We encourage new and existing nonprofit organizations in Greater Boston that are not directly aligned with the strategies, goals and approaches pursued in the Foundation’s five impact areas to pursue Open Door Grants for support of their efforts to meet existing needs or test new ideas and innovations that address the most critical challenges and biggest opportunities facing our community.
An eligible applicant would be an existing or new organization that:
Note: If your organization does work on behalf of seniors or individuals with physical disabilities, you are especially encouraged to apply for an Open Door Grant as the Foundation has funds specifically designated for these purposes.
The Foundation encourages collaboration! Joint programs with fellow nonprofit organizations are also eligible. One organization should submit the application as the lead organization on behalf of the collaborative partners.
The Boston Foundation does not make grants for capital construction costs, endowments, medical or academic research, scholarships, sectarian or religious purposes, or to support candidates for political office. Private non-operating foundations, 501(c)(4) organizations, and Section 501(a)(3) Type III Non-functionally Integrated organizations are not eligible to apply. In addition, grants are not made to individual persons or individual schools. Schools must apply through their school districts and districts may submit one application every 12 months.
A pre-conversation is not necessary to apply for an Open Door Grant; however, if you have questions please email us and a member of our grants management staff will be happy to assist you.
When constructing your application budget, the Foundation encourages you to apply for the true costs associated with your application, including overhead and/or administrative costs.
The Foundation accepts applications within quarterly deadlines for Open Door Grants, which fall on:
All applications are reviewed holistically. This page outlines some of the considerations undertaken when reviewing applications. In addition to these criteria, the Foundation aims to maintain a diverse funding portfolio and considers a variety of other factors such as budget size, geographic area served, service population and mission when determining which applicants are selected for investment. For more detail, see our outline of funding considerations.
A site visit or meeting is not required for consideration; however, a member of our grant review team may reach out to your organization to request a phone call in the event s/he has additional questions about your application.
We notify all applicants via email following the board meeting dates listed below.
Application Deadline Applicants Notified (via email)
December 1 March 2018
March 1 July 2018
June 1 October 2018
September 1 December 2018
As Vice President for Programs Orlando Watkins notes in a blog post reflecting on the first year of the program, "Demand far exceeded our available resources, which necessitated our making some tough decisions." In fact, in the inaugural year of the Program, though we supported 78 organizations with $2 million, only 17 percent of grant requests were funded. The infographic to the right outlines some features of the Year 1 grant portfolio.
Open Door Grants are provided for one year of support at a time. We will, however, consider a second-year application if you are awarded a grant. The limit for consecutive annual support is two years; after which an organization must wait 12 months following the completion of their second year grant period before applying again for additional support. Organizations whose applications are denied funding must also wait 12 months before applying again for Open Door Grants. There is no limit to the total number of Open Door Grants an organization can receive.
To apply for a second year of funding, please complete the online renewal application form. Please note that you may only use this application form if your organization has received an Open Door Grant within the last 18 months and you are applying for the same project/work as your original funded application. Please also confirm that select fields in your Giving Common profile are up to date, by e-mailing Giving Common staff.