What We Fund
The Community Foundation’s guidelines state that it generally will not fund regular “operating expenses” through the Community Enrichment Grants program. How does the Community Foundation define “operating expenses”?
Regular operating expenses include:
- Rent, utilities, insurance, regular office supplies, ongoing maintenance, and other recurring overhead expenses.
- Employee benefits.
- Fundraising, administrative, and management costs.
Keep in mind that although our Community Enrichment Grants will not typically cover operating expenses, any unrestricted grant from any of our donor-advised funds may do so.
Can a Community Enrichment Grant cover staff wages?
Yes, as of June 2018 our grants criteria have expanded, and we are now awarding Community Enrichment Grants for program staff wages. In other words, Community Enrichment Grants can now include funds for paying your staff to implement the programs and services that fulfill your organization’s charitable mission. For example, your program staff might be tutoring kids, caring for animals, planting trees, teaching art classes, or assisting clients in need. If it’s an activity that directly fulfills your charitable mission, then that time may be eligible for a Community Enrichment Grant.
Our Community Enrichment Grants cannot, however, cover wages for management and/or fundraising for the general organization. In other words, Community Enrichment Grants will not be awarded for staff time spent on soliciting donations, writing grants, supervising personnel, organizing fundraisers, budgeting or accounting, keeping records, or managing/governing your nonprofit. While these functions are critical to the success of your organization, they do not directly fulfill your organization’s mission and are therefore ineligible for a Community Enrichment Grant.
All of our Community Enrichment Grants are paid on a reimbursement basis. Reimbursement for wages will be based on actual hours worked, and will be paid upon our receipt of signed timesheets from your organization that show the hours and dates worked, the hourly wage rate, and the tasks and outputs accomplished. If your organization does not already have a timesheet template, you may download our timesheet template here. (The template is an Excel file that includes both a blank template and, on another sheet, an example of a completed timesheet from a made-up nonprofit.)
Please note that our grants will cover wages plus Social Security and Medicare taxes, but not state unemployment tax, fringe benefits, or overhead.
How will the Community Foundation prioritize grant requests that include staff wages?
The demand for grants for staff wages has been high, making this a competitive grant. Investing in an organization’s staff is an investment in the very marrow of an organization; thus, we are scrutinizing applicants’ financials carefully, and looking for strong nonprofits that are well-managed and follow best practices in all aspects of their business and programs.
Also, we are looking for opportunities where our grant would make a transformative difference for that nonprofit and/or its mission, as opposed to just being a “drop in the bucket.”
Most of all, we’ll be prioritizing applications against our official criteria, giving priority to projects and organizations that: involve or benefit a broad segment of our community; provide an innovative approach to addressing area needs; either initiate new projects or programs to influence beneficial change, or fill gaps, or address urgent community needs; attract additional funding from other sources; promote an organization’s financial sustainability; and/or promote collaboration and efficiencies amongst multiple organizations.
Finally, because our grants are only for a 12-month period (or less), we are asking applicants the very important question of how they intend to sustain their staff after our grant period expires.
Some of our staff divide their time between fundraising, management, and program work. Are their wages eligible for a Community Enrichment Grant?
Yes, but only the portion of their time that was spent on program work. See the above regarding program definitions and timesheet requirements.
I’ve never written a grant for staff wages before. Do you have an example of how it might work?
To give you some ideas, we’ve written a couple silly examples of make-believe nonprofits that are submitting grants for staff wages. Click here to read more.
Will the Community Foundation make Community Enrichment Grants to cover marketing expenses?
We consider regular, ongoing organizational marketing costs (e.g., website maintenance, newsletter, annual report) to be a regular operating expense, which is typically not funded through our Community Enrichment Grants program. However, our Community Enrichment Grants can cover new marketing initiatives (e.g., a new or redesigned website, a new brochure), including new marketing initiatives for a new organization or a new project.
Will the Community Foundation make grants for capital expenses?
Yes. The Community Foundation has awarded Community Enrichment Grants in the past for assets like phone systems, computer hardware, furniture, buildings, land, and vehicles, if those assets are necessary to fulfill an organization’s charitable mission. However, we will generally not award grants for capital improvements to a building, piece of land, or other asset that the organization does not own.
Will the Community Foundation fund the direct costs of an on-going, established program?
Yes, particularly programs that either fill a gap, or otherwise meet a critical community need. This is a slight addition to our traditional focus: in the past, the Community Foundation has usually prioritized its role as an incubator for new projects, helping to launch new organizations and programs. Today, as our community has changed, and as our local charitable sector has grown, we recognize that many of today’s needs are being met by established programs that also need our support. Thus, in addition to a continued emphasis on initiating new projects, we are also giving priority to on-going, vital programs if they are meeting a critical need or filling an important gap in services.
What are Capacity-Building Grants, and how do they work?
Capacity-Building Grants are awards that intend to enhance a nonprofit’s long-term effectiveness, financial stability, and/or program quality — i.e., its ability to meet its mission and augment its programs. These are not grants for regular operating costs; rather, they are one-time investments in some sort of infrastructure, equipment, or service that will help a nonprofit attain a higher level of efficiency or sustainability. In the past, our Capacity-Building Grants have assisted nonprofits with phone systems, computers, strategic planning facilitators, new websites, and new facility/office space.
What are Program Scholarship Grants, and how do they work?
In addition to Project Grants and Capacity-Building Grants, we periodically fund Program Scholarship Grants, which are grants to nonprofits to enable those organizations to offer program scholarships (i.e., program fee subsidies) to individuals or families with financial or other challenges. The scholarships/subsidies should offset or reduce the fees that the participant would normally pay to enroll in an enrichment program, such as a day camp, educational offering, and/or after-school program.
The goal of a Program Scholarship Grant is to enable a nonprofit to provide life-enriching opportunities to eligible members of the community who would otherwise not be able to participate. Thus, to qualify for a Program Scholarship Grant, your nonprofit must have a process for verifying the financial (or other) need of your scholarship applicants, and your organization must demonstrate a commitment for serving individuals with need, and publicizing your program to those individuals and families. If you are applying for a Program Scholarship Grant, we recommend that you address these points in your application narrative.
Payment of Program Scholarship Grants differs from our other grants; for these grants, invoices and receipts from third-party vendors are not required. Instead, reimbursement is based on the number of participants in your program (full-fee and subsidized), the normal program fees that you charge, and the number and amount of program scholarships that you provided.
My organization was awarded a grant from the Community Foundation within the past 12 months. Can I reapply for a new grant?
Unless special circumstances apply, the Outer Banks Community Foundation generally will not consider new Community Enrichment Grants to organizations that have a current, outstanding Community Enrichment Grant with us. If your organization was awarded a Community Enrichment Grant in the last 12 months and fully closed the grant (i.e., requested and received all payments, and completed a final grant report), you may apply again, but priority may be given to qualified organizations that have not been awarded a grant in the past 12 months. In addition, your application may be deferred until a year has passed since your last award. Please note that we count the 12 months starting from your award date, not the date of last payment. Also please note that any Donor-Advised Grants you receive will not affect your eligibility for a Community Enrichment Grant.
How much should I request from the Community Foundation?
The amount of your grant request should depend entirely on the financial need of your particular project or program. The Community Foundation often awards partial funding, and sometimes awards more if the need exists. We have also occasionally awarded multi-year grants. To get a better sense for our typical award amounts, you may wish to peruse the list of recent Community Enrichment Grant awards on this website.
How should we calculate the hourly rate for salaried employees?
For all full-time salaried employees, calculate the hourly rate by taking the annual salary and dividing by 52 (weeks per year) and again by 40 (hours per week). For example, a full-time employee whose annual salary is $50,000 has an hourly rate of $24.04 ($50,000 divided by 52 divided by 40). Use this formula even if your organization’s official full-time work week is more or less than 40 hours, and even if you offer paid time off.
For any salaried employees who are part-time and/or seasonal, adjust the above formula by the number of hours per week and/or days/weeks per year that the employee is expected to work.
For non-salaried employees who are paid by the hour, use their actual hourly rate.
Can we include payroll taxes, paid time off, medical/dental insurance, retirement, or other payroll costs in our request?
Social Security and Medicare taxes will be automatically included in your request to the Community Foundation. Those taxes, respectively, are 6.2% and 1.45% of wages, for a total addition of 7.65% to your wage rate.
Other than Social Security and Medicare, however, we unfortunately do not have the resources to underwrite our grantees’ other payroll costs. Therefore please do not include state unemployment tax, retirement benefits, insurance, paid time off, or other benefits in the amount you request from the Community Foundation. If you have another funding source that will cover your other payroll costs, you can certainly show that as part of your match within your project budget.
For some of our other grants (e.g., government grants), our organization adds a percentage to our hourly rate to cover our organization’s overhead. Can we use that strategy for our Community Enrichment Grant?
Unfortunately the Community Foundation does not yet have the financial resources to underwrite our grantees’ overhead costs. Therefore, your overhead expenses (e.g., rent, utilities, office supplies, administrative costs, fringe benefits) will not be covered by a Community Enrichment Grant. However, if you have another funding source that will cover your overhead, you can certainly show that as part of your match within your project budget.
Is it important to seek matching funds for my project?
Yes. The Community Foundation will prioritize projects that show other sources of funding (i.e., matching funds). This will lend additional credibility to your request, and it shows us that your organization — and the larger community — is committed to your project. If your project will have ongoing costs, we particularly want to see how your organization plans to sustain that project in the future. Unfortunately the Community Foundation cannot support all of the important projects in our community, so we often prefer to award seed grants that will eventually inspire other donors to contribute.
Can we show in-kind contributions as a matching contribution in our grant application budget?
Yes. If, for example, a business donated art supplies that you needed for your project, you can show the fair market value of those donated goods in your project budget as a matching contribution.
Can we show volunteer time as a matching contribution in our grant application budget?
We ask that you do not. Certainly your volunteers are extremely valuable to your organization; indeed, every nonprofit benefits from enormous — practically countless — donations of volunteer labor. Because of that ubiquity, and also because of a lack of universal standards on how to value volunteer labor in terms of dollars, we do not count volunteer time as a match in a grant application budget.
Part of my grant budget includes wages, consulting fees, and/or honoraria for one of my board members, and/or the spouse or family member of a board member. Can a Community Enrichment Grant include payment to one of my organization’s board members, or a family member thereof?
Consulting fees, wages, and honoraria paid to board members are not eligible for reimbursement from the Community Foundation. We would instead encourage you to invite your board members to donate their time as part of their contribution to your organization. However, if your board member purchased something on behalf of your organization, and your organization reimbursed him/her, that is eligible for payment from a Community Enrichment Grant.
If your organization hires a spouse or immediate family member of one of your board members, that will raise flags with the Community Foundation, and probably with your other potential supporters as well, due to the potential conflict of interest. That said, we understand that in very small communities such as ours, there may only be one person in your area with the ability to offer certain services. If your organization chooses to pay a spouse or immediate family member of one of your board members, we may ask to see your conflict of interest policy, competing bids from other potential vendors, and/or board meeting minutes that show how your organization handled the conflict of interest.
Will I need to create an account in your system in order to apply for a grant?
We updated our application system in 2013, so if your organization has not applied to us since then, you will probably need to create a new account for your organization. If your organization has applied to us since 2013, we urge you to use that existing account for your new application, rather than open a new account. That way, you can reread any old applications and final reports in the system, and you don’t have to re-upload your bylaws or 501c3 letter.
If you do set up a new account, we strongly recommend that you use an email address associated with your organization, rather than a personal/home email address, so that your application can be accessed later by other folks in your nonprofit. With that in mind, we also recommend that you use a password for the account that you don’t use for your personal affairs. Make sure to share the email address and password with others in your organization so that the information doesn’t get lost. This is critical to ensure that the people who come after you are able to read all of the applications and final reports that your organization submits.
Do you have any other advice for using your online application?
Yes. First, use an efficient laptop or desktop with updated software, and make sure you have a reliable internet connection. We don’t recommend using a mobile device to apply. Because it is an online form, you will need some basic computer skills in order to use the system efficiently. For example, you will need to be able to upload some organizational documents into the form. If your computer skills are not strong, you may want to ask a computer-savvy colleague to work with you to complete the form.
We also recommend that you type your answers into a word processing system first, and copy and paste your final text into the online form, rather than composing your narrative in the online form. That way you can utilize spellcheck, and you won’t lose your work if your internet connection is lost.
I’m having technical difficulties with the online application. How do I get help?
We apologize for the inconvenience. If your difficulties are possibly because of a discomfort or unfamiliarity with online forms or uploading documents, you may find it easiest to get help from someone who’s looking at your computer screen with you. Therefore, we first suggest that you work with a computer-savvy colleague if your troubles are due to inexperience with online forms. If your difficulties are due to an error or malfunction of the system, please email our Grants Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 252-261-8839.
Should I attach brochures, newspaper articles, or other pieces of information to my proposal?
If you have additional items that you think will strengthen your proposal, you may attach up to four additional documents to the application. Please do not send attachments by email.
My organization is part of a larger “umbrella” nonprofit organization or governmental agency. Should I attach financial and other information from my local entity, or from my umbrella organization?
If your organization is a local office, chapter, project, etc. of a larger entity, try to include as much information as possible from your local entity. This includes your local budget, your local board list, and your local revenue/expense statement. If these are not available for your local entity, it is perfectly acceptable to attach the information from the larger entity. Some attachments (e.g., your 990) are probably only available for your larger entity.
Do I need to submit our 501c3 letter and bylaws with each grant request?
No. Once you create a username and password for your organization, the basic information from your application will be saved in your profile. The next time you apply for a grant or submit a final report, you will be given the option to review and update those attachments if necessary (for example, if your board amended your bylaws). However, you DO need to attach your current board list, 990, organizational budget, project budget, revenue/expense statement, and balance sheet to each and every proposal you submit, as those documents usually change on a regular basis. Please also note that we are no longer accepting articles of incorporation in place of bylaws.
My organization is small and/or new, and we don’t have an organizational budget, balance sheet, and/or revenue/expense statement. What should we do?
We understand that in our community, some of the most important charitable work is being done by small and/or all-volunteer groups. We encourage nonprofits of all sizes to use an organizational budget and maintain financial records to help make best use of precious resources. This will also demonstrate to potential donors that your organization is well-run and will make good use of their funds.
There are seemingly infinite resources on the internet to help you learn the basics of nonprofit financial management. We also recommend the nonprofit classes offered by the NC Center for Nonprofits, Duke University’s Nonprofit Management Program, and the Tidewater Community College’s Academy for Nonprofit Excellence. Many of these classes are offered as webinars and self-paced online courses.
If your organization does not already have a budget, you may download our Budget Template, enter your anticipated revenues and expenses for one fiscal year, and upload the completed form into your application.
In place of a balance sheet and/or revenue/expense statement, you may attach your organization’s most recent audit, 990, or 990-EZ–but ONLY if those documents are less than 12 months old. We cannot accept a 990-N receipt in place of these statements.
If your organization truly cannot provide one of the required financial statements, you may upload instead a letter from your CEO explaining why these statements are not available, and your organization’s plans for managing its funds in the future.
What should I do if my organization does not complete a full 990?
We accept both the full 990 and the 990-EZ form. If your organization’s annual gross receipts are less than $50,000, and your organization chooses to file a 990-N (e-postcard) in place of a regular 990 or 990-EZ, you may upload the receipt you receive from the IRS for your 990-N, in place of a regular 990 form.
Should I attach letters of support for my project?
If your project is a collaboration with other entities, letters of support from your partners may strengthen your proposal. We always ask nonprofits to submit letters of support from the school system for projects involving the schools.
Is there a preferred file format for attachments?
Yes, we strongly prefer print-ready PDF documents for all attachments, particularly in place of Excel spreadsheets.
Who reviews grant applications, and how are the awards decided?
After a review by our staff, our grants committee discusses all Community Enrichment Grant applications in depth and makes funding recommendations to the full board. All final funding decisions are made by the entire board.
If the board or grants committee has questions about the project, will I be given a chance to answer them?
If we have any questions about your project, a staff member will contact your organization to ask for clarification.
May I make a presentation to the grants committee or full board about my project?
We usually do not ask applicants to make presentations to our grants committee or full board. However, our staff may contact you to set up a meeting or site visit.
May I contact Community Foundation board members to discuss my grant proposal?
We ask that you do not. This is to ensure that our board has the opportunity to make fair, impartial, and merit-based grant decisions, irrespective of relationships they may have in the community. We ask that you limit your communications about your project to the Community Foundation staff, as our staff members do not vote on grant requests.
How do I find out if my grant request was approved?
Our board usually meets in early March, June, September, and December, and approves grants at that time. Our staff will contact you soon after the meeting. There is no need to contact us; we’ll call you as soon as we have a decision.
After a Grant Award
How and when are payments made for approved grants?
Our usual procedure is to reimburse your organization for the incurred expenses that you described in your proposed budget. Your organization must submit a request for payment, including third-party documentation to substantiate your expenses; this normally includes invoices, receipts, and statements from your vendors. If your grant included staff wages, you must submit signed timesheets as your documentation. Our staff will review these materials, and send your organization a check for the exact funds that were spent, up to the amount of the grant that was approved. We make grant payments once every two weeks. Please note that you normally do NOT have to provide us with copies of cancelled checks in order to receive grant payment.
My organization was awarded a grant that included money for program staff salaries. What information do we need to include on our timesheets, and what level of detail do you require?
Your timesheets must show the hours and dates worked, the hourly wage rate, and the tasks and outputs accomplished. Your timesheets must also be signed by the employee’s supervisor and/or your executive director or other chief executive officer. Click here for our timesheet template, which is an Excel document that includes an example of a completed timesheet with the level of detail we require. As for level of detail, we certainly don’t want an enumeration of every phone call made each day, yet we do want to see the major tasks and outputs that were accomplished (e.g., organized and held three stakeholder meetings; designed and mailed informational booklets to 1,000 households).
My organization got a staff salary grant, but we already use timesheets. Can we just submit the ones we’re already using, or do we have to use your template?
We don’t want to create more paperwork for you, so if you’re already using a timesheet, you can certainly submit that, as long as it includes the hours and dates worked, the hourly rate, the tasks and outputs accomplished, and the signature of the employee’s supervisor, executive director, or other chief executive officer.
We received a Community Enrichment Grant, which included some money for staff wages. One staff person received a raise/bonus/commission during our grant period. Can we include the commission/bonus/higher wage rate in our grant reimbursement request?
No. We award our grants for a specific dollar amount, with the anticipation of specific outputs over that time period for that grant amount. Even if your wage rate increases over the course of the grant period, we cannot increase our award amount unless your organization applies for an additional grant.
We received a Community Enrichment Grant, which included some funds for staff wages. However, we worked a different number of hours than what we proposed in our budget. What now?
We will reimburse your organization for the actual number of hours worked, up to the amount in your grant budget for staff wages. Perhaps you budgeted for 100 hours toward a project, but it only took 90 hours. We will reimburse your organization for the 90 hours worked.
Perhaps you budgeted for 100 hours toward a project, and it wound up taking 110 hours. Unfortunately, we still can only reimburse your nonprofit for the 100 hours. This is because we award our grants for a set dollar amount, and we cannot increase our award amount unless your organization applies for an additional grant award.
We received a Community Enrichment Grant, which included some funds for staff wages. One employee is nonexempt and was occasionally paid time-and-a-half for working overtime. Are those overtime wages eligible for reimbursement?
We will reimburse your organization for actual number of hours worked, even if that number is more than 40 hours per week, up to the amount in your grant budget for staff wages. That said, we can only reimburse your organization at the hourly rate you submitted in your proposal. This is because we award our grants for a set dollar amount. Even if your staff wages were higher because you had to pay time-and-a-half, we cannot increase our award amount unless your organization applies for an additional grant award.
My organization received a Community Enrichment Grant to provide direct financial assistance to people and families in need. How do we provide third-party documentation for these expenses?
If your grant included financial assistance to individuals or households, please contact us for instructions. For reimbursement, you may be able to provide a list of clients (with identifying information withheld) to us in lieu of third-party documentation. In this case, we may also ask for copies of checks you wrote.
If the funds are needed in advance, is it possible for the grant award to be paid early?
Possibly. If your organization has an extraordinary circumstance, the Community Foundation may be able to make payment in advance. We urge you to explain this need in your grant application. Documentation of expenses paid with grant funds will be required.
Is my organization required to publicize our Community Enrichment Grant award?
Yes. In fact, in the grant application, we ask for your plans for publicizing the grant, and then ask for your pledge to do so. This publicity will allow us to tell our donors how their gifts are being used. We also hope this brings positive publicity to your organization. Your publicity can include (but is not limited to) a photo and/or press release to the newspapers, a photo and announcement on your website or Facebook page, recognition in any printed materials related to your grant project (such as a book, concert program, or playbill), a sign or plaque if applicable, and/or oral recognition at related events.
The Community Foundation may also publicize your grant through our own print or online publications, and we urge you to send us high-resolution photographs related to your grant for those purposes. However, any publicity we do at the Community Foundation does not replace the publicity that your organization is asked to do.
Members of our staff and/or board are available for photographs or other recognition opportunities. Please contact the Community Foundation office to make arrangements.
What about a final report?
Following your final grant payment, we will ask you to complete our online Grant Final Report Form. This brief form will ask you about your success in achieving your project goals and the impact you made in our community. We will also ask you to report on your publicity efforts. Please submit this report at the completion of your project, or after your one-year grant period, or whenever you have good information to share about the impact of your grant. There is no set deadline; however, unless special circumstances apply, we will usually require your organization to complete a final grant report before your organization can be considered for another Community Enrichment Grant from us.
What are your top three tips to grant applicants?
1. Call the Community Foundation staff before you start writing your proposal. After learning more about your project, we can offer you specific advice on how to strengthen your particular proposal. We recommend that you contact staff at least one week before the grant application deadline.
2. Read our grants criteria carefully, and identify which criteria are addressed by your project. (For example: Is your project innovative? Does it address an urgent community need? Will it involve a broad segment of our population?) Highlight those criteria in your narrative, and be as specific as you can, particularly about how your project will benefit our community, and how many people will benefit.
3. Draft your narrative in Word or another word processing program, and then copy and paste your text into the online application form. That way, you can easily check your spelling and grammar in your word processing program, and you’ll have a copy of your work if your internet connection is lost. Make sure you are working on an updated computer with a good internet connection.
How do we give you feedback?
The Community Foundation invites your feedback on our grants program. We welcome comments from any nonprofit in any stage of the grants process; whether you have received a grant, just applied for a grant, been declined, or are even just considering applying, we want to hear from you. To submit your feedback anonymously, please use our online questionnaire. Your comments, concerns, praise, and criticism will help us become a better grant-maker for our community. This survey will be open indefinitely, and you can respond multiple times, now and/or in the future. If you would rather give us feedback directly, please call our staff any time at 252-261-8839.
Is your question not answered here? Please contact us; we are happy to help!