etc.)
- Educational programs for individual school districts, unless they are intended to eventually serve the five-county Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District
We accept proposals from faith-based organizations that have clearly demonstrated public benefit. Proposals will not be considered for any religious programs or services that:
- Require a person to hold or accept a particular religious belief, doctrine, or creed as a condition to receive services
- Primarily address spiritual needs
- Have evangelism as the primary purpose of the program and do not respect the diversity of religious and spiritual beliefs of all individuals
Consider your request in the context of our Grant Criteria, which guide our grantmaking decisions.
Are organizations able to submit more than one application in one funding cycle?
Direct applicants may not submit more than one application in one category during the same grant cycle. Organizations serving as a fiscal sponsor may be able to submit more than one application for different initiatives with approval.
Are organizations with an active grant able to apply for another grant in the same category?
It is allowable to have active grants in one of the biannual categories – Assets for Thriving Communities or Systems Change Accelerator – concurrent with a grant in one of the monthly categories – Seed Grants and Learning Fund. Current grants must be closed in order to apply for a new grant in the same category.
What is the responsibility of a fiscal sponsor? Do I need one in order to apply for a grant?
We use the term Fiscal Sponsor to describe the organization that manages grant dollars for an initiative. We like to provide grants to partnerships and networks; however, these must be managed through a fiscal sponsor. Fiscal sponsors must meet all eligibility requirements and will have reporting responsibilities, including a final report and budget. Fiscal sponsors are encouraged to create and submit an MOU or other official agreements with project partners. More information about fiscal sponsorships is available here.
Where can we find other funding for our initiative?
Check out our list of other regional funding opportunities.
Application and Grant Review Process
When are grant applications accepted?
Applications for our Assets for Thriving Communities and Systems Change Accelerator grant programs are open twice a year, due in March and September. Applications for Seed Grants are accepted on a monthly basis. Applications for the Learning Fund are accepted on an ongoing basis. Learn more about each of our grant categories.
How should I prepare to apply for a Rotary Charities grant?
Begin by reviewing the grant criteria and requirements. Reach out to our staff to schedule a pre-grant meeting to discuss your proposal. Come prepared to discuss the following:
By the time of your grant application, will your proposal:
- include evidence that shows community need for the project?
- include input from constituents on project design?
- describe how your initiative will be broadly accessible to the community and how you have considered barriers to access?
- have acquired any required governmental approval (zoning, permitting, etc)?
- include detail on how requested funds will be shared among project partners, if applicable (required for Systems Change Accelerator)?
- include an in-kind or cash match (secured or pending) for at least 50% of the total project cost (Assets for Thriving Communities) or 10% of the total (Systems Change Accelerator)?
How do I apply for a grant?
Before you begin the application, schedule a pre-grant meeting with our staff to discuss your initiative.
Grant applications must be submitted electronically via Survey Monkey Apply. Here’s a step-by-step guide for getting started in SMA.
You can find a list of the documents you must attach to your application on page 6 of our grant guidance document.
You can preview questions for each application below:
Systems Change Accelerator Grant Application Questions
Assets for Thriving Communities Grant Application Questions
Seed Grant Grant Application Questions
What is the review process for Assets for Thriving Communities and Systems Change Accelerator grant applications?
After an Assets for Thriving Communities or Systems Change Accelerator grant application is submitted, it is first reviewed by two members of the Rotary Charities staff and scored based on the criteria in Appendix 1 of the grant guidance document. After staff review, the full application and a summary of the staff review are reviewed by two members of the Rotary Charities board of trustees and two Rotarian volunteer reviewers. After the reviews are completed, a list of questions (if any) will be compiled and the applicant can respond in writing or at the review meeting. A review meeting with the review team and the applicant will occur via Zoom. After the Zoom meeting, the review team will debrief and decide on a recommendation to be considered by the board. The Rotary Charities board of trustees will make funding decisions at their June (Spring applications) or December (Fall applications) meeting.
What is the review process for Seed grant applications?
After a Seed grant application is submitted, it is reviewed by two members of the Rotary Charities staff and scored based on the criteria in Appendix 1 of the grant guidance document. A list of questions (if any) will be compiled and the applicant can respond in writing. For requests less than or equal to $10,000, a written summary of the staff review and a funding recommendation will be included in the board packet to be considered for funding at their monthly meeting. For requests greater than or equal to $10,000, the full application, written summary of the staff review, and a funding recommendation will be included in the board packet to be considered for funding at their monthly meeting.
What is the review process for the Learning Fund?
After a request for funding from the Learning Fund is submitted, it is reviewed by our staff to determine the eligibility of the applicant and the learning experience and alignment with the purpose of the Learning Fund. Learning Fund requests are accepted throughout the year on an ongoing basis. Applicants receive notification of approval or denial within two weeks.
How are applications evaluated?
Assets for Thriving Communities and Systems Change Accelerator grants are reviewed and scored by staff, board, and Rotarian volunteers. Seed grants are reviewed and scored by staff. Final decisions to fund are made by the Rotary Charities board of trustees. We use our 6 guiding principles as criteria, and application questions have been designed to elicit responses to the bullets under each criterion. Responses are scored on a scale of 1 to 5 using the following scale: 1=Does Not Meet Criteria, 2=Mostly Does Not Meet Criteria, 3=Somewhat Meets Criteria, 4=Mostly Meets Criteria, 5= Meets or Exceeds Criteria.
What support or resources are offered to grant applicants?
Our support begins even before you submit your application! The process begins with a “pre-grant meeting” where you’ll discuss your initiative with our staff to ensure you’re ready to apply. We're here to support you throughout the application process, during your grant period, and beyond.
Additionally, we offer several programs to help changemakers build capacity and learn. Check out the Capacity Advisory Pool, cess to a talented group of consultants through our Capacity Advisory Pool, the Learning Fund, Leadership Coaching, and Leadership Learning Lab.
Systems Change grantees can access additional support from our Community of Practice and Systems Change Coaching.
Who should I contact with questions?
We’re available for questions throughout the application process.
For questions about:
Assets for Thriving Communities grants, contact Kristin Hettich
Systems Change Accelerator grants, contact Freya Bradford
Survey Monkey Apply troubleshooting, contact Kendra Luta