Apply for a Nonprofit Capacity Building Grant

What is a Nonprofit Capacity-Building Grant?

Whidbey Community Foundation (WCF) supports the organizational strength and effectiveness of nonprofits on Whidbey Island. Capacity-building grants are awarded to nonprofits for one-time projects that address a part of the organization’s strategic plan to improve the management, governance, and administration of the organization, not direct programmatic improvements. By strengthening the internal capacity of an organization, WCF believes the programs and services will also be strengthened.

Types of Projects that Nonprofit Capacity Building Grants Support

Organizations can request up to $10,000 for a Nonprofit Capacity-Building Grant. We anticipate that most grants will range between $1,000 – $5,000. Project examples include but are not limited to:

  • Evaluation of core programs
  • Staff or board training
  • Assessment of technology systems or implementation of technology upgrades
  • Planning (HR, succession, fundraising, financial sustainability)
  • Merger planning and implementation
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion policy development and implementation

The following projects are NOT eligible for grant support:

  • Operating costs, including salaries, other than those related to the capacity-building project.
  • Expansion of existing programs or creation of new ones
  • Brick-and-mortar projects or endowment campaigns
  • Pass-through grants to other nonprofits
  • Grants to supplant lost funding or eliminate budget deficits.

Grant Guidelines

Submitting a proposal begins with reviewing your organization’s eligibility and WCF’s criteria and priorities to determine if the Foundation aligns with your needs. By submitting a proposal, you give the Foundation permission to share your information with other interested individual donors.

Eligibility to Apply for a Grant

Any organization that operates with a charitable status or for a charitable purpose on Whidbey Island is eligible to apply for a grant. You do not need to have a headquarters or physical presence on Whidbey, so long as services are provided here.

Whidbey Community Foundation does not award grants for the following ineligible organizations or purposes:

  • Annual campaign appeals
  • Endowments
  • Individuals
  • Political or lobbying activities
  • Private operating foundations
  • For-profit organizations
  • Scholarships
  • Religious organizations for sacramental or theological purposes

Applicants must be in good standing with the Washington Secretary of State and Office of the Attorney General, and be current with all state and federal reporting requirements.

Priorities for Awarding Applications

Due to limited funding availability, WCF’s Grants Committee will prioritize funding recommendations to those applications that:

  • Demonstrate potential vendors, consultants, and/or products for the project have been thoroughly researched and identified
  • Include a realistic timeline for completion and demonstrate that ongoing maintenance and/or costs have been accounted for, if applicable
  • Show evidence of sufficient internal capacity to implement the project
  • Include a clear, detailed, and feasible project budget
  • Clearly define success for the project that can be easily communicated to stakeholders
  • Have stable revenue and expenses
  • Organizations with annual budgets of $100,000 or less
  • Organizations that demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

Scope of Funding

WCF is currently a short-term funder. A limited number of grants will be awarded at the $10,000 level. We anticipate that most grants will be in the $1,000-$5,000 range. All grants will be one year in length.

Types of Grants

Program/Project-based Grants
All grants within the Nonprofit Capacity-Building Grant Program are Program/Project-based Grants. Program/Project-based Grants are considered restricted. We require a separate program/project-specific budget to be submitted alongside the organization’s annual budget.

For project/program support, WCF will consider up to 100% of the project budget (no greater than $10,000 total).


All eligible grant applications are reviewed by WCF’s volunteer Grants Committee which is made up of community members across the island, including some WCF Board Members.

Reporting and Learning

Grant periods will run for one year. We will ask all grantees to send a brief report (1 – 2 paragraphs) at the end of the grant period explaining the result of your grant from Whidbey Community Foundation.  We are especially interested in hearing about:

  • The use of the funds – what the grant money was able to pay for
  • Specific challenges or unexpected changes
  • Specific successes
  • If available, a picture of your grant and/or the organization (digital format) that we could use in future publicity about Whidbey Community Foundation grants, in order to help us promote your work and raise even more funds to support nonprofits and charitable causes on Whidbey Island.
  • Additionally, WCF will follow up with your organization via email and/or phone halfway through the grant term to understand progress to-date, and any stories to share with our broader Island network.
  • Finally, we will ask all grantees within each topic area to attend a debrief session at the end of the grant period (over Zoom). Our hope is that this will serve as a learning cohort. We will bring together grant partners as requested to learn, support, and share information.


  • August 31 11:59 PST: Application Deadline
  • October 19: Grant Notification
  • November 1: Grant Start Date (for awardees)

Interested in Donating?

Great! We are only able to provide grants like these with broad support from our community. If you are a donor interested in supporting the Nonprofit Capacity-Building Grant Program, we ask that you make a contribution to WCF’s Foundation Fund which holistically supports our grant programs, nonprofit trainings/workshops, and WCF operations. WCF’s Board of Directors allocates funding each year toward our grant programs. WCF is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to Whidbey Island; all donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Updated June 2024