By Sara Watson
Austin Community Foundation’s Community Grants program connects fundholders directly to Central Texas nonprofits working to provide critical services for our community. The Community Grants program invites nonprofits to share their most pressing needs so that fundholders can rest assured they’ll have the greatest impact on the community issues they care about.
How does it work?
Each quarter, nonprofits serving the Central Texas area (including Travis, Williamson, Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, and Burnet counties) are invited to submit a grant application to fund a specific program or project. Once proposals are submitted, ACF staff completes an initial review for eligibility, including a feasibility study to ensure that the proposed grant amount is appropriate for the scope of the project. Then, we share a list of all eligible requests with fundholders who can select individual proposals to learn more about each nonprofit’s request.
Fundholders have the option to select any and all requests they would like to fund, specify at what amount, and choose whether they would like to remain anonymous. Funding decisions are submitted directly through a form, which our team uses to process all awards and notify applicants in accordance with the donor’s wishes and each quarter’s posted schedule.
What makes this program unique?
The Community Grants program is an exclusive opportunity for donor advised fundholders at ACF. A unique benefit of this program is that the Foundation will bundle awards if multiple funders support a request. This makes it easier than ever for fundholders to achieve their philanthropic goals by combining their granting capacity with other donors that are passionate about the same issues.
In recent years, we’ve noticed a significant increase in bundled grants, meaning two or more funders came together to support nonprofit requests. From 2020 to 2022, the percentage of bundled awards increased from 11% to 45%, and in the first quarter of 2023, 61% of grant awards were bundled. Between 2020 and 2023, this higher number of bundled grants helped increase the average award our nonprofit partners receive from $13,600 to $20,000.
Why participate in the Community Grants Program?
Fundholders who participate in Community Grants know that their dollars are going directly to support the most pressing needs of Central Texas nonprofits. Many of your favorite nonprofits may apply through this program seeking funding to support their work through expanded programming, staffing, or space.
This program is also a great way to discover new organizations that align with your values or impact goals, as the number of unique applicants is constantly growing. From 2019 to 2022, applicants increased from 220 to 330 unique organizations. This growth promises to expand our fundholders’ reach while connecting more nonprofits with the necessary funding to provide much-needed services for our growing community.
How do I get involved?
If you have a donor advised fund at ACF, you can indicate your interest in the Community Grants program, including what impact areas you’re most passionate about, by completing this form or by emailing our team at email@example.com.
To learn about opening a donor advised fund with us, and see other unique fundholder benefits, click here.
Sara Watson is Austin Community Foundation’s Grants Manager.