Our support for community challenges

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Event Sponsorship

Due to the challenges of in-person gatherings caused by COVID-19, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel our Event Sponsorship Program. The needs in our communities continue to grow, and we will focus resources and energy on those.

Recent Event Sponsorship grantees will have an opportunity to apply for transition grants in January 2021; we will email details later this fall. Organizations that applied as part of 2020 Round 3 will hear back from us the week of Oct. 12.

We encourage people and organizations with innovative ideas to explore our Community Innovation program, including the Community Innovation intermediary programs in each state. 

About Event Sponsorship Grants

The Bush Foundation believes in developing and supporting leaders who can create positive change in our region.

To that end, we dedicate a limited amount of funds every year to sponsor events that inspire, equip and connect people to think bigger and think differently about what's possible in their communities and to lead more effectively.

In this time of pandemic, events are particularly affected as in-person gatherings pose a real public safety risk. At this point, we anticipate that we will only fund virtual events for the remainder of 2020. Given this assumption, plus the number of event cancellations, the typically lower cost of virtual events, and the urgent basic needs in our region, we are reducing the funding for additional 2020 event sponsorships by 50%. We will repurpose that funding toward COVID-19 response. In this very unusual and uncertain time, it is as important as ever that we find ways to connect and support each other. And to be creative and resourceful in new ways, including how we gather.

We encourage all event organizers to follow the latest guidelines from the CDC and your state or tribal government’s health officials. We will stay in touch to be supportive of our existing grantees, and will be flexible in adjusting timelines as needed to postpone or change an event. 

What We Fund

We award up to $50,000 to select events. The average sponsorship we give is about $20,000. Events should fall into one of the following categories:

  • Events that bring together a wide variety of people across sectors, geographies and cultural communities to experience engaging programming and discussions that inspire, equip or connect them to more effectively lead change.
  • Events that strengthen foundation and nonprofit networks in the region.

We will also fund a select number of events each year that are critical to advancing the goals of our four strategic initiatives. We recognize that there are many events we consider great examples of this work already occurring; however, we are currently looking to fund events focused on building the capacity and momentum of leaders, organizations and communities in these areas:

The Foundation generally does not sponsor issue-specific events that are not related to our four strategic initiatives named above. We generally do not sponsor fundraisers.

The need to connect and support each other is as strong as ever, as is the need to reconsider and reimagine events in our current environment. We are very open to virtual events or those adapted for social distancing.

Key Dates

1st Round 2020

  • Application opens January 7 to February 6, at noon Central (we will confirm receipt).
  • Finalists selected and all applicants notified of decisions the week of March 2.  
  • Award notices and grant agreements emailed the week of April 8; signed agreements due April 17.
  • Grants/payments mailed the week of April 20.
  • Event should take place May 1 or after.

2nd Round 2020

Application opens April 21 to June 18, at noon Central (we will confirm receipt).

For applicants who submit materials by May 21 at 11:59 p.m. Central:

  • Finalists selected and all applicants notified of decisions the week of June 15.
  • Award notices and grant agreements emailed the week of August 5; signed agreements due August 21.
  • Grants/payments mailed the week of August 24.
  • Event should take place September 1 or after.

For applicants who submit materials by June 18 at noon Central:

  • Finalists selected and all applicants notified of decisions the week of July 13.
  • Award notices and grant agreements emailed the week of September 8; signed agreements due September 18.
  • Grants/payments mailed the week of September 21.
  • Event should take place October 1 or after.

3rd Round 2020

  • Application opens August 11 to September 10, at noon Central (we will confirm receipt). Please note these dates have changed.
  • Finalists selected and all applicants notified of decisions the week of October 12.
  • Award notices and grant agreements emailed the week of November 9; signed agreements due November 25.
  • Grants/payments mailed the week of November 30.
  • Event should take place December 1 or after.

Information for Applicants

  • Organizations that are 501(c)(3) public charities, government entities (including schools), and LLCs are eligible for event sponsorships. Our strong preference is for organizations without 501(c)(3) public charity status to utilize fiscal sponsor agreements. Groups of organizations (such as coalitions or collaboratives) are also eligible to apply, but only one organization may receive the grant or contract.  
  • As we work in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography, strong preference will be given to events that take place in our region or that are closely connected to an organization in our region.
  • Event sponsorship funds must be spent in full three months following the date of the event.
  • Event sponsorship funds may not be used retroactively.
  • Events must take place after the date noted for each round.

We invest in events that: 

  • Offer inspiring, engaging programming.
  • Equip people with knowledge or skills to effectively lead change.
  • Incorporate intentional techniques to build new relationships and facilitate the sharing of ideas.
  • Have clear goals for what participants will get out of the event.

We also consider:

  • Whether events are inclusive of people from different backgrounds and use inclusive practices.
  • The impact the event will ultimately have and size of the event.
  • If event organizers have a plan for measuring success.
  • How closely aligned the event is to the Bush Foundation's goals, and if it will reach an audience that could benefit from the Bush Foundation's grant and Fellowship programs.

Across all our work, we are committed to advancing equity for all people in our region. As we review applications, we will consider whether events incorporate inclusive and equitable practices.

We encourage you to apply well in advance of your event to meet the key dates listed above. If you produce a series of events throughout the year, consider requesting funding for the entire series in one application.

We use an online application system. We understand this may present a barrier to some applicants, and we will make reasonable efforts to accommodate particular needs on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us to discuss your specific circumstances. 

Application Tips

Staff from the Bush Foundation will review proposals each round and make final decisions about whether to fund an event and at what level. This is a competitive application process.


Get Ready to Apply

We're Here to Help

If you have questions about this program, please contact us at communications@bushfoundation.org