General Guidelines

General Guidelines

The following six guidelines represent Ohio Humanities’ definition of a fundable cultural program:


1. Cultural programs with a clear humanities focus

Your project must make use of a humanities perspective. Programs should situate and share stories in the context of the humanities, encouraging participants to engage in considered reflection on those stories.
  • Areas of study include: history, anthropology, folklore, archaeology, literature, languages, linguistics, philosophy, ethics, comparative religion, jurisprudence, historical and critical approaches to the arts, and aspects of the social sciences which use historical or philosophical approaches.
  • Ohio Humanities is unlikely to fund:
    • Projects that emphasize skills training, motivation, and empowerment, or the process of learning rather than reflection on and discussion of specific humanities issues.
    • Projects that emphasize the creative process or the art form (theater, dance, music, opera, visual, etc.) rather than the cultural, aesthetic, or historical contexts of art.
    • Projects that focus on construction, preservation, restoration, or the purchase of collections for museums or libraries.
    • Creation or purchase of a mural, memorial, monument, or plaque.


2. Cultural programs involving humanities professionals

Ohio Humanities prefers to fund the creation of content and places a high priority on supporting the work of humanities professionals. Ohio Humanities is unlikely to fund projects in which humanities professionals are not centrally involved in planning and/or implementing the program.
  • A humanities professional generally has an advanced degree in a humanities area of study (e.g. MA, MLS, or PhD). Projects may also draw on individuals with a wealth of relevant knowledge about a topic, but lack advanced training in the humanities (e.g. a local historian or educator). Applicants must be able to demonstrate how the humanities professional will ensure accuracy and provide relevant context and interpretation of the topic from a humanities perspective.
    • Be aware that there are specific requirements for living history and historical reenactment projects. Ohio Humanities will evaluate living history projects according to the standards of documented research and quality performance set by the Ohio Chautauqua.
    • Scholar-performers must demonstrate extensive knowledge about the individual presented and the context of that person’s culture and times. Composite characters may be used only for relatively anonymous figures (e.g. canal digger or steelworker). Ohio Humanities may request a bibliography from scholar-performers.
    • Scholar-performers should have training in theater performance. Projects that make use of living historians must provide a video of the presenter with the application (DVD or a link to a video online).
    • Projects involving historical reenactment must depict events that originally occurred in Ohio and in the general area where the contemporary project will take place.


3. Cultural programs with public benefit

  • Allow Ohioans to interpret the past and imagine the future;
  • Guide Ohioans in defining individual beliefs, values, and aspirations;
  • Help Ohioans understand and engage diverse cultures;
  • Engage the broadest possible audiences;
  • Create and sustain vibrant communities;
  • Support the development of innovative opportunities and relationships.
For Ohio Humanities, the public primarily refers to a general adult audience.
  • Projects that involve children should be purposefully multi-generational.
  • Projects occurring on a college campus must connect with and be available to a general adult audience. An audience composed primarily of college-affiliated adults is not a ‘general adult audience.’
  • Ohio Humanities does not fund:
    • Projects focusing on individual scholarship for academic or other specialized audiences.
    • Book publication costs.
    • Activities that result in academic credit, including fellowships or scholarships.
      • Ohio Humanities may choose to offer special programs that provide continuing education units for certain professionals.
    • A project that is to be used as a fundraiser for the sponsoring organization or other related organizations.


4. Cultural programs with balanced views

Public programs should encourage open discussion by raising questions among speakers and audience members.
  • Projects cannot advocate partisan or political courses of action.
  • Projects that deal with potentially controversial topics must give fair consideration and expression to alternative viewpoints.
  • Projects that address religious topics must scrupulously avoid any component that promotes advocacy or conversion.
  • Ohio Humanities does not fund:
    • Projects that do not present a balanced viewpoint.
    • Projects that discriminate against persons or groups.


***Due to changes in federal regulations, Ohio Humanities will not accept applications from fiscal agent sponsors.***

5. Qualifications of sponsoring Organization

Ohio Humanities gives grants to non-profit organizations incorporated in the state of Ohio.
  • Ohio Humanities may request proof of non-profit status at its discretion. Proper evidence includes 501(c)(3) letter, IRS 990 form, or a copy of the Agent Notification Form for Unincorporated Nonprofit Associations from Ohio’s Secretary of State.
  • Organizations must have a DUNS number. Visit here to request a DUNS number for your organization.
  • Organizations must be registered in the system. Visit here to register your organization. 
  • All grant applicants are required to certify that they are not presently debarred, suspended, declared ineligible, or voluntarily excluded from participating in federally funded programs.
  • All grant applicants are required to certify that they are not currently delinquent in the payment of a federal debt.
  • All grant applicants are required to certify that they are in compliance with the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards and all of the following federal nondiscrimination statutes: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975.
  • Due to changes in federal regulations, Ohio Humanities will not accept applications from fiscal agent sponsors. The sponsoring organization for an Ohio Humanities grant must be making a substantive contribution to the project. Providing bookkeeping and related services does not constitute a substantive contribution.


6. Grant Status with Ohio Humanities

Organizations may only have one open grant with Ohio Humanities at any time. Organizations should complete all necessary requirements for previous grants before applying to Ohio Humanities for another grant.
  • Large organizations with many semi-autonomous departments or multiple sites may receive a waiver for this limitation (i.e. universities, public library systems, park systems).
  • For repeat or annual programs, Ohio Humanities reserves the right to shift requests for continuing support to an alternate grantline that requires a higher level of cash cost-share from the sponsoring organization.


7. Project Evaluation

Projects above $2,001 must have an outside evaluator. An external evaluator is a person who is able to judge the success of a project in reaching its stated goals. The evaluator should not be connected to the project in another way. Your evaluator should review the overall project in light of its stated goals, highlighting strengths and weaknesses and recommending ways to improve future projects.  The evaluator is expected to address the following:
  • How effective was the program in fulfilling the planners’ expectations?
  • How did the audience respond to the program? The evaluator should review any audience surveys.
  • Was the presentation of the humanities appropriate to the needs of the audience?
  • Discuss the effectiveness of speakers, activity leaders, media products, or exhibit text.
    • Evaluate the accuracy of the content. Was the necessary context provided? Did the interpretation enhance the experience?


Funding Guidelines and Budget

Ohio Humanities grants support the labor necessary for public programs, such as research, preparation, production, and presentation. Ohio Humanities prefers to fund those components of a grant that make the content of the public programming and the work of humanities professionals widely accessible.


Cost-Share: Each $1.00 from Ohio Humanities must be matched with $1.00 of cost-share from the sponsoring organization. Cost-share may be either cash or in-kind. Ohio Humanities gives greater weight to projects with cash cost-share raised from outside sources.


Cash cost-share:
  • Cash committed to the project by the sponsoring organization, including the money used to pay salaried staff.
  • Cash raised from outside sources, such as foundations and corporations.
  • Cash received from anticipated program income. While recognizing the necessity of charging admission for public events, Ohio Humanities has a preference for programs that are free to the public.
    • Sponsors planning to charge admission or registration fees should make available free options for those unable to afford a fee. The grant application must address this issue. Income should be used to defray the cost of the program funded by Ohio Humanities and should be reported as cost-share.
    • Organizations that regularly charge an admission fee should identify how they will make the material and experiences developed with Ohio Humanities support accessible for all Ohioans (see Question 3 in ‘Determining Eligibility’).
In-kind cost-share:
  • The current market value of donated services, goods, or facilities, including the time of volunteers or the use of equipment, supplies, office space, and public venues.
Note: Ohio Humanities funds cannot be used to support activities prior to the project start date.


Budget Sheet Categories

  • Project director, staff, or technical consultants’ salaries or fees may not exceed 30% of the grant.
  • Humanities professionals’ honoraria and travel may not exceed 75% of the grant.
  • Honoraria for humanities professionals and other resource personnel should reflect qualifications and the amount of time invested in the project.
  • Administrative costs directly related to the project, for fiscal agent fees, or the authorizing official may not exceed 10% of a grant.
  • The benefits of staff members employed by the sponsoring organization on a full-time basis should be listed as cost-share.
  • Providing funding for staff members employed by the sponsoring organization on a full-time basis is not an Ohio Humanities priority.
  • Organizations may employ interns or other similar individuals for this work. The following special rules apply:
    • A project that utilizes students or other non-professional humanities individuals must include a humanities professional in a supervisory role.
    • Individuals may not receive academic credit for this work.
    • The individuals must be paid at least minimum wage and the budgeted hours must reflect the amount of work necessary to successfully complete the project.
Travel: Proposals should be economical in travel-related costs.
  • Travel and per diem cost guidelines:
    • Airfare: Reimbursed at domestic coach rates. Funding international flights is not an Ohio Humanities priority.
    • Travel by car: $.45 /mile. Ohio Humanities only funds trips that exceed 50 miles roundtrip. Ohio Humanities does not fund commuting costs for project participants.
    • Lodging rates: Reasonable rates for limited-service hotels.
    • Food Per Diem: Up to $35 per day for project personnel engaged in project activities away from home or office.
  • The promotion budget should be proper for the size of the project.
  • The promotion plan and budget should utilize the formats most commonly used by the target audience of a grant.
  • Costs for promotional items and postage should be itemized.
  • Ohio Humanities seldom funds proposals for which the majority of the funds will be used for publicity.
Project expenses:
  • No more than 20% of a grant may be used for rental or purchase of equipment or software.
  • Office expenses are generally considered a cost-share component.

If your project aligns with the above general guidelines, select the correct grant program here and then proceed to the Application Information page.

Before beginning the application process, contact a Program Officer:

For Major Grants, including Educator Enrichment, and Media Grants (both Planning and Production) contact David J. Merkowitz, PhD |

For Monthly and Quarterly Grants, including Educator Enrichment, and all Cultural Heritage Tourism Grants contact David Merkowitz, PhD |  

Or via phone at 800.293.9774 and 614.461.7802.

Already received an Ohio Humanities Grant? Visit the Funded Projects page for helpful tips and additional information.