Empowered to Make a Difference

General Operations Grants

General Operations grants are the PATH Foundation’s most competitive awards, providing unrestricted funding for the smooth running of strong nonprofits. The purpose of these grants is twofold: to empower exceptional nonprofits to expand, improve or pursue their best ideas; and to establish principles of best practice to which any nonprofit, regardless of size, can aim.

The application deadline for 2020 General Operations grants has passed. Award recipients will be notified in late November 2019 with grant payout in January 2020. If you have questions about our latest grant cycles, please feel free to contact us.

The PATH Foundation recognizes that support for general operations is some of the hardest funding to raise. Yet the uninterrupted running of core organizational activities is essential to the success of thriving community institutions. A small number of grants will be made to local nonprofits demonstrating the highest standards and principles in our community.

Grant Criteria

Funds may be used for any direct or indirect costs related to the nonprofit’s activities, including but not limited to: payroll, rent, utilities, supplies and equipment, project costs, capital improvements, and planning. If you have a General Operations need that is not reflected here, please contact program staff. Activities for this grant must be completed within one year of award.

Size of Grant Awards

  • Grants shall be calculated on a sliding scale based on the applicant’s operating budget.
  • For organizations with annual budgets less than $100,000, General Operations grants are limited to 20% or less of the previous year’s revenue.
  • For organizations with annual budgets of $100,000 or more, General Operations grants are limited to 15% or less of the previous year’s revenue.

Process for Successful Grant Requests

Nonprofits interested in applying for a General Operations grant should begin by reviewing the grant guidelines and Principles of Best Practice below. All applications must be submitted through our online grant portal. Paper submissions will not be considered.

The PATH Foundation will consider requests from organizations pursuing activities that reflect its mission, values and four areas of focus:

  • Access to Health
  • Childhood Wellness
  • Mental Health
  • Senior Services

Applicants Must:

  • Be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in good standing with the IRS. Government entities and religious institutions are not eligible for General Operations grants.
  • Subscribe to Principles of Best Practice relative to nonprofit governance, finance, public disclosure and programming (see below).
  • Have at least three years of stable leadership or have undergone a merger or other strategic restructuring within the past three years.
  • Demonstrate commitment to strategic direction-setting, such as an externally-guided strategic plan, feasibility study, participation in PATH Resource Center programming, enrollment in Nonprofit Academy or other comparable capacity development within the past three years.
  • Proposals must benefit people and organizations within the Foundation’s service area of Fauquier County, Rappahannock County and Culpeper County.

Priority will be given to organizations with a proven culture of collaboration, strategic direction, and diverse funding resources. Previous support for an organization does not imply future funding or that general operating grants will be available in any given year.

Principles of Best Practice

The following principles represent a standard to strive for, not hard eligibility prerequisites. Even if your organization does not currently practice all of these standards, it may still be eligible for General Operations grant consideration.


  1. The board acts for the good of the organization and adheres to fiduciary duties of loyalty, care, and obedience.
  2. The organization acts in accordance with its bylaws. Proper board meetings are conducted, and term limits are set for the service of the board members and officers.
  3. The nonprofit strives to have a governing board with a diversity of skills and experiences useful to understanding the needs of the communities served by the organization.
  4. The board has a minimum of two officers, president/chairperson and treasurer.
  5. The organization has adopted and implemented the following internal governance policies: conflict of interest, whistleblower, document retention and destruction, compensation of key personnel, gift acceptance and transparency.
  6. The board monitors and ensures compliance with all applicable federal and state laws, grant/funding requirements, quality of programs and services, and stewardship of resources (philanthropic giving, board composition, knowledge, skills and abilities of Executive Director).


  1. The governing board approves an operating budget prior to the beginning of each fiscal year and receives financial reports at least quarterly.
  2. The budget is prepared in tandem with planning for programs and operating needs.
  3. Nonprofits with annual revenue in excess of $500,000 have the accuracy of their financial reports audited by a Certified Public Accountant. Nonprofits with annual gross revenue below $500,000 have their financial reports reviewed by a Certified Public Accountant.
  4. The organization does not have persistent or increasing operating deficits.
  5. The organization has sufficient liquidity to weather financial risk inherent in the business.
  6. The board has a ‘give or get’ expectation that 100% of board members will make or raise a financial contribution to the organization.
  7. The organization prepares timely financial statements including a statement of financial position and statement of financial activities that are clearly stated and useful for the board and staff.

Public Disclosure

  1. The organization produces an annual report and makes available to the public, in hard copy or electronic form, information about the organization’s mission, program activities, and basic financial data as well as the names of the organization’s board members and management staff.
  2. The organization must timely file IRS Form 990 annually. The board should approve IRS Form 990 before it is submitted.
  3. The organization must make the following available to the public: IRS Form 990 for the previous three years, including clear statements of program service accomplishments in Part III; and IRS Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption.


  1. The organization responsibly uses its resources toward its mission and to benefit the community.
  2. The organization periodically reviews its mission. The organization evaluates whether the mission needs to be modified to reflect societal or community changes, whether its current programs should be revised or discontinued, and whether new programs need to be developed.
  3. The organization has a written job description for each employee that clearly identifies roles and responsibilities, and adheres to a stated non-discrimination policy.

Suggested Resources

Organizations that do not currently meet a majority of eligibility guidelines are encouraged to consult the PATH Resource Center and other regional/national organizations dedicated to nonprofit capacity to learn more about fostering strong nonprofit principles and practices.

PATH Resource Center (operated by Center for Nonprofit Excellence)

Independent Sector

Foundation Center