Samuel S. Fels Fund


Grant FAQ

Answers to commonly-asked questions about grant eligibility and process. Also see Additional Grant Resources for more information about available grants in the region.


Is my organization eligible to apply?

Fels Fund accepts requests only from organizations that are designated tax-exempt 501(c)(3) by the Internal Revenue Code and focus on the City of Philadelphia.

I use a fiscal sponsor or I am a local office of a national organization. Can I still apply?

In certain cases, we fund organizations who use a fiscal sponsor or are a Philadelphia office of a national organization. We prefer that local offices of national organizations have a local Advisory Board.

What are Fels Fund’s grantmaking priorities?

Please visit the Funding Focus page.

What is a marginalized community?

A group that is relegated to the lower or outer edge of society, often isolated or excluded from the social/political/economic mainstream.

What type of requests does the Fels Fund not support?

The Fels Fund does not make grants for major programs of large institutions, capital and equipment, endowment and the routine or direct services of social service agencies. Individual daycare, after school programs and computer centers cannot be accommodated. As a general rule, we do not fund:

  • Activities or services taking place outside of Philadelphia, PA
  • Grants to individuals
  • National, umbrella or re-granting organizations except those with Philadelphia offices
  • Endowments
  • Capital programs
  • Deficit financing or emergency aid
  • Purchase of tickets, tables, ads or sponsorships
  • Parties, conferences, fairs, fundraising and one-time events
  • Routine social services/counseling
  • Drug and alcohol addiction programs
  • Healthcare and health research
  • Support groups for individuals
  • Summer recreation programs
  • Individual daycare or after school programs
  • Programs for animals
  • Environmental programs
  • Religious and private education
  • Individual public or charter schools
  • Higher education
  • Community computer programs
  • Scholarships, fellowships, grants-in-aid of travel or research
  • Publications or university presses
  • Arts and Culture organizations without a mission that is primarily social justice-focused

Grant Process and Deadlines

How does my organization apply for a grant?

Fels Fund has a two-stage application process: 1) funding inquiry and, if invited, 2) proposal.

Funding inquiries are accepted at any time, although Fels Fund will accept only one funding inquiry from an organization at a time. Proposals are accepted by invitation only based on the review of your funding inquiry.

Please note some funding streams have deadlines.

Are there deadlines for applying for a grant?

Yes. Our Arts & Culture and Immigrants & Refugees funding priorities have funding inquiry (stage one) deadlines. The next funding cycle is set for 2020. Please review the grant deadlines.

Funding inquiries (stage one) and related proposals for the Youth In-and-Exiting Child Welfare and Social, Racial and Economic Justice streams will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year.

I missed the deadline. Can I still apply?

Once a deadline has passed no additional proposals will be accepted until the next funding cycle. The next cycle for our Arts & Culture and Immigrants & Refugees funding streams is set for 2020. Please review the grant deadlines.

My grant report is due after a deadline. Can I still apply?

Yes. Please submit the grant report at the same time as your funding inquiry. All completed grant reports and related documents should be emailed.  A new funding inquiry will not be considered until the grant report is submitted. Note: You are unable to attach the grant report to the funding inquiry.

What information is required to complete the funding inquiry?

Please review the funding inquiries what you will need to apply for more information.

My organization does work that fits in multiple funding priorities. Can I submit a funding inquiry for each priority?

No. Organizations are allowed to apply for only one funding priority. We encourage organizations to apply under the funding stream that best fits their organization’s mission or project. If you cannot determine which funding priority fits your request, please contact us.

I want to apply for an Arts & Culture grant. Does the Fels Fund need to see my work first?

Someone from the Fels Fund will need to witness some aspect of your work first hand as part of the application review process. This can include a performance, practice, presentation, etc. You may submit a funding inquiry prior to this happening. Please review the grant deadlines.

I received an education grant previously. Does Fels Fund support education?

Education will continue to run through all funding streams, primarily in the form of advocacy and organizing for high quality and equitable public education for all. Fels Fund will also consider education programs that specifically support immigrants, refugees and youth in-and-exiting child welfare.

Is there a minimum or maximum request amount?

Most grants are in the $20,000-$25,000 range although some grants are smaller and others are larger. See recent grants to get an idea of the full range.

Does Fels Fund award multi-year grants?

Yes, Fels Fund will award two-year grants for the Arts & Culture and Immigrants & Refugees funding streams in 2020. Please visit the deadlines page.

Can I meet with foundation staff to discuss my organization/project?

Given the volume of requests, we ask that you submit a funding inquiry as the first step. If you have questions about this process, please call the Fels Fund at 215-731-9455 or email us.

How will Fels Fund communicate with me regarding my proposal?

Most correspondence is sent electronically. Please ensure all contact information, especially emails and phone numbers are accurate.

If there are any changes, please contact us. If any information is missing from your funding inquiry or proposal or if there are additional questions, Fels Fund staff will call or email the request contact specified on your funding inquiry or proposal.

I submitted a funding inquiry, when will I receive a response?

Electronic notifications are automatically sent when a funding inquiry or proposal is received. Fels Fund staff will contact you within four weeks of your submission (or within four weeks of the deadline) with a response, either electronically or by phone. You may be asked to meet or invited to submit a proposal. Alternatively, it may be deemed that your funding inquiry is not a fit at this time. Please note an invitation to submit a proposal does not guarantee funding. Please review the grant deadlines.

What are the possible outcomes of my proposal?

After submitting your invited proposal, a Fels Fund staff member will notify you with the date of the Board meeting at which your proposal will be considered. The Fels Fund Board makes funding decisions four times per year (March, June, September, December). Proposals are either approved, declined, or deferred until additional information is gathered. Organizations are notified within one week of the Board meeting concerning the grant decisions.

What should I do if I have a question that is not addressed here or from the website?

We encourage you to contact the Fels Fund at 215-731-9455 or email us.

Using the Online Proposal System

I received a grant from the Fels Fund in the past. What is my login information?

If your organization has not applied for a grant since July 2017, please create an account to access the online proposal system. Click here to create an account.

How do I access a funding inquiry or proposal that I saved, but have not yet submitted?

To access a saved funding inquiry or proposal, click here.

I forgot my password I created when I saved my funding inquiry or proposal. How can I find it?

Go to your sign-in page, click on “Forgot your password,” enter the e-mail address associated with the account, click on “Send Password.” Password will be sent to that email.

What should I do if my organization has an account but I do not have the login information?

Please contact the Fels Fund at 215-731-9455 or email us.

How do I access the funding inquiry?

Click here to access the funding inquiry. If your organization has not applied for a grant since July 2017, please create an account to access the online proposal system. Please create only one account per organization.

How do I create an account and what can I do with it?

Organizations submitting a funding inquiry or proposal for funding must have or create an account within our online proposal system. We recommend that your organization establish one account to be used by the person responsible for submitting grant requests. ( Please only create one account per organization. Once the account is created, organizations can:

  • Access saved, but not yet submitted funding inquiries and proposals.
  • Submit saved funding inquiries and proposals.
  • View copies and dates of submitted funding inquiries and proposals.
  • Access your existing account, click here.

How can I be assured that my funding inquiry or proposal was received?

Every submission has an on-screen confirmation and email confirmation sent.

Who do I contact if I do not receive an email confirmation that my funding inquiry or proposal was received?

Shanell Ransom, Grants and Operations Manager, via phone 215-731-9455 or email us.

I am having technical difficulty with the system. Who do I contact?

Shanell Ransom, Grants and Operations Manager, via phone 215-731-9455 or email us.

Additional Grant Resources

The Regional Foundation Center informs the local nonprofit sector through research, resources, and workshops. The RFC houses Philadelphia’s largest publicly accessible collection of print and electronic resources on fundraising, nonprofit management, general philanthropy, and institutional advancement. The RFC also provides free access to the Foundation Directory Online—the most comprehensive database of U.S. grantmakers and their grants. Through its comprehensive collection and professionally certified staff librarians, the RFC promotes responsible nonprofit management and successful fundraising by nonprofit groups at all levels—from grassroots startups to established institutions.

For more information visit the Regional Foundation Center website.

Click here to make a research appointment with the Regional Foundation Center.

Click here to see the workshop calendar. Free resource for valuable information on fundraising, grant writing and other nonprofit supports.

GuideStar: Create a free account to update your organization’s page and gain access a searchable database with information on every IRS registered nonprofit (foundations included). Learn about an organization’s mission, impact, finances, reputation, programs, governance and more.

Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO): PANO is the statewide membership organization serving the nonprofit sector through advocacy, collaboration, education and other services.

The Nonprofit Center at La Salle University: The Nonprofit Center offers leadership development, educational programs, consulting services, networking opportunities and job listings to help nonprofits strengthen their management, governance and operations.

Tell Us How We Are Doing

At the Fels Fund, we are new to the two-stage application process and will be learning as we go. We ask for feedback on each funding inquiry and proposal but realize having an anonymous feedback channel may be preferred. Feel free to use Grant Advisor to give us anonymous feedback on our application process. We welcome your suggestions to help strengthen and simplify this process. Thank you in advance for helping us better serve you.

Let us know how we are doing.