Make Grants that Make a Difference

Many NCF affiliated funds now have the capacity to make grants today that will have an impact 20 years from now. By granting the dollars available today, you can make a positive impact on the future.

Impact grants:

  1. Make an impact now or in the future
  2. Leverage existing funds
  3. Fund sustainable activities
  4. Enhance the quality of life within the community
  5. Enhance overall community economic prosperity
  6. Create positive change
  7. Build belief in the future of your hometown

Although few grants will achieve all seven of the outcomes above, the best grants will strive to reflect at least several of the seven principles.

Seven Principles of Impact Grantmaking

Impact grants should reflect the seven principles of grants that make an impact. Deciding how to grant the money entrusted to you by your donors is a big decision. One way to make sure that you are getting the most from your donors’ investment is by considering the long-term impact of each grant before making it.

There are two ways to go about making grants. First, your FAC can meet and determine how the grant dollars you have available can best serve your community now and in the future. A second method is to accept applications for grants. NCF encourages the first option – deciding how the money can make the biggest impact and making grants accordingly – as the best way to make grants.

It’s hard to say “no” to deserving local agencies or projects that may be worthy causes, but not impactful. This is the situation that you will face when you open the door and accept grant applications. You will most likely hear from several worthwhile causes, but if you are striving to grant your donors’ dollars to make an impact tomorrow you will probably have to say “no” more than you can say “yes.”

That’s why NCF recommends that you research the needs of your community and offer grants accordingly – without asking for applications – so that you can decide on the future needs of your community future and grant accordingly. When making grants it is imperative that you think about not only the community’s needs today, but the community needs of tomorrow and 20 years from now.

Consider the following questions when applying the seven principles of impact grantmaking to your grants.

Create impact

  • Who will be affected by this grant? For how long?
  • How will this grant change the future of my hometown?

Leverage existing funds

  • Are we currently receiving any grants or government funds that could accomplish more with our help?
  • Are there grants that our community is applying for that need a local match? Will the grant(s) enhance the future of our hometown?

Fund sustainable activities

  • Can the project or activity we’re funding continue without future grant support?
  • Will the community stand behind this activity or project?

Enhance the quality of life within the community

  • Will this grant make people feel proud to live in our hometown?
  • Will this grant help those less fortunate in our community?

Enhance overall community economic prosperity

  • Can this grant help local entrepreneurs start or maintain their businesses?
  • Does this grant help local businesses or enhance our workforce?

Create positive change

  • What does this grant allow to happen that couldn’t happen without it?
  • Can this grant positively impact the lives of several individuals and families in our hometown?

Build belief in the future of your hometown

  • How does this grant encourage our children to return home after college?
  • How will this grant affect the culture of our hometown?

If your community investments achieve four or more of these impacts, your grantmaking will bring tremendous value to your hometown!

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