Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Para información en español, por favor llame a la oficina: 212-620-9110.

How does North Star Fund define community organizing?

Here are the five things we look for to confirm that an organization is building “people power”:

  • The organization is led by the people most directly impacted by the issues the organization works on, and those members have clear decision-making power
  • Brings people together and develops the leadership capacity of the people they work with
  • Works to identify, articulate and address the root causes of the problems they work on, not just the symptoms
  • Creates systemic change through “campaigns,” a planned series of events or activities that alter unjust power relationships
  • Has a strong vision for social justice and is committed to working towards a larger movement

You can find more information about our community organizing criteria here.

Which grant category should I apply for?

Review the questions on this page for help deciding which grant category to apply for.

Catalyst grants are suited for new or emerging organizations under six years old. Grassroots Action grants are intended for organizations more than six years old that can also demonstrate a track record of success in community organizing.

Can I apply for more than one grants program at the same time?

In general, no. However, you may apply for a rapid response grant at any time, which may be at the same time as you are applying for another category. You can review rapid response criteria here.

If our organization just received funding in the past cycle, can we apply for another grant?

In most cases, no. Our grant period is 12 months.

Special initiatives such as Let us Breathe and Giving Project grants and Rapid Response grants are an exception.

How many grants in each category will you be awarding this cycle?

North Star Fund awards 18-25 Grassroots Action and 5-10 Catalyst grants each cycle, 5 Movement Leadership grants in the fall application cycle, and 5-10 Innovative Activism grants in the spring application cycle.

My organization does cultural/media work. Which grant should we apply for?

If your organization does ONLY social justice cultural/media work, you should apply for an Innovative Activism grant.

If your organization does community organizing, you should apply for a Catalyst grant or a Grassroots Action grant. Base-building groups should not apply for Innovative Activism grants for their cultural work.

Will there be any opportunities for us to get more information and assistance in filling out the application form?

North Star Fund often holds How to Apply workshops before each deadline. You can find the most up-to-date information and schedule for upcoming workshops on the Apply for a Grant page.

If you cannot make one of the workshops and you have a question about the application after reviewing the information on our website, please call North Star Fund at (212) 620-9110.

What is a site visit?

A North Star Fund site visit is an informal conversation with our 2–3 representatives from the CFC and staff about the work you do. Site visits are 60–90 minutes long.

The CFC will ask follow-up questions based on your application and our criteria. Therefore, please do not plan for your site visit to coincide with other events.

As you fill out your application, please indicate your preferred dates and times that enable some of your members to participate. Please hold your preferred dates and times until further notice. If you are selected for a site visit, we will do our best to accommodate your first preference.

Who should attend a site visit?

We recommend identifying 3-5 people who feel excited about sharing your organization’s vision and work. This may include staff, board members, and member leaders. The Community Funding Committee would like to hear from member leaders who are directly impacted by the challenges your organization seeks to address.

What is the Community Funding Committee (CFC)? Can I contact a member of the CFC?

The Community Funding Committee is a group of trained 10-12 volunteers who make North Star Fund’s grantmaking decisions. For nearly four decades, North Star Fund has committed to collective and participatory grantmaking; we rely on the expertise of organizers who work with the communities that we fund.

Please direct questions about your application to North Star Fund staff.

Can a member of the Foundation staff come to visit our organization to see more of our programs and activities?

Unfortunately, we do not have the staff capacity to visit every organization that is seeking funding from North Star Fund. Applicant organizations that fit the funding criteria will be contacted to set up a site visit with our decision-making body, the Community Funding Committee as part of our grantmaking process. If you have questions about whether or not your organization is eligible after reviewing the information on our website, call the office at (212) 620-9110.