The application process begins with questions to determine an applicant’s eligibility. The following includes the information covered in those questions.
Grants are made only to organizations whose beneficiaries are Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and/or Wisconsin residents.
Grants are generally restricted to organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and to governmental entities.
OBT does not make grants to individuals.
All Are Welcome Here
In accordance with federal regulations, the Otto Bremer Trust does not discriminate based on race, color, creed, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, or national origin. We require that applicant organizations’ employment and service practices comply with this policy.
Projects that fall outside the scope of OBT’s funding
- Requests for projects outside of Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, or Wisconsin
- Annual fundraisers and benefit events (e.g., we do not offer sponsorships)
- Debt reduction
- Endowments other than for the development of community foundations
- Animal welfare
- Animal-based therapy programs
- Primary medical research
- Sporting teams and events
- Core K-12 academic curriculum and staff
- One-time experiences, such as camps, trips, conferences, and events
- Religious programs for the purpose of religious education or proselytization
- Historical preservation and interpretive centers
- Municipal infrastructure projects, including emergency response equipment, parks, and playgrounds
- Programs principally focused on the arts, including books, theatrical productions, museums, film, video, and other media projects.
- We may consider projects that use the arts as a mechanism for work that more closely corresponds with OBT’s purposes.
- Programs principally focused on environmental appreciation, enhancement or preservation.
- We may consider projects that use environmentalism as a mechanism for work that more closely corresponds with OBT’s purposes.
We recommend contacting program staff before applying if your request falls in any of the following areas
- Start-up organizations or new programs within an existing organization
- Bringing a program or building into government compliance (e.g., if primary purpose of the project is to address a code violation or ADA requirements)
- New applicants or programs for which Otto Bremer Trust is asked to provide a majority of the budget
- National or regional organizations, including organizations expanding into OBT’s service area
- Organizations experiencing a significant transition, such as a merger or leadership change
Bank Secrecy Act
Please note that as a regulated financial institution, we screen applications in accordance with the Bank Secrecy Act and file Suspicious Activity Reports when warranted.
Waiting Period After a Turndown
When an application is turned down, the applicant must wait one year from the application submission date before applying again. In a few special circumstances, OBT will waive the one-year waiting period. In those cases, the applicant will receive notice of the waiver at the same time they receive their turndown notification.
As a responsive grantmaker, OBT welcomes applications from organizations distinctly positioned to help their communities thrive.
If you have further questions after reviewing this information, visit Our Region to reach out to one of our program teams. Or call our office (651-227-8036 or 888-291-1123) and ask to speak with a program officer.
You may also reach our program teams directly by email:
Starting an Application
When you’re ready to start or continue a general operations, restricted, or capital application, visit the Application Portal. (Learn more about those application types below.)
If you are interested in applying for a grant as a fiscal sponsor, please read about our fiscal sponsorship application process.
If you want to apply for a program-related investment (PRI), read about our PRI application process.
To access existing grants and grant reports, log into the portal and click View Applications and Grant Reports.
When you begin your application in the portal, depending on your responses to some initial questions, you will be routed to an application tailored to your organization’s needs.
Download the Microsoft Word version of the relevant application to help you prepare:
- General Operations Application (one year). General operations grants provide unrestricted funding that enables an organization to carry out its mission. Typical uses could include support for an organization’s administrative and infrastructure costs, maintaining core programs and/or staffing. This application is for organizations seeking general operations support of $75,000 or more.
- General Operations Short Application (one year). This application is for organizations seeking general operations support of less than $75,000.
- General Operations Multi-Year Application. This application is for organizations seeking two years of general operating support of any amount. (Note: This application is available only to applicants who have received an OBT grant within the past three years.)
- Restricted Application (one year). Restricted grants provide funding for a specific program or project. These funds may not be used for other purposes, although a portion may be utilized for overhead or indirect costs of administering the program or project.
- Restricted Multi-Year Application. This application is for applicants seeking restricted funding for two years. (Note: This application is available only to applicants who have received an OBT grant within the past three years.)
- Capital Application (one-year). Capital grants support the construction, repair, renovation, or rehabilitation of an organization’s physical space. Capital grants can also support the purchase of equipment necessary for an organization to carry out its work.
If you need technical assistance with the portal, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Otto Bremer Trust acknowledges grant applications upon receipt. If you have submitted an application and have not received an acknowledgment, please let us know by sending an email to email@example.com or by calling 651-227-8036 (toll-free at 888-291-1123).
Our staff reviews each application carefully and may seek additional information through telephone conversations or in-person site visits.
Please see our Schedule for grant notification dates.
The Otto Bremer Trust has a policy of providing an organization with one grant at a time. While there are exceptions, applicants may generally apply once per 12-month period. OBT requires applicants to complete the terms of a grant and file a final narrative and financial report before the trustees consider a subsequent funding request. When the timing element of this policy is unclear, don’t hesitate to contact program staff to determine eligibility.
Frequently Asked Questions About This Policy
Following are some basic questions and answers about how that process will work.
When can my organization submit its final report?
Your organization may submit its final narrative and financial reports when the grant period ends (or when the grant activity is complete, if that is sooner).
See the Eligibility Chart for Current Grantees on our Schedule page to determine when you can reapply.
When can my organization submit a new proposal?
See our Schedule for the Eligibility Chart for Current Grantees.
Are there any exceptions to this policy?
Yes, there are a few exceptions. In each of those situations, the one-grant-at-a-time policy does not apply. These are:
- Capital grants
- An organization with a current general operations or restricted grant may seek support for capital projects for major equipment; renovation, refurbishment, or restoration of a current facility; or construction of a new facility.
- An organization with a current capital grant may apply for a general operations or program grant.
- An organization with a current capital grant must wait until that grant is closed before applying for another capital grant.
- Fiscal sponsors. An organization with an open Otto Bremer Trust grant may apply for a new grant to support the activities of a different organization for which it serves as the fiscal sponsor. Similarly, an organization that serves as a fiscal sponsor for a program with an OBT grant may apply for a grant for its own activities. Learn more about fiscal sponsorships.
- Serving a different region. An organization with an open Otto Bremer Trust grant to serve one region is typically eligible to apply for another grant to serve a different region.
Call with questions
If you have questions about this policy, call our office (651-227-8036 or 888-291-1123) and ask to speak with a program officer.
You may also reach our program teams directly by email:
In some situations, a sponsoring organization asks for a grant that will be used at least in part to pay for another entity to do the proposed work. Put another way, a grant intended to be used by a sponsored organization is first paid to an intermediary organization. Below are the Otto Bremer Trust’s policies related to fiscal sponsorship grants.
Prospective applicants must speak with a program officer before applying for a grant as a fiscal sponsor.
Language to describe the two organizations
It can be confusing to talk about the organizations involved in a fiscal sponsorship situation. One organization receives a grant and uses the money to fund another organization to do some or all the work:
- Grantee. We use the term “grantee” to talk about the fiscal sponsor. OBT’s legal relationship is with the grantee, and OBT sends the grant funds to the grantee.
- Sponsored Organization. We use the term “sponsored organization” to talk about the other organization — the organization that the grantee chooses to support to do the work.
When is fiscal sponsorship appropriate?
Fiscal sponsorship can come up in many different situations, including:
- New organization. A new organization that does not yet have 501(c)(3) status seeks to raise funds through a grantee that does have such status. That grantee agrees because it is able to accomplish its charitable purpose through the new organization.
- Young organization. A young organization that is not able to manage the financial aspects of a project seeks to have a more sophisticated organization receive and administer the grant funds. That organization agrees to be the grantee because it can accomplish its charitable purpose through the young organization.
- Collaborative. The grantee proposes to accomplish its charitable purpose through a collaborative that is doing a project together (such as jointly addressing a community issue) and the collaborative is not a legal entity and/or does not have tax-exempt status.
In all fiscal sponsorship grants, two things must be true:
- The proposed work must further the grantee’s charitable purpose; and
- The sponsored organization must be qualified to carry out the project.
Grantee (fiscal sponsor) responsibilities
The grantee has full responsibility for grant funds for tax, accounting, and other purposes. The grantee also has full responsibility for complying with the terms of the grant agreement, including preparing and submitting grant reports to OBT.
Other rules and regulations
There are two additional aspects that grantees should know about fiscal sponsor grants from the Otto Bremer Trust:
- OBT expects the grantee to disburse the grant funds to or for the benefit of the sponsored organization identified in the proposal. However, the grantee is not legally bound to disburse funds to the sponsored organization and may decide to disburse the funds to other organizations instead, so long as that choice effectively carries out the purpose of the grant.
- OBT requires the grantee to have a written agreement with the sponsored organization outlining the terms of the fiscal sponsorship. This agreement should lay out the grantee’s responsibilities and the sponsored organization’s responsibilities. Among other items, this agreement must:
- Specify the amount or percentage of grant funds (if any) the grantee is entitled to withhold to meet its reasonable expenses for administering the grant.
- Acknowledge that the grantee is not legally required to disburse the grant funds to or for the benefit of the sponsored organization.
Reach out with questions
To speak with a program officer about the sponsored application process, please contact us at 651-227-8036 or toll-free at 888-291-1123.
You may also reach our program teams directly by email:
- Minnesota: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Montana: email@example.com
- North Dakota: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wisconsin: email@example.com
For substantive questions about your application, including those related to eligibility, we recommend calling as early as possible in the grant application process.