Grant Guidelines

Policies for the Distribution of Grants from Unrestricted and Field-of-Interest Funds

The following policies and guidelines govern the process by which the Williamsburg Community Foundation (Foundation) makes grants from its Unrestricted (Community Endowment) and Field-of-Interest Funds.

Foundation Mission:
The Williamsburg Community Foundation connects people who care with causes that matter in our community… forever.

We pursue this mission by:

  • Building permanent, flexible endowment funds that respond to emerging and changing community needs;
  • Providing effective stewardship of charitable funds;
  • Advising donors with varied interests to help them achieve their philanthropic goals; and
  • Serving as a resource, catalyst and coordinator for charitable activities.

Grantmaking Vision
The Foundation’s grant-making activity encompasses support for a diverse range of philanthropic purposes including the arts, civic affairs, community development, conservation, cultural activities, education, historic preservation, social services and other fields that benefit citizens in its service area, which encompasses Williamsburg, James City County and York County.

The Foundation will give special attention to projects that have a broad community benefit, that will provide enrichment or enhancement to the lives of residents and/or that demonstrate the potential benefits of an innovative program to the community at-large.

The Foundation awards grants in the following areas:

In its review of grant applications, the Foundation will consider:

  • Whether the request is consistent with the mission of the Foundation;
  • The degree to which the request provides broad community benefit; or addresses a documented need not otherwise met in the community;
  • The applicant’s potential to implement the proposed project, including the likelihood of securing sufficient funding for the project to be viable;
  • The applicant’s record of completing past grant reports and requirements;
  • Evidence of the fiscal, managerial, and programmatic viability and effectiveness of the applicant;
  • Available assessments of need, strategic plans or other independent, objective studies or reports that may have a bearing on the need or priority of the project in the community;
  • Whether the project duplicates an existing program, and if so, is there a substantial unserved, or underserved, population in spite of the existence of the same or similar program;
  • The priority of the project in relationship to other current applications, given the funds available for distribution;
  • Conferring with other funding sources, planning or evaluating bodies that may have knowledge of or interest in the project;
  • The possibility that another funding source is a more appropriate resource than the Foundation.

The Foundation will make grants to those organizations within its service area that are qualified as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) by the Internal Revenue Service or other organizations considered public charities by virtue of their mission. The services of these organizations must be consistent with and advance the mission of the Foundation. The applicant must provide a copy of its IRS determination letter to the Foundation.

Applicants must submit all required documentation including: application form, budget form, board list, annual agency budget and a copy of its IRS Determination Letter. Incomplete grant applications will not be considered.

The Foundation will not generally make a grant two years in a row to an organization for the same project.

All grant recipients must provide, in writing, a report on the use of the grant within one year. Reports should detail how dollars were expended and what the project achieved. Agencies that have not filed a report for a previous grant within one year are not eligible to submit a new application, unless an extension has been requested and approved.

If the IRS does not currently recognize the applicant organization as a qualified tax-exempt organization, then the applicant must use a sponsor who is a qualified tax-exempt organization to act as the organization’s fiscal agent. The fiscal agent must be recognized as a publicly supported, charitable organization as defined in the IRS Code. If a grant is approved, payment will be made to the organization through its fiscal agent.


The Foundation will not make grants for:

  • Applications for unspecified use of funds.
  • retroactive funding for any project expenses incurred before the Foundation’s decision date
  • multi-year grants or commitments
  • religious purposes (but may be made to religious organizations for projects with a broad-based, inclusive community benefit)
  • political or partisan purposes
  • individuals
  • organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation or national origin

Additionally, individual funds currently award grants in the following areas: Women and Girls’ Programs, Transportation, Amateur Sports. New areas will be added as donors develop new funds.

Grant Award Determination

The Distribution Committee will review all Unrestricted and Field-of-Interest grant applications.

Grant applications will be evaluated using written reports, site visits or other methods of evaluation developed by the Distribution Committee.

The Committee will provide a list of all applicants, including those it has determined not to recommend for funding to the Board of Trustees. The Committee will recommend programs for funding to the Board of Trustees and will answer any questions regarding the applications. The Board of Trustees shall make the final determination with regard to each application.

In the event of an emergency request, the Distribution Committee will convene to consider that request for funding and make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees.

Information on applications with be shared with WCF donors who have expressed an interest in helping to support grants to local organizations.  Applicants may opt out of having their application information shared during the application process.


(Approved May 11, 2017)