What to know before you apply for a grant

These are general guidelines. Please consult the web page for the individual grant program to which you are applying for more specific guidelines. (Click here to review available grant programs and their guidelines.)

Who is eligible to apply

  • Nonprofit 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt organizations, including most municipalities
  • Public schools
  • Public agencies working for the State of Maine
  • Indian tribal governments (or political subdivisions) recognized by the Department of the Interior
  • Non-exempt groups with a fiscal sponsor that is a 501(c)(3) organization, public school, or public agency. (Click here to review our fiscal sponsorship policy and forms.)                          

When to apply

  • The online application opens for new proposals approximately nine months prior to the grant program deadline.
  • For grant program deadlines, click here.
  • If the grant program uses online applications, these must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on the program deadline, even on weekends and holidays.
  • If the grant program uses paper applications, these must be postmarked on or before the program deadline.
  • Late applications will not be accepted.

What to submit

  • Submit only one application per grant program, though organizations may submit an application to more than one grant program (even those that share the same deadline).
  • Submit only one application to the Community Building Grant Program, even if the proposed project serves more than one county. MaineCF staff will forward the application to all appropriate county and regional committees.
  • Requests should be for future expenses only. Because grant applications take 10-12 weeks to process, plan the project start date accordingly.
  • Requests should not exceed the maximum award for each individual grant program.
  • Please only send information and materials requested in the grant program guidelines. Additional materials will not be reviewed.
  • All competitive grant program awardees are required to submit a Project Progress Report. If your organization has failed to submit one, it will not be eligible for further funding until the missing report is filed. (Click here for Project Progress Report information and forms.)

Types of funding (often supported)

This is a general list – not every type of funding is available in each grant program so be sure to consult the specific grant program to which you are applying.

  • New projects: activities that are distinct from ongoing programs and that have start and end dates.
  • Expanding projects: the extension of a successful program to a new population or geographic location or to include a significant change in scope.
  • Capacity building: projects that will strengthen an organization’s efficiency or effectiveness and that have clear goals or outcomes. For example, board training to develop fundraising capacity with specific goals.
  • Capital expenses: can be part of the budget for a new or expanding project if they are necessary and directly related to the outcomes of the project. They can include materials, equipment, and costs related to building renovation.
  • Personnel expenses: any staff salaries must be directly tied to a new or expanding project.
  • Indirect costs: administrative overhead expenses of up to 20% of the total requested budget. When allowed, these should be included in the budget and labeled “Indirect costs.

Types of funding (often not supported)

Many of the following expenses may not be funded, depending on the grant program. Be sure to consult the specific grant program to which you are applying.

  • Operating support: ongoing administrative costs such as rent, utilities, office supplies, salaries (not tied to a specific project expense).
  • Ongoing activities: continuing programs or projects that have no clear end date.
  • Endowments or capital campaigns: activities leading up to a capital campaign such as feasibility studies as well as costs related to verbal or written requests for financial support such as fundraising events or appeal letters.
  • Camp scholarships: funding for admission, enrollment, tuition, or other costs related to individual or group attendance at a short-term recreational or educational program.
  • Capital expenses: purchases of property, equipment, or building materials related to the organization’s core operations.

What we will not fund, without exception

  • Expenses already incurred
  • Political campaigns
  • Lobbying in the form of calls to action on a specific vote
  • Religious activities: including, but not limited to, religious services, promotion of religious beliefs, or activities that are restricted to church or religious group membership

Grant Cycle Timeline

  • Application intake: grants administrative staff cross-checks the legal name and address of each applicant and checks for required signatures and forms.
  • Eligibility prescreening: program staff reviews each application to determine if it meets the required grant program criteria.
  • Referral process: staff reviews applications and forwards those that might be of interest to donors who may decide to fund a proposed project.
  • Advisor review: program staff assigns applications to advisors who make calls to applicants and write summary reviews.
  • Grant decision meeting: advisors present reviews, discuss proposals, and make final award decisions as a committee.

Application Confidentiality

  • Applications may be shared with interested parties, including donors for potential funding.


  • All applicants receive a letter through regular mail notifying them if their request has been funded or declined. If there is an award, a check will accompany the letter.
  • Grant programs vary, but notification typically occurs within 10-12 weeks from the deadline date. For the Community Building Grant Program, notification takes place within 14 weeks or by June 1.

More Information

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