The Dyson Foundation’s mini-grant program funds capacity building projects that improve a nonprofit’s administrative, governance, or programmatic functions. Mini-grants enable nonprofit board, staff, and volunteer leaders to develop new skills through specific consultant-led capacity-building activities, or through conferences, seminars, and other relevant training opportunities.
Mini-grant funds can be used to hire consultants or to defray the cost of trainings. Grants will fund no more than 80% of the total project cost, with a maximum award of $12,000. Applicants may include overhead costs (generally up to 15% of the total budget) but not staff time on a proposed mini-grant budget. Organizations are generally limited to one mini-grant per calendar year.
Mini-grants are available to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations and libraries in the Mid-Hudson Valley (Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, and Ulster counties). Funding priority will be given to organizations who have a mission and programs consistent with core funding interests of the Dyson Foundation, which include basic needs such as food security, housing, health care, and other human services. Organizations with operating budgets less than $250,000, particularly in fields including arts, environment, and historic preservation are encouraged to contact Jennifer Killian, Program Officer to discuss your capacity building project prior to submitting a letter of inquiry.
The Dyson Foundation particularly encourages applications from organizations that:
- have an annual operating budget of less than $1 million,
- were founded less than 10 years ago,
- are in transition (e.g., significant growth, changes in staff or board leadership, reorganization, or other similar circumstances), and
- have not received prior mini-grant funding from the Dyson Foundation.
HOW FUNDS CAN BE USED
- advocacy and/or community organizing planning
- board of directors training and development
- conference, seminar, or training attendance
- diversity, equity, and inclusion activities
- executive coaching
- fiscal systems review and enhancement
- marketing, communications, and social media planning
- personnel policy review and/or personnel management training
- program planning and/or evaluation
- resource development planning
- strategic planning
- succession planning
- technology planning
New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) offers many of these services. While not required for mini-grant program funding, organizations may want to discuss their training and consulting needs with the New York Council of Nonprofits. Organizations considering the use of any consultant may want to review How to Hire a Consultant (PDF).
How to Apply to the Dyson Foundation for funding.
Following the completion of a consultancy or training project, grantees can apply for a follow-up implementation mini-grant of up to $3,000 to cover the costs of enacting the results or recommendations of the project. Grantees interested in applying for implementation funds should first contact Jennifer Killian, Program Officer, to discuss the process.
Implementation funding examples:
- design or production of new marketing materials, including websites
- purchase of new equipment or software
- training for board and/or staff members
WHAT MINI-GRANTS WON’T FUND
Funding from the mini-grant program is not available to the following:
- government entities
- municipal or nonprofit fire and rescue squads
- private/independent schools, or public school systems
- faith-based organizations
- colleges, universities, hospitals, and other organizations with an annual operating budget of over $10 million
- organizations with primarily state-wide or national programming, even if physically located in the Mid-Hudson Valley
The mini-grant program will not fund the following:
- professional services outside of those designed to build the capacity of staff and board (such as architectural design, web development, marketing services, fundraising, etc.)
- training as required for organizational licensing or individual professional certification
- grant proposal writing
- consultancies or training opportunities already in progress or completed
- the same type of project more than once (i.e. the same organization cannot receive more than one grant for marketing/communications, or attend the same conference/training if previously funded)