Fund deaf organizations today!

Information for Grantseekers

Information for Grantseekers

Deaf-centric nonprofit organizations work tirelessly to provide uniquely accessible and culturally responsive services. These organizations often experience financial challenges, which impact the scope and scale of the essential work they do for deaf individuals, families and communities.

Less than 2% of philanthropic dollars are directed toward nonprofits that work with disabled communities; thus, deaf-centric organizations’ access to funding is extremely limited. Moreover, the nonprofit sector itself—from grant programs, to networking events, to professional development opportunities, and more—is frequently inaccessible to deaf organization leaders.

We’re here to change all that! Deaf Organizations Fund (DOF) was established in 2021 to offer fully accessible grants and resources to deaf-centric nonprofits based in the United States.

Our work marries the lenses of trust-based philanthropy and disability justice. Organizations that work on the front lines know their communities’ needs best, and DOF trusts deaf-centric organizations to utilize our grants in ways that best align with their missions and, ultimately, in ways that best serve deaf communities.

To date, DOF has distributed nearly $400K in grant funds among 24 deaf-centric organizations.

Deaf-centric nonprofit organizations work tirelessly to provide uniquely accessible and culturally responsive services. These organizations often experience financial challenges, which impact the scope and scale of the essential work they do for deaf individuals, families and communities.

Less than 2% of philanthropic dollars are directed toward nonprofits that work with disabled communities; thus, deaf-centric organizations’ access to funding is extremely limited. Moreover, the nonprofit sector itself—from grant programs, to networking events, to professional development opportunities, and more—is frequently inaccessible to deaf organization leaders.

We’re here to change all that! Deaf Organizations Fund (DOF) was established in 2021 to offer fully accessible grants and resources to deaf-centric nonprofits based in the United States.

Our work marries the lenses of trust-based philanthropy and disability justice. Organizations that work on the front lines know their communities’ needs best, and DOF trusts deaf-centric organizations to utilize our grants in ways that best align with their missions and, ultimately, in ways that best serve deaf communities.

To date, DOF has distributed nearly $300K in grant funds among 20 deaf-centric organizations.

Our grant program is slated to begin accepting applications in Fall 2024.

To receive information on funding opportunities and other updates, please subscribe to our emails.

What We Can Fund

Deaf-centric organizations including deaf-serving programs within hearing organizations. DOF defines “deaf-centric” as: at least 50% of the organization or program’s leadership (e.g., the executive director, staff, advisory committee, and/or governing boards) identify as members of deaf communities. The organization or program must also primarily work with members of deaf communities.
Organizations based in the U.S. with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, or organizations that have a fiscal sponsor based in the U.S. with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

What We Cannot Fund

Capital funding projects, such as construction, renovations, or physical expansions.
Requests to sponsor or otherwise fund one-time events, such as camps, festivals, or conferences.
Individuals not affiliated with a nonprofit organization.
Organizations that do not have 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in good standing, or organizations that do not have a fiscal sponsor that has 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in good standing.
Organizations based outside of the U.S. without a 501(c)(3) tax exempt fiscal sponsor.

What We Can Fund

Deaf-centric organizations include deaf-serving programs within hearing organizations. DOF defines “deaf-centric” as: at least 50% of the organization or program’s leadership (e.g., the executive director, staff, advisory committee, and/or governing boards) identify as members of deaf communities. The organization must also primarily work with members of deaf communities.
Organizations based in the U.S. with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, or organizations that have a fiscal sponsor based in the U.S. with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

What We Cannot Fund

Capital funding projects, such as construction, renovations, or physical expansions.
Requests to sponsor or otherwise fund one-time events, such as camps, festivals, or conferences.
Individuals not affiliated with a nonprofit organization.
Organizations that do not have 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in good standing, or organizations that do not have a fiscal sponsor that has 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in good standing.
Organizations based outside of the U.S. without a 501(c)(3) tax exempt fiscal sponsor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our next grant program is tentatively slated to begin accepting applications in Fall 2024 with funds disbursed in January 2025. To be informed of when our grant application is open, please subscribe to our emails  

When DOF’s grant application window is open, applicants will be asked to create an account on Submittable, our application portal, to begin the application process. If you have applied for a grant with us before, you can log into your existing profile.

Applicants will then be asked a few basic questions to see if their organization meets DOF’s eligibility criteria for the grant. If our eligibility criteria are met, then you will be able to fill out our application, which can be accessed in American Sign Language, English, and Spanish. Grantees may also respond to application questions in these three languages.

You will receive a notification via Submittable informing you if your application has been approved. Selected applicants must provide interim and final grant reports.
At this time, the maximum request for funding is $25,000.
No. Currently DOF only accepts applications for one-year grants. Funded grant projects may be extended past 12 months if organizations need additional time to complete their project and spend down grant monies.
No. Organizations are asked to submit one application addressing their area(s) of greatest need.
Yes. Past and current grantees are encouraged to apply, although careful attention must be paid to our eligibility criteria should any changes be made in the future.
Grantees will submit a brief interim report halfway through their project and a brief final report at its completion. The 3 to 5 questions on these reports can be accessed in American Sign Language, English, and Spanish; grantees may also respond to the questions in these three languages. Grantees can also choose to participate in a video meeting to answer reporting questions in lieu of submitting written or pre-recorded video responses. Grantees are also invited to optionally participate in at least one video-based meeting with a DOF team member for support, progress sharing, and other dialogue as needed.

Lastly, organizations receiving funding may be asked to share a testimonial via ASL video or written English/Spanish of what they have accomplished and how the grant impacted their organization. This testimonial is separate from the interim and final report.

We recognize that a large part of the work towards collective care for our deaf communities exists outside of the non-profit 501(c)(3) framework. Unfortunately, because of government regulations, we are limited to working within this framework.  

If you are not a tax-exempt organization with 501(c)3 status, you will need to have a fiscal sponsor organization prepared to accept funding on your behalf. The fiscal sponsor is legally responsible for proving that the grant money has been spent on non-profit purposes allowed by U.S. tax law.  Fiscal sponsors may charge you, usually between 3% to 12%, for the service of being your sponsor, taking a percentage of the grant money. 

 A fiscal sponsorship agreement must be in place and signed by the sponsor and grantee at the time of submitting your application.  When DOF makes a grant through a fiscal sponsor, we ask for a copy of that signed agreement and documentation of the fiscal sponsor’s 501(c)3 status.  

 The following are some resources to help you find a fiscal sponsor:  

Schools and religious organizations sometimes have 501(c)3 status; if so, they may be able to serve as a fiscal sponsor.

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Deaf Organizations Fund, formerly known as CSD Unites Community Foundation, is fiscally sponsored by the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD).
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