Grant Resources

Access Resources to Assist with your Grant Application

Planning to apply for a CFNIL grant? Ready to complete your post-grant or interim report? This page includes guides, resources, and tips to assist you with each step of the CFNIL grant process. 

With the exception of In Youth We Trust grants, CFNIL grant programs utilize an online application portal. The video below provides a walk-through of how to register for the portal and access grant applications. This document provides instructions to register and apply through the online portal:

How to Register and Apply for grants using CFNIL's Web Portal

This video shows how to register and apply for CFNIL Grants. The following grant programs use the CFNIL Grants Application Portal: Community Grants Program, Neighborhood Grants, Blanche Martin Mini Grant,

Download CFNIL's Budget Template for Grantseekers 


For Community Grants:

All proposal budgets must use CFNIL’s Budget Template. It captures the proposal budget, while automatically making calculations to inform our Grant Reviewers.

For the Blanche Martin Mini GrantClub BlueIn Youth We Trust, and Neighborhood Grant Program, use the budget template found on the individual grant program page.

General Budget Instructions:

  • Expense items may be combined into one line if there aren’t enough rows for all expenses. Take care to group like items as much as possible and use the budget narrative to indicate the amounts for the component expenses.
  • Single item expenses exceeding $5,000 require two quotes. If obtaining two quotes is impossible or impractical, you must explain why in the budget narrative. All remodeling projects require two quotes. If you receive a discount from a vendor that is so significant that a second quote would be impractical, upload a letter of support from the vendor in lieu of the quotes.
  • All quotes should be combined into a single pdf document and uploaded on the Budget Tab of the application. If you need assistance working with a pdf document, view this resource.
  • Proposal budgets using the CFNIL Budget Template must be uploaded to the CFNIL Web Portal as a PDF. To learn how to convert your Excel document to a PDF, please visit this Microsoft Support page.

Budget Template Instructions:

Applicants are only able to write in blue cells. Everything else is locked.

  • Cells A1 to A4 capture your organization’s name, the proposal title, the grant cycle and the date.
  • Cells C9 to E8 capture the amount your organization is requesting from CFNIL per year. (Leave cells D8 and E8 blank if submitting a single year request.)
  • Cells B9 to B17 refer to other sources of income that will fund your proposal, while cells C9 to E17 capture the amount requested from these sources/year. (If CFNIL is the sole source of funding for your proposal, leave these cells blank.)
  • Cells C9 to C17 refer to the status of your proposal. The options available in these cells are “estimated,” “requested,” “pledged,” or “received”. For more information about the definitions of each status, please refer to the bottom of the Budget Template.
  • Cells B33 to B42 refer to your project expenses, while Cells C33 to E42 capture the amount required for these items per year.  (Leave Cells D33 to E42 blank if submitting a single year request.)
  • Cells H33 to H42 captures the length of anticipated service in years for capital items. Leave these cells blank if the line item is not a capital expense.

For your convenience, CFNIL has provided a sample proposal budget and sample proposal narrative.

Sample Proposal Budget 

Sample Budget Narrative 

Occasionally one of CFNIL’s grant applications will request that you upload an external document (i.e. a quote for a budget item or a relevant report). These items should be uploaded as PDFs and may not exceed 5MB per file. We also limit the number of PDFs that you are able to upload, which means you may need to combine multiple PDFs into one document. If you are new to working with PDFs or do not have the software that will allow you to do this, we recommend the free, downloadable software PrimoPDF. Below you will find instructions with screen shots to help you download and use this free tool to help you complete your application.

Reducing the File Size of a PDF

  1. Download free PrimoPDF software at Follow the installation instructions.
  2. Once PrimoPDF is downloaded and installed, open the document you need to shrink and click “Print”.
  3. Choose “PrimoPDF” as your printer and click “Printer Properties”.
  4. Click “Advanced”.
  5. Under “Graphic – Print Quality”, choose a DPI between 10 and 300 to shrink the file size.
  6. Click “Print”.
  7. When the PrimoPDF box appears, click “Create PDF”. It will give you the option to save the file where you like.
  8. Once you click “Save”, it will create a new PDF with a smaller file size.

Combining Multiple PDFs into One Document

  1. Download the free PrimoPDF software at Follow the installation instructions.
  2. Once downloaded and installed, open the first document you want combined and click “Print”.
  3. Choose “PrimoPDF” as your printer and click “Print”.
  4. When the PrimoPDF box appears, click “Create PDF”. It will give you the option to save the file.
  5. Open the next document to combine with the first and click “Print”.
  6. Choose “PrimoPDF” as your printer and click “Print”.
  7. When the PrimoPDF box appears click “Create PDF”.
  8. Like the first time, it will give you the option to save the file. Instead of saving as a new document, find and select the first document you created.
  9. Click “Save” and then click “Append” on the box that appears. The first document will now include both the first document and the second document. The order within the file mirrors the order in which you saved the documents.
  10. Repeat the process to add additional doc

 Download PDF Tips 

If you are working with or within school district, you must submit a Pre-Authorization Form (found below). This document asks for more detailed information about the partnership between the applicant and school district, specifically the school district’s role in designing the charitable activity and allocating resources for its completion.

This document is a fillable PDF. Please download before attempting to fill out.

Pre-Authorizaton Form for Working with a School District

CFNIL is committed to a fair and objective proposal review process.

Volunteer advisors from the community review and recommend grant proposals for approval by the CFNIL Board of Trustees. CFNIL Trustees, volunteer advisors, and staff adhere to carefully considered conflict of interest and confidentiality policies throughout the review and approval process. Due to the volume of proposals considered, CFNIL cannot routinely meet with grant applicants as a part of the review process. CFNIL may meet with any applicant when a review committee has determined that a meeting or a site visit will facilitate the review process.

Grant award decisions are final. CFNIL Trustees, volunteer advisors, and staff are prohibited from discussing the details of committee deliberations with any grant applicant. 

Proposal Review Guidelines

While evaluating grants, CFNIL reviewers want to know who is applying, how they will put a plan into action, and what that plan will accomplish. In the Measuring Results section of the application (formerly called Outcomes), CFNIL reviewers need the clearest possible description of projected quantitative results in order to meaningfully evaluate your application.

The following is a list of key terms from the Measuring Results section of CFNIL’s application:

  • Result: The change or improvement that a charitable activity is intended to produce.
  • Indicators of Success: The data collected to show evidence of a change as a result of the proposed activity.
  • TargetsThis does not refer to your target population. It is/they are a number or percentage of the Indicators of Success that defines your desired achievement.
  • Methods for Measurement: How you will collect the data that shows evidence of change.
  • Benchmarks: A point of reference against which your results will be compared.

Examples of Single-Year Result Statements 

Examples of Multi-Year Result Statements 

Final and Progress Reports

All grant recipients are required to submit an online Final Report upon completion of the charitable activity for which the grant was made. Final Reports will include a detailed budget explaining how the funds were used and a description of the achieved outcomes of the charitable activity. Grant recipients will be asked to compare the achieved outcomes to the projected outcomes as stated in the original proposal. The Final Report may also include an oral presentation or other components as deemed necessary by CFNIL.

Final reports are due approximately 14 months after approval. The online Final Report form will be made available soon after your grant is awarded. If your organization has been awarded a multi-year grant, your organization will have to complete a Progress Report between funding years.

To access these reports, log into your CFNIL Web Portal account. Select “My Awards” from the “Grant Applicant” menu. If another person at your organization submitted the proposal, you may have to select “Show All” in the Search Criteria. Click the link to the proposal corresponding to the grant and then click the “Final Report” or “Progress Report” link.

Interim Reports

To have new grant applications considered, applying organizations are required to be current on all Final Reports for previously awarded grants from CFNIL.

If an organization would like to apply for another grant from CFNIL and the current charitable activity is not yet complete, the applicant must submit an Interim Report. Do not use the online Final Report form for the Interim Report. The Interim Report should be submitted on the grantee organization’s letterhead.

Interim reports should include:
1. Description of the charitable activity’s progress
2. Description of any changes to the charitable activity since approval
3. Reason that a Final Report is not being submitted

E-mail all interim reports to James Patterson at

We encourage you to share the good news about your grant and recognize the generosity of the donors who made it possible. Please read and follow the Grant Communications Guidelines below when announcing your grant in press releases, on social media and elsewhere.

Please contact Engagement Director Jennifer Smith if you need to obtain a different version of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois logo than those found below. Also share press releases, articles, and photos relating to your funded program with her. Don’t forget to connect with the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, so we can share your story!

Grant Communication Guidelines

Sample Press Release and Cover Email 

CFNIL Logo Horizontal 

CFNIL Logo Vertical 

Questions? Issues with your application? Contact James!

James Patterson
James Patterson
Program Director
Phone: 779-210-8206
Email: James Patterson