Grant Guidelines & FAQ

Grant Guidelines

Grant applications for the 2017 cycle must be submitted online by Friday, March 10th, 2017We strongly urge you to discuss your grant proposal ideas with OICF before you submit the final application. Applicants to the 2016 Holiday Catalog are welcome to apply for the spring cycle, but are strongly encouraged to submit a different program/ask. Contact OICF if you have questions.

Important Changes to the OICF Grant Process

OICF’s mission is to “foster philanthropy to enhance the quality of life on Orcas Island.” OICF’s Annual Grant Program, together with our Holiday Catalog, is one way we try to build community awareness about the good work you do in our community, and raise funds to support your programs. With 111 nonprofits on Orcas, not everyone can be included in every cycle. Our hope is to strengthen as many organizations as possible. Please keep this in mind when submitting your application.

Important Updates to the OICF Grant Process

All grant applications will be considered, OICF will prioritize proposals based the criteria below.

  • Does the proposal address a specific need?
  • What is the likelihood for success of the proposal?
  • Is there duplication of services offered on Orcas for this service/request?
  • Does the proposal serve a large number of islanders?

OICF will consider applications to provide a percentage of a nonprofit’s critical or general operating funds. OICF wishes to help nonprofits become as healthy effective and efficient as possible, and be good stewards of community resources. We will not consider multiple requests in the same cycle.

All questions have a 1000 character limit (Word.doc will count characters for you). Please stay within this limit and remember that an OICF Grants Committee member will interview you and you’ll be able to elaborate on the details of your request at that time.

In 2016 over $2 million was distributed through OICF—$202,700 in the annual grants process. Consider this application an opportunity to showcase your organization and enhance awareness of the important work you do to make Orcas Island a healthy, vibrant community.

2017 Grants Cycle Schedule

  • The 2017 Grant Application package must be received no later than Friday, March 10, 2017.
  • Applications will be reviewed in late March. A knowledgeable contact person from your organization should be available from March 16 – 28.
  • A member of the grants committee will contact your organization to schedule a meeting and site visit, if applicable.
  • Grant recipients will be notified by late-May.
  • Grant checks will be presented at the Awards Reception.
  • Grant reports for 2017 grants are due January 16, 2018.  Any successful proposal of $10,000 or more will be required to meet with a committee member and OICF board or staff member mid-year to discuss the progress of the project and the impact of your efforts.

Who qualifies for OICF Community Endowment Fund Grants?

  • Applicants must be qualified nonprofit organizations (usually Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) organizations). No grants are made to individuals, private foundations, or for-profit enterprises.
  • We are precluded from making grants to any religious organization if the funds would be used in whole or in part for religious purposes.
  • Grants are not made to any group that discriminates on the basis of age, color, race, national origin, gender identity, marital status, sensory, mental or physical ability, sexual orientation or religious beliefs.
  • No grants are made to conduit organizations which pass funds through to other organizations for distribution to ultimate beneficiaries of their own choosing (e.g., United Way).
  • Grant requests are not retroactive; i.e. requests must be for an project or activity that is planned for the future.

What types of projects are funded?

  • One time, non-recurring expenditures, specific capital needs, and project-related expenses for programs are given equal consideration.
  • Part of a nonprofit’s general operating funds if the applicant can demonstrate compelling need.
  • OICF encourages nonprofit applicants to work collaboratively in developing projects to benefit the Orcas Island community. If an application is being made for a collaborative effort, it must include letters of support from the Boards of all organizations involved.
  • Requests for funding for projects of two or three years’ duration will be considered. Funds may be dispersed yearly, subject to reporting, due diligence and other requirements imposed by OICF.
  • No grants are made for political purposes.
  • No grants are made for general fund drives, for endowments, or for fundraising expenses or charitable appeals.

Other Considerations

  • Grant approval is based on an evaluation of the significance of a project, its purpose, its likelihood of success, and its potential benefit to the Orcas Island community.
  • OICF has limited funds available, and a large number of requests for valuable projects. While recognizing that multi-year funding may enable an organization or a project to succeed, we discourage nonprofits from applying repeatedly for continuing funding of the same project. If an applicant predicts that a project will require more than one year to succeed, we encourage the applicant to apply for a multi-year grant. This is merely one factor in evaluating the merits of a grant proposal.
  • Please be concise when composing the application, and supply all requested attachments.
  • We do require current financial statements and annual budget.
  • We may ask to review your organization’s most recent IRS Form 990, but please do not submit the 990 with your application.

Reporting Guidelines

All reporting requirements are included with the letter of notification; grant reports are due January 16, 2018.  Successful proposals of $10,000 or more will be required to meet with a committee member and OICF board or staff member mid-year to discuss the progress of the project and the impact of your efforts.Questions?


Please contact Hilary Canty or Kate Long at OICF if you have questions along the way: 360-376-6423 or

Grant FAQ

How do I know if my organization is eligible for a grant from OICF?

Charitable, qualified nonprofit organizations that serve Orcas Island are eligible to apply. If yours is not a nonprofit organization and you are proposing a community project that will benefit our community, you may be able to apply by partnering with a qualified organization. Please call us to discuss!

What organizations are not eligible to receive grants?

OICF does not provide grants to individuals, to for-profit organizations, or to religious organizations if the monies would be used in whole or in part for religious purposes. Grants may not be used for political purposes. OICF does not award grants for fund-raising expenses or contribute to endowments. Organizations that discriminate on any prohibited basis may not apply.

Are grant applications limited to capital items only?

No. One-time capital items, special non-recurring expenditures, specific needs and special programs are given equal consideration. OICF will consider grant applications for a small percentage of an organization’s general operating budget if the applicant can demonstrate a compelling need.

Does OICF favor applications for specific causes or types of projects?

OICF’s board reserves the right to concentrate our grant-making activities in specific areas of greatest need. However, grant distribution is determined through our assessment of community needs, and the merit and impact of individual projects.

Can my group apply for two different projects in the same grant cycle?

No. Due to the large number of requests we ask groups to limit their request to one per grant cycle.

My group’s project was funded last year; can we apply again for the same project?

Yes, but…. OICF does not provide recurring, sustaining funds for any given project. We understand that sometimes it takes more than one year to get a new program off the ground. If you believe that your project will fall into this category, please consider a multi-year plan so that you can apply for a multi-year grant. We hope to provide “start-up” funding that will enable organizations to find other sources of support in years to come.

How do I find out about the grants process and timeline for submission of a proposal?

You’re already in the right place! Please access the Grant Guidelines page on this website. Also, do not hesitate to contact Hilary Canty or Kate Long at OICF: 360-376-6423 or

I’ve never written a grant before – Help!

OICF’s grant application process is among the easiest around. The Grant Application Form is simple to follow and asks for basic information about your organization and the project for which you need funding. The Grants Committee chairperson can assist if you have questions or need help. If you would like someone to review a draft of your application before you submit it, please contact the chairperson (info above).

What happens after I submit my grant application?

A member of the Grants Committee will contact you to schedule a meeting and site visit. The Committee meets in March to review and consider all applications. They make recommendations to OICF’s board, which approves the final grants list in early May. Successful organizations are notified shortly thereafter. Checks are distributed at the Grants Awards Ceremony, in late May or early June.

Where does the money for grants come from?

Donors to OICF have several options for their donations, including two that go into the grants program. One option is the Community Endowment Fund, whose earnings are the primary source of annual grants money. Another is the Partners in Philanthropy program, which allows donors to either contribute directly to the yearly grants pool or to select from a list of approved and ranked projects provided by the Grants Committee. These two sources of funds may be supplemented from OICF’s reserves.

What size grants does OICF give out?

While grants have ranged from $500 to $33,000, the average amount is $2,000 to $7,000; $15,000 is a fairly large grant for our competitive cycle.

How many grants do you fund?

In 2017, OICF funded 24 grants for a total of $224,420 including unrestricted donations to local charities selected by the 2017 High School class.

What if my application asks for funding beyond OICF’s resources?

If your grant application is approved, OICF may fund only part of the project total. Organizations must be prepared to work with partial funding.

What if my organization does not use all of the funds for the approved project, or the project is delayed or I want to change it?

Grants are provided by OICF for the specific purposes as stated in your application. Each project is weighed against all other proposals that year. If your project changes, or you do not require all of the funds awarded, you must contact OICF Director Hilary Canty to discuss your situation. In most cases, excess or unused funds must be returned to OICF.

More Questions?

Contact Hilary Canty or Kate Long at OICF: 360-376-6423 or or