Our new grant portal has launched. This system is user-friendly and offers a centralized portal for applications and reports. Click here to learn more.

Grant Applicant FAQs

Pre-application and Application

Should we complete a Pre-application or an Application?

If you have had an active grant from COSF in the past 12 months and plan to submit an application for the same program, you do not need to submit a Pre-application. You are welcome to submit an Application.

If you have had an active grant from COSF in the past 12 months and plan to submit an application that differs significantly from your last grant (such as a different program or a significantly larger request), or if you have not had an active grant from COSF in the past 12 months, please complete a Pre-application.  When you Start a new Pre-application or Application, we will ask you a few basic questions, and you will be routed to the appropriate option.

Do you accept unsolicited Pre-applications?
It depends. We accept unsolicited Pre-applications for the following focus areas:

We do not accept unsolicited Pre-applications for the following focus areas:


New and Start-up Organizations

We are a new organization with less than $75,000 in private revenues. Can we still apply?
Generally, as discussed on our Getting Started Criteria, we require applicants to have received at least $75,000 in private revenue in your prior fiscal year. For a definition of private revenue, please see our Eligible Gifts FAQs. If you are a new organization and you meet all of our other Getting Started Criteria, please contact us.
We currently operate outside of Cook County and Lake County, Illinois but are thinking about expanding to Cook County and/or Lake County. Can we apply?
Yes. We will consider grants from organizations within Our Focus that have strong track records and are interested in expanding to Cook County and/or Lake County.

Pre-application and Application Information

In the Programs and Services portion of our Pre-application or Application, should we describe our plans for programming or our plans for a challenge grant?
The Programs and Services section of your Pre-application or Application should describe the program or programs within COSF’s focus areas for which you are requesting the grant, not how you plan to raise funds to meet the challenge grant. Please note that the Challenge Grants section of the Application asks for your specific plan for utilizing a challenge grant.
Do you sponsor special events or attend fundraisers?
While we do provide general operating support and programmatic grants, we generally do not support specific special events. You may send us invitations and donor solicitations to keep us “in the loop.”  While we appreciate these invitations, please understand that we generally do not attend many events. Further, because of the number of such invitations we receive, we typically do not respond to these items unless we are able to attend. We prefer to receive invitations or other printed material electronically if readily available to you.  If you do send us any printed materials, please send us only one copy.
We are in the process of a capital campaign. Can we apply for our capital campaign?
We do not accept unsolicited applications for capital grants.  If you currently have a grant from us and you wish to apply for a capital grant, please contact your Program Officer.
Do you award multi-year challenge grants?
Yes, but only to organizations with which we have an established funding history.


Do you have deadlines for Pre-applications or Applications?
Circle of Service reviews Pre-applications and Applications on a rolling basis – unless we have told you otherwise, we do not have specific deadlines. Most organizations will hear from us within 45 days of the submission of a Pre-application and within 90-120 days of the submission of an Application. Further, given our challenge grant orientation, we strongly encourage you to consider your fundraising calendar when determining when to apply for a grant.