We’ll update the FAQ as we receive and answer more questions, so please bookmark this page and check back throughout the application process. 

Last updated August 23, 2019

If your question isn’t answered here, please contact:

Michael Reyes, Community Engagement Officer | michael@northwesthealth.org | 971.230.1291

Jen Matheson, Director of Programs | jen@northwesthealth.org

Q. Does my organization have to be a 501(c)(4) to apply?  

No. Not at all. For the Civic Health Assessment & Planning (CHAP) process, eligible applicants are 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations, Miscellaneous Oregon Political Action Committees or fiscally-sponsored organizations. NWHF will issue CHAP funds to 501(c)(3)/(4)/(5)/(6) organizations or any Miscellaneous Oregon Political Action Committee. If your organization is not incorporated or fiscally-sponsored, or if your coalition of organizations is interested in applying as a coalition, please reach out to NWHF for a conversation before applying. 

If your organization moves forward after CHAP into the Civic Health program, you will need a way to receive 501(c)(4) funding through your organization, a fiscal sponsorship, or partnership with another 501(c)(4) organization. There will be time to explore options, so don’t worry if this isn’t where your organization is now. 

Q. Can we apply as a coalition? 

We’re generally looking for organizations within a coalition to apply individually. A coalition would likely need to have a track record of engaging in collective advocacy for quite some time, with established accountability agreements among their organizational members and a clear decision-making process. Please reach out to NWHF for a conversation before applying. 

Q. If we have a current grant with NWHF, can we still apply? 


Q. How many groups do you expect to fund? 

Around 20.

Q. My organization is focused on a specific geography (a neighborhood, city, school district) or on a particular community (Black, Native, Latinx). Is that okay?

Yes! Eventually, organizations in the Civic Health cohort will aspire to, and eventually reach, a scale necessary to engage targeted voters and community members within at least the county you operate in.  But you don’t need to be there yet. Keep in mind, even though your base of community members and volunteers may identify as culturally-specific, you will need to engage voters across identities in elections.

Q. When exactly are the CHAP planning meetings happening?

Wednesday, December 4, 10 am - 1 pm (video webinar)
Thursday, January 23, 10 am - 2 pm (in person, Portland, OR)
Tuesday, February 11, 10 am - 2 pm (in person, Portland, OR)
Tuesday, March 3, 10 am - 1 pm (video webinar)

Organizations must bring two representatives with decision-making authority to the planning meetings, such as executive directors, board members and/or staff members who would hold the implementation of Civic Health’s strategies. The same two representatives must participate in all the meetings. Organizations must attend all the meetings. 

Q. Do we have to participate in CHAP to be in Civic Health?

We expect that all organizations in Civic Health will have participated in the Assessment & Planning process. 

Q. Can the lead applicant be an organization located outside of your funding region?

Yes, eligible applicants can have headquarters based elsewhere. However, they must have a track record of doing work in Oregon or Southwest Washington (Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania, Wahkiakum and Pacific Counties). Typically, this means active, ongoing programming with dedicated local staff and an accountable relationship to the community it serves in our region. The fiscal sponsor can be located anywhere in the U.S.

Q. Do organizations in Civic Health (not CHAP) have to engage in partisan elections? 

No. There are thousands of non-partisan elected positions in our region. Civic Health will equip organizations with general operating support and the training and skills necessary to engage in elections for measures and candidates of their choosing. That could be partisan elections, as allowed by law. Regardless, NWHF will not designate or instruct, directly or indirectly, Civic Health funding to influence the election of specific candidates.

Q. How do you determine whether an organization is "led by BIPOC communities?"

Applicants will provide quantitative and qualitative demographic information about the organization and the communities they serve when they submit their application. Through those responses, we will learn more about how your organization self-identifies. You may find this resource helpful: https://www.northwesthealth.org/definitions

Q. How can the $3750 be spent? Can it be spent on consulting about the legal aspects of having 501(c)(4) status? 

Yes, it can be spent on whatever is legally allowable for 501(c)(4)s. While starting a 501(c)(4) is not difficult legally, it should not be a decision taken lightly nor should it be done only based on the chance of funding through Civic Health. If you’re selected to participate in CHAP, we’d recommend making that decision after the process ends in April 2020.

Q. If an organization only has two staff, five board members and volunteers would it still make sense to go through this process? 

Perhaps. It’d depend on factors like the geography you intend to serve and long-term interest in electoral work. There is not a minimum size for an organization to apply, and a lot can happen with a small team of dedicated people! 

Q. Are 501(c)(3) organizations able to do advocacy for individuals running for office?

No. Check out Bolder Advocacy for more resources.  

Q. To clarify: First we’re applying for CHAP; you’ll select 20 organizations to participate. Then you’ll cull that number down to 7-15 organizations through another application process, and those organizations will receive the multi-year grant funding? Is that right?

Yes, that's about right. But CHAP may lead to multiple groups applying as a single coalition/collaboration in the longer-term Civic Health. We also anticipate that there may be groups that decide not to apply for Civic Heath after participating in CHAP. 

Q. How can we schedule a time to talk about our organization and whether we would be a good fit?

Email Michael and Jen. It helps if you can suggest a couple of dates and times to chat. Often a 15-20 minute phone call is the best way to explore if your organization is a good match for CHAP. 

Michael Reyes, Community Engagement Officer | michael@northwesthealth.org | 971.230.1291

Jen Matheson, Director of Programs | jen@northwesthealth.org

Q. I have a question about using the grant portal and registering for an account. 

Please contact our Grant Administrator Shannon Duff at shannon@northwesthealth.org or 503.505.5702.

Q. What are your expectations for the conversation(s) you want us to have with our staff/ board/ community?

Our primary expectation is that your decision to apply for CHAP is not one made exclusively at the staff-level and that it is done after conversation and deliberation within your organization and among your board/governance leaders and trusted community members. The application asks you to share what that looked like for your organization, knowing that there’s not just one way to do so. 

Q. Are the CHAP meeting times scheduled to address access needs of participants or working schedules of volunteers?  

We chose CHAP meeting times in an attempt to strike a balance between considerations and needs for access, travel time for participants and work schedules. We reduced the number of in-person meetings and decided to start later in the morning and end early afternoon. That said, we recognize that balance is never perfect.