Step 1: Review our eligibility requirements
To be considered for a grant, your organization must:
- Have 501(c)(3) status or have a fiscal agent with 501(c)(3) status
- Have an annual budget of $200K or more
- Be primarily independent from government support
- Provide service to residents of Greater Chicago and Cook County
(Exceptions are made by invitation only.)
The following organizations are not typically funded by CFP:
- Organizations that requested or received CFP funding in the previous grant cycle
- Organizations with recurring deficits
- Organizations with fundraising expenses that exceed 25% of total program expenses
- Re-granting or “pass through” organizations
Step 2: Read our program descriptions
We accept proposals for funding in our Arts and Culture, Civic Affairs, Education, Health (domestic only), Human Services and Jewish Charitable (domestic only) programs.
Read our descriptions of each program area and examples of grantees that we have funded to learn more about our work in these areas.
If, after reading these sections, you believe that your organization’s work is a good fit with our priorities, you can submit a letter of intent.
Please note: Organizations in Israel are by invitation only.
Step 3: Submit Letter of Intent
We consider requests for a range of support including:
- General operating support
- Programs or projects
We do not fund:
- Research or advocacy projects
- Film, video, exhibitions or conferences
- Projects by individuals or their salaries
- Projects that rely on CFP for majority funding
- Associations or coalitions
All organizations must apply by emailing a letter of intent (LOI) no longer than two pages. The LOI should describe the nature of your organization's work, proposed project/program description and amount requested. It should also include the following attachments:
- Most recent year’s actuals
- Current year’s organizational budget
- Proposed project/program budget, if applicable
- Federal EIN
- If you are applying as part of a non-profit collaborative, submit the names and above information for each member of the partnership and indicate how the collaborative works.
We will not consider incomplete LOI submissions.
Please email your LOI to the appropriate program area listed below.
Step 4: Await invitation to submit a proposal
After we review your LOI, if we believe your idea is a good match for CFP we will send you an invitation asking you to submit a grant proposal along with instructions on how to do so. We will notify you of our decision about your LOI within four-six weeks of the LOI deadline.
After we receive your proposal, our program staff may contact you to ask clarifying questions and/or to schedule a site visit. We typically notify applicants within four-six weeks.
We use a number of criteria to assess prospective grantee organizations, including but not limited to:
- Clarity of mission
- Programmatic focus and effectiveness
- Caliber of staff
- Financial health
- Board leadership and involvement
- Service population
- Geographic focus
We give particular consideration to organizations that promise verifiable long-range benefits that include an evaluation plan, and have the potential to attract support from a broad base of philanthropic sources. We also prefer to fund organizations that reach large numbers of individuals at a low cost per individual.
We make exceptions for programs with inherently high costs per person served such as services for people with profound special needs.
For more information, please read our answers to FAQ.
If you have any questions regarding the application process, you are welcome to contact us directly.