Frequently Asked Questions

Are their restrictions on how an organization uses the money?

Yes, The Olson Foundation does not fund general operating expenses as a proposed program, general administration costs or overhead except for up to 15% of the proposed program/project, debt reduction or operational deficits, grants to specific individuals, endowment or memorial funding, interim or bridge funding, partisan, legislative, or political activities, legal expenses incurred in any action by or against the organization, general construction or renovation (unrelated to a specific proposed project), projects that discriminate against race, religion or creed, fund drives or annual appeals, capital campaigns, and advertising (unrelated to a specific proposed project).

Can a grant be reapplied for the next calendar year?

An organization can only apply once a year for a grant (small or large).  You may reapply for a denied grant the next year, but the original denial will likely prevail.  Funded small grants can be reapplied for the next year.  Our only restriction for application frequency is that an organization may only apply once a year regardless of what occurred in the previous year.

Will there be changes to your process next year?

Yes, as we continue to learn and improve, there will likely be changes to our process in the coming years.

What are your progress report requirements?

Our grant contract outlines our reporting requirements.  The extent of the reporting required will likely be dependent on the size of the grant requested. We will make the process as simple as possible as we do not have a paid staff and will be managing it ourselves.

If my organization is a recipient of a grant, may I use The Olson Foundation name in our reports?

Yes. Please contact us for our logo.

Will The Olson Foundation explain why a grant is not awarded?

We will notify each applicant once we have awarded the grants.  It is the Board’s policy to not provide specific feedback on a specific grant.

When will grants be awarded?

Small Grants are awarded on May 1, 2018 and October 1, 2018.  Large Grants are awarded by December 1, 2018.  Except for multi-year grants, all awards are to be spent within 12 months of the award.  Organizations who receive a multi-year grant spend the money assigned to each year in that year.

Do you consider salary as overhead?

Salaries for the staff that are directly working on the project for which the grant is being requested are not considered overhead.

Would you fund general overhead as part of a project?

Yes, we will fund up to 15% administrative costs. We would prefer that the majority of the grant go towards the program, and that the portion of the grant going to overhead costs be kept as low as possible.

Can the large grant funds be used for capital expenditures?

The large grant funds may be used to pay for capital expenditures that are necessary to support the grant program you are proposing. The Olson Foundation does not typically fund exclusively capital expenses.

Do we need to create a new program to apply for a large grant?

No. If you have a current program that fits our requirements and you can demonstrate its effectiveness and efficiency, we will consider it.

Would you provide a grant for capacity building?

Yes, we would provide a grant for capacity building. For example, if you wanted to provide some special training for your staff and you are able to demonstrate how this training would improve your organization’s ability to serve our community, we would consider it.

Would The Olson Foundation consider a multiyear grant, or can our organization only submit a single year request?

We do award multiyear grants in the Large Grant category only.  Multiyear grants should have a clear program building purpose requiring multiyear funding. We have limited grants to three   years. We do not fund multiyear grants for existing programs that do not have planned significant changes.

Do you prefer to be the primary funder on a project or part of a collaborative funding initiative?

Generally, we would prefer a collaborative effort as it’s important to us that organizations value sustainability and receive funding from other sources as well. However, we accept grants for projects for which we will be the only funder.

What is the maximum dollar amount for which I can apply? Is there a limit?

Yes.  The Small Grants are between $10,000 and $35,000 per award.  The Large Grants have a limit of $150,000 per year for a maximum of three years. The most limiting factor in the size of the grant you request is your organization’s ability to handle the amount requested.  It is important to align the amount with the scope of your proposed project.  We occasionally have had special interest projects with greater amounts.

How much money does The Olson Foundation plan on spending on the large and small grants?

In 2018, The Olson Foundation has a distribution of approximately $5,000,000 to award in all categories.  Some of this total has been committed in previous award years.

If our organization is denied a small grant in the first round can we apply for a small or large grant in the same year?

No.  An organization can only apply once a year.

Can our organization apply for both a small grant and a large grant?

No.  You should choose which category best meets your needs.

Is the small grant process on the website the first step in the process for applying for a large grant?

No, they are separate categories.  You may apply for one or the other (but not both). The small grant application can be found here, and the large grant application can be found here.

What is the difference between a small grant and a large grant?

The difference is in the value, duration and application detail.  Small grants are between $10,000 and $35,000 dollars and limited to one award a year.  The grant money needs to be spent within twelve months of receipt.  The application is a one-page document.  Large grants are between $75,000 and $150,000 per year and can be up to three years in duration. The application process for the large grant is more substantial than for the small grant. Please review the grant proposal guidelines to decide which is more appropriate for your organization.

Do you require a site visit before we submit a grant application?

We are not currently requiring a site visit before application. We may ask to perform a site visit as a part of the grant evaluation process.

What is your philosophy on sustainability?

We would prefer to fund projects that can support themselves at the end of the grant period, or to fund a program that is no longer necessary after the grant period. Saying that, we are realistic. We know that our funds will not resolve all needs; homelessness and education will need to be addressed for years to come. Just because an issue cannot be solved or cured does not mean we will not fund a project meant to help. We would prefer that once our funding period has ended, your organization would be in a position to continue to do work in the funded area.

What are the deadlines for the small and large grant applications?

Small grants are awarded twice a year with submissions due on March 1, 2018 and July 2, 2018.   Large grant Letters of Intent are due May 1, 2018.

Do you have any restrictions on who can apply?

The Olson Foundation grant processes do not fund fraternal, sectarian and religious organizations where the money is intended for the principal benefit of the organization’s own members or adherents, or where the grant is intended for inherently religious activities. We do not fund private foundations or “pass thru” organizations.  Please read the Small and Large Grant Guidelines for further information.

Where does art fall in your plan?

We acknowledge the importance of community funding of the arts but we do not see this as our primary mission. We will, however, consider requests if they have an educational or community service component.

What projects have you funded in the past?

We worked with University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) to create the Olson Center for Women, several Professorship Chairs at UNMC and University of Nebraska Lincoln and the OB/GYN Resident Research Fund. We have been proud to support University of Nebraska Omaha Women’s Athletics, Child Saving Institute, Nebraska Humane Society, Completely Kids, Bike Works, Cocoon House, Burned Children Recovery Foundation and numerous other non-profits.  Last year we made 69 small grant awards and 16 large grant awards.  In 2016 we awarded 45 small grants and 11 large grants.

What are your geographic parameters for grant applicants?

The Olson Foundation funds projects in the Omaha, NE and Stanwood, WA areas. The Seattle surrounding areas served are Snohomish, Skagit and King county in order of focused importance. Interested organizations outside these counties must contact The Olson Foundation and get board approval before being considered. Please contact for more info. We have not set mileage boundaries from either city, however we would prefer that the site be close enough to visit in a one-day round trip.

What is The Olson Foundation’s mission?

The Olson Foundation’s mission is to develop relations with charitable organizations in Omaha, NE, Stanwood, WA and their surrounding communities by funding transformational, high-impact projects that serve local needs in education, family, health, enrichment and environment. We focus on underserved populations and innovative programs.