Frequently Asked Questions

Tips and Resources

If you have any questions or need advice on how to proceed or prepare your grant request, simply call us, 901.684.1564, and we’ll do our best to provide direction and guidance. Our staff is always available to assist potential grant applicants.

If you are a first-time applicant, we encourage you to register for our Before You Ask program.

  • Write clearly and concisely. After completing your first draft, read your document to determine if any information can be shortened without altering the meaning or deleting important information. Then have others review it as well.
  • Prepare all portions of the application completely before submitting. Save often!
  • Allow ample time (much more than you think you need) to write, edit and complete the grant application. Avoid missing a funding opportunity simply because you were rushed when putting together final information.
  • All attached documents must me uploaded as pdf files. The application clearly states this requirement. We cannot process your application if you do not follow these directions. 

Does The Foundation require a special budget format?

No. Please use your agency’s format. But please be aware that different projects require different amounts of budget detail. Your budget format should match the nature of your request.

What is a budget narrative?

The narrative serves two purposes: it justifies the need for the cost and it explains how the costs were estimated.

If necessary, use tables for clarification purposes. Be sure to describe plans for obtaining other funding needed for organizational costs and/or to fully implement the project/program. Also include amounts requested from other funders.

If the project/program is expected to continue beyond the grant period, describe plans for ensuring continued funding after the grant period. List the top five funders of this project/program (if applying for a program grant) or organization (if applying for generation operating support) in the previous fiscal year, the current year, and those pending for the next fiscal year.

What should be in the budget?

Your numbers should be specific and plan for contingencies. For example, a cost-of-living increase may occur before the grant goes into effect. If this happens, base listed salaries on the increased salaries. (Although The Foundation typically does not fund salaries, we like to know this information so we can get a clear idea of actual program, project or activity costs.)

Most often, budgets are divided into two parts, expenses and income. Many examples are available on the Internet or the website resources, including the Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence.

What should I include in the expenses portion?

Personnel expenses—include for all people who work on the project. These may be employees or independent contractors. If they are employees, list the title, annual pay rate and if the person will be working less than full time or fewer than 12 months on the project, and the portion of time to be dedicated to the project. If you are using employees for the project, remember to add payroll taxes and fringe benefits such as health insurance. For independent contractors or consultants, list either the flat fee you will pay them or their hourly rate.

Direct project expenses—non-personnel expenses you would not incur if you did not do the project. This includes travel, printing, space or equipment rental, supplies, insurance or meeting expenses, like food and drink.

Administrative or overhead expenses—non-personnel expenses you will incur whether or not you do the project. Be sure you calculate these correctly and accurately. For example, if you pay $500 a month for office space for four employees, you will continue to rent the office even if the project doesn’t happen. If it does happen, the project/program director will occupy one-quarter of the office space, so you can charge for one-quarter of the office rent, utilities and administrative costs, such as phone, copying, postage and office supplies.

What should be included in income?

Earned income: what people give you in exchange for the service or product.

Contributed income: cash and in-kind. Show cash contributions first and indicate whether each item is received, committed or pending. In-kind contributions are goods or services instead of cash. They can include donated space, materials or time.

In-kind contributions: These contributions demonstrate the ways in which the community supports the project/program and shows true cost or what you would have to spend without community support. If you list in-kind contributions as budget income, you also must show corresponding expenses. If someone gives you something at a major discount, show the entire expense and then list the portion donated under in-kind contributions.

If you are applying for a matching grant, in-kind income may be used as part of the match. This is reviewed on an individual-case basis.

Other income: If you plan to seek funds from other funders and know you won’t receive money from all of them, an “other funders” line is an easy way to indicate how much total money you need to receive from all other sources to balance the budget.

What supplementary materials should I include with my grant application?

A financial statement from your last complete fiscal year, including a statement of income and expenses and a balance sheet listing assets and liabilities at the end of the year. Note: An audited statement is preferred, but if your agency/organization is too small to be audited, please state this in your budget narrative.

A current fiscal year budget. If you already are into your fiscal year, show actual year-to-date income and expenses next to the budget projections. A budget for the next fiscal year might be helpful if you are within three or four months of a new year.

Must I have a board of directors in place to apply for a grant?

Helpful, but not required. Please consider attending Before You Ask for further guidance on applying for funds.

Do I need to have been in operation for a certain period of time to qualify for funding?

No. If you are a start-up, please consider first attending Before You Ask for further guidance on applying for funds.

Am I still eligible for funding even if my organization doesn’t fall within your five areas of focus?

Possibly. Please contact a Program Officer to discuss your organization and goals.

Do I have to have a Form 990 to be eligible to apply?

Yes. If you do not have one, please consider attending Before You Ask to learn how to apply.

Do I have to be a 501(c)3 to qualify for funding?

Your organization must have tax-exempt status. Go to for more information.

Must my organization provide services only in Shelby County?

No. The Foundation serves predominantly Shelby County but provides a limited amount of support to Fayette and Tipton Counties in Tennessee; Crittenden County, Arkansas; and Desoto County, Mississippi.

If I’m turned down for a grant from The Foundation can I reapply?


If so, when?

Please contact a Program Officer for more information on your status.

When will I find out if I’ve received funding from The Foundation?

Please see our complete list of deadlines and announcements for notification dates.