The Betterment Fund is proceeding with its next cycle, with applications due July 15, 2020. However, the trustees recognize that the needs of Maine nonprofits have been altered because of the impacts of COVID-19. We anticipate that this will be a particularly competitive cycle; it is advisable for potential applicants to pay close attention to our stated Guidelines and Priorities before deciding whether or not to apply. Grant decisions will also take into account emerging issues related to the pandemic emergency for appropriate applicants.
If you have a past or current grant that might affect the timing of an allowed application under our usual rules, we suggest that you contact your supervising trustee.
Before applying, please review our updated priorities under Guidelines.
The Fund will review applications and make grant decisions on the following schedule:
- Subject to the above statement, applications due July 15th at 5 p.m. for the Fund’s cycle for October decisions; and
- Application due November 15th at 5 p.m. for the Fund’s cycle for February decisions.
Application deadlines that fall on a weekend or holiday are extended to the next business day at 5 p.m.
You can start the application process for the active grant cycle by clicking on the “Begin The Application” button at the bottom of this page. Please review all of the information and instructions in the Guidelines and this section before starting the application process. If you have already started an application for 2019 and are returning to work on a saved draft, you may click on the “Begin The Application” button below to continue the application. Applications begun but not submitted in 2018 cannot be resumed in future years but can be accessed and reviewed for “cut and paste” by applicant.
Permitted frequency of applications. You may apply at least 12 months after a previous application, measured from the previous application due date to the current application due date.
If your organization has recently received a grant payment, you may apply for a new grant 9 months after the last grant payment, provided that your previous grant has been completed and you have filed a final report covering the complete period of administration. If you have a question about your eligibility, please contact the Supervising Trustee listed on your Grant Terms Sheet.
The benefits of applying early. The Betterment Fund assures every applicant whose application is submitted at least seven (7) days before the applicable deadline that the application will be reviewed for technical compliance and, if any technical issues exist, the applicant will be given an opportunity to correct them. Because of the disproportionately large number of applications that are submitted shortly before deadline, the Betterment Fund reserves the right, in its absolute discretion, to refuse to consider any application not in full compliance with all technical requirements submitted within seven (7) days before the applicable deadline.
Grant decision notifications. After all grant applications for a cycle have been received, the trustees review the applications for adherence to the guidelines and suitability under the stated priorities. Each cycle a number of applications are determined to fail to meet all of the requirements for funding, or to be less appropriate for funding than other applications already funded or received for consideration in that cycle. In such cases, the applicant will be so advised within a few weeks after the application due date.
Final grant decisions are usually made within twelve weeks of the application due date. Notifications will go out promptly by email to the email address provided by the applicant in the application.
If an application is not funded, the applicant may request an explanation of the decision, which may or may not be granted in the sole discretion of the trustees.
Before proceeding with the online application, please be sure to review the details in our Grant Guidelines. Please note that our grant priorities are restated from time to time and your application will be evaluated in light of the current stated grant priorities.
Online Application Instructions
First Time Users: The Betterment Fund uses the Foundant system for its online application process. If you are using our online system for the first time we suggest that you watch this 5 minute video on how to use the system.
Creating Your Account: The first time you use the system you will have to create an account by clicking the “Create New Account” button. Please note that on the second half of the account creation screen, when you are asked for the Email/Login for the Chief Executive of the organization, all you need to enter there is the email for the Chief Executive – a login will not be created.
SAVE Your Application As You Go: We recommend that you save your online application frequently to decrease the chances of lost information. Foundant recommends saving the application each time you complete the uploading of a document as well. Please note that the “Save” button is located at the bottom of the application form. It is also a good practice not to hit the “back button” on your browser while working on the application.
Character Limits: Character limits are given for each response. Please do not feel compelled to use all of the characters allowed. Being concise and clear are good. 3,300 characters = 1 page generally speaking. Please note for those of you who are building a word document and uploading, the character count of Foundant counts spaces as characters.
Acronyms: If you are going to use an acronym in your grant application, please explain it.
File Uploads: PDFs are strongly preferred, but uploaded files may be PDFs, Word documents, or Excel spreadsheets as long as they adhere to the file size requirements. In some cases more than one document may be required to be combined into a single upload. If you have paper documents that you would like to attach to the application, the simplest method is to convert them into a single PDF. If you don’t have a method for scanning or converting to PDF, you may use Foundant’s Fax-to-file system which is the top right button on your Applicant Dashboard.
Tax Exemption Requirements: An application will be accepted from an organization only if, at the time of application, it is either:
- publicly supported and exempt from taxation under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) and not a private foundation;
- exempt as a government agency or body; or
- if not itself tax-exempt, relying on fiscal agency or sponsorship by a separate publicly supported tax-exempt organization or government agency.
Additional Application Requirements for Fiscal Agency: An organization which is not itself tax-exempt may rely on fiscal agency by a separate publicly supported tax-exempt organization or government agency. Any organization that is applying using a fiscal agent must register under its own name followed by “f/a” and the fiscal agent’s name. For example, Betty’s Great Organization should register as “Betty’s Great Organization, f/a The Land Trust.” Please supply the fiscal agent’s employer identification number when asked on the registration form. Any organization relying on fiscal agency or sponsorship must upload the following additional information in the part of its grant application captioned “Fiscal Agent Information,” under “SECTION 1: “Qualifying Information.” Please combine the following documents below into one file under 2MB in size.
- A brief statement addressing the following:
- Why your organization is not itself recognized as a 501(c)(3) public charity
- Whether your organization has filed an application for recognition of its tax exemption (Form 1023) with the IRS
- For the organization serving as fiscal sponsor
- Name of organization
- Contact name, email and address
- Tax ID/EIN number
- A copy of fiscal sponsorship agreement between your organization and the organization serving as fiscal sponsor. The fiscal sponsorship agreement must reflect dedication of grant funds to a tax-exempt purpose and the administrative charge, if any. If you are in doubt about what should be included in the agreement, you may download here a sample form of fiscal agency agreement.
- A copy of the sponsoring organization’s board resolution authorizing it to serve as your fiscal sponsor.
- A copy of the Balance Sheet for the sponsoring organization’s most recently completed fiscal year. This should include total assets and total liabilities. If applicable, please explain any changes that would affect the sponsoring organization’s financial position.
Note: if your fiscal agent changes at any time after you have registered, you must notify your supervising trustee (if applicable) and the Grant Administrator via email.