We currently do not have a 501(c)(3) determination letter and 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 we are using them as our fiscal partner. Do we qualify?

No. As a women’s collective grant-making organization, we are responsible for awarding the donations of many generous women. We are very diligent about doing thorough reviews to ensure our $100,000 Impact Grant winners are financially stable and sustainable. We require our applicants to meet all of our guidelines. Your organization would need to operate under its own 501(c)(3) status for 36 months and meet the operating budget guidelines before qualifying.

We are a national organization but have a local office providing services in the Chicagoland area. Can we receive funding from Impact 100 Chicago for our suburban Chicago operations?

The local organization applying for our grant will be the party accepting responsibility for receiving and spending the grant funds and must meet all of our eligibility guidelines. We rely on the IRS Form 990 and an audit report as tools to verify an organization’s filing status and evaluate the financial results of our applicants. If the local organization providing services in the suburban Chicago area meets all other eligibility criteria (including the operating revenues range), but files a consolidated Form 990 as part of a national organization, the local organization must be independently audited. A copy of the most recent audit report documenting this scenario will be required to confirm eligibility.

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 LOI submission?

No. Sales tax exemption for the state of Illinois does not necessarily mean that you are a “Public Charity” with tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. If your organization is a 501(c)(3) public charity, you should have a determination letter from the IRS stating this. A copy of the determination letter must be attached to your LOI.

We are a faith-based organization. Can we apply?

Impact 100 Chicago has many applicants that are faith-based or out-growths from religious institutions. In order to be eligible for our grant, their projects or programs must be open to all, including volunteers, regardless of religion; and their overall mission must not be to draw participants to one faith. Inherently religious activities within the organization would need to be separate, in time or location, from programming funded by Impact 100 Chicago.

Impact 100 Chicago will not fund a program or project which restricts participation because of religion (i.e: participation in the program or use of the facility requires that you profess a certain faith), and/or is principally guided by or requires religious activities (i.e. the program or project is designed for the purposes of engaging or bringing others into a religion).

What types of projects or programs do you prefer to fund?

As a collective grant-making organization, we have a diverse group of women who make up our voting membership. The committee members reviewing LOIs change each year, so a project or program that generally appeals to a committee one year may not the next year. Our grant recipients are spread over a range of focus and service areas, and include programs as well as capital projects.

In general, our members are most enthusiastic about projects or programs that are transformative to the organization and the populations they serve. We want to hear about organizations that, if empowered with our funding, would be taking a huge step forward to advance their mission and that the funding would have a dramatic effect on the lives of an underserved population.

How can we make our Letter of Inquiry rise to the top?

Our members who review the Letters of Inquiry (“LOI”) and Full Grant Applications would like to share the following:

  • Take the LOI phase very seriously. While this stage seems easy because the submission is relatively short and simple, it is critical that your organization be very thoughtful about the request being made. Once you have submitted your LOI, you cannot change the scope of the request or how you plan to use the funds if you are moved forward in the process.
  • The submissions that really stand out are from organizations that have a clear and thoughtful mission, fill a defined need by reaching out to underserved populations in the suburban Chicago area, are financially healthy AND have a well-conceived project or program that needs funding.
  • Our review committees carefully consider the number of people served by a project and the intensity of services proposed. We talk about the depth and duration of the impact on the target population, and whether the impact might extend beyond the scope of the project and have a ripple effect, either in the broader community or over time.
  • For requests to fund programs, a clear explanation of how a program can be sustained after the Impact 100 Chicago $100,000 award is spent is important to us. We would like to know that we are jump-starting or investing in a program that has a strong probability of being funded beyond our one or two year involvement.
  • We recommend that you do not try to guess what kind of project, program or focus area
    Impact 100 Chicago “prefers” to fund. Each year the organizations with the most impactful grant projects inevitably rise to the top as finalists and award recipients.
What types of expenses do you allow in a project budget?

Impact 100 Chicago will fund capital costs (i.e. capital improvements to property and the purchase of fixed assets) or expenses clearly identifiable to a new or existing program. The organization as a whole has no preference for funding one type of project expense over another.

If your project involves capital purchases, we will be looking at the use of funds and the impact that will be generated by the capital improvements. The property involved must be owned by the applicant or leased with a minimum 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 Letter of Inquiry due date. In terms of programming expenses, we understand that being properly staffed is critical to implementing any project. If staff expenses are a large part of the project budget, our primary concern may be the sustainability of the project after the grant period, and how staff salaries will be funded after our grant funds are expended.

We will not accept a project budget in a Letter of Inquiry that requests $100,000 towards general operating expenses of an organization. The use of an Impact Grant award of $100,000 is restricted in a formal grant agreement to a defined project and/or program and cannot be used for unrestricted general operating support.

Between the times we submitted our LOI and were invited to write a full grant proposal, our funding requirements and/or project needs changed. May we submit a new proposal in our grant application?

No.  New proposals will not be accepted at the full grant application stage. They would need to be held for LOI submission in the next year’s grant cycle. We anticipate some restructuring of funding needs or updates on costs or bids in the LOI submissions; however the committee members reviewing a full grant proposal will be expecting the project or program defined in the LOI to be comparable in nature to the full grant proposal. Any updates between the two submissions must be clearly identified in the full grant proposal.

Our project could be submitted under more than one of the focus area descriptions. Can you suggest which one may give us the greatest advantage?

Focus areas are used to verify Letters of Inquiry fit within our funding criteria. We rely on your understanding of your organization’s needs to choose the most relevant focus area. The review committees will receive LOIs for evaluation across all available focus areas. The applications with the most dynamic projects and organizations tend to stand out regardless of the chosen focus area.

The funding necessary for our possible LOI programs or projects are either less than the $100,000 Impact 100 Chicago grant amount or cost more than $100,000. Can we submit a proposal for more or less than the full amount? 

Impact 100 Chicago requires LOI projects or programs to use the full $100,000 grant. LOI submissions requesting funding under $100,000 will not be considered.

If your project or program costs more than $100,000, you will be requested to define the portion of the project to be funded by the $100,000 Impact 100 Chicago grant and all other sources of funding previously obtained or applied for in order to complete the project.

Your website shows Impact 100 Chicago awarded grants for less than $100,000. How can we win one of those grant awards?

These are “Merit Grants” and are not part of our application process. Our grant model is based on the number of members in our organization each year. For every 100 members, each having donated $1,000, we will award a $100,000 Impact Grant. The residual funds are awarded to remaining finalists as Merit Grants. The amounts of these grants are not determined until January and may differ from year to year. Our desire is to acknowledge the achievement of these organizations in becoming finalists and the wonderful services they provide to the suburban Chicago area. If your organization is chosen as a finalist but does not win an Impact Grant, you would receive a Merit Grant to be spent at your organization’s discretion.

How should I submit my Letter of Inquiry or Full Grant Proposal?

Letters of Inquiry are submitted online through our website. See Apply for a Grant for the full grant process and schedule.

Whom can we contact to discuss our grant application?

For questions regarding Impact 100 Chicago′s guidelines or process, you may email outreach@impact100chicago.org. If we have questions about your Letter of Inquiry or Full Grant Proposal, we will contact you.

Our online applicant management system also provides an extensive email support system, FAQs, and self-help guides for submission issues.