Frequently Asked Questions
This page lists the most frequently asked questions that we’ve encountered about our grants program. If you have a question that isn’t addressed here, contact a program officer at 614-461-7802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
General Grants Program Questions
How to Apply for a Grant
Ohio Humanities offers grants to cover costs associated with humanities-based programs. We offer two levels of support: up to $5,000 (Spark Grants) and $5,001 to $20,000 (Ignite Grants).
Applications for Spark Grants are due on the first business day of each month. Applications for Ignite Grants are accepted three times per year. In 2023, those deadlines are February 15, June 15, and October 16.
Both Spark and Ignite Grants are intended for programs that make humanities content accessible to a diverse audience of Ohioans. The differences are in the award amounts and the breadth of the expected outcomes.
Spark Grants provide up to $5,000 of funding for projects that are designed to start conversations about issues that are relevant to Ohioans today. These projects can be limited in scope, but they should inspire lasting conversations around social, economic, or historical issues challenging Ohio’s communities.
Ignite Grants provide between $5,001 and $20,000 of funding for projects that are deeply researched, engaging, and designed to appeal to a large audience of Ohioans. These projects should also produce outcomes that will continue to circulate within communities past the end of the grant period.
Previously, we had three tiers of grants: monthly grants up to $2,000, quarterly grants up to $7,500, and major grants up to $20,000. In 2023, we’ve implemented some changes to streamline the grants structure and to make them more accessible. We’ve converted the monthly grants into “Spark” mini grants with an upper limit of $5,000. Our remaining grants (quarterly, major, media, educator enrichment, and heritage tourism) have been consolidated into the “Ignite” major grants, with a limit of $20,000.
We want our funded programs to encourage open conversations among participants. Organizations should strive to provide fair consideration and expression to alternate viewpoints. We encourage open discourse about the topics covered. As such, programs cannot discriminate against persons or groups, and they can’t promote a particular political, religious, or ideological viewpoint.
As you plan your project’s timeline, it’s best to plan at least 4 months from the time you start the application process to the time you receive your award, assuming that your project is chosen funding.
For Spark Grants, submit your final application at least 2 months before your project is set to begin.
For Ignite Grants, submit your final application at least 3 months before your project is set to begin.
As you plan your timeline, keep in mind that preliminary applications are due a month prior to the final application deadline.
The preliminary application is an abbreviated version of the final application. The preliminary application will ask for contact information of a few of the projects’ key personnel, a preliminary budget, and a set of questions that require narrative responses.
We’ve designed the preliminary application to help you start gathering the materials you’ll need. In many ways, this preliminary application functions as a first draft of your application for Ohio Humanities staff to review. Our staff will read your preliminary application and respond to you with some personalized feedback to help you revise for your final application.
Yes! In fact, you should plan to contact a Program Officer early in the process of planning your project. We’re happy to help you talk through your plans and to offer suggestions of how your project can best center a humanities viewpoint. We’re here to help you submit a successful application!
An authorizing official is the representative of the sponsoring organization who has authority to submit the grant application on behalf of that organization. The authorizing official also makes sure that grant responsibilities are met on time.
A project director is the person responsible for coordinating the project. This person serves as the liaison with Ohio Humanities staff and is responsible for preparing interim and final reports.
A project bookkeeper is an individual who is experienced in standard accounting procedures. The project bookkeeper is responsible for receiving, disbursing, and accounting for all grant and cost-share funds. The project bookkeeper and project director may not be the same person.
A humanities professional is an individual with humanities expertise. This might be someone with an advanced humanities degree—like an MA, MLS, or PhD—or it could be a local historian, educator, or culture bearer. Regardless of educational background, these individuals should ensure accuracy in the project, provide relevant context, and contribute to the interpretative work of the project from a humanities perspective.
The sponsoring organization is the nonprofit organization that submits the grant application, receives the grant award, sponsors the proposed humanities project, and is accountable for appropriate use of grant funds. This organization must make a substantive contribution to the humanities component of the project. Organizations may not serve as a pass-through (fiscal agent/sponsor) organization for the project.
The short answer is, probably not. We do not give funds to organizations whose sole role in a project is to pass money through to another individual or organization. This includes organizations who act as fiscal agents or fiscal sponsors for the project. To be an eligible sponsoring organization, you must be heavily involved in the humanities portion of the project.
We provide funds to non-profit organizations and governmental organizations that are incorporated in the state of Ohio.
Individuals, for-profit organizations, political or advocacy organizations, religious organizations who seek to carry out advocacy or conversion in their project, and pass-through organizations are not eligible for Ohio Humanities funding.
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After you are officially awarded funds through Ohio Humanities, you will first need to complete a Grant Agreement. Similar to a contract, this document explains the roles and responsibilities of both Ohio Humanities and the sponsoring organization.
The Request for Initial Disbursement is integrated into this document, and that is how you formally request an initial payment from Ohio Humanities.
The second document you’ll need to complete is an Activity Data Form. On this document, you’ll need to provide the names and contact information for all of the personnel that will be involved in the humanities portion of the project, including the humanities professionals. You’ll also need to list all of the public activities that are planned as part of the grant. We will use the activity information on our website calendar.
The third document you’ll need complete is the Final Report. On this form, you’ll provide the information for activities that happened, including attendance information, final budget numbers, and a set of narrative questions that will help you reflect on the project.
The final document you will submit is the Final Disbursement Form. You’ll need to provide an Excel sheet detailing the final budget of the project. This form will also require signatures from the three key personnel. These signatures can be collected either in person (inked) or virtually. If you want to collect digital signatures but need assistance, please contact email@example.com.
Our top priority is funding the labor necessary for public programs. This includes the research, preparation, production, and presentations associated with a program. We prefer that this work is carried out by humanities professionals.
Our second priority is covering the costs necessary to produce humanities-related material and media.
Cost-share means project costs that are not covered by the Ohio Humanities grant. We require at least dollar-for-dollar cost-share on all our grants. This means that for every dollar that comes from Ohio Humanities, organizations must provide an equal amount of funding from another source. Those sources can include the organization itself or other outside funders.
As you fill out the budget, you should aim to represent the full cost of the project, not just the costs that will be covered by an Ohio Humanities grant.
Cash cost-share is actual monies committed to the project. This can come from the sponsoring organization, from money raised from outside sources like foundations and corporations, and from anticipated program income from participants.
In-kind cost-share is donated services, goods, or facilities. Examples of this type of cost-share include volunteers’ time committed to the project, supplies, or office space. In-kind cost-share should always be counted at the current market value of the goods or services.
“Indirect costs” refer to expenses that aren’t easily attributable to a specific budget category. Paying for utilities like heat, light, or water are necessary for organizations to operate but aren’t easily metered, so the indirect costs line accounts for these types of expenses.
If your organization has a NICRA, you can refer to that document to determine how much of the grant can be spent on indirect costs. Otherwise, you can claim the de minimis 10% of the grant on indirect costs.
Our main purpose is to make high-quality humanities content available to every person in the state of Ohio, regardless of their ability to pay. As such, we generally prefer programs we fund are free and open to the public. However, if your organization regularly charges admission, you may continue to do so. But we strongly recommend that you create opportunities for free or reduced admission fees to individuals who request it.