Frequently Asked Questions about Grantmaking at GCF

Greater Cincinnati Foundation answers your frequently asked questions about our grantmaking process.

Frequently Asked Questions about GCF's Grant Process

In hopes of clarity surrounding grantmaking through the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and our partners, we have answered some frequently asked questions about what we fund, how we partner and what we care about. Find out more about Grants at GCF.

GCF's Community Impact Strategy has been developed to streamline the process for awarding grants and deepen our focus on creating greater equity in our region. This strategy applies to grants directly managed by GCF, including our targeted Requests for Proposals. The grant process for donor advised funds, private foundations, the Women's Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, and the HealthPath Foundation of Ohio remain unique to those processes.

As the community foundation of the Greater Cincinnati region, we award grants to qualified nonprofit organizations doing work in eight counties:

  • Ohio: Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren
  • Kentucky: Boone, Campbell and Kenton
  • Indiana: Dearborn

20 Frequently Asked Questions About GCF Grantmaking:

Is my organization eligible to apply for a grant from GCF?
We make grants to tax-exempt agencies classified as 501(c)(3) organizations, which are public charities as defined by the Internal Revenue Service. The projects we consider for support are located in or serve one or more of the eight counties listed above. 

How do I know if my organization’s work is aligned to any funding sources? Can I meet with program staff to discuss my funding needs?
GCF offers a centralized entry point to help organizations determine their alignment to our funding sources called the Funding Inquiry. This simple form is intended to provide nonprofits an outlet for clear and comprehensive guidance from GCF staff on potential support -- monetary and non-monetary -- within GCF and beyond.

Program Officers are available to meet one on one to further discuss submissions through the Funding Inquiry resource or grant applications.

My organization cares about housing stability and economic mobility too. How can I start a conversation with GCF about partnership?
Generally, we proactively seek out key partners for our concentrated investments in housing stability and economic mobility, working with them to determine the best impact for the community. If you would like to have your work considered, please submit your idea through our Funding Inquiry form.

Can my organization receive more than one grant per year from GCF?
In short, yes. However, to diversify our pool of grantees and ensure that resources are shared across the region, priority will be given via our RFP cycles to organizations who have not received funding through another RFP in the past 12 months. Additionally, RFPs may specify that organizations may not receive funding two years in a row.

Your RFP schedule refers to quarters of the year. What is your fiscal year?
GCF is on a calendar year schedule: Quarter 1 is January – March, Quarter 2 is April – June, Quarter 3 is July – September and Quarter 4 is October – December.

How can I stay in the loop regarding publication of RFPs and other changes to GCF grantmaking?
If you’d like to join our email list for updates on our grantmaking, please email with your contact information. You are also encouraged to monitor our website and social media platforms, as all will be updated regularly with ongoing work and opportunities.

Are grants funded over multiple years?

GCF typically funds organizations one year at a time through our responsive grantmaking. In our community leadership grantmaking, GCF will consider requests for multi-year investments when the community impact is dramatically increased with continued support. Please refer to the specific RFP for which you are applying for more detail.
What is the typical size of grants awarded?
Grant size varies greatly based on the funding opportunity. Our mini-grant programs, Summertime Kids and Learning Links, offer $1,000 grants. Regular RFP cycle grants range from $10,000 to $40,000. Concentrated investment grants are typically larger.

For information regarding grant size as it relates to specific RFPs, please refer to the published RFP documents as they are released.

Can I apply for a grant from GCF for a personal need?

As a community foundation, GCF is legally restricted from funding individuals, including restrictions on scholarships and political campaigns for individual candidates.
Find out more about our available scholarships here.

Can my school apply for a grant?
Individual schools are invited to apply to specific RFP processes designed specifically for the engagement of kids in and out of school: Summertime Kids and Learning Links. GCF does not make grants to individual schools for regular operating costs or capital projects.

Can anyone at GCF help me write a proposal?
GCF does not provide help in writing grant proposals. However, there are several groups that offer in-depth grant writing workshops and training for nonprofits, including the The Grants Resource Center at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, The Cincinnati Area Foundation Directory, The Foundation Center and Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations (OANO).

Are there limits to what type of activities you will fund?
As a community foundation, GCF is legally restricted from funding:

  • Individuals, including scholarships

  • Nonprofits (501(c)-) other than charities (501(c)3) unless it can be clearly demonstrated that funds will be used towards public good

  • Political campaigns for individual candidates

GCF does not typically provide funding for the following purposes, entities or activities:

  • Nonprofits based in our eight counties, but efforts taking place outside of our service area
  • Event or conference sponsorship or underwriting
  • Production of books, films or videos
  • Programs with the sole purpose of re-granting the funds
  • Units of government or government agencies
  • Lobbying efforts
  • Religious organizations that require religious activity for participation
  • Playgrounds, sports teams or sports activities
  • Regular operating or capital projects for:
    • Individual public, private or parochial schools or universities (including student clubs, school bands, booster clubs, PTAs, etc.) outside of our small grants programs (Learning Links and Summertime Kids)
    • Hospitals
    • Nursing or retirement homes
  • Routine computer software/hardware updates
  • Vehicles
  • Endowment, capital or annual campaigns
  • Leasehold improvements
  • Debt retirement or funding of an activity after completion
  • Loans
  • Travel or fees for staff development
  • “Emergencies” that don’t affect vulnerable people’s basic human needs

What if my organization has an emergency?
GCF defines a funding emergency as an immediate need for funding to avoid total stop of services of basic needs to vulnerable people. Emergency requests should be sent via email to a Program Manager or Officer and include a clear depiction of the need, the amount of funding required and context related to the urgency of request. Typically, emergency grants are made to standing GCF partners.

What do you look for in an organization submitting a grant proposal?
Four main characteristics that GCF looks for in an organization submitting a grant proposal are:

  • Established and fiscally sound organization. To a limited extent, GCF may consider requests for start-up funding. Groups requesting funding for a new organization must clearly define the need for a new organization and must present a sound business plan that explains how the organization will sustain itself
  • Strong governance
  • Demonstrated organizational capacity and track record
  • Sound short-term and long-range plans

What do you look for in a grant proposal?
The main things that GCF looks for in a successful grant proposal are:

  • Clear alignment to GCF’s Community Impact Strategy and/or specified RFP
  • Clear demonstration of community need
  • Organizational health and readiness, including leadership and finances
  • Clear, feasible and sustainable project plan
  • Collaboration, coordination and alignment within and across nonprofit sectors
  • Support of best practices, innovation and data-driven decision making
  • Commitment to inclusion and reducing racial and ethnic disparities
  • Continuous improvement; measuring and demonstrating results and learnings

How do I apply for a grant from a donor advised fund? What about Private Foundations, the Women’s Fund and HealthPath?
Donors that have set up donor advised funds at GCF make grants to nonprofit organizations based on their own areas of interest and typically do not accept requests from nonprofit organizations. GCF is committed to connecting the nonprofit community with our donors and are currently working on how to best support both sides of our work.

Application detail for our private foundation partners as well as the Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the HealthPath Foundation of Ohio can be found on their respective websites.

Can you refer me to anyone else for funding?
A good resource for both individuals and nonprofit organizations in the Greater Cincinnati area is the Grants Resource Center of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The Grants Resource Center does not provide funding, but has directories, guides and other resources to help grantseekers identify appropriate funders and develop targeted proposals.

Additionally, referral to other community funders is sometimes made in response to a Funding Inquiry submission if we know of resources in the community that are aligned to the proposed work.

Can I get help with your online grants management system?
If you need help setting up a profile on Foundant, our online grants management system, we suggest reviewing these "help" documents:

If you need a contact added to an already established organization account, please email the GCF Program Manager.

I have a sponsorship opportunity that GCF might be interested in. How do I submit that opportunity?
Typically, GCF does not sponsor events through our grantmaking process. Sponsorship opportunities can be submitted through our Funding Inquiry tool, as a means to present the idea to GCF staff, or sent to our marketing department at


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