Grant Proposal Submission Guidelines

This short video will walk you through how to log into our grants management system, choose the correct application for your project, and submit your application.

Contractor Guidelines

This short video will walk you through how to manage your contract with Montana Healthcare Foundation.

Eligibility

What types of funding are eligible for funding?

MHCF will only fund Montana-based organizations. Montana-based organizations that are eligible to apply for funding include:

  • Tax-exempt organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (excluding those classified as private foundations or any type III non-functionally integrated supporting organization under section 509(a) of the Code).
  • Tax-exempt educational institutions.
  • State, tribal, or local government agencies.

Under rare circumstances MHCF may choose to fund organizations based outside of Montana. Such proposals must be invited by MHCF, and must include:

  • A sole focus on improving the health and well-being of Montanans.
  • A strong partnership with Montana-based organizations or communities.
  • Substantial funding to Montana-based organizations included in the grant budget.
  • A strong case for why funding for an organization outside of Montana is needed for successful completion of the project.
  • All applicant organizations must be located in the United States or its territories.
If we currently have a grant from MHCF, are we eligible to apply again?

Yes. Current grantees may apply for a new grant. Your new grant application should either (a) propose an entirely different project from your current MHCF-funded project, or (b) if you are seeking additional funds for a project that is related to your current MHCF grant, clearly describe specific, separate outcomes and deliverables that would be achieved with your new grant. For example, if you currently have a planning grant from MHCF, you might consider building on that planning work by submitting a proposal for funding to implement the plan.

In order to be considered for a second grant, you must:

  • Be current with all required grant reporting.
  • Demonstrate that you are making adequate progress on your current MHCF-funded project(s).
If an organization is not eligible to apply for funding, can a partner organization apply for and receive funds?

MHCF encourages proposals that involve partnerships among two or more organizations. One of the partners must serve as the primary applicant, however. If the proposal is selected for funding, the primary applicant will receive the entire grant. The primary applicant’s budget may include sub-contracts or sub-grants to pay for the work of partner organizations.

The primary applicant must meet our eligibility criteria, but the partners do not necessarily need to meet those criteria. For example, while individuals are not eligible for our funding, the primary applicant may propose to contract with an individual consultant to accomplish some specific part of the work.

The primary applicant must not, however, serve as a “pass-through” in which an organization that is not eligible for funding receives a large portion of the grant and leads or controls the project. In general, MHCF expects that the primary applicant will have a substantial role in the work that is being proposed.

What does the term 'Montana-based' organization mean?

Our eligibility criteria state that MHCF will only fund Montana-based organizations. Montana-based organizations that are eligible to apply for funding include:

  • Tax-exempt organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (excluding those classified as private foundations or any type III non-functionally integrated supporting organization under section 509(a) of the Code).
  • Tax-exempt educational institutions.
  • State, tribal, or local government agencies.

The term “Montana-based” organization means that the organization is organized, incorporated, and has offices in Montana.

Independent 501(c)(3) organizations that are “Montana-based” according to these criteria and are controlled by a Montana board but are part of a chain of related non-profits that may also conduct operations outside of Montana may be eligible to apply for funding that is restricted to the Montana-based organization. Please email us at [email protected] if further clarification is needed.

Are 501(c)6 organizations eligible to apply?

No. Our eligibility criteria states that we will only fund Montana-based organizations that include:

  • Tax-exempt organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (excluding those classified as private foundations or any type III non-functionally integrated supporting organization under section 509(a) of the Code).
  • Tax-exempt educational institutions.
  • State, tribal, or local government agencies.

501(c)6 organizations are not, therefore, eligible to apply. We understand, however, that many trade associations also have a sister charitable organization or a state umbrella charity that coordinates charitable programs for local trade associations. If this is the case for your organization, it is possible that the charitable organization could be eligible to apply.

Are organizations that have 501(c)3 IRS applications submitted and pending approval eligible to apply?

Yes, however the application will be rejected if IRS approval has not been approved by the time that MHCF is due to make a funding decision.

What type of activities are NOT supported by MHCF?

MHCF does not fund:

  • Individuals.
  • Capital campaigns.
  • Operating deficits or retirement of debt.
  • Construction projects, real estate, acquisitions, or endowments unless part of an MHCF-invited proposal.
  • Fundraising events.
  • Organizations that discriminate because of race, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, age, or political orientation.
  • Lobbying as defined by the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (IRC), section 4945(d)(1).
  • Activities supporting political candidates or voter registration drives as defined in IRC section 4945(d)(2).
  • Large equipment purchases (for example: medical equipment, vans, etc.), where such purchases constitute a substantial portion of the grant budget.
  • Medical research or research lacking a direct, targeted, and practical benefit to Montanans’ health.
  • Organizations or foundations for redistribution of funds via sub-grants.

In addition, please note that MHCF funds may not be used in any way that might supplant government funding of existing programs. All applicants must read our Guidelines on Supplanting.

Does MHCF help organizations conduct Community Health Needs Assessments?

As we understand it, the IRS requires Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) of all non-profit hospitals. As such, the costs of conducting a CHNA can be viewed as part of the general operating costs of the hospital. MHCF does not fund activities that would be considered operating costs (or an operating deficit if not funded). MHCF grants must supplement activities that would occur without our funding (see also our discussion on supplementing versus supplanting).

You may wish to consider, however, whether a small planning grant from MHCF could allow you to achieve important goals that would not be part of your normal CHNA process. For example, considering MHCF’s emphasis on creating partnerships, could a grant from MHCF allow you to form new, substantive partnerships with a local health department, community action agency, or other organization that would allow you to more effectively address the needs identified through the CHNA?

Choosing a Project Focus

I don't know if my proposal fits in any of MHCF's focus area: what should I do?

Please attend one of our webinars, which will offer applicants more information about each focus area, and will also give people a chance to ask questions. In case you are not able to attend one of the webinars, they will be archived on our site and may be viewed later.

We suggest that all eligible organizations begin by reading the Call for Proposals carefully, to understand each focus area and the selection criteria and types of projects we will consider under each focus area.

Finally, if you have reviewed these resources and are still uncertain whether your proposal fits any of our focus areas, you may email [email protected]. Please note, however, that due to the large volume of inquiries, MHCF may not respond individually to all inquiries we receive.

My proposal fits in more than one of MHCF's focus area: which one should I apply for?

There is some overlap between the focus areas: applicants should decide which category best fits their initiative. We suggest that:

  • Organizations that intend to focus on the health of Native American people and are eligible should apply to the American Indian Health focus area, even for projects that may overlap with Behavioral Health or Partnerships for Better Health.
  • Organizations with a primary focus on behavioral health but are not focusing mainly on Native Americans should apply to the Behavioral Health focus area, even for projects that may overlap with Partnerships for Better Health.
  • Organizations seeking to address issues besides Behavioral Health and American Indian Health should apply to Partnerships for Better Health.
My proposal doesn't fit in any of MHCF's focus areas or initiatives: will you consider funding it?

MHCF does not generally fund unsolicited proposals that fall outside our focus areas and initiatives. These focus areas were developed to allow eligible applicants to address a wide range of issues important to the health of Montanans. We hope that the structure of this Call for Proposals will help maximize the impact of our investments, at the same time as allowing considerable flexibility for eligible organizations to bring new and innovative ideas to fruition.

If your project does not appear to fall within any of MHCF’s focus areas, you may email [email protected] to tell us briefly about your idea. In your email, we suggest you briefly outline what you would want to do, whom the project would serve, and why you do not believe it falls within MHCF’s focus areas. We suggest you limit your email to two paragraphs.

We are not likely to consider project ideas submitted to [email protected] for funding. However, because MHCF intends to continuously update its programs to address statewide needs through investigation, collaboration, and learning from experience, we will consider these project ideas in developing the structure and criteria for future funding cycles.

Does MHCF support fundraising activities?

As a general practice we do not sponsor fundraising events or capital campaigns.

Budget

Will MHCF continue to fund our project after the grant term if our work is successful?

MHCF is not intended to be a sustainable source of funding for ongoing programs. MHCF grants will support projects that have a lasting impact beyond the term of the grant, as opposed to providing an ongoing source of programmatic funding. MHCF selection criteria focus on projects that have a high potential for becoming self-supporting, or those that will have a lasting impact through a project that has a limited grant term.

What does 'financial sustainability' mean?

MHCF selection criteria focus on projects that have a high potential for becoming self-supporting, or those that will have a lasting impact through a project that has a limited grant term. MHCF grants will support projects that have a lasting impact beyond the term of the grant, as opposed to providing an ongoing source of programmatic funding. Many opportunities exist for funding health and related services through effective billing. Implementation of Montana’s Medicaid expansion along with related policy changes should significantly strengthen the financing of services for Montana’s at-risk populations. Collaboration between entities such as hospitals, clinics, health departments, behavioral health providers, corrections, and schools can also create sustainable financing through more efficient and effective use of resources.

Application Process

How does MHCF decide which proposals to fund?

All proposals are assessed according to our general selection criteria which can be found in the Call for Proposals. In addition, MHCF considers the applicant’s finances and capacity for carrying out the proposed work, and the clarity and feasibility of the work plan. On occasion, MHCF may engage external experts to review proposals: external reviewers may make recommendations but do not have final decision-making authority.

Will I receive specific comments on my proposal after a decision is made?

Due to the large volume of proposals we receive, we cannot promise to provide individual critiques of or comments on each proposal. We may be able to offer limited feedback on a case-by-case basis, but this is not guaranteed and is dependent upon the volume of proposals received.

If my proposal is not initially accepted for funding, can I resubmit it?

Organizations that are not accepted for funding may not re-apply with the same or similar project in the same year. If an organization is interested in re-applying in a subsequent year with the same project, MHCF recommends discussing the proposal with a program officer in order to understand and address any issues that prevented the proposal from being considered for funding initially.

What happens after a proposal is approved for funding?

When a proposal is conditionally approved for funding by MHCF, and before any funds are released, the prospective grantee and MHCF must negotiate and sign a grant agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the grant, and the measurable objectives and the frequency of required reporting. Grant decisions are not considered final until the grant agreement is fully executed. No grantee work carried out prior to the date of execution of the grant agreement is considered reimbursable under the grant.

How many proposals can one organization submit per year? How many grants can a single organization receive per year?

One organization may submit up to three distinct proposals under this Call for Proposals.

Because of the level of interest in this opportunity from organizations around Montana, it is likely that we will not be able to fund all of the proposals we receive. According to our selection criteria, MHCF will give preference to proposals based on their contribution to the overall diversity and balance of our portfolio, and in particular, to proposals from communities with the greatest demonstrated need. Therefore, it is unlikely but not impossible that we will fund more than a single proposal per organization.

If an entity (such as a university) has a separate eligible organizations (such as a foundation and a tax exempt educational institution), can each eligible organization submit up to three letters of interest?

Yes. MHCF will accept up to three distinct proposals from each eligible organization. Entities such as a major university may house separate organizations, such as a tax-exempt educational institution and a separately organized foundation. Provided that each of those organizations meets MHCF’s eligibility criteria, MHCF will accept up to three distinct proposals from each organization. Applicants should bear in mind, however, that MHCF will give preference to proposals based on their contribution to the overall diversity and balance of our portfolio, and in particular, to proposals from communities with the greatest demonstrated need. Therefore, it is unlikely but not impossible that we will fund more than a single proposal per eligible organization.

Can multiple organizations submit a joint proposal?

Strong partnerships or coalitions of groups with a stake in the outcome are often very important to the success of a project and are a critically important aspect of our selection criteria. We strongly encourage collaborative proposals from two or more organizations. Only one organization, however, can be designated as the grantee. Collaborative proposals will need to identify the lead project director, the organization that will receive the grant and the relationship between the lead organization and other partners. Other partners may receive funds through sub-contracts or honoraria negotiated and overseen by the grantee.

How do you define 'indirect costs'? What percentage is allowable?

Indirect costs funded by MHCF are limited to 10% of salaries and benefits for staff at the grantee organization. Indirect costs are expenses of a grantee that are not specifically identifiable to the project funded by MHCF but represent overhead costs of grantee operations related to the grant. For example, if you typically charge a general rate for office supplies, this would likely be covered in the indirect line item. However, if you will need to use specific supplies for the training or stakeholder meetings, these should be included in the supplies line item instead. Salaries and benefits of partner organizations should be listed under the consultants line item and do not count towards indirect costs.

How does MHCF define an 'at risk' population?

Certain people in our state face particularly difficult challenges to health. ‘Health disparities’ – defined as the higher rates of illness and death that are consistently documented among certain subgroups – are all too common among certain racial and ethnic groups, among those who face social and economic disadvantage, and among young children and older adults. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that health disparities can occur in many demographic subgroups of the population, in relation to age, disability, gender, socio-economic status, geography, gender, and sexual preference. Across all of our work, MHCF places a particular emphasis on reducing health disparities, and ensuring that every Montanan has an opportunity to enjoy a full, productive, and healthy life.

How can I learn more about submitting a proposal?

Please sign up for our newsletter. Those on our mailing list will be the first to receive information on grant offerings, upcoming webinars and other updates.

2018 Call for Proposals

Find out about this year’s available grants.