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Grants to Wisconsin Nonprofits and Government Entities to Enhance the Lives of Local Residents

Community Impact Grants


GrantWatch ID#

Funding Source
Array ( )

Geographic Focus
USA: Wisconsin: Dane County

Important Dates
LOI Date: 08/01/23
Deadline: 10/02/23 4:30 PM Electronic Receipt and Postmarked by Date Save

Grant Description
Grants to Wisconsin nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and schools in eligible regions to enhance the lives of local residents. Applicants must submit a letter of inquiry prior to applying. Funding is intended to promote initiatives that are sustainable and will have a long-term impact on the community and the lives of people living in Dane County.

MCF’s grantmaking supports opportunities to strengthen innovative or high-performing nonprofits, and invest in the initiatives and natural and cultural assets that create a thriving community. Community Impact grants will be used to provide grants in five focus areas that improve the quality of life for residents in greater Madison.

  • Arts and Culture: Grants build and support Dane County’s vibrant arts scene.
  • Community Development: Grants enhance the quality of life by strengthening the unique natural and cultural assets found in Dane County, investing in neighborhoods, enhancing equity and building bonds among residents.
  • Environment: Grants preserve natural spaces by supporting conservation, restoration, education and policy-making.
  • Learning: Grants support public K-12 academic achievement and learning, out-of-school-time programs, GED-equivalent and transition-to-adult programs.
  • Organizational Capacity Building: Grants strengthen the infrastructure and long-term impact of Dane County nonprofits.

These grants fall into three broad categories:

  • Program Grants support new programs or the expansion of existing programs that have a track record of success.
  • Capital Grants support the construction, purchase and renovation of facilities, land acquisition, and occasionally the purchase of vehicles or equipment.
  • Endowment Challenge Grants build capacity and sustainability by helping nonprofits leverage additional funds and incorporate endowment fundraising as a regular part of their ongoing development program. For more information, see Endowment Challenge Grants FAQ:


Additional Eligibility Criteria
Organizations must meet the following criteria:
- Public charities, exempt from federal income taxes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or governmental bodies, including schools and municipalities, as long as the project is above and beyond regular budgeted items and does not fill budget gaps.
- Organizations must be located, and projects must take place, within the borders of Dane County. The one exception is endowment challenge grants, for which there is no geographic limitation. But the resultant endowment fund must reside at MCF.
- Conduct business without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual preference, age, marital status, disability or national origin.
- Repeat grant applicants who are in good standing with MCF and propose a new project that fits within the focus areas are welcome to submit subsequent proposals. However, when having to choose between projects, an applicant that has not been funded regularly may have an edge over one that has.
- Local communities with community or education foundations that are unaffiliated with the Madison Community Foundation must submit a letter of support from the local foundation as part of the application process.

What MCF Does Not Fund:
- Individuals
- Endowments not held by MCF
- Debt retirement
- Lobbying
- Film production
- Annual campaigns
- Scholarships
- Religious organizations for religious purposes
- Substance abuse treatment
- Health care services, including mental health and capital campaigns for health
- Capital grants to support ongoing maintenance or annual operations
- Sports and recreation, except in the case of those using sports programming for academic purposes
- Short-term events such as conferences, festivals, fundraising functions and celebrations, except in the case of a special celebration or major anniversary of an organization offering programmatic content that fits MCF's focus areas. (Preference will be given to MCF Agency Fundholders.)
- Multiple project requests from the same organization simultaneously, unless the projects differ significantly (often when projects take place in different facilities or communities).
- The University of Wisconsin, although projects sponsored by other nonprofits in which the University of Wisconsin is a partner agency will be considered.

Pre-Application Information
MCF's Community Impact grantmaking process begins with organizations submitting a Letter of Inquiry (LOI). MCF staff review these letters to ensure the organizations are eligible to apply and that the requests conform to MCF's mission and focus areas. The deadline for LOIs is August 1 by 4:30 p.m.

Organizations with approved LOIs are invited to submit a full grant application for consideration. The deadline for applications is October 2 by 4:30 p.m.

You must submit both an electronic copy and a hard copy of the application. The hard copy of the application must be postmarked on or before the due date. The electronic copy of the application (including the Cover Page, Narrative, Budget and various attachments) must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. on the application date.

The Grantmaking Committee reviews the grant applications and forwards recommendations to the Board of Governors, which makes the final decision on funding at its December meeting. Grants will be announced on December 22.

Organizations are limited to one application per grant cycle.

When time allows, staff will offer feedback on draft proposals. Due to the volume of proposals received, MCF often responds to one-page abstracts or letters of inquiry. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their projects with Tom Linfield.

Typically, endowment challenge grants are two-to-one matches but may vary by the size of the grant awarded.

Other funding sources are critical. MCF is rarely the sole funder of any project. Referencing other funding sources in your grant application indicates your organization’s strategic planning for the sustainability of the initiative beyond the grant cycle. MCF does not typically fund more than one third of a given project.

Grantseeker FAQs:

Nonprofit Resources:

Number of Grants
Approximately 25% of grant applications are funded at some level.

Term of Contract
One-year projects are generally recommended.

Multi‐year grant requests are considered for up to two years. In rare instances MCF will fund a
three‐year project. Talk with MCF staff about multi‐year proposals prior to submission.

Contact Information
Submit the LOI and electronic copy of the application to

If you have questions, contact Tom Linfield, Vice President of Community Impact at (608) 232‐1763 or

Madison Community Foundation
111 N. Fairchild Street, Suite 260
Madison, WI 53703
(888) 400-7643

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