Operating Grants

Award: Up to $25,000. LOI Window: July 17 – August 17, 2023 Award Distribution: January 2024.
Candidates: 501(c)(3) charities directly serving the people of Pinellas County.


The nuts and bolts costs for projects and programs at your organization can be hard to cover when grant funds are restrictive and come with a long list of conditions. With general operating grants from Pinellas Community Foundation, you can put funds to work in the way your organization knows best, and in the way that will meet your clients’ challenges head-on.

PCF has transitioned to offering two-year general operating grants. If approved through this process, you will receive two installments, once per year, of identical amounts. See Award Amounts for more details. There will be no application process in 2024.

Operating grants are not meant to be used for large equipment or capital purchases. PCF has a separate grant program for these purchases, which you can read more about here.

Grantmaking Tracks

PCF is dedicated to supporting both human services and arts & culture organizations operating in Pinellas County. In order to better gather information, PCF has created two different applications depending on the type of organization that is applying.

Human/Direct Community Services: Your organizations fits in this category if its programming focuses on resolving individual and community needs, or bettering the community, through direct services. Examples include food banks, nonprofit behavioral health providers, free health clinics, and literacy programming.

Arts & Culture: Your organization fits in this category if its programming focuses on encouraging clients to create original works of creative expression, fostering an appreciation of the arts locally, or helping educate audiences on specific types of creative works. Examples include museums, arts education programming, nonprofit performing arts venues, and arts alliances.

When your organization begins its Letter of Intent for this process, it will select whether its mission is dedicated to human/direct community services or arts & culture. The questions asked for each type are distinct, and therefore it is important to select correctly. PCF understands that some organizations operate a mix of programming, and encourages you to reach out if you are unsure which category your organization falls under.


You are eligible to apply for an operating grant if your organization:

  • Has 501(c)(3) public charity status under the code of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and has had such status for one calendar year at the time of application
  • Has a physical presence in Pinellas County
  • Will only spend funds within Pinellas County
  • Fits within the focus areas identified by the PCF Board of Governors (listed under “Funding Priorities” on the PCF Grants Overview page)
  • Is a direct service provider
  • Has been operational AND providing direct services/programs for at least 1 year prior to application

If your organization operates an arts & culture festival as part of its programming, your organization must have a year-round presence in the community, have the arts as its primary purpose, spend the majority of its budget on arts activities, hire professional artists, and include education and outreach programs. PCF does not intend to fund arts organizations’ whose primary programming is a singular event or festival.

Hospitals, schools and school-affiliated groups (including colleges, universities, and booster clubs), vocal and musical ensembles, animal welfare organizations, houses of worship, governments, continuing care retirement communities, private foundations, and grantmaking foundations are ineligible to apply, regardless of tax status. If your organization files a Form 990-PF, it is ineligible to apply.

Organizations with multiple programs or sub-organizations may only submit one application. Fiscally-sponsored organizations may apply, provided the fiscal sponsor does not also submit a funding request.

If you have received a grant from PCF before, non-compliance with the requirements of those grants, such as failing to use PCF’s logo on marketing materials or not completing follow-up reports, will have a negative impact on your application.

Award Amounts

Operating Grants funding request amounts will be based upon organizational operating budget size which serves Pinellas County and is not inclusive of major one-time or non-routine capital expenditures.

Organizations with budgets of less than $500,000 may seek up to $15,000.

Organizations with budgets between $500,000 to $2,500,000 may seek up to $20,000.

Organizations with budgets greater than $2,500,000 may seek up to $25,000.

If your organization is awarded a grant, it will receive the same amount during both years. For example, if you are awarded $15,000, you will receive $15,000 in year one and $15,000 in year two.

Due to the extremely competitive nature of operating grants, your organization may not receive its full request.

Important Dates

Application Timeline

The 2023-25 General Operating Grant Letter of Intent (LOI) will open on July 17, 2023. The deadline for the LOI is August 17, 2023 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time.

Organizations whose LOIs are chosen to move onto the full proposal stage will be notified on September 1, 2023. Full applications will be due on October 13, 2023 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time.

Award Distribution

Announcements about operating grants will be made at the beginning of January 2024 with the first year’s payment to approved grantees to follow shortly thereafter. The second year’s installment will occur after successful completion of a report for year one.

Review Criteria

For direct community service nonprofits, Letters of Intent will be evaluated by the strength of organizational programming and outcomes. For arts & culture organizations, Letters of Intent will be evaluated by a clearly defined audience for programming and the strength of the outreach to that audience.

Full proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

Clear Story: PCF uses a unique storytelling application to better understand who is served by your organization and how you can help. We want to make sure you understand your clients’ challenges, and your organization’s role in helping.

Need: Your request for funds must be a reasonable solution to the problem you identify in your story, and you should have data or research to show that your improvement is a natural fit to address the need.

Solution: Strong leadership, clear and measurable outcomes, and a coherent plan for your proposed project are all crucial elements to a good application.

Financials: We want to be sure that all proposed projects are financially sound. Strong applications will have a reasonable, cost-sensitive budget with achievable outcomes that display all sources of funding. If there are budget variances, they should be explained.

Grant Conditions

If awarded an operating grant from PCF, your organization agrees to:

  • Properly accredit PCF through use of the most recent logo on:
    • Organization website with a link to https://pinellascf.org
    • Collateral, letterhead, and other external marketing material that feature sponsors (where appropriate)
  • Grant PCF the opportunity to visit your board of directors regarding partnerships and further opportunities with PCF
  • Provide up to 3 PCF board members and/or staff with a tour of facilities at once during the grant period
  • Provide photos from the supported program/work

Any exceptions to these conditions must be made in writing by both PCF and your organization before you submit your application.

Application Format and Access

PCF has transitioned to a two-step application process. The Letter of Intent process for this year is will run from July 17 to August 17, 2023. The Letter of Intent closes at 11:59 PM on August 17, 2023.

If PCF invites your organization to submit a full proposal, it will require the submission of the story of a client served, financial documents such as a Form 990 and audit (if available), board information, and demographic details of their organization and clients.

Access to the online application system can be found by clicking the APPLY NOW link on this page during the application period.

Questions and Deadline

Questions regarding application content will only be answered up to one week before the application deadline. After this point, only technology-related questions regarding the grants platform will be answered.

If you have any questions or technological problems, don’t hesitate to reach out to PCF staff. Please see Important Dates above to view grant deadlines. Do not wait until the last week to begin the application.

Applications must be submitted during the application period and only online submissions are accepted. Please remember to click the “Submit” button prior to the deadline. Draft applications in the system that are not submitted on time will not be reviewed.

Need Help?

Watch a webinar reviewing the Letter of Intent.

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Apply Now

When you are ready to begin your application, please proceed to our external grant system.

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We Can Help

David Bender

David Bender

Chief Operating Officer

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