grant FAQs

Q. We are going through the process of obtaining a 501(c)(3) designation; however, we are a program sponsored by a 501(c)(3) organization and are using them as our fiscal partner. Do we qualify?
A. No. Your organization must have operated under its own 501(c)(3) status for at least 36 months and meet the operating budget guidelines to qualify.

Q. We are a national organization but have a local office providing services in Chicago. Can we receive funding from Impact Grants Chicago for our Chicago operations?
A. Yes, with qualifications. Your Chicago operations must be headquartered and operate in the city of Chicago and the majority of your services must be provided in the city of Chicago. In addition, your Chicago operations must be separately and independently audited. If your Chicago financials are included in the national organization’s audit, you are not eligible to apply for a grant from Impact Grants Chicago.

Q. Our organization is exempt from paying sales tax in the state of Illinois and we have a certificate from the state. Can we use this to prove our nonprofit status in our Letter of Inquiry (“LOI”) submission?
A. No. If your organization is a 501(c)(3) public charity, you should have a determination letter from the IRS. A copy of the determination letter must be attached to your LOI. We use the IRS Letter of Determination to confirm that you have been an operating nonprofit for at least 3 years.

Q. We are a faith-based organization. Can we apply?
A. Yes, with certain qualifications. Impact Grants Chicago’s Eligibility Requirements and Grant Guidelines state that we will not fund fraternal, sectarian, religious or other organizations where the grant is intended for the principal benefit of the organization’s own members or adherents or where the grant is intended for inherently religious activities or where participation in religious activities is required as a component of the organization’s services. If your organization does not require clients to participate in religious services to receive support then you are eligible to apply to Impact Grants Chicago.

 Q. We have not yet had an audit; can we apply?
A. The state of Illinois requires all nonprofits with revenue greater than $350,000 to be audited annually. Impact Grants Chicago accepts applications from organizations with revenue between $650,000 and $8,000,000, so all applicants should have an audit. We recognize that the timing of our application deadlines may mean that you do not have an audit for the most recently completed fiscal year. In that case, you may attach your most recent audit to your application.

 Q. When funding capital improvement projects, does Impact Grants Chicago have specific requirements with respect to the ownership/leasing of the property?
A. Yes. The property must be owned by the applicant or leased with a minimum of five years remaining on the lease as of June 1 of the Impact Award year. Ownership or lease of said property must be in place as of the Full Grant Application due date. See the Eligibility Requirements and Grant Guidelines page for more information.

 Q. Can you suggest which focus area is appropriate for our organization?
A. No. We rely on your understanding of your organization’s services project or program to choose the most relevant focus area. If you feel your services are applicable to more than one focus area, please select the one that most closely aligns with your mission. Focus area is only used to distribute LOIs evenly across all review committees. Each review committee evaluates LOIs from across all focus areas and does not consider focus area when making their determinations.

Q. Your grant description mentions that Impact Grants Chicago awards grants of less than $100,000. How do we apply for one of these grants?
A. These are “Merit Grants” and are not part of our application process. Our grant model is based on the number of members who join our organization each year. For every 100 members, who donate $1,000 each, we will award one $100,000 Impact Grant. The residual funds and additional donations are awarded to the remaining finalists as Merit Grants. The amounts of these grants are not determined until late spring and may differ from year to year. If your organization is selected by a review committee as a Finalist but does not receive an Impact Grant, you will receive a Merit Grant.

Q. How should I submit my LOI or Full Grant Application?
A. LOIs are submitted online through the Impact Grants Chicago website via “Apply For A Grant” button at the top of every webpage. See the Grant Process and Schedule page for all of the eligibility requirements and grant guidelines, schedules, deadlines and grant process information, including the dates when our online management application system is open for applications. Applicants invited to submit Full Grant Applications will be given instructions on how to submit their complete applications upon receiving their invitations.

Q. Who can we contact to discuss our Letter of Inquiry or Full Grant Application?
A. Impact Grants Chicago is committed to a fair, unbiased process. We are unable to engage in unsolicited communication on topics other than questions about the guidelines, application process or forms. For questions regarding these topics, you may email If we have questions about your LOI or Full Grant Application, we will contact you. In addition, our online applicant management system provides extensive email support, FAQs, and self-help guides for submission issues.

Q. Can I reapply for a grant next year?
A. Impact grant ($100,000) recipients are not allowed to apply again for three years. During this time, we will partner with you to provide exposure to your mission and services to our membership. Merit grant recipients and all organizations that were not finalists are welcome to apply again next year.

Q. Are your grants restricted or unrestricted?
A. All grants, Impact and Merit, are unrestricted funds. Grant recipients will receive a check shortly after the Grant Award Celebration, with the full amount of the grant.

Q. Do you require grants to be used in a specific timeframe? 
A. Impact grant recipients ($100,000) are expected to use the funds within 24 months. Merit grant recipients do not have a timeline on their use of funds.

Q. Do you only fund women-focused organizations?
A. No. Impact Grants Chicago is a women’s collective giving organization; however, we will consider all applications that meet our eligibility criteria.

Q. Can we submit an application for more or less than $100,000?
A. No. All organizations are applying for an Impact Grant of $100,000; the application will not ask for your requested grant amount. 

Q. How can I update my application after it has been submitted?
A. All applications are completed in our portal, Slideroom. Once you have submitted your application, Slideroom does not allow you to make changes. If you want to make changes before the application deadline, you may email and request that your application be “Unsubmitted”. You will receive a reply when this is completed and you are then able to make changes. It is your responsibility to “ReSubmit” your application prior to the deadline to be considered for a grant. No changes to an application will be accepted after the deadline. 

Q. How does Impact Grants Chicago communicate with applicants throughout the process?
A. Applicants will receive several emails from Impact Grants Chicago during the grant cycle. All applicants will be notified of LOI eligibility, and review committee determinations at each stage of the grant process: Full Grant, Insightful Visit, and Finalist. Refer to the Grant Process and Schedule page on the website for the specific dates of each cycle stage.

Q. Do you have any suggestions on how to write a strong application?
A. Impact Grants Chicago hosts an Applicant Information Session in September, shortly before the LOI opens. This session reviews the grant process and key dates, and provides suggestions on how to write a strong application. Video recording and copies of the presentation from previous years are on the About our Grant page on our website.

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