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Community Engagement Manager
Carolyn Desrosiers


[email protected]

Bright Idea Fund Planning Grants

What We Fund

The ongoing challenges and paradigm shifts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic makes nonprofit strategic planning more challenging and important than ever.

To position nonprofits to be effective and sustainable in our new normal, as well as to take bold action regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion, we 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. (Environmental requests also must meet at least one of these priorities of the Environmental Stewardship Fund.)

Grants typically support the following:

  • 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.).
  • DEI planning or training – getting intentional about advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within your organization. This could include an organizational DEI assessment/audit, defining your organizational DEI strategy and goals, or DEI training for Board, staff, and volunteers.
  • Leadership succession planning – planning for the smooth transitions of an executive director, founder or key board leader.
  • 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 typically pay for consultant or facilitator expenses up to $5,000. Other costs involved with planning, such as additional staff time, facility, materials, may also be considered.


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.)
  • Previously incurred expenses.
  • Organizational planning for new nonprofit organizations.

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 with Carolyn Desrosiers,  email her, or call 920.702.7625.


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