The Olson Foundation would like to share an important message:

In lieu of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Olson Foundation Board members have determined that it is in the best interest of Omaha, Seattle and surrounding communities to prioritize funding requests focused on pandemic solutions at the local level.  During the application process, you will have the option to select Coronavirus (COVID-19) as the focus of your request.

Thank you for interest in our Large Grant Program.

Please read this page and the guidelines completely before starting the grant process to fully ensure you meet the requirements and to better the information we receive in hopes of awarding a grant from The Olson Foundation.

Large Grant:

A Large Grant is a one, two, or three year grant from $50,000 to $150,000 per year. The information in the Small and Large Grant Guidelines applies to a Large Grant.  The initial step to apply for a Large Grant is to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI).  The LOI is due Saturday, May 1st, 2021 by 4:00PM CST. Invitations will be sent by Wednesday, June 16th, 2021 and organizations that did not qualify for an invitation will be notified.  Grants will be awarded by Wednesday, October 20th, 2021.  The money is to be spent in the following calendar year.

The Olson Foundation strongly prefers one year grants.  Organizations that request multi-year funding must justify their request by identifying the necessity of multi-year funding.  An organization desiring stable funding is not a qualifying reason for a multi-year request.

Organizations requesting funding for an established program, which it is not changing, cannot request multi-year funding.  Additionally, funding for an established program must present data from that program that demonstrates the success of that program.

The Large Grant Application has been updated for 2021 which includes an online registration and application electronic submittal process. Please visit the Large Grant Application, 2021 online application in order to register, complete, and submit a LOI for 2021.


The Olson Foundation encourages non-profit organizations to collaborate with one another and with other individuals and entities in developing and providing transformational projects.

A collaborative relationship is one between two or more non-profit organizations that lowers costs and/or increases gains for those served by their programs. When two or more organizations collaborate, they align their missions and activities to achieve a common goal. A collaboration also meaningfully changes the way participating organizations do business for the long-term and requires Board involvement at a high-level, strategic activity.

If an organization’s LOI is accepted, as part of the application process, the program description in the grant application must clearly explain the role of the collaborating organization(s). The program budget must indicate the collaborating organization’s compensation. A signed certification and a letter of collaboration summarizing each collaborator’s role are required from the collaborating organization. The lead partner in a collaborative project takes responsibility for completing the application and shepherding the application through The Olson Foundation’s grant process. The lead agency’s organizational, financial and IRS data will be examined as part of the application process. All grant funds will be payable to and administered by the lead partner. If the applicant is awarded a grant, the lead partner also manages the grant’s project and ensures it is completed per The Olson Foundation’s requirements.

It is also possible and acceptable that an additional organization(s) or individual(s) work on the project as a service provider or partner rather than a full collaborator. This relationship should be fully described and a letter of participation included in the application.

Being part of a collaborative effort does not exclude your non-profit organization from submitting another grant application for its own project.

Matching Funds

Matching funds is another method to demonstrate collaboration.  Matching funds are funds (cash or in-kind) your non-profit organization raises from other sources and the funds are used to support the grant project.  The Olson Foundation will view a grant project that also generates matching funds as a stronger project than a grant project that does not generate matching funds.

If a grant project does not generate matching funds, it does not exclude your non-profit from submitting an application.

Evaluation Criteria

The members of The Olson Foundation evaluate grant applications per the criteria listed below.

Is the project transformational? Transformational projects solve a problem, satisfy a need or create an opportunity for strategic change. People involved in transformational projects look at the big picture to see a productive approach to change. This often means looking beyond the natural borders of their organization to find new ways to work with others to solve the problem, address needs, or capitalize on opportunities. The process for conceptualizing the transformational project includes several steps:

  • Identify the wider need or the strategic issue to be addressed;
  • Identify and explain change created by the project;
  • Create project objectives;
  • Describe the impact the project will create; and,
  • Identify ways to measure the success of the project.

Does the project have high impact? High impact projects significantly influence our community and can be achieved in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Enabling an organization to affect a large group of people;
  • Changing the way an organization addresses its mission resulting in a fundamental shift in how it provides services to its stakeholders;
  • Creating new collaborations with other organizations to address a broader spectrum of the community; or,
  • Directly affecting a small group of people which results in significant change that will have wider implications for the community.

Does the data and descriptions in the LOI fit with the project?  Local data describing the project’s need or the population served is the best data.  Providing national data on a particular need does not help us understand the local need your project is trying to solve.

Is the project sustainable? The Olson Foundation grant funds must be expended in the timeframe requested in the LOI. In many circumstances your project won’t resolve the issue, so, describe how you have affected the issue, including how the program will continue after The Olson Foundation funding has ended.

Does the non-profit organization submitting the application have the strength and capability to successfully administer the grant? The project supports the organization’s mission and strategic plan. The organization’s Board of Directors and administrators provide effective operational and fiscal leadership. The members of the Board of Directors reflect a range of capabilities commensurate with the needs of the organization. The members of the Board of Directors support the work of the organization both behaviorally and financially. The organization is financially stable. The organization conducts effective annual fundraising. The staff positions indicated for the program are realistic.  Additionally, is the amount of money requested reasonable for the project and the organization.

Additional Items Considered: 

  • How well does the organization’s mission align with our mission
  • Is the proposed project/program reasonable, needed, realistic, and well planned
  • Does the project/program serve an underserved population
  • How does funding this project/program compare to the other proposals
  • Committee members may also review the organization’s web site or call the organization.

Review Process – Letter of Intent

  • The Grant LOI is available on The Olson Foundation website and must be submitted online by the submission deadline: Saturday, May 1st, 2021 at 4:00 PM CST.
  • Initial review: The Olson Foundation leadership will conduct an initial review of the LOIs and contact applicants with questions or requests for information.
  • Application Invitations: The Olson Foundation Grant Committee evaluates each LOI using the criteria listed above. The reviews are conducted in May and June. By Wednesday, June 16th, 2021 applicants will be either invited to complete an application or notified that their LOI is not accepted.

The Large Grant Application is due Tuesday, August 31st, 2021 at 4:00 P.M. CST.  The Olson Grant Committee will review these applications using the evaluation criteria stated above. In September and October the Committee will make site visits. Grants will be awarded by Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

Please visit the Large Grant Application, 2021 online application in order to register, complete, and submit a LOI for 2021.