Yelp is a mobile app that connects people with great local businesses in more than 30 countries. In 2011 Yelp created the Yelp Foundation with one percent of company equity with the intent to make an impact locally. Born out of the technology industry, the Foundation has always taken a bit of a different approach to grantmaking in pursuit of this mission.
With nominations now open for this year’s Yelp Foundation Gives Local grant contest, where local nonprofits can win up to $5,000 based on votes from their local community, here are five things you should know about how the Yelp Foundation is taking a different approach to grantmaking.
1. An application process that takes less than 30 minutes: We know nonprofit staff have way too much to do and not enough time to do it already. Some grant applications can take months, but ours can be completed in one sitting with standard operating documentation like your form 990, W-9, and IRS Declaration Letter as proof of 501(c)(3) non-profit status. Plus, grantees will only be asked for a brief grant report on how the funds were spent.
2. Local support: Local Yelp community managers will work with the Foundation Center regional offices to host informational sessions on the Yelp Foundation Gives Local grant contest. They love working with grant winners to coordinate volunteer opportunities and partnerships long after the grant contest is over as well.
3. Your community picks the grant winners: We think local residents know the needs of their communities better than we do, and they’re passionate about getting involved. That’s why we give locals the opportunity to direct where Yelp Foundation funding goes through a voting process that requires no direct donation from them. Who wouldn’t want to give away someone else’s money?!
4. Grants are for general support: Running a nonprofit is hard work. While it’s easy to support the headline-grabbing initiatives that nonprofits do to advance their mission, it’s equally important to make sure they can manage their operating expenses and keep the lights on. That’s why Yelp Foundation Gives Local grants are for general support needs.
5. Yelp employees get involved: The Yelp Foundation’s mission to support local communities also resonates with Yelp employees. With offices based in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Phoenix, the Yelp Foundation encourages Yelp employees to vote on nonprofits that are making an impact in the cities where they live and work. Yelp also has a strong culture of employee-led volunteering, and local groups look to give back beyond the grant funds by volunteering their time and support.
A grant from the Yelp Foundation helps impact real change. In Cleveland, 2016 recipient Laura’s Home was able to help continue building the bridge from crisis to stability and self-sufficiency for women and children in need. Their grant directly supported housing, emotional and clinical support, and job placement services to prepare women and children for positive, productive futures.
Stories like this one make me realize just how impactful it can be for organizations to not only win a Yelp Foundation grant, but know that their own community was rooting for them.
Does the Yelp Foundation Gives Local grant contest sound like a good fit for your nonprofit? Nominate your organization at yfgiveslocal.org. Nominations will be accepted August 1 - 31, 2016.
Contact Yelp Foundation Ambassador Marla Landa at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or with any questions on nominating your nonprofit.
LAUREN KOTMEL is a Cleveland native and serves as Community Manager in Cleveland for Yelp, Inc., helping connect the community to great local businesses while growing Yelp’s presence in Northeast Ohio. She also serves on the Yelp Foundation Community Manager Committee and is passionate about improving her community. Lauren brings diverse fundraising and public affairs experience from globally recognized nonprofit organizations such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum, The Cleveland Museum of Art and Smithsonian Institution. She also serves as Co-Chair of Brite Winter Music and Art Festival and is a member of The Cleveland Museum of Art Women’s Council. Lauren holds a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from John Carroll University.