Grant program FAQs

Grant program FAQs

Our aim is to make applying for a grant from BCF as easy and seamless as possible, and to make our process transparent. The FAQs below provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about our grant programs, applications, and reporting processes.

General questions

BCF supports a wide range of organizations, programs, and efforts that are dedicated to uplifting the Brookline community. Our grantmaking priorities are focused on supporting organizations, efforts, programs, and initiatives that uplift the Brookline community, increase access to essential resources and services, address racial and economic inequity, and help every member of the community thrive.

Through our grantmaking, BCF supports:

  • General operating expenses
  • Project and program funding
  • Capital improvements
  • Sector-building efforts
  • Community- and movement-building initiatives
  • Capacity building, strategic planning & staff training

For more information about focus areas and program-specific goals and priorities within our individual grant programs, please refer to the specific grant program page.

We intend for our grantmaking programs to be responsive to the needs of our community while also helping to advance our shared vision for Brookline. Our grantmaking priorities are determined by several factors, including: our organizational strategy, community research, input from partners and community members, new and emerging needs in Brookline, and more. Further, we use reports like the ARPA Community Engagement report and the Town of Brookline Disparity report to determine goals and priorities each year. We also consider data and key themes from the recently released Understanding Brookline research publications which include the Understanding Brookline: Economic Inequality in Brookline Report and the Understanding Brookline Community Indicators Database.

We aim to work with organizations, efforts, and initiatives with a shared commitment to advancing equity and support organizations and efforts that seek to address the root causes of inequity, remedy the immediate and long-term impacts of inequity in Brookline, and remove barriers to opportunities for community members.

BCF offers many kinds of grants, including:

  • General operating grants
  • Program and project grants
  • Grants to support capital building and improvement projects
  • Grants to support capacity building and strategic planning
  • Grants to support staff development and training
  • Sector-, community-, and movement-building grants

We also offer multi-year grants through some of our grant programs, depending on available grant dollars in the current fiscal year. Our grant programs focus on a wide variety of issue areas. Please refer to our grant programs overview to learn more about individual grant programs.

BCF will consider requests for efforts and activities that aim to enhance the capacity, effectiveness, efficiency, and/or accessibility of an organization. Examples include:

  • Organizational support: strategic planning; marketing and community outreach; fundraising; infrastructure and streamlining processes; financial planning.
  • Internal diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives; trainings and workshops, and; equity audits (assessments that determine if policies, practices, and programs support equity and inclusion).
  • Board/staff support: staff professional development, training, and retreats; board recruitment, development, governance.

BCF will consider requests for capital projects or improvements such as facility improvements, vehicles, equipment purchases and other non-expendable assets.

BCF will consider requests for sector building such as research and advocacy activities that demonstrate or elevate a community need or opportunity. Examples of community building and movement building efforts include events, programs, outreach campaigns and initiatives, or organizing and advocacy work that bring together diverse populations to build a stronger community.

To get the latest information about grant opportunities from BCF, please sign up for our mailing list, reach out to a member of our Program & Partnerships team, or contact us directly with your questions.

An RFP or “Request for Proposal” is an invitation to submit a proposal or application for a grant. BCF’s RFPs are accessible on each grant program page and typically include the grant program description, aim, and priorities; eligibility criteria, and; the application submission process, including key dates and deadlines.

We set maximum grant request amounts for some of our grant programs.

Please see the specific grant program page you are interested in applying to for more details.

BCF is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. As a community foundation, BCF is primarily supported by individuals in the community through annual giving, legacy giving, and fund creation. Additional funding sources are the Town of Brookline as well as local organizations and businesses that contribute towards our grantmaking programs. We invite you to learn more about our donors & supporters.

Yes. We welcome the opportunity to connect with nonprofits and grant seekers. Please reach out to a member of our Program & Partnerships team to discuss ideas and partnership opportunities.

Eligibility questions

501(c)(3) nonprofits organizations, Town departments or agencies, and community groups can apply for funding. Grant applications should address a need in Brookline and directly benefit members of the Brookline community. We define the Brookline community as those who live, learn, work, or play in Brookline.

If an organization or project is new and/or not yet tax-exempt or not yet a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, an application may be submitted through a fiscal sponsorship. BCF will assist applicants in identifying an appropriate fiscal sponsor as well as connecting the applicant with a representative from the fiscal sponsor organization. If you are interested in pursuing fiscal sponsorship, please refer to the FAQ below for more information.

Please see our additional guidelines below on Town department and agency grant applications.

To be eligible, an applicant must be operated and organized so that it does not discriminate in the hiring of staff or provision of services on the basis of race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or disability.

501(c)(3) nonprofits organizations, Town departments or agencies, and community groups can apply for funding. If an organization or project is new and/or not yet tax-exempt (is not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit), an application may be submitted through a fiscal sponsorship. If you are interested in pursuing fiscal sponsorship, please refer to the FAQ below for more information.

Please see our guidelines on Town department and agency grant applications.

Yes. In most cases, organizations are able to apply for more than one BCF grant program per year. Please see the grant program pages for specific guidelines and any restrictions.

Unless otherwise noted, organizations may submit more than one BCF grant program per year. Organizations may also submit more than one application to a specific BCF grant program as long as the applications are for different projects and/or project expenses.

Yes. If the project or program involves a collaboration between two or more organizations, we ask that the collaboration selects one organization to serve as the ‘applicant organization’ and submit the application under their organization’s tax ID number on behalf of the collaboration. The applicant organization will receive the grant funds, if awarded, and is responsible for dispersing those funds to partner organizations as indicated in the proposal budget.

Yes. BCF cannot provide direct cash assistance to individuals, provide grants to cover travel costs, provide funding for political campaigns or lobbying, or provide grants to for-profit organizations.

Yes. While we cannot provide direct cash assistance to individuals, BCF grant programs may fund organizations and groups that provide direct financial support or scholarships to individuals.

Fiscal sponsorship questions

Fiscal sponsorship is a formal arrangement in which an existing tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization (the “fiscal sponsor”) enters into an agreement with a group or organization seeking to conduct a charitable project (the “sponsored organization/applicant”) either prior to or without incorporating or obtaining recognition as a tax-exempt organization from the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”).

The role of the fiscal sponsor is to provide fiduciary oversight, financial management, and other administrative services to help build the capacity of the applicant. The role of the sponsored organization/applicant is to implement and operate the project.

A fiscal sponsor typically charges a monthly or annual administrative fee based on the amount of the grant received to support the applicant. This fee is often calculated as a percentage of the grant received (usually averaging between 3-5%, generally no higher than 10%). If an organization is using a fiscal sponsor, you may include the fee as part of the project budget.

No. BCF does not act as a fiscal sponsor; however, we can connect organizations and groups to fiscal sponsors and related resources.

Yes. If your organization decides to be a fiscal sponsor, you may act as fiscal sponsor for community groups applying for BCF grants.

A fiscal sponsor often has a standard sponsorship agreement. As the terms and conditions of the fiscal sponsorship arrangement, including the rights and liabilities of the parties, will be set forth in the agreement, it is advisable to have qualified legal counsel review the agreement before you sign it.

Yes. You may still apply for BCF grants for your organization even if you are a fiscal sponsor for another organization applying for BCF grants.

BCF has a list of fiscal sponsors available for grant seekers, and templates for fiscal sponsor letters and agreements available for use. Please contact our team directly to discuss in more detail.

Application questions

We ask a variety of questions in our grant applications, most of which are aimed at learning more about your organization or project, your work, and the positive impact you hope to achieve in the Brookline community. You may also download a Word template of the full application from the right-hand sidebar menu on any of our individual grant program pages.

There are many ways to apply for a grant from BCF.

Apply online

The most common way to apply is by submitting an application online through our grant management system. For more information about using our grant management system, please review the grant management system FAQ.

Apply via email

If you wish to submit your proposal via email, please complete all the required application materials and send your completed application and supplements to via email.

Apply another way

Some of our grant programs allow for applicants to apply through videos or one-on-one conversations with our Program & Partnerships team. Grant programs that offer these application methods will clearly state so in their request for proposals (RFP) and on the individual grant program page.

Yes. If you have a grant application previously submitted to another organization that addresses all the questions in BCF’s application, you are welcome to submit that application to us. To submit, please email the application to or upload the original proposal’s content within the online grant application form.

In addition to the application itself, BCF requires that each grant applicant submit Organization Financial Statements, an Organization Budget, and a Project Budget. If a grant applicant is submitting an application with a fiscal sponsor, we also request a fiscal sponsorship letter or agreement. BCF will accept your organization’s budget and letter templates, or you are welcome to use our file templates for each of these documents.

We welcome you to share one or two additional documents in support of your application. These may include support letters, stories, photos, or other materials highlighting your work.

Yes. We encourage applicants to contact us prior to submitting your application so that we may support you, as needed, with your submission. For many of our grant programs, we offer one or more optional opportunities for applicant support and technical assistance. These will be listed in the grant program page and may include: information sessions, 1:1 or small group working sessions, and/or community events/conversations.

Applications must be submitted by the deadline stated in the appropriate RFP.  The application deadlines allow us to start our review and get a response back to you as soon as we can. If there is an unexpected situation that arises that prevents your organization from submitting an application by the deadline, please contact us.

We review every application closely and look for proposals that align with our strategy, grantmaking priorities, and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Initially, applications are reviewed by our team, then shared with our Program & Grants Committee, which is comprised of BCF board members. In the case of certain grant programs like our Racial Equity Grant Program, proposals are reviewed by our Racial Equity Grant Committee which consists of BCF staff, BCF board members, Brookline community members, and representatives from the Town of Brookline; or like our Safety Net Grant Program, proposals are reviewed by a team of BCF staff and board members Please note that this process may include a site visit or follow up phone call with BCF staff or members of the review committee.

Once the review committee has made their recommendations, they are brought to BCF’s Executive Director and/or Board of Trustees for approval.

During some grant application reviews and at some points during the year, BCF may reach out to organizations to schedule a site visit or a learning visit. This visit provides an opportunity for BCF to learn more about your organization/program and your work in the community.

For each visit, one or two BCF staff, board, or committee members will visit your organization or participate in a call at a mutually agreed upon time. These visits may be in person or virtual, depending on your team’s and the BCF team’s preferences and comfort levels. The BCF member(s) will bring a list of questions to ask you and will leave time for you to ask questions of BCF.

While we appreciate an opportunity to see your work in action, it is not a requirement that we view a program or activity during our visit. We see these visits as an opportunity to learn from you and from those you work with in whatever way is most helpful and appropriate. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to better accommodate you and your team during these visits.

You will be notified by email if your organization receives funding or, in some cases, if funding is not available for your organization at this time. Even if we are not able to provide you with funding for a particular request, we welcome the opportunity to support you in identifying alternate sources of funding and encourage you to stay in touch with BCF for future partnership and grant opportunities.

Within each grant program, all proposals are carefully considered in light of our grantmaking guidelines, current priority areas, and available funding. In many cases, BCF receives far more grant applications than we have funds available and the grant review teams have to make difficult decisions. Unfortunately, we are unable to fund every meaningful project that is submitted.

If your organization is not selected to receive a grant within a grant round, you are welcome to contact BCF to learn more about this decision. You are also still eligible to apply for funding within other BCF grant programs or future grant cycles.

Yes. BCF invites applicants to share feedback as part of the application (please see optional feedback questions at the end of the application) and welcomes applicants to reach out directly to share feedback, questions, or ideas. Periodically, we provide anonymous feedback surveys to collect feedback about specific grant programs or initiatives.

Budget questions

BCF recognizes that the people and operational systems who lead programs and organizations are crucial to these efforts’ successes. As such, we do not set a limit on indirect costs that can be covered by grants.

No. We do not require you to submit proposal or report budgets in any particular format and will accept project budgets, organizational budgets, and report budgets in whatever form your organization is currently using.

Yes. You are welcome to use the budget templates BCF has provided to create your proposal and report budgets.

Grant award questions

In your grant award notice, you will also receive information on how to review and sign a grant agreement. The grant agreement will include information such as terms of use and reporting requirements You are welcome to contact our team with any questions you have about your grant agreement.

We aim to issue your grant funding in as timely a manner as possible once your grant has been approved and the grant agreement signed. We strive to distribute grant funding within 30 days of signing your grant agreement.

We issue grant payments via check or wire transfer, depending on your preference. Please contact our team with specific questions about payment options.

Yes. Our goal is to promote the good work you’re doing through various print materials such as annual reports and mailings, as well as through digital channels like our website and social media. We also send announcements to our mailing lists about new grants awarded, and may ask to write profiles of you to highlight your work.

Communications requirements will be included in your grant agreement, and most often include requests such as:

  • Acknowledging BCF as a grantor on your website, relevant print materials, at events, and on social media
  • Providing BCF with 2-3 photos we can use to promote your work
  • Providing BCF with your social media handles
  • Indicating whether you are open to being featured in partner spotlight stories

Grant reporting questions

BCF asks grantees to submit a grant report after the completion of the grant-funded project or grant-funded period. Generally, reporting deadlines are scheduled for 60 days after your grant/project period ends, which is often the timeline that was included in your original grant application.

You may submit a report at the end of the grant/project period via a written report (submitted via mail, email, or online through our grant management system) or by setting up a call with our team to discuss your work.

If more time is needed to complete your grant project, you may submit a request for an extension by reaching out to BCF via email or phone. With a no-cost grant extension, your organization can take more time to complete your work and you can submit a report at the end of the extended grant period.

Yes. Reports must be submitted by the deadline, unless a no-cost extension is requested to provide extra time to complete the work of the grant. If there is an unexpected situation that arises that prevents your organization from submitting a report by the deadline, please contact us.

Guidelines for Town of Brookline departments, committees, and commissions seeking BCF funding

Although the majority of BCF’s grantmaking program is directed towards private, not‐for‐profit organizations, there are occasions when the Foundation will accept requests from the Town of Brookline’s Departments, Committees, and Commissions. In addition to the usual criteria, the following requirements also apply to grant applications from public agencies:

In order to stretch limited charitable funds for the greatest impact, funding from BCF will not displace funding for items and services that clearly should be supported by the Town budget. BCF cannot fund programs that have been cut from Town budgets or that the Town is legally required to provide, except when grant requests address immediate needs of underserved populations or enhance existing programs and services.

Prior to submitting a grant request, BCF requires that a Town Department demonstrate that:

  1. There are no available Town funds for its proposed project or program, and/or;
  2. Funds were requested as part of the Departmental budget but denied. Grant requests should also include a description of how the program or project will be sustained in future years.

Town departments are also encouraged to seek matching funds from additional outside sources.

Go to Top