Capacity Building Grants
Capacity Building Grants assist nonprofits in achieving new levels of effectiveness. Our purpose is to strengthen the leadership and management of Frederick County’s nonprofit organizations by helping them build systems and find resources such as consultants to facilitate the organization’s progress in achieving the goals.
How to Apply
Applications for all grant requests must be made via our online portal.
Requests received via email, phone, or direct mail will not be reviewed.
Grants may be awarded for:
- Planning Activities
- Board & Leadership Development
- Strategic Relationships
- Internal Operations
- Technology Improvements
E.g., organizational assessments, strategic planning, fundraising assessment and development, program evaluations, communications/marketing, or business planning.
May include activities such as leadership training, defining the role of the board, strengthening governance, assistance with executive transition, succession, and search process.
Providing technical assistance/consultant support to help two or more organizations work through collaboration and strategic restructuring; positioning for merger or affiliation, or business planning for social enterprise.
Improvements to financial management, internal controls, and chart of accounts, human resource or volunteer management; or facility planning.
IT capacity through upgrades to hardware and software, networking, websites, and staff training to optimize the use of technology.
Tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code.
Physically located in Frederick County, Maryland.
Healthy operating budget and ability/willingness to expand based on the outcome of the grant.
Strong board and executive leadership.
- Clearly defined mission.
Commitment of time and resources to build capacity.
Capacity Building Grants FAQs
Grant Program and Timeline
- Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) are accepted December 1 through January 15 and June 1 through July 15.
- The review process for Capacity Building Grants takes several months.
- In most cases, site visits will be requested.
- Requested dollar amounts must be realistic and supported by documentation. A clear description of the need for funding must be provided. The range is $2,500 to $25,000.
- Applicants are eligible to receive one Capacity Building Grant per 12-month period.
- Completion of the full grant application requires: collection of 3 consultant proposals and explanation of why the consultant was chosen, project work plan and budget.
What factors may increase the likelihood of approval?
- Request must show potential to contribute to long-term organizational effectiveness.
- Board membership numbers within the range specified by their bylaws.
- Staff members who are willing to commit their time and resources, are open to change and believe the grant will further their mission.
- Grant seekers will receive email confirmation when the LOI and supporting documents are received. AFF Staff may request additional information.
- The request will be presented to the Grants Committee Trustees.
- The request may then be presented to the full Board of Trustees. The board may deny the request or plan for a site visit if deemed necessary.
- AFF Staff will contact the organization to advise if a full application is needed prior to the site visit.
- Once the site visit is complete, the request will be presented to the full Board of Trustees for the funding decision.
- Grant seekers will be contacted and informed of the Trustees’ decision.
- If the request is approved, the grantee will review and sign a Grant Covenant/Agreement which can be accessed online via our online portal.
How to Apply
- Applications for all grant requests to the Ausherman Family Foundation must be made via our online portal. Requests received via email, phone, or snail mail will not be reviewed.
- Note: A letter of support from the Board Chair must be included in the Letter of Inquiry (LOI).
Can our project budget include funding toward staff time?
- Generally, this is not approved. However, this is reviewed on a case-by-case basis
What amount of funding can be requested?
- Requests can range from $2,500 to $25,000.
Who should attend a site visit and what should be expected?
- Site visits are held to better understand what applicants do and provide the opportunity to build relationships. They are usually held at the applicant’s location, but there is flexibility in meeting location. AFF Staff are usually accompanied by one or more trustees. Ideally, grant seekers should plan on having staff leadership and one or more board members present.
How many follow up reports are required for Capacity Building Grants?
- It is common that up to three reports will be assigned via the grant portal. The purpose of the reports is to inform the Ausherman Family Foundation of the organization’s forward movement toward completion of the outcomes, the project results, how the capacity building funding made a difference in the organization, and if the grant outcomes were met.
How many Capacity Building Grants are awarded each cycle?
- Funding is limited. AFF budgets a percentage of each year’s grants funding towards Capacity Building Grants. Not every request will be funded and not every request may be fully funded.
What is the consultant selection process?
- Grant seekers must vet at least three potential consultants before choosing one. It is important that they find a consultant that is a good fit and understands their needs. Once the organization chooses a consultant, AFF requests that they explain why the consultant was the best choice.
Does AFF have a preferred vendor list of consultants?
- AFF does not have a preferred list, but we have a running list of consultants that grantees have worked with in the past or whom we’ve met, which we will provide upon request. As a courtesy it is always nice for AFF to receive feedback on the consultant at the close of the grant so that we may share information with others. Consultants do not have to be from the Foundation’s list.
My project requires more than one area of expertise. Can I use more than one consultant?
- It is our desire that the project receives the resources it needs to be successful. We recognize this may require bringing on additional consultants. When the project budget is submitted, these costs should be outlined. Consultants reports will be required. Please keep in mind that the maximum awards for Capacity Building Grants is $25,000.
Can Capacity Building Grants have a Challenge Match Component?
Yes, applicants have the ability to request this in the LOI. AFF Trustees have the discretion to request part or all be matching based on the nature of the project. Criteria for matching grants is the same for Capacity Building and General Grants. The goal of the matching component is to encourage others to give, including inspiring board members to support the organization and to leverage new donors and contributions in the community. Grantees have a defined time frame in which to raise matching funds as well as restrictions on eligible donations. In-kind and government funding cannot count toward matching funds.
- Funds must be raised within the grant-award period.
- Matching funds’ parameters are requested by the applicant and reviewed and approved by AFF Trustees.
- The Grantee must document receipt of the matching funds by providing a list of donors, the dates of the donations, and the amount of the donation given toward the matching grant, plus any materials that support the donations, such as check copies, charges, and online donations. The list of donations and the supporting materials must be submitted in the same order.
- Foundation funds are distributed after the matching funds are raised and documentation is provided to AFF.
Is there anything you don’t fund for Capacity Building?
- Generally speaking, this funding does not cover staff time. AFF also does not provide capacity building funding for hiring an accountant to perform an audit or review operational expenses.
How can I see the LOI before applying? What is requested on the full application?
- To preview the LOI and a sample Grant Application, click here.
What is the selection process?
- Refer to our Selection Process page.
I would like to publicly express appreciation for the grant. What are your guidelines?
- Refer to our Recognition Guidelines page.