Beyond Idea Grants | South Dakota Community Foundation

Beyond Idea Grants

Community-based problem solving in South Dakota.

Supporting community-based problem solving Beyond Idea Grant Program

The South Dakota Community Foundation’s Beyond Idea Grant (BIG) Program has been designed to support community-based problem solving in South Dakota. In partnership with the Bush Foundation, the program will award $1.2 million each year for 6 years to eligible nonprofits in South Dakota. The program aims to develop, test, and spread ideas that make the region better for everyone and inspire, equip, and connect leaders to more effectively lead equitable change.

We’re looking for projects that demonstrate meaningful investment and engagement in South Dakota communities. Important considerations are how a project is community-based and whether there is demonstrated support in a community for the project.

We’re looking for thoughtful, inclusive project plans and we will consider whether the applicant has the capacity to execute the work effectively or has a plan to meet the needed capacity. We want to support people and organizations who are learning and growing.

Learn more below. Basic Eligibility

  • Applicants should be a public, nonprofit organization as defined by IRS Publication 78. Organizations may also work with a verified fiscal sponsor who can receive funds on their behalf.
  • The SDCF does not make grants in support of political campaigns, discriminatory practices, or for personal gain.
  • All grants must benefit communities in South Dakota.

Before you start the application, view our sample application (PDF) and sample budget (Excel). This will help you ensure that you have all you’ll need for a formal application. Then visit our online grant portal to register and begin your application. If your organization has previously submitted a grant application to SDCF, for any of our grant programs, please use your existing username and password for your organization.

Beyond Idea Grant recipients are required to submit a program evaluation at the end of their grant term. Please view our sample evaluation (PDF) to learn more about the evaluation.

Only one round of applications will be accepted in 2024 with grant awards ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 per year.

Beyond Idea Grant (BIG) Program Fit

BIG Program funds will be used to support innovative projects as well as ongoing, well-established projects that are in the process of developing, testing, and spreading ideas that make the region better for everyone. These funds are also intended to inspire, equip, and connect leaders to lead change more effectively in our state.

The BIG Program is looking for project ideas that demonstrate investment in South Dakota communities.

Questions to consider before applying:

  • Is the project community-based?
  • Will the project idea move your community forward?
  • Is the project realistic and will it meet a community need?
  • Who are the individuals leading the project?
  • How will the key stakeholders be involved?
  • What impact will this project have on your community?


The South Dakota Community Foundation (SDCF or Foundation) closely scrutinizes all grant proposals for discriminatory practices and will not fund grants that discriminate based on race, color, creed, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, or national origin.

Statewide Distribution

BIG Program funds will be distributed statewide. The Review Committee of the BIG Program is made up of community leaders representing different communities and life experiences in South Dakota. Grant decisions will be made by the Foundation Board of Directors based upon their evaluation and the recommendations of the Review Committee and staff.

Public Nonprofit Organizations

The SDCF will concentrate on funding public nonprofit corporations but will consider other organizations that meet grant guidelines.

Minimum & Maximum Awards

Grant requests may range from $5,000 to $100,000 per year. The BIG Program will fund up to $50,000 per year for developing ideas and up to $100,000 per year for testing and spreading ideas.

Matching Funds

No matching funds are required for the BIG Program. SDCF is, however, interested in applicants demonstrating other community involvement, either through other funding sources or in-kind resources provided from stakeholders, partners, and/or community members.

Fiscal Sponsorship

The SDCF accepts grant applications from organizations serving as a fiscal sponsor for charitable projects.

Fiscal sponsors may apply multiple times in one year on behalf of different applicants, but only once per year for any single applicant.

Checks will be issued to the fiscal sponsor for use by the applicant.

Grant Review Process

All applications will be submitted using the Foundation’s online eGrant system. The Foundation will respond to all applicants. All applications will be forwarded by staff to the BIG Program Review Committee. The BIG Program Review Committee will review applications and make determinations, which will be forwarded to the SDCF Board of Directors for final approval.

Communications with Applicants

All applicants will be informed by email of any action taken on their grant application. The BIG Program Review Committee will hold decisions in confidence until publicly announced by the SDCF.

Re-applying after being denied funding

Organizations that have applied for funding and were denied are eligible to apply again in subsequent rounds.

Re-applying after being awarded funding

Organizations that have been awarded funding from the BIG Program may apply again if they meet the following conditions:

  • The project is complete
  • Funds are disbursed
  • Evaluation is submitted
  • Not for the same phase

Multiple Applications in a Round

If your large organization is considering submitting multiple applications, please contact our office to make sure you are eligible to apply. Due to the competitive nature of this program, large nonprofits are encouraged to coordinate applications internally.

Due Diligence

A due diligence form shall be completed and returned to the Foundation before grant funds are disbursed. Applicants shall inform the Foundation office of any significant changes in grant applicant status, organizational status, or project status. Funding may be increased/decreased based upon the significance of changes in project status.

Beyond Idea Grantee Gatherings

To foster community building and shared learning, SDCF will coordinate shared discussion times for Beyond Idea grantees to share their work, learn from other grantees, and strengthen networks in South Dakota.

Final Evaluation Report

A final evaluation report shall be submitted to the Foundation office immediately following project completion. A grant file is considered complete only after the final evaluation report is received in the Foundation office, and until received, no additional grant requests will be considered.


SDCF must verify that organizations receiving funding are verified by the Internal Revenue Service under Publication 78.

Beyond Idea Grants Will Not Fund

  • Operating expense for governmental entities. No SDCF funds will be awarded to pay for operating expenses for governmental entities.
  • Loans. The SDCF does not make loans.
  • Construction. The SDCF does not fund brick and mortar projects.

Ready to apply for a Beyond Idea Grant?

Follow these steps to complete your application.

1. If you have not already done so, read the Beyond Idea grantmaking guidelines above to ensure you meet all eligibility requirements.

2. Download a draft application (PDF) and sample budget (Excel). It will show you what information you will need.

3. Start your application in eGrant. If you have not used eGrant before, you'll need to register for an account.

4. Within eGrant, navigate to Applicant-Opportunities and select the "2024 Beyond Idea Grant" opportunity and complete the application. Note: The option to complete the Beyond Idea Grant application will not appear until applications open on March 1st.

5. Save often! Once you've started an application, the draft will save under Applicant - Drafts on the homepage of your account.

6. Submit your application before the deadline! SDCF will only consider applications submitted before the deadline.

Click here to view the presentation from the meeting held on February 21, 2024.

SDCF was unable to retain an audio/video recording of this meeting. Please reach out with any questions. Below is a recording of a prior call.

If the embedded video doesn't load, click here to view the Beyond Idea Grant information session that was held on February 15, 2023, on YouTube.

View Beyond Idea Grant slides.


Contact our Grants Team.

Ginger Niemann

Senior Program Officer

Since 1998, Ginger has been a member of the South Dakota Community Foundation team. Nearly a decade of her time at the foundation has been spent overseeing the administration of grant programs. Currently, Ginger works closely with the Grant Making Committee to make distributions from the South Dakota Fund and Community Innovation Grants program, which is a partnership with the Bush Foundation. In addition to managing the grant application process from application to selection, she also oversees the Fairy Godmother Fund, which meets urgent needs of women in the state.

Ginger is committed to connecting non-profit organizations with the funds they need to help South Dakotans. Traveling across the state, she meets with grant applicants, conducts site visits of grant recipients and awards grant checks.

Crystal Ortbahn

Grant Program Coordinator

Crystal joined the South Dakota Community Foundation in September 2021. She brings experience in public service in South Dakota and overseas, having completed assignments with the United States Peace Corps in Uganda and Burkina Faso.

Crystal grew up in Pierre and is a graduate of Augustana University. She is eager to support good work being done across the state as a member of the grant team.