OBCF Announces Grant Deadlines, Criteria, and New Year’s Resolutions

Is your new year’s resolution to help your favorite local charity, or assist an Outer Banks nonprofit in raising funds for its programs?

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now accepting applications from nonprofits for its Community Enrichment Grants Program. Applications must be completed and submitted online through the Community Foundation’s website: www.obcf.org/grants.

The first application deadline of the year is Friday, February 5. Applications will be accepted throughout the year, with subsequent deadlines on April 29, July 29, and October 28.

“At the Community Foundation, we have made our new year’s resolutions as well,” said Lorelei Costa, the foundation’s Executive Director. “In December our board adopted a new strategic plan, and among our goals for 2016 is to award the best possible charitable grants to support the most exciting and urgent projects in the Outer Banks.”

Community Enrichment Grants are awarded on a competitive basis for projects and organizations serving Dare County, Corolla, Ocracoke, or any portion thereof. All types of charitable projects are considered, including arts and/or culture, animal welfare, children and/or youth, disaster relief and/or prevention, education, the environment, health, historic preservation and/or interpretation, and other human services.

In 2015 the Community Foundation awarded over $220,000 in grants through its Community Enrichment Program, plus another $242,000 through its donor-advised and designated funds.

“We usually award Community Enrichment Grants to purchase tangible items related to a charitable project or program,” said Ms. Costa. For example, in 2015 the Community Foundation awarded grants for sound equipment for the Lost Colony, medical equipment for the Hatteras Village Medical Center, and educational materials for OBX Go Far.

“However, another one of our strategic resolutions in 2016 is to help build the capacity of our local nonprofit sector,” said Ms. Costa. “So, in addition to funding new or special projects, we are also awarding grants to help Outer Banks groups with their long-term effectiveness, and with their program quality and sustainability.

“We haven’t changed our grants criteria; in fact, we’ve been making capacity-building grants for years, without really calling it such. We are simply trying to be more explicit in our readiness to consider funding requests for these types of critical nonprofit needs,” said Ms. Costa.

For example, in 2015 the Community Foundation awarded grants for a website upgrade for the Outer Banks Children’s Museum, and for new computers for Outer Banks Hotline. Other recent grants helped the Beach Food Pantry, Children & Youth Partnership, Interfaith Community Outreach, and Ocracoke Radio purchase and/or renovate new facility space.

For all grants, priority is given to projects and organizations that: involve or benefit a broad segment of the community; provide an innovative approach to addressing area needs; initiate new projects or programs; attract additional funding from other sources; promote an organization’s financial sustainability; promote collaboration and efficiencies amongst multiple organizations; and/or fill gaps and address urgent community needs.

“We are looking for other ways to help build nonprofit capacity as well,” continued Ms. Costa. “We will be organizing and subsidizing three nonprofit trainings in the new year, including sessions on volunteer recruitment and board governance on March 8.

“Another thing that’s new this year is that we have developed a shorter, easier application form for smaller grant requests. The goal is to save our nonprofits some time and expense in grant-writing, leaving them with more resources to accomplish their mission. However, organizations must be pre-approved before using the ‘EZ Application,’ so we ask all nonprofits to call us before starting an application.”

Any 501(c)3 organization is eligible to apply to the Community Foundation for a grant, as are other tax-exempt organizations for charitable projects that meet a public need. For more information, or to apply for a grant, please visit www.obcf.org/grants. All applicants are asked to contact Community Foundation staff before applying at 252-261-8839.