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Top Tips

  1. If this is the first time you are applying for a grant from the Community Foundation call the Program Director or Program Manager at (319) 287-9106 to discuss your proposal.
  2. The need is always greater than the amount of funds available for Community Foundations to distribute. Before your organization applies for a grant think through the rationale behind your request. Are you applying because your organization has identified a need that requires more funding than your organization can provide, or are you solely seeking funding because you heard there are grants available?
  3. Create a grant calendar to keep track of all the application deadlines, award notification dates, award ceremony dates, and report deadlines.
  4. Do your research. Carefully review the grant guidelines; know what they fund, their criteria, etc.
  5. Follow the directions as stated on the grant guidelines and application.
  6. Write clearly and succinctly.
  7. Convey the need that this project will meet, and why meeting this need is important to individuals in your community and county.
  8. Clearly indicate why your organization is in the best position to meet the need this program will address (see Positioning below).
  9. Say what you will do, not what you hope to do. "We will…" not "We hope…"
  10. If applicable, explain how your organization will collaborate with other non-profit and governmental agencies to make this project successful.
  11. Include a budget which accurately reflects how the funds will be used, and if applicable how this grant fits into the overall funding of this project. List any other grants you have applied for and indicate whether or not that grant funding is secured or pending.
  12. Prior to submitting the application, review the application to ensure all questions have been answered thoroughly. Imagine that the committee who will review this application has no idea what your organization does, would this change any of your answers? Do you need to expand on any of your answers?
  13. For tips on what makes a great grant report and examples of grant reports see Grant Reports.

Four Features of an Ideal Grant

  1. Proposal fits the Community Foundation's mission/focus area(s)
  2. Proposal follows the specific guidelines of the Community Foundation applications
  3. Budget is complete and reasonable
  4. Grant report form is completed online and on time


What is a Position Statement?
A position statement stresses your organization's unique capabilities/role/etc. Use thoughtful and compelling language to describe how your organization brings value to clients and donors.

Where does a position statement fit into your application?
To strengthen your application, include your position statement along with your mission and vision for the future. This will help the grant reviewers know why your organization is in a position to meet this need and why your organization is unique in the services provided.

Create a position statement:
We are the (only) one who: _________
No one can do _________ as well as we can:_________
We want to be seen as: _________

Further Grantwriting Resources

What goes in a grant

How to get a grant? What is most important? – a video overview of the high priorities in grant proposals

Where can I find demographic information about my community? – several links to websites to find the most recent demographic information about a community to assist with grant applications

How to Write a Grant Proposal – the pieces of a grant proposal and how to write them


Samples of documents – a number of good samples of letters of inquiry, proposals, and budgets

Resources for Foundation Grants

Iowa Council of Foundations – the place where grantmakers come together to access information, build skills and develop relationships to enhance philanthropy in Iowa.

Iowa Community Foundations – Iowa Community Foundations is an Initiative of the Iowa Council of Foundations

Council on Foundations – a national nonprofit association of more than 1,700 grantmaking foundations and corporations

Resources for Writing Grant Proposals

MetroFunders – a list of helpful links for the grantwriter

Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center – The Larned A. Waterman Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center strives to help Iowa's charitable nonprofit organizations become more effective in building their communities by offering useful information and prompt assistance

Non-community foundation grants

Writing a Successful Grant Proposal – good for grant proposals outside a community foundation

Links to grantwriting tips and samples – a good collection of advice and samples

Looking for other grant possibilities? Try these links.

In the Cedar Valley – MetroFunders – a voluntary alliance of Black Hawk County public and private grant-makers made to collect information, provide funding coordination, and prioritize information for grant making and develop financial resources for grant seekers

National sources: How to find grants for your nonprofit organization – the very first steps of grantseeking

Regional Associations of Grantmakers – (the Forum) is a national philanthropic leader and a network of 34 regional associations of grantmakers. It supports philanthropy by strengthening the ability of all regional associations to fulfill their missions

Kickstarter – a website for direct support fundraising campaigns

General Non-Profit and Philanthropic Information

Chronicle of Philanthropy – a news source for nonprofit leaders, fund raisers, grant makers, and other people involved in the philanthropic enterprise

Philanthropy News Digest (RFP of the Day) – a daily news source for nonprofits provided by the Foundation Center

Non-Profit Quarterly – a source for information and dialogue about democratic activism and about the organizations and movements that are a part of that

Stanford Social Innovation Review – a magazine and website that covers cross-sector solutions to global problems. SSIR is written for and by social change leaders in the nonprofit, business, and government sectors who view collaboration as key to solving environmental, social, and economic justice issues

Google for Nonprofits – Google-product tools for nonprofits to use