Do you meet our basic guidelines?

Our grant process begins with a conversation. Before you call, the interactive tool below will help you determine if you meet our basic guidelines.

Grantee Criteria

Is your organization a 501(c)(3) nonprofit?

The Hartford Foundation only grants awards to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations and in some cases, to public agencies, when Foundation special projects are involved. In some instances a grant may be made through a fiscal agent.


Does a significant portion of your organization's services benefit residents of the Hartford Foundation's 29-town region?

As a community foundation, we only make grants that benefit residents in our funding region. If your organization is in Connecticut but does not serve our funding region, you can find the community foundation that serves your town through the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy.

Does your organization operate under best practices for governance? (Do you have a board that meets regularly? Do they provide financial oversight of the organization's resources?)

The Foundation looks for organizations that have highly functioning governance structures in place. Here are some resources that can help support your efforts to use best practices:

Are your board of directors and staff representative of the racial/ethnic diversity of the region you serve?

The Hartford Foundation believes that having diverse viewpoints leads to richer perspectives and better understanding of the needs and solutions critical to serving a more diverse client population. We expect agencies that serve a broad spectrum of the population to have boards and staff that reflect that diversity. This is a critical factor to reviewing any grant request.

We encourage you to consider participating in Leadership Greater Hartford's Leaders on Board program, which can connect your organization with trained and committed individuals looking to serve on a board.

Does your organization's mission and/or proposed project contribute to reducing persistent disparities in Greater Hartford?

We recognize there is a wide disparity of wealth in our region. The Foundation is committed to working with community partners to develop strategies to reduce disparities in opportunities experienced by many Greater Hartford residents, particularly those living in underserved communities of color.

We invite you to develop approaches that can reduce one or more disparities using local data and research. What can you do to positively affect the disparity in opportunity experienced by underserved residents? We want to hear about your institutional experience and track record addressing these issues, as well as community perspectives, research and data that support your approaches.

Does your project contribute to one of the five outcome areas the Hartford Foundation has identified? 

Our outcome areas are based on data, documenting disparities in educational attainment, community safety, access to housing, employment, and economic stability, and other challenges affecting quality of life. In some towns where there is limited racial diversity, the disparity may take the form of inadequate access to social supports. 

We continue to build our knowledge and activities around these outcomes and welcome your contributions. Each outcome area focuses on specific people and places that face the greatest disparities. Many of these issues are interrelated and strategies may address more than one.

Your organization meets our basic guidelines. The next step is to read our grantmaking guidelines and our key policies to better understand our grantmaking.

If you have questions or believe you are ready to begin the application process, please review our grantmaking process and then give us a call at 860-548-1888 to speak with Tara Sundie, Community Investments Associate.

About Your Organization

These guiding principles support the best interests of our region, reflect our values, and inform our decision-making process for grantmaking.

Capacity of the Organization 

Does the organization have the institutional capacity, including qualified staff, board leadership, stable financial standing and a thoughtful and appropriate program plan, to successfully undertake the proposed project? Does the program plan align with the strategic direction of the organization?


Does this project provide an opportunity for nonprofits to work together, or with other sectors, to improve the planning, coordination, and delivery of services, and if so is that collaborative approach reflected in program plans? Does the organization have a track record of collaboration?

Community Engagement 

Have the individuals and/or groups expected to benefit from the project been consulted in its development? 

Demonstrated Need 

Is there demonstrated need and demand for the proposed project? Are other organizations already doing this work? Will the proposed project benefit a meaningful number of people, providing real added value in its outcomes? How do we know?

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion 

Does the organization work to improve access to services and programs for vulnerable and underserved populations? Are the board and staff ethnically and racially representative of the community they serve?

Holistic Approaches 

Does the organization approach its work in a holistic way? Does the project address the structural causes of an issue? Does the project support improved coordination across multiple systems?

Organizational Finances and Program Budget 

Are financial management systems and safeguards in place? Is the budget for the proposed project detailed, realistic and cost-effective?

Outcome Driven 

Is the organization able to clearly articulate organizational and program goals? Has a clear plan for achieving results been presented? Is there a plan in place to track and report outcomes and impact on the people and communities served? 


The Foundation focuses its resources on those institutions and projects that are likely to produce benefits that endure beyond the period of Foundation funding. Does the project leverage other funds? Has a long-term funding plan been developed to support the proposed project beyond the term of the Foundation’s support? Is the Foundation the most appropriate source of funding?

Hartford Foundation POLICIES

In addition to meeting the basic guidelines, grantseekers should be aware of the following policies:

Proposals for Statewide Projects 

The Hartford Foundation makes grants to benefit the residents of the 29-town Capitol Region. Proposals for statewide projects may be considered when there is a substantial benefit to residents in our region. In these cases, the Foundation’s support would be in proportion to the anticipated benefit for residents of the Capitol Region.

Governance Diversity 

The Foundation is committed to ensuring that historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups help shape the decisions that affect them. The Foundation expects agencies that serve a broad spectrum of the population to have boards and staff that reflect that diversity. The extent to which an agency’s board and staff reflect diversity of the area and population served are critical factors in reviewing any grant request. 


Applicant agencies must confirm that they do not discriminate against any person or group of persons on the basis of race, color, religious creed, age, sex, gender identity or expression, marital status, national origin, ancestry, present or past history of mental disability, intellectual disability, learning disability or physical disability (including, but not limited to, blindness or deafness), pregnancy, genetic information, sexual orientation, and/or any other characteristic protected under federal, state and/or local laws.

Frequency and Duration of Grants 

In general, organizations that have received a regular grant must wait three years from the date of the award before they are eligible to receive another regular grant. This policy is known as the "Three-Year Rule."

An assessment period of up to six months is required after the close of a regular three-year grant. Upon completion of a three-year grant, an organization must submit a final expenditure report and a final narrative report describing project outcomes for Foundation review and approval prior to approaching the Foundation for another grant.

Exceptions to this policy include:

  • Grants for Summer Programs, Planning, and Executive Searches;
  • Grants to agencies acting as a fiscal agent/sponsor and receiving little to no direct benefit;
  • Collaborative grants;
  • Nonprofit Support Program grants, loans through the Nonprofit Loan Fund; and
  • Grants from restricted funds.
Overhead and Indirect Costs 

The Foundation will support overhead costs that can reasonably be allocated to the proposed project. For example, the Foundation may fund a portion of the project’s indirect costs, such as staff development, fundraising, or general occupancy. For most project grants, such indirect costs will not be funded at more than 25 percent of the proposed project’s total cost. For capital grants, an appropriate portion of indirect costs will be considered on a case-by-case basis to reflect reasonable expenses associated with completing the proposed capital project.

Public Policy Grantmaking 

While the Foundation entered the public policy arena and has registered as a lobbyist, it has intentionally decided to limit the scope to areas of priority and expertise. While the Foundation may fund administrative lobbying, as defined by Connecticut law, it will only do so on issues that advance the Foundation’s priority areas. These activities may include convening, conducting or funding research and analysis, and collaborative advocacy. The Foundation continues not to fund legislative lobbying and does not support or oppose candidates for public office or make expenditures related to election ballots.

Size of Grants 

The Foundation encourages applicants to have conversations with program staff about an appropriate request amount prior to submitting an application. Applicants should request an amount that meets the needs of the project and at a level that is consistent with the organization’s capacity and in alignment with other anticipated or received support. Foundation staff and board members carefully consider each application and may award an amount different than that requested by an applicant.

What We Do Not Fund 

The Foundation does not make grants to:

  • Support sectarian or religious activities
  • Support the operations of independent schools
  • Support a program at a single school
  • Individuals
  • Private foundations
  • Endowments or memorials
  • Support direct or grass-roots lobbying efforts
  • Support conferences, research, or informational activities on topics that are primarily national or international in perspective
  • Federal, state, or municipal agencies or departments supported by taxation except in selected cases when Foundation initiatives or special projects are involved.
  • Support sponsorship of one-time events, except in selected cases when Foundation initiatives or special projects are involved
  • Support liquidation of obligations previously incurred