The Boston Foundation Grants

What is the Boston Foundation Grants?

The Boston Foundation, founded in 1915, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation. Serving the Greater Boston area, it is made up of some 900 separate charitable funds established by thousands of donors over more than 90 years.[1] Funds are set up either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes, such as supporting individual nonprofit organizations in perpetuity. Today the Foundation is the largest public charity and the largest grant maker in New England.

Who are eligible for the Boston Foundation Grants?

The Boston Foundation invests substantial resources to help proven or promising nonprofits that share its core values and are highly aligned with its priority strategies and approaches to deepen their impact or bring their work to scale. To maximize the impact and effectiveness of its investments, the Foundation puts significant weight on the following criteria:

  • Strategic Alignment: Successful applicants are directly aligned with the Foundation’s priority strategies as articulated in its new Strategic Framework. In addition, organizations in which the Foundation invests will address those strategies through one or more of the approaches that the Foundation has identified as most likely to have an impact on achieving one or more of the desired results we seek to achieve for our community. Please note this criterion does not apply to Special Opportunity Grants.
  • High-Need People and Places: The Foundation engages in policy, research, grantmaking and other efforts to positively affect the Greater Boston region and all of its residents. However, with its limited competitive grantmaking resources, the Foundation has a particular focus on efforts that unlock economic and educational opportunity for underserved residents and neighborhoods, especially within the City of Boston. When a particular objective specifies Boston, it means that the Foundation focuses its resources within the City of Boston. When an objective refers to Greater Boston, then funding may be directed to populations and activities within any of the cities and towns within the Foundation’s funding area.
  • Collaboration: Complex, long-standing problems require creative, multi-disciplinary approaches that are often beyond the capacity of a single organization. The Foundation is most interested in supporting organizations with a track record of collaboration and collaborative groups of agencies working together to address significant community needs. Nonprofits that are part of a collaborative effort funded by the Foundation may also seek funding for their individual operations or projects. However, their work and the funding they receive as part of the collaborative effort will be an important part of our consideration of additional support.
  • Financial and Programmatic Capacity: Successful applicants will show evidence that they are stable, have a solid financial and program management team, a strong balance sheet and program plans that give the Foundation confidence that their work will be sustained beyond the Foundation’s investment.
  • Leadership: Successful applicants will have strong board and executive leadership that are collaborative and knowledgeable about the community and the field in which they operate.
  • Measurable Results: The Foundation places a high priority on organizations that are able to clearly articulate organizational goals, present a clear plan for achieving results, and track outcomes and impact on the people and communities served. In fact, General Operating and Project Support grants will only be made to those organizations that can demonstrate their potential to achieve a measurable impact on the outcomes that the Foundation seeks.

How to apply for the Boston Foundation Grants?

All competitive grants—General Operating Support Grants, Project Support Grants and Special Opportunity Grants—follow the same application process.

Letter of Inquiry: The application process for General Operating and Project Support grants begins with the submission of an online Letter of Inquiry (LOI), which is accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. There are no deadlines for submitting an LOI. Organizations seeking consideration at one of four Foundation board meetings (March, June, September and December) should submit an LOI three to four months in advance. Review of an LOI generally does not involve a site visit, but may include a telephone conversation by a Foundation staff member. Staff will determine whether or not the Foundation will ask for additional materials to advance the request within eight weeks after submission of an LOI.

Advanced Applications: Organizations that are invited to submit additional materials after a review of their LOI will receive additional review and consideration. Organizations that are invited to submit additional materials will be assigned a program officer who will work with the applicant to build its request file. The additional information requested might include audits and other financial information, board lists and deeper program information. Most request files that are complete ten weeks in advance of the next scheduled board meeting will be presented at that board meeting. Some applications will be held over to the next board meeting to allow time for additional information gathering and review.

Please note that although the required materials for competitive grants are similar, requests for multi-year general operating support will not be considered without a current strategic or business plan that articulates the organization’s goals and intended outcomes and outlines a plan for achieving them.

Review and Evaluation: As part of a comprehensive due diligence process, the assigned program officer – often joined by additional Foundation staff – will conduct a site visit and may also contact board members, clients, the leadership of collaborating or similar organizations, and other funders to become better acquainted with the organization.

How much funding is available for the Boston Foundation Grants?


Operating support grants are generally up to $150,000 or 10-15% of an organization’s operating budget, whichever is lower, and may be awarded for up to five years.

Project Support Grants vary in size and duration as well as the percentage of project costs covered, but in general range from $25,000 to $100,000 to be applied to project budgets that include an appropriate amount of overhead.

Special Opportunity Grants may support either the general operations of the applicant organization or a specific project, may or may not be directly aligned with our priority strategies and are typically one-year investments in the $15,000 to $50,000 range.

Where to send applications for the Boston Foundation Grants?

The Boston Foundation
75 Arlington Street, 10th Floor
Boston, MA 02116

For more information on the Boston Foundation Grants, contact:

617-338-1700
info@tbf.org

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