Nonprofit Capacity Building

To do great work, nonprofits and municipalities need strong leaders, clear plans, efficient systems, and a robust, diversified revenue stream. This takes investment in staff and time to explore and plan—something for which many nonprofits on limited or restricted budgets have few resources to spare.   

In response to this gap in the resources needed to strengthen organizations, particularly those with operating budgets of $500,000 or less, the Vermont Community Foundation has created a small fund to help. The application is designed to be easy to complete and notification is within 6-8 weeks. We welcome applications to support your organization’s planning needs around achieving your mission, through strategic planning, merger conversations, or similar efforts. 

Grants will be no more than $5,000 each and will support the cost of consultants for the activities below. These grants are meant to supplement other funding, as we understand that this amount is typically not enough to cover the full cost of providing these services. In the project budget, please show the additional revenue sources to be used for this work, both pending and secured.  We welcome the use of these funds as challenge grants to secure the additional funds.

What We Fund

The program will fund activities to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of nonprofit organizations. Here are some examples of what the program will fund:

  • Strategic planning initiatives to clarify mission, goals, and performance measures

  • Financial sustainability planning, including diversification of revenue streams, and enhanced fundraising and development skills, plans, or activities

  • Merger planning and implementation

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion policy development and implementation

  • Board and staff training intended to provide a focused learning opportunity that builds organizational capacity

For projects other than those listed, include details on how this technical assistance will support your organization’s ability to execute your mission, why it is important at this time, and clear evidence of Board support. 

**Please note that grant funds can only be used to cover consultant fees.

What We Don't Fund

  • Repeat funding of the same organization or initiative within a 3-year period

  • Capital campaign preparation including feasibility studies

  • Grant writing fees

  • Startup costs for organizations seeking nonprofit status

  • Costs already incurred

  • Consultant costs to support marketing and outreach, web development, communications, construction or other structural design, and/or event planning

  • Staff licensures and/or (re)certification expenses

  • Salary and benefits, and/or professional development

Who May Apply

Grant applications will be accepted from organizations and municipalities that are located in or serve the people of Vermont and address the above purpose. Previous recipients are not prioritized but are encouraged to call to discuss new work.

All applicants to programs at the Vermont Community Foundation must meet these guidelines.

Grant Size

Grants of up to $5,000 are typically awarded from this fund.

Deadline and Notification

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Decisions will be made within two months of receiving the application. Grant funds cannot cover activities that have already taken place; please keep the notification timeline in mind as you prepare your application.

Application Process

All applications must be submitted electronically. Visit our Online Grants Center page to learn how and to register for a new account. Or click here to access your existing account.

To help you prepare, click here to preview a sample of the application. Please note that this is a PDF sample and not the actual application. To view and begin working on the application, login to the Online Grants Manager (OGM), which can be accessed at www.vermontcf.org/OGM.