The Philadelphia Foundation
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Frequently Asked Questions


Is my organization eligible for a discretionary grant?

Please refer to the following pages to see if your organization meets the criteria necessary for one of our discretionary grants:

What types of organizations can apply for funding?

Nonprofit organizations whose mission and programs align with the Foundation’s philosophy “that the health, well-being and growth of the Greater Philadelphia region depends upon strong communities, comprised of healthy, well-educated, skilled, culturally inspired and economically independent individuals and families.”

The Foundation gives high priority to nonprofit organizations that are committed to improving the lives of and increasing opportunities for Children, Youth and Families; addressing Social Justice issues; promoting Community Building; and Arts and Culture. Nonprofit Management Support Organizations (MSOs) that provide services to improve management capacity to these organizations are also eligible.

My organization is part of a national organization. Do I qualify for a grant?

If your organization has an office in the Philadelphia (and surrounding counties) area, serves a local constituency, is able to prove autonomy from the national organization, and isn’t an Ineligible Organization, then your organization can qualify for a grant for that local office. Otherwise, national organizations are ineligible to receive discretionary grants.

How do I know if I qualify for general operating support?

Please read our Characteristics of High Performing Organizations PDF document. Review the criteria and see if and how your organization fits. If your organization displays the majority of the characteristics to be considered “High Performing,” then you qualify to be considered for a General Operating Support Grant.

Will you fund programming?

We do not directly fund programming. If your organization is eligible and wins a General Operating Support Grant, those dollars can be used for programming and other needs of the organization.

What does the term "capacity-building" mean?

Capacity-building or organizational effectiveness are terms used interchangeably and relate to the same idea – improving a wide range managerial, planning, and infrastructure needs. The Foundation can only support one capacity building project at a time.

Do you support organizations that also provide services to South Jersey?

Yes, the Foundation supports organizations in Burlington and Camden Counties through the discretionary grant programs (Organizational Effectiveness and General Operating Support), however, as these funds are limited, the grants will be smaller and fewer in number.

Are there any grant size ranges or limits?

Yes. For General Operating Support, up to 7% of the organizations' budget (up to no more than $35,000) will be supported. For Organizational Effectiveness Grants, we will award up to $40,000, but no more than 10% of an organization’s budget.

Is there an upper-range budget limit for grant requests?

Yes. The Foundation will not support organizations with an operating budget over $10 million through our discretionary grants and gives priority to organizations with budgets of under 5 million. However, there is no restriction on budget size for grants made or designated by donors.

What material do I have to submit with my grant application?

Along with your completed grant application, please email/send electronic copies of the following:

  • 501(c)(3) IRS Determination Letter
  • Current year budget with detailed income sources, expenses and the most current year-to-date P&L statement
  • Audits for the past three years. (If audits are not required then please submit 990s for past three years)
  • Executive summary of most recent Strategic/Business Plan (no more than two years old)
  • Current list of Board of Directors and their affiliations
  • A current copy of the Pennsylvania Charitable Solicitation Certificate

Please note: Your application will not begin to be considered until all of your materials have been received by the Foundation. Supplemental materials should be scanned and sent electronically either by disk or email. We strongly recommend all supplemental materials be electronic. If you absolutely cannot submit an electronic version, we will accept a mailed hard copy.

However, your Grant Application must be emailed. We will not accept grant applications sent by mail.

How do I submit my grant application?

After filling out your application, please submit it along with all of the supplemental materials to the following Drop Box locations:

For Organizational Effectiveness Grant requests: Organizational Effectiveness Dropbox
For General Operating Support Grant Requests: General Operating Support Dropbox
For Henrietta Tower Wurts Memorial Applications: the Henrietta Tower Wurts Memorial Drop Box.
For Fund for Children Applications: the Fund for Children Drop Box.
Do not mail your application, as your grant request will not be considered submitted until we receive an electronic version.

When is the deadline for submitting grant applications?

The Philadelphia Foundation will continue to accept new applications for Organizational Effectiveness and General Operating Support on a rolling basis until mid‐October. Afterward, new applications for General Operating Support or Organizational Effectiveness cannot be accepted until the start of the following calendar year.

I submitted my grant application. When will I be contacted by somebody at the Foundation?

You can expect to hear from someone with the Foundation within 14 business days of when we began to process your application. If you have submitted an application and have not heard from a staff person, please call 215-563-6417 and ask to speak to someone in the Philanthropic Services Department.

Please note: Your application will not begin to be processed until all of your materials have been received.

Secondly, once you know that we have received your application, and you still haven’t heard from us in time, please feel free to contact us by calling 1-215-563-6417 and ask to speak with someone in Philanthropic Services, making sure to give your name and the name of your organization.

Can I apply for both types of discretionary grants?

Unless otherwise instructed by a Program Officer, an organization is only allowed to apply for one type (General Operating Support, Organizational Effectiveness or Fund for Children Grant) of discretionary grant every 12 months. If you need assistance in determining which type you qualify for, contact a program officer to discuss before applying.

How long do grants last?

General Operating Support Grants are for a 12 month period. Organizational Effectiveness Grants are for 12 months, or however long the particular capacity-building project lasts (but no less than 12 months).

How do I know for which type of grant to apply?

First, take the Eligibility Wizard.

The best way to determine if your organization qualifies for General Operating Support is to review Characteristics of High Performing Organizations PDF.

If your organization displays the majority of the characteristics to be considered “High Performing,” then you qualify to be considered for a General Operating Support Grant. If there’s more work to be done to achieve most of the criteria to be considered “High Performing,” then an Organizational Effectiveness (for capacity-building) Grant is probably the best route for your organization.

Does the Foundation give discretionary grants to individuals?

No. The Foundation gives grants only to eligible, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations.

I don’t think my organization qualifies for a discretionary grant; are there other opportunities for aid at the Foundation?

If your organization doesn’t qualify for funding under our discretionary grantmaking program, please make sure to investigate our other funding opportunities at the Foundation. Visit our Fund for Children and Henrietta Tower Wurts Memorial pages and see if your organization qualifies for one of those grants.

It’s been more than the allotted time, and I haven’t heard anything from the Foundation. What should I do?

First, make sure that your application has been received. Did you receive an email stating that your electronic application was received? All application materials sent to the Organizational Effectiveness Dropbox and the General Operating Support Dropbox automatically generate a response signifying receipt of the email. If you did not receive this response, then we have not received your application.

Secondly, once you know that we have received your application, and you still haven’t heard from us in time, please feel free to contact us by calling 1-215-563-6417 and request to speak with someone in Grantmaking Services, making sure to give your name and the name of your organization.

Do I need a login name and password to fill out an application for discretionary grantmaking?

No. To fill out the application, simply download the form from our website save it to your hard drive not to a temporary location, fill it out completely, then submit it, along with the required supplemental material, to the Philanthropic Services Department via email. You will find the list of supplemental material and email address on the application. 

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