Grantmaking FAQs

These questions and answers about the Otto Bremer Trust’s grantmaking process complement the Grantmaking Overview.

Funding focus

1. Fit. How can we tell if our proposal might be a good fit for the Otto Bremer Trust?

The central question in evaluating fit is whether the proposed work is likely to powerfully move a community forward in ways that are consistent with OBT’s mission. The narrative section of the grant application lists six aspects of your proposal that OBT looks to in evaluating fit. Some of the more detailed questions that we ask in evaluating fit are listed below under “Application and Review Process”—see question 11, Site Visits.  

2. Grant type. What types of grants does OBT provide? Do you make multi-year grants?

OBT provides grants to support programs, general operations, capital projects and—for community foundations only—endowments. The trustees currently prefer to make one-year grants. We are open to making two-year grants when that is demonstrably the most effective way to advance work that is important to a community. In rare circumstances, we will make three-year grants.

3. Program-related investments. Does OBT provide program-related investments?

Yes. As defined by the Foundation Center, program-related investments (PRIs) are tools that foundations can use to support charitable activities that can potentially return the capital to OBT within an established time frame. PRIs can include financing methods commonly associated with banks or other private investors, such as loans, loan guarantees, linked deposits and even equity investments in charitable organizations or in commercial ventures for charitable purposes.

For more information, see our Program-Related Investments page.

4. Amount. How much funding can we ask for?

There is no set dollar limit on grant requests. We prefer the proposed work to have funding from diverse sources when possible. When Otto Bremer Trust funding is added to other revenue sources, there should be sufficient total funding to enable the work to be successful. You may wish to review a list of OBT grants.


5. Proof of Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Our organization received its section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status by filing Form 1023-EZ, Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption Under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Is our organization eligible to apply for an OBT grant?

At this time, OBT is not accepting proposals from organizations that received their tax-exempt status through the 1023-EZ application process.

6. Fiscal sponsorship. My organization does not have section 501(c)(3) status but does have another organization that is willing to serve as a fiscal sponsor. Will that work?

OBT accepts grant applications from fiscal sponsors. Please review the information on fiscal sponsorship before beginning the application process. If you have additional questions, please call us at 651-227-8036 or toll-free at 888-291-1123.

7. Bremer Bank community. Must our organization be located in a Bremer Bank community? How does OBT define Bremer Bank communities?

OBT supports organizations and projects that benefit communities that are home to Bremer banks. In determining geographic eligibility for a grant, OBT trustees and staff consider a number of factors, including physical proximity to Bremer Bank communities and how the work of a specific program or organization will positively affect residents of those communities.

8. Overlapping grants. If we have a current Otto Bremer Trust grant, can we apply for another one?

OBT has a policy of providing one grant to an organization at a time. If your organization has an open grant from OBT, we will not accept a new proposal until the current grant period is complete and your organization has submitted its final narrative and financial reports. Please see our one-grant-at-a-time policy for an explanation of how the process works and exceptions to the policy for fiscal sponsors and applications proposing to serve a different Bremer community.

9. Waiting period after turndown. If our grant application was turned down, how long do we need to wait to apply again?

We will accept new applications one year after the date a prior application is turned down. In a few special circumstances, OBT will waive the one-year waiting period. In those cases, applicants will be notified of the waiver at the time their application is turned down.

10. Questions. Can we call to inquire about eligibility?

OBT encourages your questions. We can be reached at 651-227-8036 or toll-free at 888-291-1123. If the staff person who answers the phone cannot answer your question, a program officer will generally return your call within one business day.

Application and review process

11. Grant application. Do you accept paper and emailed applications?

Applications are submitted online through our Applicant and Grantee Portal. If you have any difficulties using our portal, please contact us at 651-227-8036 or toll-free at 888-291-1123 and ask for Portal Support, or email us at See How to Apply to access the portal.

12. Site visits. If you make a site visit, what will it include and how should we prepare?

During a site visit, you should be prepared to discuss your organization’s work and finances in some detail and to have a conversation centering on these questions:

  • Community. Whom do you serve? What are your community’s needs and opportunities related to the issue you will address? What specific information or data can help us understand the situation?
  • Proposed work. What specifically do you hope to accomplish? How will you go about it? How will your proposed work complement our vision of a healthy community—a place where basic needs are met, mutual regard is prized and opportunities for economic, civic and social participation are within everyone’s reach?
  • Impact. How will you define and evaluate the success of your work? How will you share your results and lessons with the community and others?
  • Your organization and resources. Describe your organization’s mission, goals, staffing and stakeholders. What experience, learning, connections or other non-financial resources does your organization bring to the work you propose? What non-financial resources do you need to access or develop for your proposed work to be successful?
  • Partners and networks. Who are your partners and how will they contribute to your work? What is your organization’s history with these partners? How will work between the partners be coordinated?
  • Looking ahead. How do you anticipate your community will change in the coming years? How will your work and organization evolve to fit those changes? How does your current proposal fit into the future you envision?

Grant reports

13. Reporting requirements. What are your grant reporting requirements?

We require a narrative report and a financial report at the end of each grant year. In the narrative report, we are particularly interested in hearing about the outcomes of the work funded by the grant—both successes and disappointments—and any lessons learned. In the financial report, we are interested in learning how the money was spent. In some cases, additional reporting is required, as specified in the grant agreement.

Please complete the Otto Bremer Trust grant report found in your Applicant and Grantee Portal account.

14. Information collection. What kinds of information or data do you expect us to collect?

You are in the best position to identify the type of information or data you need in order to plan, conduct and evaluate your work. We are interested in learning from your experience and hope you will include relevant information in your narrative report. Understanding the accomplishments and challenges of the organizations we support is key to making our future work as effective as possible. We will also share the learning we glean from grantees with organizations in Bremer communities doing similar work or facing similar challenges.

Additional questions?

If you have additional questions, please call us at 651-227-8036 or toll-free at 888-291-1123. If you have questions specifically about the Applicant and Grantee Portal, please ask for Portal Support, or email

See How to Apply to begin the application process.