Click on the section links below to find answers to frequently asked grant-related and organizational questions. If you don’t see the answer to your question, please contact staff through our Contact Us page.
Applying for a Grant
I am having problems using the online grant application system. Can you help?
Please first review this document, How to Use Our Online Grant Application System. If you still need help, contact Kathie Hardy at 727-507-9668.
Do you have any suggestions for writing a good grant proposal?
Why, yes, we do! Please see our Grant-Writing Tips for some suggestions.
Why do you have character/word limits in the applications?
We are committed to having a streamlined grant application process that only asks for the information we need to make decisions and ensure accountability. We set character limits for each question based on our experience, which has shown us how much information is needed for us to understand your proposed project. The character limits require you to be clear and concise.
How do I decide which grant type would be the best fit?
Review the descriptions of our grant programs on our web site – there are unique characteristics, priorities and eligibility requirements for each type of grant we offer, although our overall goals and grant-making focus are the same. We encourage you to speak to someone on our team before applying. If we discourage you from applying, please consider this advice: based on our experience, we are trying to save you the effort of submitting a request that is very unlikely to be funded. Ultimately, though, you need to make the decision; our staff cannot decide for you which of your ideas to submit, or which grant program is the best fit.
When applying for a Major Grant, how should I determine whether to apply for General Operating Support versus Programmatic Support?
Allegany Franciscan Ministries created these two funding categories based on feedback from our partner organizations. Some organizations have expressed there are specific programs they would like to expand or sustain. While other organizations have explained that they have well-funded programs, yet they lack revenue to “keep the lights on” in their facilities. An organization must decide prior to starting their application which category is more appropriate for their needs.
Though our staff will not advise an organization under which category to apply, it is strongly recommended that an organization only request General Operating Support if the organization’s overarching mission is health related or developed around a specific health initiative (i.e. a free health clinic or an organization that specifically targets a specific disease). General operating requests support organizations whose missions closely align with at least one of our funding focus areas (increase access to health services and improve overall health status of underserved communities). For an organization that is more social services oriented, it may be more appropriate to apply for Programmatic Support. For example, an organization that targets and protects women from sex trafficking may not be regarded specifically as a health organization. However, that same organization could ask for support for a specific program that improves access to health for that vulnerable population.
With regard to General Operating Support versus Programmatic Support, will an organization be less likely to be funded in one category rather than another? Which category will be more competitive?
No. Assuming an organization’s overarching mission is health related and aligns with at least one of our funding focus areas (increase access to health services and improve the overall health status of underserved communities), there is no advantage or disadvantage to which category you choose. The review committees will review all applications without prejudice for the category under which it has been presented. However, it is strongly recommended that an organization only request General Operating Support if the organization’s overarching mission is health related. Major Grants is a competitive process. We anticipate providing up to twelve grants ranging between $50,000 and $200,000 across the three regions we serve with a total of up to $1,500,000 being awarded in FY18.
Some grant programs have a “range” of amounts that will be awarded. How do I decide what amount to ask for?
There is a specific range available for each grant program; within this range, we encourage you to ask for what you need and request support for expenses that are realistic and reasonable for the project. Consider the scope and design of the project you are planning, what its total costs are, and what other resources you may have. Do not ask for the top of the range simply because that is the amount available; your proposed budget should demonstrate the need for the funds requested. Be realistic about your expenses; do not ask for too little to successfully complete the project. For Tau Grants, you may request as little as $1,000. We do not count pennies; round your request off to at least $100. Finally, if you still aren’t sure, speak with the staff person overseeing the grant program to which you are applying.
What is the typical “average” budget size of a grant recipient?
Tau Grants are intended for organizations with total budgets of under $2 million, and a preference is given to organizations with budgets of less than $1 million. For Major Grants, there is a very broad range, beginning at around $300,000 annual budget to as much as $50 million. We consider many factors such as the applicant’s organizational capacity and other available resources, in light of the budget size. If your organization is requesting a grant that is more than half of your annual budget, or if you represent a very large ($20 million +) organization, we encourage you to speak with our program officer prior to submitting a Major Grant LOI.
Some grants may be provided for more than one year; does it matter if we ask for just one year or should we request a multi-year grant?
We provide the opportunity for multi-year grants because we believe that most (but not all) projects need some time to achieve significant results, and because funding over time can offer additional sustainability for an organization or project. However, as noted elsewhere, please ask for what you need! If $100,000 in one year will serve your needs better than $50,000 over two years, that is what you should request.
If we ask for a multi-year grant, should we request the same amount for each year?
Not necessarily. You should ask for what you need. In fact, it is uncommon for a project to cost exactly the same every year. For example, expenses such as personnel and insurance may increase year-to-year, there may be higher start-up costs in the first year, or higher technology costs in the second year. Your anticipated revenue to support the project may change also: in some cases, other funding or earned income may mean you will need less money from Allegany Franciscan Ministries during the latter part of the grant. To provide an example, if your request is for a total of $180,000 over two years, you may divide that amount any way that makes sense for your project: it could be $90,000 a year for two years; or $100,000 the first year and $80,000 the second year; or $50,000 the first year, $130,000 the second year. Anything is possible, as long as it aligns with the overall expected expense and revenue for the project.
My organization offers direct mental health or therapy services (i.e., drug rehab, etc.); will Allegany Franciscan Ministries fund these programs?
Generally, Allegany Franciscan Ministries does not provide funding for direct services such as mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment or physical therapy, or for halfway houses and similar residential programs. Despite our recognition that these are valuable services, with our limited funding we have chosen to focus on other strategies for improving the health of our communities. We may address root causes or community indicators related to these issues that have an impact at a systemic level, such as advocacy efforts or a community-wide solution rather than providing for direct services to individuals offered by a specific program. Our ACOR Grants may support these types of services however, ACOR Grants have very limited eligibility. Please review the descriptions of grants awarded in the last year to get a better sense of the types of projects we might consider.
My organization has an afterschool program or mentoring program. Will Allegany Franciscan Ministries provide funding for this program?
Again, Allegany Franciscan Ministries does not generally provide for afterschool, out-of-school and mentoring programs. We do believe these are critical and important services. However, we have found that other strategies for improving the health status of those who are underserved in our communities are usually a better fit for our mission. We might consider an afterschool program with a very well-integrated health and wellness component that addresses the families/community/neighborhood beyond the students in the program and expects to lead to better health outcomes for a vulnerable population. Our ACOR Grants may support afterschool and mentoring programs, however, ACOR Grants have very limited eligibility. Please review the descriptions of recent grant awards to get a better sense of the types of projects we might consider.
My organization is based in another state, but serves one of Allegany Franciscan Ministries’ regions. Are we eligible to apply?
Yes. However, a successful application from a non-local organization will need to demonstrate a very good understanding of, and connection to the local community. Collaboration and partnerships are always important to us, and this is even more important for an organization that is not based in the community it is planning to serve.
I am looking for funding for a project in Lincoln Park, Overtown or Wimauma. Can I apply for a Major or Tau Grants?
While Allegany Franciscan Ministries will consider supporting projects that impact one of these Common Good Communities, if the project is completely or largely limited to that community it is not eligible for a Tau or Major Grant. There are several reasons for this approach: 1) we recognize that our available funds for both the Common Good Initiative and our competitive grant programs are limited, and we want to spread our impact broadly across the larger regions we serve, and 2) we want to ensure that resources within the Common Good Initiative are well-coordinated and prioritized. If your organization is working within any of these communities we encourage you to reach out to the regional vice president serving that area.
The eligibility guidelines state that “public agencies” are not eligible for funding. What does this mean?
For Allegany Franciscan Ministries, “public agencies” refers to state, county, and local governmental agencies; these entities are not eligible for a grant from us. Public universities and colleges may not apply directly for funding. However, if a state university or college has set up a separate foundation, the foundation may apply for funds. The foundation must meet all our eligibility criteria, including 501(c)(3) designation. In addition, a public agency may be a partner in an initiative with another organization that serves as the lead agency; this project would be eligible.
My organization is a non-profit hospital, may we apply for a grant?
Yes, non-profit hospitals (or their foundations) may apply. However, please be aware that our preference is to support hospitals that are affiliated with Trinity Health. In addition, hospital-led initiatives that compete for grants from Allegany Franciscan Ministries do not focus on inpatient care; they are typically health education and outreach efforts that include significant collaboration or partnerships with community-based organizations.
Why can’t my organization apply for another Tau Grant when we have an active Tau Grant?
We are able to make better funding decisions about a new grant to your organization if we have been able to review the final report on a recent grant. In addition, we value the opportunity to provide Tau Grants to many different organizations, and limiting the number of active grants to a single organization helps us to “share the wealth”. Finally, the Tau Grant is not intended to provide ongoing, sustaining funding for a project or an organization; we don’t automatically renew Tau Grants annually. We discourage you from applying for a Tau Grant within one year of receiving a prior Tau Grant. We also discourage you from applying for the same project multiple times. If your Tau Grant has a one-year official grant period, and you have completed it before the year is up, you may certainly submit a final report early.
Is there a certain percentage that should be used for program services, personnel, etc.?
We do not require specific levels or percentages for different expenses. We ask that you develop a budget, and request support, for expenses that are realistic and reasonable for the initiative. These will primarily be direct costs attributable to the project. However, we believe that indirect costs are necessary for a project’s success, and we will support those expenses within reason. (Indirect costs are general or administrative expenses that are necessary to effectively deliver a project or program, but that are not readily identified with and attributable to a specific project.
How should I describe other actual or pending funds that also support my organization or project?
We are interested in knowing what other support you have for a proposed project, including in-kind, ongoing public or private funding, and grants. In your narrative, describe the funding support for the project. For Major Grants, you may not have confirmation of all potential funding; please describe the potential sources of funds and identify which are committed, which are requested/are pending, and which have not been applied for. We don’t have a required format for indicating this: be sure that however you describe what is confirmed/committed, what is pending, and what is possible, that you are very clear so the reviewers understand.
Can I request support for tuition or scholarships to my program?
Not directly. If your need is to provide “slots” in your program for additional participants, we understand that you may think of this expense as scholarships. Although we may be willing to support the service you provide to these individuals, we are interested in knowing about your actual costs. So rather than applying for “scholarships” you will need to request support of a portion of program expenses, such as staff, facility, supplies and transportation.
My organization doesn’t have an annual audit, can we still apply for a Major Grant?
An annual, audited financial statement is required, accompanied by a Management Letter. We understand that some organizations have valid reasons for not having an audit, but in the interest of good stewardship of our grants, we require that an audit be done prior to and for every year during which a grant is active. We have a responsibility to ensure that an organization we fund has the financial strength, management capacity and safeguards in place to successfully handle the grant we provide.
Appropriate audit expenses within reason may be included in project budgets. If you do not have an audit, you may consider working with another organization to serve as fiscal agent for the grant (see the question below in these FAQs for more information about fiscal agents). If you do NOT have an audit, please be sure to speak with the Allegany Franciscan Ministries program officer before submitting a funding request.
We have not completed an audit yet, but plan to do so. What should we use in place of this?
Please see the answer above. An independent audited financial statement is required for all Major Grants. It provides some assurances to us regarding financial management and internal controls, as well as a snapshot of your organization’s financial position.
If you do not have an audit, submit a statement to our program officer describing why an audit has not yet been done and your plans, if any, to complete one within the next few months. We encourage you to contact our program officer as soon as possible as you may not be eligible to receive funding without an audit or approved alternative. An audit is not required for organizations applying for a Tau or ACOR Grant.
Does Allegany Franciscan Ministries require that the audit be conducted solely on an accrual basis, or will you accept one on an OCBOA (modified cash) basis?
Audits in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) require the use of accrual basis accounting rather than cash basis accounting. As a result, we would expect that the independent Certified Public Accountant (CPA) completing your audit would follow this approach. However, if extenuating circumstances exist that necessitate the completion of your audit on a cash or modified cash basis we will accept that approach provided that we receive and approve in advance a written request to use a methodology other than accrual basis. The request must explain the circumstances that lead to the need for using a cash or modified cash basis.
What is a fiscal agent, and when should I use one?
A fiscal agent is not the same thing as a registered agent or a treasurer. It is always an organization, not an individual.
In some cases, an organization desiring to apply for a grant from Allegany Franciscan Ministries does not meet all the eligibility criteria (for example, does not yet have its 501 (c)(3) designation or does not have an audit). In other cases, the organization may be eligible, but does not have the capacity to complete all the requirements for a successful grant. We encourage these organizations to seek out a community partner that does have capacity and meets all eligibility requirements, to serve as a fiscal agent for the grant. The fiscal agent will then be the official applicant. It is not common for a Major Grant to be funded through a fiscal agent. It is imperative that you have a conversation with the appropriate Allegany Franciscan Ministries staff person regarding this arrangement prior to completing an application.
If you are invited to submit a full application for a Major Grant, using a fiscal agent, Allegany Franciscan Ministries will provide a form for both parties to sign indicating that they understand the responsibilities of both the fiscal agent and the organization providing the program.
If a grant is awarded, Allegany Franciscan Ministries will enter into an agreement with the fiscal agent, and will hold the fiscal agent legally responsible for the grant, including financial management, all reporting, and all other requirements. Allegany Franciscan Ministries recommends that the fiscal agent enter into a subcontract with the organization. The fiscal agent may or may not have any additional involvement with the grant other than managing the funds and ensuring that conditions of the grant agreement are met. The fiscal agent may charge a reasonable administrative fee for their services; this fee is an acceptable cost to include within the grant budget.
What is the difference between a “lead agency” and a “fiscal agent”?
Please see above for description of fiscal agent. A lead agency may be identified for a particular grant when there are multiple organizations collaborating on the grant. The partners will choose one organization to serve as the lead. Much like a fiscal agent, this organization will be the official applicant, and will be responsible to Allegany Franciscan Ministries for all aspects of the grant. Typically, as a lead agency, it will have additional programmatic responsibilities as well.
What is Allegany Franciscan Ministries’ philosophy about sustainability?
Allegany Franciscan Ministries recognizes that it is very challenging for community-supported organizations to predict the future, or to know what funding sources may be available. At the same time, we are unlikely to continue to support a program through multiple funding cycles. Our hope is that effective projects meeting a community need will be able to continue, even after our funding ends. We do not ask a question in our grant applications specifically about sustainability. Nonetheless, we encourage you to consider the future of the program and what you might do to ensure that it continues, and we are likely to engage in a dialogue about this with you at some point during the application process, at least for Major Grants.
May I contact a member of the Allegany Franciscan Ministries board of directors or grants committee directly to discuss my grant application?
No, please contact the appropriate staff person at Allegany Franciscan Ministries. Our directors and committee members will refer all calls regarding applications back to the staff. Your relationship with a director or committee member will not impact our decision regarding your application.
Do you prefer that we save uploaded documents in a particular format?
Please upload documents as Excel and Word documents, whichever is the program of the original document. Do not upload documents in PDF format. The only exception is the certification form for the Major grant full application – this should be scanned with signatures and uploaded as a PDF file.
Will it help to submit letters of support?
Do NOT submit letters of support with your application.
What does “Tau” mean?
St. Francis of Assisi adopted the Tau symbol (the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet) as his signature on letters. For St. Francis, the Tau was a loving symbol of God’s intense relationship of love, summarizing the mystery of faith. St. Francis had the symbol carved on the walls of his cell as the sign of genuine hope and faith in God’s faithfulness, and often painted it on the walls of places he stayed.
The Tau is used as a symbol of the Franciscan Order; our Franciscan Sisters of Allegany have incorporated the Tau into their logo. Allegany Franciscan Ministries uses this symbol as part of our logo and as the name for our Tau Grant program, to connect us to St. Francis and the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, remind us of our commitment to the economically poor and marginalized and to wish God’s blessings on all.
Does a scanned signature of the Board Chairperson count for the Certification Form?
No, an original signature is expected for each. The Certification Form for Major Grants requires signatures of the President/CEO, the CFO, and the Board Chair or Vice Chair. If the Board Chair is not available, the Vice Chair may sign in his/her place. Similarly, if the organization does not have a CFO, then the Board Treasurer, or the staff person with fiscal oversight responsibilities, may sign. The CEO may NOT sign as both CEO and CFO. There is sufficient time to get signatures and submit required documents. It is important to us that your board is engaged and informed about your application and our expectations. We trust that each person who signs has had an opportunity to review a draft or final version of your application as well as a copy of our sample grant agreement.
May I see a copy of a successful application?
We do not share copies of past successful applications. This is not because we wish to keep the application secret in any way; rather, we believe that the written application is just one component of a successful request. Trying to mimic another organization’s request would be a disservice to telling the story of your project. We suggest you refer to our Grant Writing Tips for help with constructing a good written request, and the lists of grants awarded to get a better sense of the types of projects we might consider. Be aware that just because we have funded a specific project in the past does not mean that a similar project would be funded in the future.
For those organizations invited to submit a full application for a Major Grant, we will supply examples of completed budgets and budget narratives, in order to help you understand the level of detail we expect.
THE GRANT REVIEW PROCESS
What is the review process like? Are applications rated on a scale?
We do not use a rating system at Allegany Franciscan Ministries, with points for each response. Ours is a collaborative, consensus-based review process. Members of our staff team initially screen requests for basic eligibility and fit with our focus and priorities. Our board of directors makes the final decision to award each grant based on recommendations from staff and/or grants committee.
For ACOR Grants, applications for eligible projects are shared with the grants committee, which then meets and reviews each request, developing recommendations through open dialogue. For Tau Grants, staff recommendations are provided to the grants committee and briefly reviewed.
Major Grants receive the most extensive review, with several stages. First, staff members review them for completeness and eligibility. The staff then completes an initial screening and review for fit with our priorities and focus. The results of this review are shared with the grants committee. Once full applications are submitted, committee members and staff read the complete application, and staff conducts an additional due diligence review. Site visits or meetings may be held to gather additional information and answer questions. The grants committee and staff meet to discuss and reach consensus on their recommendations.
If a grant is awarded, will it be for the full amount and grant period (length of time) requested?
Usually but not always. We will review a number of factors to determine what amount we will offer. We also may suggest that the budget be revised in terms of what expenses are covered, without changing the total amount. We will communicate with you if we intend to provide less funding than was requested, and we recognize that your anticipated outcomes may change as a result. In some cases we may decrease the time period of a grant (for example, we will fund only one year when two years were requested).
Why does it take so long to make a decision and award grants?
We recognize that it can be difficult to wait a long time to get a response about grant proposals that have been submitted. We are committed to having a transparent process, and always let grant seekers know the timeline and expected announcement dates. Our ACOR and Tau Grant review processes can take 4 or 5 months from submission to decision, while our Major Grants take about 10 months. In some cases, another few months are required to confirm the budget and outcomes for an approved project. For all grants, both staff review and volunteer committees review applications. Our Major Grant process includes two phases, designed so that a smaller number of grant seekers, those more likely to receive funding, are required to complete the more extensive, rigorous full review process. Our board of directors, which approve grants, meets four times a year.
AFTER A GRANT HAS BEEN AWARDED, (OR NOT)
Is there an appeal process?
We do not have an appeal process. If we have declined your grant request, we encourage you to call or make an appointment to meet with the appropriate staff member, who will be able to give you feedback and help you understand why the grant was not approved. Often projects that are eligible and a good “fit” are still not funded, simply because we have limited funds and had to make difficult choices, and we felt that other requests were better positioned to help us achieve our mission.
My grant application was turned down. Can I find out why?
Yes, we will share feedback about your application and we encourage you to contact the appropriate staff person (immediately – if you wait our memory becomes foggy!). Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to fund every request, competition is very strong, and often we must choose one perfectly good project over another perfectly good project. We will make every effort to give you specific feedback. This feedback may help you to submit more successful proposals to other funders in the future, so we hope that you will engage in the discussion from a place of learning. We can also tell you whether we think a future application to Allegany Franciscan Ministries for the same or a different project might be more successful.
My request was turned down. How soon may I apply again?
There are no limits on how often or how frequently you may apply. If a grant request is declined, you are welcome to apply at the next available opportunity. We do recommend that you speak to the appropriate staff person so that you understand why your request was not approved. It is not a good idea to re-submit the same request.
How do I access my grant agreement and how does the electronic signature work? Can I print a copy for my records?
Allegany Franciscan Ministries uses an electronic grant agreement for the Tau, Major, All Region Fund and ACOR Grant programs. Grant agreements serve as the legal document that defines and communicates expectations and responsibilities between Allegany Franciscan Ministries and its grant partners.
Grant agreements are located in our online grants management system, the same system used to complete your application. The agreement itself is a “follow up” form located within the system. Grant agreements are assigned to the chief executive officer for the organization. If the chief executive officer does not have their own account, they will need to create one in order to access the grant agreement. The chief executive officer is responsible for reviewing the grant agreement, agreeing to the terms and conditions of the grant and entering their name, title and date on the form. This constitutes the electronic signature and completes the agreement. The 2000 Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act recognizes that electronic signatures are equivalent to paper signatures and subject to the same legal scrutiny of authenticity as paper documents.
Completed grant agreements can be printed by clicking on the “follow-up packet” link at the top of the document.
How does Allegany Franciscan Ministries’ evaluate funded programs?
Allegany Franciscan Ministries has three primary roles for evaluation: funding stewardship; grant partner learning and capacity building; and communication about results and impact. Different evaluation approaches have been developed for different types of grants, commensurate with the size of the grant and scope and complexity of the funded project. Please see this link for more information.
Where can I find information about what will be expected in my progress reports?
All reports are made online through the same system as the grant applications. Once your organization has been awarded a grant, you can find progress report requirements and information in your Dashboard page.
Look in the box for the grant and you should see a “follow up report” notation, then look to the right and click on the “edit” button to go to the actual report. From there, you will be able to print the questions, open a PDF document with detailed instructions, and complete the report.
How much money does Allegany Franciscan Ministries have?
As of 11/30/17, the total unrestricted net assets of Allegany Franciscan Ministries were $119.25 M. All investment assets are held in the Trinity Health Consolidated Investment Program, and are professionally managed (through socially responsible funds) under the administration of Trinity Health.
How much does Allegany Franciscan Ministries grant out each year, and how is this amount set?
Allegany Franciscan Ministries’ board of directors annually reviews its policy regarding our grant distributions. Our current policy is to set an annual grant budget of 5% of total net assets. The total annual grants have ranged between $5.5 M and $6.2 M for the last few years. Since our inception, Allegany Franciscan Ministries has awarded over $88.2 M.
How can my organization get a St. Clare or All Region Fund Grant?
These two types of grants are not awarded through a competitive process, and unsolicited requests are not accepted. They are not intended to allow for programs to “skip” the competitive review process. Typically, these grants grow out of work our staff does with community partners or from priorities identified by our board or grant committees. Very few are awarded in any given year. More information about them is available on in our grant program overview page and our grants awarded list.
Where can I get a copy of Allegany Franciscan Ministries’ logo?
Please contact Kathie Hardy at firstname.lastname@example.org with information about how you would like to use the logo, and if appropriate, she will send it to you in the correct format. Don’t try to copy our logo from our web site or cut and paste it from another document.
How can I make a comment or give feedback to Allegany Franciscan Ministries?
Usually, we send a survey out to all applicants at some point after the requests have been submitted, and this is always a good place to make a comment. We welcome feedback at any time; if you do not receive a survey or would prefer to comment directly, please address your feedback to the appropriate staff member as listed on the Contact Us page of our web site. Although we do not at this time have an anonymous comment/suggestion box, you may always direct your comment to our CEO (Eileen Coogan) at email@example.com.
I have another question that is not answered here, how can I get help?
We are always willing, and usually delighted, to talk with you. If you are not able to find the answer to your question on our web site or application materials, feel free to call or email us: please see the Contact Us page of our web site.