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. No. The organization must be headquartered and operate in the city of Chicago and the majority of services of the proposed project or program must be provided in Chicago. (If any services of the proposed project or program are provided outside Chicago, they must be provided within Cook County.)

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.

Q. Can you suggest which focus area is appropriate for our LOI submission?
A. No. We rely on your understanding of your organization’s project or program to choose the most relevant focus area. Focus area selections are used to verify that LOIs fit our funding criteria. Each review committee evaluates LOIs from across all focus areas and does not consider focus area when making their determinations.

Q. Can we submit an LOI in more than one focus area?
A. No. Each organization may only submit one LOI each year.

Q. The funding needed for our LOI projects or programs is less than the $100,000 grant amount. Can we submit a proposal for less than the full amount?
A. No. We require all LOI projects or programs to use the full $100,000 grant. LOIs requesting funding under that amount will not be accepted.

Q. The funding needed for our LOI project or program exceeds the $100,000 grant amount. Can we submit a proposal for more than $100,000?
A. Yes. If your project or program total funding exceeds $100,000, you will be required to delineate the portion of the project or program to be funded by the $100,000 Impact Grants Chicago grant and identify all other sources of funding previously obtained or applied for in order to complete the project or program.

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 program.

Q. What types of expenses does Impact Grants Chicago allow in a project budget?
A. Impact Grants Chicago will fund capital expenditures (i.e. capital improvements to property and the purchase of fixed assets), program expenses (including salaries) or a combination thereof. We will not accept a project budget in an LOI that requests $100,000 towards general operating expenses of an organization. See the Eligibility Requirements and Grant Guidelines page for more information.

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 July 1 of the Impact Award year. Ownership or lease of said property must be in place as of the LOI due date. See the Eligibility Requirements and Grant Guidelines page for more information.

Q. If we are invited to submit a Full Grant Application and our funding requirements and/or project needs have changed since submitting our LOI, may we submit a new proposal in our Full Grant Application?
A. No. New proposals will not be accepted at the full grant application stage. We do anticipate some restructuring of funding needs or updates on costs or bids in the LOI submissions; however, these should not affect the scope of the proposal and will need to be fully explained in the submission.

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 are awarded to the remaining finalists as Merit Grants. The amounts of these grants are not determined until January and may differ from year to year. If your organization were to be chosen as a finalist but does not receive an Impact Grant, you would receive a Merit Grant to be spent at your organization’s discretion.

Q. How should I submit my LOI or Full Grant Application?
A. LOIs are submitted online through the Impact Grants Chicago website. See the Grant Process and Schedule page for all of the eligibility requirements and grant guidelines, focus areas, 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 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.

Questions? Email:

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