Grantmaking Process

For Nonprofits and Grant Seekers:

Last year, the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin awarded more than $1.6 million in grants throughout our nine-county service area.

Our grantmaking covers a wide range of focus areas including education, community development, economic development, health and human services, arts and culture, the environment, animal welfare, public safety and more.

Grants are offered to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. The Community Foundation cannot award grants to individuals.

Many of the grants awarded by the Community Foundation are from Donor Advised Funds established to serve the charitable wishes of the donors. Other non-competitive grants are offered through designated and organizational funds. The CFSW’s Community Funds, Excellence in Education Funds, and some additional funds award grants through a competitive grant process.

Types of Grants:

Competitive Grants
The Community Foundation manages approximately 35 competitive grant programs. Most grant programs accept applications once a year. Each grant cycle is a process spanning several months. During the first phase of the grant cycle, the Foundation requests funding proposals from nonprofits, sometimes in broad focus areas and other times within very specific fields, such as the arts. Proposals are then evaluated by staff and board members. Grants awards are announced approximately six weeks to two months after the grant deadline.

Select your county from the drop-down box at right to see what grant opportunities are available.

Preparing to Apply for a Competitive Grant

Grant applicants are encouraged to start gathering information for the next grant cycle long before the grant deadline.  Below is a list of items that you will need in order to complete the grant application for some of our most popular competitive funds—the Community Enhancement Fund, DUWI Fund, Marion J. & Robert C. Lietz Fund, Rock County Agricultural Fund, and all CFSW community funds:

  • Organization’s Federal ID number
  • Copy of organization’s 990 for the most recent year.
  • Copy of organization’s actual income and expense statements for current fiscal year.
  • Background information on the applicant organization including date established, number of full-time employees, number of regular volunteers, description of mission, population served and principal geographic area.
  • Fiscal information on the applicant organization including dates of fiscal year, amount of endowment or reserve funds, total operating expenses for past fiscal year, and current year budget.
  • Your board’s approval of the project request
  • Your board’s approval of an equal opportunity employment policy for your organization
  • Detailed project budget
  • Full description of the project including identification of the problem or need that the project addresses, the project goals, the audience served, the geographical location served, and other sources of support.

Advised and Non-Competitive Grants
Many grants made through the Community Foundation are made at the recommendation of the donors whose gifts established the fund from which the grant is drawn. Designated funds and nonprofit endowments, created to benefit a specific nonprofit organization, pay out non-competitive grants to the designated organization each year.