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On this page, you will find responses to frequently asked questions about both resident and nonprofit grant requests.

These FAQs apply to our responsive grantmaking in 2015, and also include several other FAQs about our work in the community. We will update this section of our website frequently with new questions and additional responses. Please check back for updates to these FAQs before your next application.

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Submitting an Application

My nonprofit was declined in previous years - may I apply?

Organizations who have been declined may apply again one year later. For example, an organization declined in response to a February 2014 application may apply again in February 2015. We strongly encourage all organizations to review our new guidelines, and to contact us to talk about potential fit prior to submitting an application.

For more information or to schedule a conversation with a member of The Denver Foundation staff, first check our website for details on upcoming pre-application workshops and open office hours, and then contact Alma Martinez at or call 303.300.1790, ext. 155.

Review Process and Site Visits

What happens at a site visit?

The site visit is an opportunity for The Denver Foundation to develop a deeper understanding of your organization and your proposal, after proposals proceed beyond the initial stage of the review process. The assigned program officer or consultant will get a chance to meet you face-to-face and discuss specific details about your organization’s programs, staffing, financial situation, board of directors, etc. It is also an opportunity for you to bring your organization “to life” in a way that just doesn’t happen by reading a proposal. While program officers necessarily ask a lot of questions, we strive to have the site visit be a two-way exchange of information. Site visits normally last about 1 ½ hours.

If a member of one of the Foundation’s advisory committees attends the site visit, does that mean we have a better chance of receiving funding?

Not really, since funding depends on many factors. Assuming the site visit goes well, if an advisory committee member attends the site visit your organization will have two individuals who know its work well, rather than one, at the meeting at which funding is decided.

How many people should I have present at the site visit? How should I choose those people?

Too many people can overwhelm a site visit and also extend the time by quite a bit. We definitely recommend against having a really big group – say, more than three or four people. Your program officer will make suggestions about folks you might include, such as a board member or a program participant who can provide valuable perspectives on your work. Someone else from The Denver Foundation may accompany the program officer, such as another staff member, a member of the advisory committee that will be reviewing your proposal, or a donor. If this is the case, the Program Officer will let you know who else will be coming.

For information on our Strengthening Neighborhoods Program, please click here.

How should I prepare for a site visit?


You are the expert about your organization, so you will probably be able to answer most questions with little difficulty. The most important thing is to re-read your proposal and to have it available during the site visit. Try to imagine what kind of questions you would ask if you were just learning about your organization. Some staff or consultants develop a list of questions that they will forward to you before the site visit, but there are always questions that arise spontaneously during the discussion.

A site visit is not a test, it’s a discussion designed to help inform decisions related to grants and to learn from one another regarding a specific area of work. If, at the site visit, there is some information you don't have readily available, it can be supplied later.

Funded Grants and Reports

My nonprofit received a grant last year - when can I re-apply?

Organizations that received a grant from The Denver Foundation in 2013 must turn in a final report on that grant before submitting another grant application in 2014. For example, an organization that applied in February 2013 and received funding in June 2013 would then turn in a final report in June 2014. That organization would then be eligible to apply for funding at the next deadline in August 2014. This applies only to grants received in response to Community Grants applications; other grants, such as those from donor advisors or technical assistance grants, do not affect your eligibility for Community Grants funding.

Note that collaboratives may apply every twelve months, and are the only exception to this Community Grants rule.

Collaborative Applications

What types of collaboratives can/should respond to these guidelines?

We invite collaboratives of all types to apply. These may be collaboratives of several nonprofit organizations, collaboratives that include schools or governmental entities, those that include resident groups and nonprofits, or nonprofit/business partnerships. By collaboration, we do not mean referrals between organizations, or an organization that contracts with another organization to provide a specific service for a fee. Funded collaborations will likely include shared financial investment by partners, shared planning and accountability, and/or shared staffing. The strongest collaborative applications will come from organizations and groups working together to achieve greater impact and do things in the community that they could not do alone.

For more information on collaboration, see the resource page of the Colorado Collaboration Award and the information on the Lodestar Foundation’s Collaboration Prize.

Funded collaboratives are eligible to apply every twelve months. Nonprofit organizations can request support for their organizations and as a part of a collaborative in the same cycle. Note that collaborative applicants should use the special checklist when applying, as we require collaboratives to submit several additional documents.

Resident Applications and Strengthening Neighborhoods

General FAQs

Do you give grants to organizations outside of Denver?

Through our Community Grants, The Denver Foundation funds organizations that serve residents of the Denver metro area – Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties. We will consider requests from organizations based outside of the Denver metro area as long as the program or project serves residents in one or several of the seven counties listed above.

If your organization provides services statewide or nationally, your proposal must address how the requested funding will be limited to the seven counties listed above. Note that for the Education area only, we have a specific geographic focus, which you will find outlined in our grant guidelines.

I’m having a hard time fitting my general operating request on four pages – may I exceed four pages?

Organizations can submit up to five pages for general operating or program requests.

What are the deadlines for grant proposals? Is it really 5:00 p.m.?

There are two deadline dates in 2014 for grant proposals: the first business day of February and of August. Proposals must be received in our office by 5:00 p.m. on the deadline date. In order to be fair to all applicants, the deadline dates and times are firm and non-negotiable. Late proposals will not be accepted, regardless of the reason for the delay.

Do you fund general operating requests?

In the past, about 80% of our grants were for general operating support. We anticipate that we will continue to fund general operating support for organizations whose work is a strong fit with our strategies. In some cases, such as a national 501(c)(3) with a program in the Metro Denver area, or a nonprofit that has an outreach program that fits our priorities, program requests make more sense. If you’re not sure what to request, we strongly encourage you to give us a call!

Contact Alma Martinez, or 303.300.1790, ext. 155, to connect with a member of our staff.

Is there a better chance of getting a grant if I apply on one deadline date versus the other?

We would love to know the answer to this question! We have been tracking this for several years, and there is no way to predict the number that will be received, nor is there a “low” or “high” deadline.

What is the best time to call?

We are always happy to respond to your questions. However, be aware that we receive a large volume of calls in the two weeks prior to the grant deadlines, and may take more time to respond to requests at those busy times of the year.

Do you need multiple copies of the proposal; should they be bound?

We need only one copy of your proposal. Use a standard 12 point or larger font (such as Times New Roman). As we create a digital copy of all proposals submitted, please:

  • Submit all materials printed single-sided on 8 ½ x 11 paper. Please reduce any oversized or legal sized pages to 8 ½ x 11 size. Be sure to double check your audit for odd-sized and double sided pages
  • Do not use three-ring binders, staples, or any binding on any materials (including audits)
  • Submit all loose materials in a single large envelope
  • Do not use sticky notes to flag sections of your proposal
  • Put all attachments on separate pages, and please label them following the checklist in the grant guidelines

We also accept emailed copies. Note that all documents must be submitted either in hard copy or emailed – we will not accept proposals if some of the information is sent via email and other information is sent in hard copy format. Emailed proposals should be sent to

Can we submit a proposal with just a few items missing and get those items to you after the deadline?

No. We require that applications be complete and submitted to us by 5:00 pm of the deadline day. We will consider a proposal that is missing one or more items incomplete and it will be withdrawn from consideration. If your organization is missing one or more of the required attachments or is unable to provide them by the grant deadline, then it would be better for you to wait until the next deadline and submit a complete proposal.

What are some common mistakes you see in proposals?

Here are a few common mistakes that weaken a proposal:

  1. Not including revenue in agency or program budgets
  2. Not dating financial statements and financial documents
  3. Not completing a final report before applying
  4. Not including an audit if agency revenue is over $500,000
  5. Not explaining any "red flags" or unusual situations in the financial statements at the time of submission. The Colorado Common Grant Application allows for unlimited space to explain financial discrepancies, challenges, and plans to address deficits, shifting budgets, and fund diversity.
  6. Not including evaluation results. The Colorado Common Grant Application has an optional evaluation attachment, and we strongly encourage organizations to use this space to provide information about past impact and their approach to learning and assessment.
  7. Not describing the demographics of the population the organization serves or hopes to serve
  8. Not including the additional Resident Engagement and Inclusiveness attachment requested by The Denver Foundation

The Colorado Common Grant Application User’s Guide is a valuable companion piece in crafting a proposal, and helps to demystify components of the grant review process.

Do we need to have an anti-discrimination policy? What if we do not include every category identified by TDF in its own policy? How do you interpret/apply your non-discrimination requirement?

The Denver Foundation is strongly committed to funding organizations that are inclusive. The Foundation requires every applicant to Community Grants to submit its board-approved anti-discrimination statement/policy. If these policies do not include every category identified in The Denver Foundation’s anti-discrimination policy, we will discuss this with the organization at the site visit. In addition, when one or more categories are not included, the Foundation will recommend the agency review its anti-discrimination policy to make it more inclusive.

Are there “special conditions” in which we need to call the Grants Manager before putting together an application?

If your organization falls in one of the categories bulleted below, you must provide information and documentation in addition to, or different from, what is normally required:

  • Local affiliate of a national organization and operates under the 501(c)3 determination of the national organization
  • School district or university/college
  • Program, project, department, or individual school within a school district or university/college, or
  • Foundation that is a the fundraising arm for another nonprofit organization or is an organization that raises funds for another nonprofit
  • Organization applying on behalf of a collaborative group

In these circumstances, it is very important that you get the special information that you need (from our website or the Associate Grants Manager) before you submit your grant proposal. Failure to do so may result in an incomplete status or declination of your proposal.

Download the Collaboration Guidelines

We're a new organization and don't have all the information requested in the guidelines. Can we still apply?

We require that all proposals include all of the listed information and attachments. The only exception to this is if your organization is less than 12 months old and therefore does not have fiscal year-end financial statements. In this case, please be sure to include a page explaining this situation or the application will be deemed incomplete and automatically withdrawn from consideration.

Does the Foundation consider proposals from faith-based organizations?

The Foundation funds many faith-based organizations. However, we do not fund religious activities or programs that require religious activity as a condition of receiving services.

Do you accept the Common Grant Application (CGA)? Do you require anything else?

We have two key differences from the CGA.

  1. All applications must include a one-page attachment to the CGA narrative with responses to the four additional questions about resident engagement, inclusiveness, and equity. You can find these questions in our guidelines.
  2. Like the CGA, we require financials from your most recently completed fiscal year. However, please note the following difference, which is based on your total revenues for the most recently completed fiscal year:
    • Revenues greater than $500,000 — you must provide a complete audit (with notes, management letter, etc.) performed by a Certified Public Accountant who is independent of your organization. If an audit is unavailable for the most recently completed fiscal year, you must turn in two things:
      1. internal year-end financial statements (balance sheet and income statement) for the most recently completed fiscal year, and
      2. an audit from the previous fiscal year.
    • Revenues less than $500,000 — when an audit is not available, you must provide your Statement of Financial Position (Balance Sheet) and Statement of Activities (Income and Expense Statement).

In either case you may NOT substitute the IRS Form 990 for the required materials.

If you work with fellow residents on a specific project, and you also are part of a nonprofit organization doing work that fits our nonprofit guidelines, you may submit separate applications requesting a resident and a nonprofit grant.

In Education, what do you mean by a 'whole child approach'?

We support projects that have a beneficial impact on school readiness, academic success, student engagement, and graduation rates by addressing cognitive areas as well as incorporating other critical factors in a child’s development including:

Relationships with, and support from caring adults
Traits such as , self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and emotional understanding as well as  resilience and tenacity
In-depth arts education 

In Education, what do you mean by a 'Collaborative Community of Support'?

We believe it takes a village working together to give every child opportunity and support.  We look for efforts that involve deep collaboration among all groups supporting those children: parents, the students themselves, educators, school leaders, and community organizations working together to break through inequities and create lasting change and impact. 

In Education, what kind of School Culture and Discipline work aligns with the Foundation's priorities?

School culture and discipline must support practices across an entire school, so that children are welcome and supported in every classroom and hallway.   For The Denver Foundation’s work in Education, this includes culturally responsive and trauma-informed practices, restorative justice and socio-emotional learning, as well as equity work.  They also include the schools’ engagement of parents and students as equitable partners and leaders.  They exist within a framework and practice of ongoing evaluation and use of key data to ensure that the work is meeting the needs of the students and to adjust the work appropriately to best meet those goals.  School culture and discipline are in service to high quality learning and equitable educational outcomes.  

Can I apply for both a nonprofit grant and a resident grant?

The grant guidelines include separate applications for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations and residents or constituents who do not have nonprofit status. If your proposal works with both constituencies, such as a collaborative program, please apply using the nonprofit guidelines.

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