Organizational Capacity Building Grants

RRF awards OCB Grants to help Illinois nonprofits that serve older people make fundamental improvements to key management systems and governance. These grants may be used for specific capacity building activities that include, but are not limited to:

  • Strategic planning

  • Financial management

  • Communications and marketing

  • Resource development and fundraising

  • Human resources, including succession planning

  • Board development

Standard OCB Grants

RRF provides Standard OCB Grants to help Illinois nonprofits make long-term improvements in their management, governance, or organizational capacity.  Standard OCB funds generally support consulting, training fees, information technology, and other costs directly related to capacity building activities. Applications for Standard OCB Grants coincide with the Foundation’s regular grantmaking cycles. 

Standard OCB Grants are provided to nonprofit organizations that:

  • are located in Illinois
  • have been in operation for at least three years and have annual revenue of at least $75,000
  • place a high priority on providing services to people, ages 65 and older

Please review our general grant exclusions before applying for a grant.

Please review the Foundation’s eligibility requirements and exclusions before beginning the application process.

RRF has three deadlines for optional Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) and three deadlines for grant applications.

Organizations may submit only one proposal or Letter of Inquiry per grant cycle. Common exceptions include proposals submitted by separate departments of large universities.

Proposals and LOIs will be accepted no later than 11:59 PM (CT) of the deadline day. If the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, proposals and LOIs will be accepted as late as 5:00 PM (CT) the following workday.

We recommend you review and complete the required application components outlined in the Apply section before beginning an online application form.

RRF acknowledges the time and effort needed to submit a proposal and invites interested applicants to submit a brief Letter of Inquiry (LOI).

This step is optional, but offers valuable one-time feedback as you prepare a full proposal.

The LOI should be submitted online as a Word or PDF attachment using this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RRFLOI.

Kindly use a 12-point Arial font. Please submit your LOIs according to these deadlines:

Submit LOI by:For the Following Proposal Deadline:
December 1February 1
March 15May 1
June 15August 1

When a deadline falls on a weekend or federal holiday, the due date is moved to 5 p.m. CT the following work day.

Include the following information in your three-page Letter of Inquiry:

  • Organization name and location
  • The issue your capacity building project will address
  • Brief description of the project
  • Proposed activities
  • Why this project is needed at this time and how it will impact the organization
  • Timeframe
  • Project consultant(s) and description of how they were selected
  • Estimated cost of the project, the amount of funding already secured (if applicable), and the amount requested from RRF

RRF requests that all proposals include the components outlined below.  You will upload each of these documents as individual files via our online application.

Formatting Guidelines: 

  • Kindly use a 12-point Arial font.
  • Word documents should be single-spaced with 1” margins.
  • The Executive Summary, Proposal Narrative, Budget Narrative, and Timeline are to be uploaded as Microsoft Office documents (.doc/.docx or .xls files).
  • The Budget should be uploaded as a Microsoft Excel file.
  • Please note that, except for the Executive Summary and Bios/Resumes, there is no page or length restriction.
  1. The Executive Summary is a separate two- to three-page summary that concisely describes the project. The Executive Summary offers a succinct overview of your project and allows RRF to better understand what you are trying to accomplish. Include brief information about the project’s need, objectives, methods, total cost, and the amount requested from RRF.
  2. The Proposal Narrative provides an opportunity for you to describe your project thoroughly to RRF by addressing the following:
    • Organizational Background
      • Mission, history, community, and population served
      • Evidence that your organization places a high priority on services for older people
      • Information regarding the Board of Directors, including business/community affiliations; percentage of members who made financial contributions; and the total Board contribution made in the last fiscal year
    • Project Description
      • Capacity issue to be addressed
      • Why the project is needed at this time
      • Steps already taken to address this issue (if any)
    • SMART Objectives
      • Please provide Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound (SMART) objectives
      • Include anticipated outcomes and/or accomplishments
      • Describe how the project will improve your organization’s ability to serve older constituents
    • Proposed Methods 
      • Workplan with activities placed in priority order
      • How staff, board, and other stakeholders will be engaged in the project and prepared for the changes that may occur as a result of the project
      • If applicable, information regarding the consultant(s) for the proposed project, including description of bid, interview, and selection processes
    • Personnel
      Capacity building projects generally involve a working team of staff, board, and volunteers. Please describe:
      • Who will oversee the project
      • Who will serve on your project team and their responsibilities related to the project
      • How existing staff involved in the project will handle their responsibilities in addition to their current duties
      • If applicable, other staff the organization intends to engage for the project
    • Evaluation
      • Describe how you will measure progress toward objectives
      • Identify quantifiable indicators you will use to gauge progress
    • Plans for Continued Support
      • If the proposed capacity building activities require additional funding after the grant ends, indicate your organization’s plans for securing additional funds
    • OCB Coaching
      If a grant is awarded, the services of an OCB coach may be available. These services are provided in addition to the grant award. See a description of the role a coach can play in a capacity building project. If your organization is interested in a coach, please respond to the following:
      • How your organization could benefit from the services of a coach
      • Particular issues you would like the coach to address
      • Any concerns you may have about working with a coach
  3. The Budget, Budget Narrative, and Timeline will be uploaded as three individual Microsoft Office documents.  While RRF does not require a standard form for these documents, samples are provided for illustrative purposes.  You may use more than one page for each document.
    • The Line Item Budget includes all expenses and income, including grant funds requested from RRF and funds received and/or requested from other sources for this project, if any. Please include the percentage of time allocated for project staff.  Up to 10% of the funds requested from RRF may be allocated for indirect project costs. See RRF’s Budget Sample.
    • The Budget Narrative describes how the budget relates to the proposed project activities. Budget narratives generally contain a description for each line item identified in the budget, explaining how the request amount was computed. See RRF’s Budget Narrative Sample.
    • The Timeline corresponds directly to the activities that are described in the proposal. See RRF’s Timeline Sample.
  4. In addition to the documents listed above, you will also be asked to upload:
    • The Signature Page to provide proof of who in your organization has authorized this project. See RRF's Authorized Signatures Page
    • Bios or Resumes of no more than 2-3 pages for the project director(s), key personnel, and consultants (if applicable). Upload in one file
    • Project bid from consultant(s), if applicable
    • Current Board of Directors roster with names and affiliations. Upload in one file
    • Minutes from the last three Board meetings. Upload in one file
    • Signed memoranda of understanding or detailed project bids from consultants that may be involved with the project (if applicable)
    • Current operating budget showing income and expenses
    • IRS 501(c)(3) designation letter or other evidence of federal non-profit status
    • Most recent audited financial report (preferred) or most recent IRS 990

RRF has an online process to submit grant requests.

Please read the following instructions carefully before beginning a new online application. RRF recommends printing or saving these instructions for reference when continuing work on an application.



A. How to Create an RRF Online Application Account and Start an Application:

  1. Google Chrome will not work properly with RRF’s grant portal. You must use another Internet Browser to prevent issues while applying, such as Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, or Microsoft Edge.
  2. Only click on this button ONCE to login or create your RRF Online Application Account and create a form for a new application. Clicking on this button more than once will result in multiple blank application forms.
  3. Select Continue an Application in the sidebar if you want to continue working on an in-progress application.
  4. The first time you apply, you will need to click on the New Applicant? button located below the E-mail field to create your account.
  5. Once you sign in or create an account, a new online application form will be created. When you finish a section of the form, click on the Next button displayed at the bottom of the screen to continue to the next section.  If you need to stop working on the form before it is complete, click on the Save & Finish Later button, so that you can return to the application at a later date. We recommend saving your application regularly (every thirty minutes) to avoid timeout errors.

B. Tips for Continuing to Work on an RRF Online Application:

Please note inactive applications will be purged from our system following 120 days of inactivity.

To continue working on an RRF online application form, click on the Continue an Application button.

If you have multiple application forms listed, please delete each blank, unneeded form by clicking on the garbage can icon displayed to the right of the application form’s listing in your online account.

If you encounter issues or have any unanswered questions, please contact RRF Foundation for Aging at 773-714-8080 or via email.

The due dates for all grant reports are listed on page four of the RRF Grant Award Letters sent to applicants who are awarded grants.

Grantees will submit their reports electronically via the applicable report form(s) uploaded into the grantees’ RRF Online Applications and Requirements accounts. Grantees will receive an email notifying them when the applicable report form(s) have been uploaded into their account. In addition, they will receive instructions about how to access the forms via an RRF Online Applications and Requirements Account.

Documents describing the information to be included in the grant report(s) may be accessed via the links below:

Final Reporting Requirements For RRF Standard OCB Grantees

OCB Flexible Fund Grants

RRF provides OCB Flexible Fund Grants to respond to immediate capacity building needs for Illinois nonprofits that serve older people.  OCB Flexible Fund Grants are available to help organizations identify their capacity building priorities or receive short-term technical assistance:

  • Readiness Assessments – Funds may be used to engage a consultant who will work directly with an organization to identify and prioritize capacity building opportunities, and the steps needed for organizational improvement or growth.

  • Targeted Consultations – Funds may be used to engage an expert in nonprofit management to provide short-term, focused technical assistance on an emerging issue related to legal, fiscal, human resources, or other areas.

Applications for OCB Flexible Fund Grants are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. Funding requests must be $5,000 or less.  Decisions on OCB Flexible Fund Grants are generally made within four to six weeks.

OCB Flexible Fund Grants are provided to nonprofit organizations that:

  • are located in Illinois
  • have been in operation for at least three years and have annual revenue of at least $75,000
  • place a high priority on providing services to people, ages 65 and older

Please review our general grant exclusions before applying for a grant.

Please review the Foundation’s eligibility requirements and exclusions before beginning the application process. OCB Flexible Fund Grants are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. We recommend you review and complete the required application components outlined in the Apply section before beginning an online application form.

RRF requests that all proposals include the components outlined below. You will upload each of these documents as individual files via our online application.

To respond to immediate capacity building needs for Illinois nonprofits, RRF has a streamlined application process for its OCB Flexible Fund program.  Please note that:

  • Applications for OCB Flexible Fund Grants are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year
  • Funding requests must be $5,000 or less
  • Decisions on OCB Flexible Fund Grants are generally made within four to six weeks

The OCB Flexible Fund Application is available electronically as an online application form.

Please provide the following in your application:

  • Short-term need to be addressed
  • Amount requested and how the funds will be used
  • A brief paragraph describing what assistance you seek and how you believe an OCB Flexible Fund grant would support your organization (upload as a Microsoft Word file)
  • Project bid or scope of work from proposed consultant
  • Authorized signatures of your organization’s CEO and Board Chair (Download Here)

Attachments – Please include the following:

  • Minutes from the last three Board Meetings (attach as one file)
  • IRS 501(c)(3) designation letter
  • Most recent audited financial statement

RRF has an online process to submit grant requests.

Please read the following instructions carefully before beginning a new online application. RRF recommends printing or saving these instructions for reference when continuing work on an application.



A. How to Create an RRF Online Application Account and Start an Application:

  1. Google Chrome will not work properly with RRF’s grant portal. You must use another Internet Browser to prevent issues while applying, such as Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, or Microsoft Edge.
  2. Only click on this button ONCE to login or create your RRF Online Application Account and create a form for a new application. Clicking on this button more than once will result in multiple blank application forms.
  3. Select Continue an Application in the sidebar if you want to continue working on an in-progress application.
  4. The first time you apply, you will need to click on the New Applicant? button located below the E-mail field to create your account.
  5. Once you sign in or create an account, a new online application form will be created. When you finish a section of the form, click on the Next button displayed at the bottom of the screen to continue to the next section.  If you need to stop working on the form before it is complete, click on the Save & Finish Later button, so that you can return to the application at a later date. We recommend saving your application regularly (every thirty minutes) to avoid timeout errors.

B. Tips for Continuing to Work on an RRF Online Application:

Please note inactive applications will be purged from our system following 120 days of inactivity.

To continue working on an RRF online application form, click on the Continue an Application button.

If you have multiple application forms listed, please delete each blank, unneeded form by clicking on the garbage can icon displayed to the right of the application form’s listing in your online account.

If you encounter issues or have any unanswered questions, please contact RRF Foundation for Aging at 773-714-8080 or via email.

The due dates for all grant reports are listed on page four of the RRF Grant Award Letters sent to applicants who are awarded grants.

Grantees will submit their reports electronically via the applicable report form(s) uploaded into the grantees’ RRF Online Applications and Requirements accounts.  Grantees will receive an email notifying them when the applicable report form(s) have been uploaded into their account.  In addition, they will receive instructions about how to access the forms via an RRF Online Applications and Requirements Account.

Documents describing the information to be included in the grant report(s) may be accessed via the links below:

Final Reporting Requirements For RRF Fliexible OCB Grantees

Things to Know

Learn about general grant exclusions, search our FAQs, read evaluation guidelines and learn how to develop SMART objectives.

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