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Community Engagement Manager
Carolyn Desrosiers


[email protected]

Bright Idea Fund Planning Grants

What We Fund

The uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic makes nonprofit strategic planning both more challenging and important than ever before. In addition to figuring out how to position nonprofits to sustain during the crisis, there is also great urgency for our sector to take bold action regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion. Beginning in August 2020, the Foundation will offer Bright Idea Fund Planning grants to nonprofit organizations working in the areas of arts & culture, environment, basic needs & self-sufficiency, community development, and nonprofit effectiveness for any of the types of planning processes:

  • Business continuity planning – creating systems of prevention and recovery to continue operations during an unplanned disruption in service (such as a pandemic, natural disaster, power outage, etc.).
  • Scenario planning – identifying assumptions about your organization’s future including possible scenarios, key trigger points or risk factors, and resulting financial impact.
  • DEI planning or training – getting intentional about advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within your organization. This could include things like an organizational DEI assessment/audit, defining your organizational DEI strategy and goals, or DEI training for Board, staff, and volunteers.
  • Mergers and consolidations – assessing or planning for the merger or consolidation of two or more separate nonprofit organizations

Planning grants are intended to provide nonprofits with the resources needed to undergo a high-quality planning experience by paying for the help of an experienced consultant, facilitator, or trainer. Rather than focusing on traditional long-term strategic planning, we are encouraging nonprofits to focus on the types of planning outlined above.

Range of grantmaking

Grant pays for consultant or facilitator expenses, typically up to $5,000. Grants will not cover the full cost of any planning/training process and generally will cover no more than 80% of the consultant/facilitator costs.


Planning grants are awarded year-round with a rolling deadline. The application must be submitted at least 30 calendar days prior to the start of the planning/training process.

What We Don’t Fund

  • Routine strategic planning. The Community Foundation believes all organizations should undertake regular planning and build those costs into operating budgets.
  • General operating expenses that are not directly related to the project or initiative. (For general operating needs, please see Bridge grants.)
  • Salary support.
  • Feasibility studies or other major capital project or capital campaign planning.
  • Previously incurred expenses.
  • Full cost of the consultant/facilitator proposal.
  • Rent or facility expenses, food
  • Organizations working through fiscal sponsors.
  • Organizational planning for new nonprofit organizations. To apply: Register to access our online grant portal. Registration approval may take one to two business days to process, so keep this in mind to ensure your grant application is received 60 days prior.

To Apply

Register for the online grant portal. Portal registration approval may take one to two business days to process, so keep this in mind to ensure your grant application is received 30 days prior to the event.

  1. The application will be posted in our online grant portal and under the “Grant Applicant” tab. Search for “Bright Idea Fund Planning Grant” under “Available Grants.”
  2. Complete the inquiry page with your basic information and a short description of your event or project.
  3. Foundation staff will typically review inquiries within five business days and invite eligible applicants to complete the remainder of the grant application which includes project costs, anticipated funding sources and marketing/publicity plans.

Questions? Want to discuss your proposal in advance? Schedule a virtual office appointment,  email Carolyn Desrosiers or call 920.702.7625.


You may find the following resources helpful as you consider your planning process.