Application FAQs

The Foundation no longer offers this service.  We strongly suggest that to get the most current information that individuals connect with the Foundation on Facebook and follow us there for notifications of upcoming grant cycles.  You can also check back with this page on a regular basis to see if there are updates on future grant cycles.

Typically, we do two rounds of grants annually.  The Spring round of grants is typically released in late February or early March with applications due the Thursday before Good Friday.  A second Fall round of grants is typically released in late June or July with applications being due in August.  These are general dates, and the grant cycles can vary depending on when we get funding from the State.

No, we do not maintain an MS Word version of the application form.  The only version is the PDF version available here on our web page.  Please note that the Application does change with each application cycle, please make sure you are using the most current version of the application.

We require one original signed copy of the application PLUS six complete copies to facilitate the scoring process.  The one original signed copy is kept in the permanent file of the Foundation while the other six copies are used by the Foundation board for scoring the applications.

The highest-ranking official is typically the official who has the authority to bind the organization to spending funds and doing projects.  Some typical organizations and who their highest-ranking official are as follows:

School District Superintendent, School Board Chair
City or City Department Mayor, City Administrator/Manager
Private Not-for-Profit Chair of the Board, Board President, Executive Director

The current plans do NOT include doing another in person or virtual grant writer’s workshop in the near future.  In the past, these workshops have seen very small numbers of potential grantees and with the lack of interest, we have decided to not offer this opportunity in the future.

Instead, we have tried to strengthen the training resources here on our website as well as on our Facebook page.  We encourage potential applicants to review our FAQ documents and current and past posts on our Facebook page to help gain knowledge about how to apply for funding.

No, the Foundation will not accept handwritten applications.  You can download a free PDF viewer on the Internet.  This should allow you to utilize the application form.  You may not be able to save your file and come back later to edit the document with a free viewer.

Good attachments are ones that will add to the clarification and justification for your project.  Remember that you are only allowed six additional pages (single-sided) and so it is critical to utilize those pages in a wise manner.  Good attachments may include the following:

  • Cost estimate for the project – help verify and show that the project is feasible for the estimated project cost.
  • Pictures of the current situation or facility, showing the need.  If your project could be seen as maintenance, pictures may help show that it is not maintenance-related.
  • Concept drawings.
  • Maps showing the project location or related elements.
  • Additional narrative.  Remember that the narrative space in the application is limited, if you need more space you can utilize your additional pages to place additional narratives.

A few other notes regarding additional pages:

  • If you are using pictures, think about if your pictures need to be full-page size or if it may make sense to include two or three pictures on one page.
  • We commonly see the inclusion of a general organizational brochure, these are typically not relevant to the application and generally not helpful to the application.  A tri-fold brochure counts as two of the six-page limit.
  • Remember that all seven sets of applications are reviewed.  If you don’t include all the attachments with all seven sets then you hurting your chances at funding.  Similarly, if only the original copy includes color copies then the majority of the reviewers will not see the color photos.

Without consideration for the actual project the top five things that we see that often result in the application not being funded are as follows:

  1. Failure to submit one original application plus six originals.  We see 1-2 of these annually.
  2. Signature issues.  Included here are signatures not being in red or blue ink (something other than black), the same signature for both the highest authorized official and the project manager, and not getting the highest authorized signer to sign.
  3. Submitting a grant for operational needs.  The Foundation does not award funds for operational needs.  All projects must be of a capital nature.  Operational needs include fundraising and regular routine capital campaigns.
  4. A balanced budget.  We have a simple budget form that is part of the application and we ask that the budget be balanced, i.e. revenues equal expenses.  If your budget has more revenue than expense why do you need grant funds?  If your budget shows more expenses than revenues why should we assume the project will be completed?
  5. Unclear.  Similar to item number one above we see one to two applications a year that once we read the application we really don’t have an idea what the project is or what will be accomplished.

The budget section of the application is for the budget on the project that is being applied for.

Generally, we would not recommend that you include a general brochure in your application.  Typically, the information is not helpful in the review and may not even be reviewed, especially if it is general.  It may also come off as lazy, especially if you neglect to include good concise information in the narrative sections of the application.

If you choose to include a brochure a couple of things to remember:

  1. It must be provided single-sided in the application (do not provide a double-sided document).
  2. Do not fold the brochure; maintain it as a standard 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper.
  3. Remember that it counts toward the maximum number of additional pages you can include in the application.  You are limited to six (6) single-sided pages that can be added to the application.

Yes.  In many cases, they can be very helpful.  However, be careful because, in some circumstances, they can also be detrimental.  Here are some helpful tips:

  • If using pictures, ensure they are in color in the original application and the six application copies submitted.
  • Do NOT submit actual photographs glued, taped, or stapled to a sheet of paper.  Copy them or print them on a regular sheet of paper and add the page to the packet.
  • Remember that you can include more than one photo on a single page.
  • Pictures with captions are better than pictures.
  • Make sure the picture shows what you need it to.  Be careful of pictures that are too broad or show a large scope than needed.  Be careful of pictures that are not specific and too specific.

Yes, each grant is allowed up to six (6) single-sided pages to be added to the application.  Including the 501.C.3 document does NOT count toward the six (6) page limit.

All extra pages should be included at the end of the application.  DO NOT INSERT ADDITIONAL PAGES IN THE FIRST FIVE PAGES OF THE APPLICATION.

These pages can be used to provide the following:

  • Map(s)
  • Photo(s)
  • Drawings(s)
  • Quotes and Estimates
  • Letters of Support
  • Additional Narrative
  • A more detailed timeline.  Recommended for some large projects.

Please remember the following:

  • All grants are limited to six (6) pages, regardless of size.  Exceeding the six-page limit will result in a penalty in the Phase 1 score.
  • All pages must be single-sided (do not duplex).
  • Include all of the extra pages at the end of the application.

Board FAQs

Membership on the board is determined by each community and Buena Vista County for their respective position on the board.  Appointments to the board are done by the community that they represent.  Appointees are not required to live in the community that they represent unless the local government agency holds that requirement.

Board members while appointed and serving on behalf of the local government is asked to serve without bias on the board and for the benefit of the entire County.

There are no term limits for the Board members.  Opening occurs when board members resign from the board or in the case where a local governmental body requires residence for their appointed member the member moves out of that jurisdiction.

Extension FAQs

Extensions are required for any grant-funded project that is going to extend beyond the 12-month timeline to complete the project.  The extension must be filed prior to the end of the 12-month grant timeline.

The grant timeline is the time in which the grantee has to complete the project.  This timeline is 12-months beginning with the month immediately following notice of award.  For example, if you are notified of an award on October 23rd the grant timeline would begin in November and end at the end of the following October.

The best time to submit a grant extension request is as soon as you are aware that there will be delays in your project that will prevent you from completing the project within the 12-month grant timeline.  The timeline extension request must be filed prior to the end of the 12-month grant timeline.

Grant extension request is filed electronically with the Foundation via our web page by utilizing the Grant Extension Request form.

Typically, we can respond to a Grant Extension Request within seven to 10 days.  However, if you need do not hear from us within that timeframe or if you need a more immediate response, please email the foundation.

No, organizations that are awarded grant funds are not eligible to apply for future funding from the Foundation until they have waited at least 12 months and have completed all other outstanding projects.  Projects are completed upon the submission and acceptance of a Final Report to the Foundation.

The Foundation certainly wants to see the completion of the projects that we originally felt were worth funding.  Because of this, we want to work with the Grantee to ensure the project becomes a reality.  However, grant extension requests that show a project not moving forward or where a project is expected to be delayed significantly will NOT be approved.  In these cases, it may be best for the Grantee to return the funds and reapply in the future when the project is more feasible.

Final Report FAQs

We are now updating our website on the Past Grantees page with the status of their final reports.

No, we have moved to a digital form for the Final Report here on our web page and now required that all grantees, regardless of when they were awarded, who have a grant that needs a final report to complete that report online and submit.

To complete the final report you will need to have information and documentation on your project.  You will need to upload as part of the final report form copies of receipts to show that you spend your awarded funds and any required cash match on the actual project that you were awarded funds for.

If you are counting in-kind donations or materials, equipment, and time as part of your match (only allowed for Small- and Medium-sized grants) you will need to provide documentation of these in-kind donations.

You should have pictures of your project, potentially in progress, and absolutely final product pictures that you can share with the foundation to show how the final project came out.

Finally, you will need to provide documentation on what you did to recognize the Foundation’s grant to your project.  This is done both in narrative and attached document formats.

The form does allow you to work on the document and save your progress so that you can come back later to finish.

Grantees who do not submit a final report will have their project flagged as incomplete.  You will be ineligible for future awards until your project is complete and if the grants remains open for an extended period of time without an approved extension you will be required to return the funds to the Foundation.

The fact that you were able to complete your project at a lower cost is great news!  We have to remember that your agreement is based on your application, thus if you were awarded a grant based on a match requirement (all medium and large grants and some small grants) then you must maintain the match requirement.  For example, if you were awarded a $5,000 grant with a $5,000 match and your total project came out to $8,000 total costs, that would mean that the grant paid for $4,000 and your match paid for $4,000.

With that understanding, you have a couple of options regarding the remaining $2,000 ($1,000 grant and $1,000 match).  These options include:

  1. You can return to the foundation $1,000 and submit your final report.  The project will be closed.
  2. You can make a proposal to the Foundation for an addition to your project that meets the conditions of the original award, and the intent of the award.  Under this option, you would need to maintain the match requirements of the original grant.  Using the above example your additional work would tie to the original grant and would have a cost of at least $2,000 ($1,000 in grant funds and $1,000 in required match).

Fiscal Report FAQs

A fiscal sponsor is a funding organization that meets the requirements of who we can legally grant funds to and who will act as a conduit for funding a project owned and completed by an organization that does not meet the requirements for funding.

The only organizations that we can legally provide funding to are those organizations that have a current and legal 501C.3 status from the IRS, Local Government agency (City or County), or a public school district.  If your organization is not one of those you would need to obtain a fiscal sponsor who is one of those types of organizations.

Yes, grants are limited to one per agency but being the fiscal sponsor does not limit that agency from sponsoring more than one organization.  Nor does it limit the fiscal sponsor from submitting a grant on their own project.

The fiscal sponsor will receive the actual funds from the grant award.  They will have to cash the Foundation’s check and then distribute the funds to the grantee.  There may be some tax liability on the part of the fiscal sponsor for acting as a fiscal sponsor, we are not tax advisors and would strongly recommend that fiscal sponsors consult with their tax advisor prior to agreeing to be a fiscal sponsor.  The Foundation is not responsible for any financial or legal responsibility on the part of the Grantee or their fiscal sponsor that is created as a part of the award of a grant.

Yes, fiscal sponsors are still eligible to apply for funds on their own behalf.

Yes, a fiscal sponsor is eligible to apply for funding on their own project regardless of the status of the projects that they are a fiscal sponsor for.

In most cases no, the fiscal sponsor would not be held liable for the return of the grant funds for a project that was in default and organized by another agency.  The only time that the fiscal sponsor would be responsible would be in a situation where they were holding the funds for the sponsored agency and those funds were held and available to be returned to the Foundation.

General FAQs

You can check with your tax advisor or attorney to determine the status of your 501.C.3.  In addition, you can check with the Iowa Secretary of State’s office to determine the current status of your 501.C.3 certification.

A copy of the 501.C.3 certificate must be submitted with the grant application, failure to do so will result in a loss of points in the Phase 1 scoring process and potential elimination from funding.  If you need a new copy of the certificate you will need to contact the Secretary of State.  Please note it can take several weeks to receive a copy of the certificate, please plan accordingly.

The State of Iowa created a program in the 1990s in an effort to help generate more giving within the State by encouraging the development of individual County foundations.  In order to encourage that the State designated a portion of their annual gambling revenues to be distributed to one qualified county foundation in each Iowa County that didn’t have a gaming facility.  Since BV County doesn’t have a gambling facility the BV County Community Foundation was set up to accept those State funds and encourage the development of private foundations within Buena Vista County.

Annually, the Foundation receives a portion of those State gambling revenues.  By Iowa law we are required to place a percentage of the funds in our permanent endowment which we can’t touch and then the remaining funds are made available for our grantmaking process and operations of the foundation.

It varies annually depending on the level of profits received by the State from gambling licensed facilities in the State.  However, typically the amount of funds made available through the two grantmaking rounds is between $80,000 and $100,000.  The Foundation has done two grant-making rounds for a number of years and splits the available funds evenly between those two rounds.

Scoring FAQs

Typically, no we do not do an early review of applications to provide feedback.  We feel that we have provided adequate resources here on our website, through our Facebook page, and on our YouTube channel to provide assistance without doing an early review of applications.  Additionally, our board completely volunteers, and even review of 10-15 applications can take our board members hours to review and score.

No, we do not provide individual application scoring for applications.  On occasion, we can provide some feedback following the scoring process and we can provide direct feedback on how the application scored in the Phase 1 scoring process.

Prior to the individual board member scoring, each application undergoes a Phase 1 scoring process which is a review of that application’s compliance with our standard set of rules.  The Phase 1 scoring is 40% of the overall score given to each application.

Each application submitted automatically is given the 40 points available in the Phase 1 scoring process and then the application is scored for compliance with the main rules.  If the application fails to meet the basic rules there is a point deduction applied to the Phase 1 score which results in the final Phase 1 score for that application.  The following items are the Phase 1 items that result in point deductions for applications:

Submitted Application includes 1 original PLUS 6 complete copies 40 Point Deduct
All Prior Awards Have Been Completed 40 Point Deduct
Grant signed by highest-ranking official 30 Point Deduct
Budget Section of Application Balances 25 Point Deduct
Signatures are in Blue or Red ink (not black) 20 Point Deduct
Signed by two unique individuals 20 Point Deduct
Grant Does Exceed 6 Additional Single-Sided Pages 15 Point Deduct
501.C.3 Documentation Provided 10 Point Deduct

In no case can an application lose more than the 40 points available in the Phase 1 scoring process.

History shows that applications that lose points in the Phase 1 scoring process have a minimal chance of getting funding during that respective grant round.

Phase 2 of the scoring is based on the critical review of the entire application by all of the individual Foundation board members.  All board members score each application based on a maximum of 60 points.  The scores are then averaged together to determine the final Phase 2 score.

In the event, one of the Board members has a conflict of interest they would not score that particular application and the scores would be averaged only with the actual scores submitted.

Technical FAQs

There is a known problem with Adobe PDF documents and certain web browsers including Chrome that prevent these files from opening correctly.  For Chrome users when you download the file your browser is most likely default to the Chrome PDF viewer which is not compatible with Adobe fillable forms.  To work around this situation, try following the following instructions:

  1. In a new tab in the Chrome browser type in “chrome://plugins”
  2. Now look for and locate the Chrome PDF viewer in the list of plugins
  3. Click the “Disable” button on this plugin
  4. Close the tab and all the settings will be saved
  5. Download and open the application form and you should be good to start using the application.

Another alternative if you would prefer not to change the Chrome setting is to right-click on the application download link and choose the “Save As” option and save the file to your computer.  Once saved to the computer open the file from within the Adobe PDF program.