Grant Application Guidelines and Overview - Story County Community Foundation | Grants & Tax Credits

Grant Application Guidelines and Overview

Through its grant making, the Story County Community Foundation (SCCF) is committed to allocating resources to significantly improve or affect the lives of people living in Story County communities.  Applicants should speak to the Community Betterment Objectives outlined below. 

Community Betterment Objectives:

Grant proposals that address one or more of the following objectives are accepted:

  • Address community needs in the areas of art/culture/humanities, education, health, human services, environment or community/public/society benefit.
  • Strengthen the nonprofit sector by supporting nonprofit organizations, promoting philanthropy, and encouraging civic involvement.
  • Encourage residents of Story County communities to be inclusive, welcoming, and understanding of diverse cultures.
  • Support strong, stable families and provide solid beginnings for children and youth.
  • Serve as a catalyst in collaborative efforts for the betterment of communities in Story County.
  • Serve as seed money for a new program or project.
  • Address other identified community needs with identified solutions.

A $6,000 community grant in 2017 to the Ames Historical Society (AHS) in their mission to bring the Fly with Banning traveling exhibition to Ames.  The exhibition featured James Herman Banning, who lived in Ames  in the 1920’s and was the first African American to fly across the Continental United States and to receive a U.S. Department of Commerce pilot’s license.  Banning learned to fly while attending Iowa State College.  Jeantique Oriol, Greatest Stories Never Told actor;  Jennifer Dieter, SCCF Advisory Board member; and Casie Vance, AHS Executive Director are pictured.


Grants are made only to nonprofit organizations recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt, nonprofit, public charities under section 501(c)(3) or as a "unit of government" under Section 170(c)(1)--agencies that conduct activities to benefit the public at large. These include public schools, state universities, public libraries and volunteer fire departments. If your agency does not have the IRS status, it may be possible for another agency to serve as a fiscal sponsor.

The Foundation generally will not consider funding requests for:

  • Annual or capital fund-raising campaigns (not to be confused with capital building projects, which are accepted).  A capital fundraising campaign is a time-limited effort by a nonprofit organization to raise significant dollars for a specific project.  This includes funds for telephone solicitation, fundraising events, or professional fundraiser fees.
  • Endowments - a fund made up of gifts and bequests that are subject to a requirement that the principal be maintained intact and invested to create a source of income for an organization.
  • Staff salaries, office rental, utilities, and office supplies
  • Individuals - only non-profit organizations with 501(c)(3) status, governmental agencies with charitable projects or the 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsors for an agency are eligible.
  • Grants or scholarships to individuals, including subsidies to agencies to cover individual activities or participation fees.
  • Programs covering a budget deficit or easing budget deficiencies.
  • Programs requiring participation in a religious activity or promotion of religious ideology.
  • Projects not serving residents of Story County; Projects may be multi-county but the SCCF funded portion must benefit Story County residents.
  • Festivals and one-time special events or annual events.
  • Political causes and activities, candidates or legislative lobbying efforts.
  • Private foundations.

Application Deadline:  

Must be submitted electronically by 5:00 p.m. on September 30.  Applications received after the due date/time will not be reviewed.  Letters of Intent for Major Grant are due by 5:00 p.m. on July 31.

Application Download: 

The application is found on the SCCF web page.   Click the link on the web site directing you to the correct application form.  Save the file to your computer and complete.  Always save when you have made changes.  When ready to submit, make sure you have all the required documents.  Save these documents as pdf files and combine into one pdf file, if possible.  Submit this PDF to

Application tips: 

After you have finished your application, have an outside, objective reader review it to make sure it is clear to anyone who is not intimately familiar with your organization. Use everyday language, avoiding discipline-specific jargon or acronyms that may not be familiar to grant reviewers.

Final reports:

Must be submitted to the Story County Community Foundation when the project is completed or by August 31st following the award. Future grant applications will not be considered until a final report has been submitted. The final report must include proof of purchases and expenditures relating to grant. 

Final reports should detail how this project helped the community or population served.   If possible, detail more than numbers of participants, but also the outcomes for the community or population.   Typically, outcomes represent an achievement or a change in behavior, skills, knowledge, attitude, and status or life condition of participants.  Include impact stories, pictures and testimonials.  SCCF may use this information in its promotional materials and/or on the SCCF web site.  

By accepting SCCF funds, you agree to acknowledge SCCF throughout the project on your project publicity.  Such publicity enlightens the community about your organization, as well as SCCF and SCCF grant impacts. 

Authorizing Statute for SCCF grants:  

The Endow Iowa County Values Fund legislation established in 2005 provides that 0.8% of the state's gambling revenues will be distributed to the Iowa counties that do not have gambling entities.  These funds are applied for and distributed through Qualified Community Foundations and make up the majority of the grants allocated each year. 

Capital based projects vs. Capital campaign projects:  

Capital expenditure is defined as a long-term expense rather than an annual expense.  It may be real estate, bricks and mortar (including new construction, facilities, remodeling, painting, improvements, equipment and acquiring an existing structure) and permanent fixtures added either to a structure or to real estate.  Capital projects are encouraged. Mark the appropriate box on the application. This is not the same as a capital fundraising campaign, a time-limited effort to raise significant dollars for a specific project, which generally would not be considered for funding. 

Fiscal Sponsor:  

An organization that receives the money on behalf of the grant applicant and is responsible for disbursing the money for the project and maintaining appropriate documentation. This entity must be a 501(c)(3) or a 170(c)(1) unit of government in order to serve in this capacity.  In searching for a fiscal sponsor, seek out an organization that benefits in some way from being associated with your project or has interest in your project or organization.  A fiscal sponsorship agreement must accompany the grant application if a fiscal sponsor is being used.

Major Grant:   

Each year, one project may be selected to receive up to $25,000.  The major grant allows for projects that benefit a broad spectrum of a community, address a major community issue or encourage cooperation in communities. 

In addition to our Community Betterment Objectives, in a major grant we are looking for a project which:

  • addresses significant community issues
  • presents an innovative, creative, and practical proposal that builds on community strengths
  • presents a clear work plan that shows the ability to achieve the project's goals
  • encourages cooperation, creates efficiencies and reduces duplication of services
  • develops the leadership potential of the community
  • involves the people served in the planning and implementation of the project
  • demonstrates quality, vision, collaboration and good management
  • provides a plan for sustainability beyond the funding period

Applications for the major grant are by invitation only.  Organizations with potential major grant projects need to complete the Intent to Apply form due by 5:00 p.m. on July 31 available on the SCCF website.  The SCCF allocations committee selects organizations invited to submit a full application proposal by 5:00 p.m. September 30.  SCCF may select one project for funding from these applications.  Applicants not invited to submit a Major Grant application may complete a Community Grant application. 

Community Grant: 

Applicants will complete and submit the application form found on the SCCF web site.  Awarded applications will benefit and impact Story County communities.  Approximately 15-16 grants of up to $6,000 will be awarded based on selection by the allocations committee and the amount of funds available.  Members of the allocations committee review the submitted proposals and choose applications that best fit the SCCF Community Betterment Objectives and have significant impact.

Grant Selection Process:  

This is a highly competitive process so the number of applications and strength of other applications affect the selection.  Selection is based on the project’s strength and how well it meets the criteria and guidelines of the SCCF grant process.   Winning proposals illustrate a compelling need and provide a clear plan of how SCCF funds will be used to address this need.  To maximize the impact of SCCF funds, projects with broader participation and greater impact are more likely to be selected. If project is large in size or scope, consider specifying your request for a specific part of the project.

In October of each year, the allocations committee reviews all applications submitted by the deadline.  All applicants are notified by mail or email by the end of October whether their application was successful or not.  Final award determinations are dependent upon committee selection and SCCF Board approval. 

The grantee is awarded a check at the November award ceremony.  Spending may begin after this time.  Do not start spending money for a project before the check is issued.  Documentation of all money spent for the project must be submitted with the final report. 

Specific to Application Form Part III:  Project Narrative 

  1. Describe community need/problem addressed by your project and the population to be served.  Clearly state a logical narrative description of your problem.  Clearly state the needs with supporting data and documentation (statistics, reports, studies, surveys).  A good needs statement helps the grant reviewers understand the problem the project will remedy and demonstrates that your organization can address the problem effectively. 

    How will this grant impact the community or residents of a targeted population?   Does it benefit all of Story County residents?  Does it benefit an individual community?  Does the project reach a specific population of residents such as a nursing home facility or mental health facility?  Does it serve a certain population such as Hispanic residents, youth, or seniors?  Relate project to the needs of the population you plan to serve.

  2. Describe project goals, objectives and projected results. Describe the steps you will follow to achieve your goals and objectives, complete with timeline.  How will you carry out and ensure success of this project?  

    What difference will this project make?  What results do you expect after the project is completed?  Be sure to state your desired results as outcomes:  what is the change or benefit your program will provide for the community and/or population in terms of attitude and/or behavior.  Have a strong, clear plan for how you will evaluate your program. 

  3. Will this project have long-term impact?  How will this project be sustained?  Is this a one-time project?  Even if one-time, will it have future impact?  If continuing the project, how will it be sustained after SCCF money runs out?  List specific details on future funding. If the project will not continue, explain how the one-time project was worthwhile.
  4. Will you be collaborating with other community partners on this project?  If yes, list all partners in this project and detail their role.  List any in-kind donations such as space, telephones, computers, supplies, staff and leadership time in planning, implementing, and evaluating the project.  List any monetary donations from partners. 

Specific to Application Form Part IV: Budget Detail

  1. List only items that pertain to the project.  Do not include budget items not relevant to the project or not relevant to Story County.  Do not submit your full agency annual operating budget.  It should be clear to reviewers what amount is requested for use in Story County and how SCCF funds will be spent.  Any price quotes or project estimates should be included.  Make sure the total budget amount in Part IV matches the amount requested in Part II.

    In-kind costs may be included as long as they are related to the project and identified as in-kind.  These include things such as personnel time, office space, volunteer time and collaborating agency support.

    Matching funds are not required.  Matching funds are funds that will be contributed only if an equal or otherwise defined amount of money is obtained from another source, such as SCCF.  It is beneficial to explain how your organization is supporting the project and matching funds lend to your project’s feasibility. 

  2. Funding sources.  Fill in the information for additional funding sources you have received or requested.  It is important to show that you will have sufficient funds to complete your project.  Other secured funds often show reliability or credibility.
  3. SCCF does not pay indirect costs so do not include indirect costs in your budget.  A direct cost is any cost that can be specifically identified with a particular project or program.   Applicants may be familiar with other funders who allow an indirect cost based on an agreed upon percentage.  Facilities operation and maintenance costs, depreciation, and administrative expenses are examples of costs that are usually treated as indirect and not directly related to a specific project.  
  4. The application submitted is the contracted project and allowed expenses should be those outlined in the application budget.  Only those requested established expenditures will be accepted.  Any changes in the budget or project after the award will need SCCF approval.

Example Budget Detail

Major Budget Items


In-Kind Funding (name)

Matching Funds

SCCF Funding Request

Building destruction


10,000 (Z Nonprofit)



Land preparation


2,000 (Z Nonprofit)



Playground equipment


8,000 (Z Nonprofit)

6,000 (Kellogg)


Playground labor


4,000 (City of Z Lions Club)








Funding Sources

Secured: $6,000 match from Kellogg Foundation; $4,000 estimated in construction labor from the City of Z Lions Club

Applied for: $6,000 City of Z Parks Dept.

Other relevant information about potential funding sources: Continued fundraising in community with balance of budget from Z Nonprofit reserves.


For further information, contact the Story County Community Foundation at 515-232-9200 or

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