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Global Impact Cash Grants

Cisco welcomes applications for Global Impact Cash Grants from community partners around the world who share our vision and offer an innovative approach to a critical social challenge.

 

We identify, incubate, and develop innovative solutions with the most impact. Global Impact Cash Grants go to nonprofits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that address a significant social problem. We’re looking for programs that fit within our investment areas, serve the underserved, and leverage technology to improve the reach and efficiency of services. We accept applications year-round from eligible organizations. An initial information form is used to determine whether your organization will be invited to complete a full application.

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How Cisco helps nonprofits develop and scale tech solutions

Cisco’s cash and product grant programs help nonprofits apply digital technology to have the broadest impact in some of the most economically underserved parts of the world.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements

Global Impact Cash Grants multiply the impact of eligible organizations around the globe with national or multinational operations. Before applying, invited nonprofits can determine their organization’s eligibility by reviewing the requirements below and the grant giving policies.

Organizational requirements:

  • Organizations within the United States must be recognized by the IRS as tax exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501 (c)(3), and classified by the IRS as a public charity
  • Organizations from outside the U.S. must provide information and documents to determine whether the organization is the equivalent of a U.S. public charity
  • Organizations to be funded must serve an audience greater than 65 percent economically underserved relative to the average standards of the target geography
  • Organizations and programs must focus on at least one of our social investment areas: access to education, economic empowerment, or critical human needs
  • An organization's overhead is not to exceed 25 percent (Organizations are occasionally exempt from this requirement; however, they must be exceptionally aligned with Cisco's values and criteria, and they must clearly explain and justify their overhead costs. Exemptions to the requirement on overhead expenses are determined on a case-by-case basis.)
  • The maximum request amount for first-time grant recipients is US$75,000

Ineligible programs and/or activities

All applications must be completed using our online application form. Cisco will not consider incomplete proposals or paper-based applications.

Proposals in the following areas are not eligible for a Global Impact Cash Grant:

  • Miscellaneous exclusions: general operating expenses, other than directly associated with the program itself; individuals; research programs; membership-based activities; programs that promote or serve one culture, race, religion, population group, or political viewpoint - rather than the community at large; religious, political, or sectarian organizations (Note: A direct service program run by a faith-based organization may be eligible. See our grant giving policies.)
  • Hospitals: private or public hospitals; hospital foundations; medical centers, research centers, etc. (Programs based in a hospital may be eligible; however, grant funds must go exclusively to direct service in the community, not to general hospital operating expenses.)
  • Schools and scholarships: private, public, or charter schools; school foundations, booster clubs, and/or fundraising organizations affiliated with a particular school; colleges/universities; scholarships, stipends or loans within a program; and/or school-related activities such as field trips, research programs, etc.
  • Events: athletic events, competitions, tournaments; conferences, seminars, workshops; festivals, field trips, or other recreational events; fundraising events or sponsorships (benefit dinners, walks/runs, concerts, sports teams, etc.)
  • Philanthropic: capital building funds, challenge grants, grant-making organizations (all other foundations including private foundations, family foundations, school foundations, etc.)

Policy on the funding of equipment

In general, Cisco does not fund the purchase of computer hardware or software, but may consider doing so only in cases where: 1) such resources are leveraged in a strategically innovative manner, thereby extending their impact well beyond everyday/staff use; AND 2) such resources are not available through other, more cost-effective means such as in-kind donation. Applicants must demonstrate that they have thoroughly explored such avenues without success.

Policy on board review and approval

Cisco requires applicants to certify that the chairperson or at least one officer of the organization's Board of Directors has reviewed the grant proposal and that the organization's board is aware of the application and supports its submission. Cisco also requires applicants to certify the accuracy of the proposal and to confirm that the organization complies with the policies stated on this web site.

Policy on reviews of accuracy/compliance

All applicants are subject to reviews of their representations in their grant applications, their compliance with the policies stated above, and, if applicable, their adherence to the terms of the grant contract. If such a review reveals significant inaccuracies or violations of the policies stated above, or if an organization does not cooperate with the review, the organization may be required to return any granted assets and forfeit future funding eligibility.

Written grant contract

Grantee organizations are required to sign a donation agreement electronically before donations can be delivered.

Reporting and performance tracking

Cisco looks for grant proposals in which concrete measures of success can be used to assess performance. Organizations that receive funding will be required to use our online grant platform to customize performance metrics for their project and measure their progress over the life of the grant award. Meaningful participation in this process is a requirement for continued funding eligibility.

Cisco grant giving policies

In addition, organizations must adhere to Cisco policies related to non-discrimination, religious proselytizing, non-support of violence and terrorism, advocacy, lobbying, and other political activities and other areas listed in grant giving policies.


Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria

Global Impact Cash Grants multiply the impact of eligible organizations around the globe with national or multinational operations. To improve the quality of your grant application, we recommend that you carefully review the criteria we use to evaluate grants.

Addresses a critical social challenge with unmet need

The program addresses a problem that affects many lives within one of Cisco’s investment areas, and which has severe effects on the lives of individuals and communities within the target area. A significant unmet need exists due to a gap in funding or a need for innovative approaches.

Incorporates metrics to measure program impact

The program defines and utilizes SMART metrics to help Cisco and the grantee measure progress towards success. The highest priority and funding consideration is given to proposals that clearly articulate the planned result of their efforts, as well as the metrics to measure that result.

Serves the underserved

The target audience is greater than 65 percent economically underserved, relative to the average standards of the target geography.

Uses and leverages the Internet

The program uses the Internet and/or Internet-based communications technology to improve the efficiency and reach of program services.

Employs an innovative approach with potential for broad impact

The program provides an innovative solution that creates an opportunity for significant reach beyond the direct benefits of specific Cisco-funded activities. For example:

  • Market effects due to major shift in economics, productivity, or effectiveness
  • Ability to catalyze behavior of other key agents or partners in ecosystem to achieve an order of magnitude more together than apart

Designed to be replicable, scalable, and sustainable

The design of the program allows it to be easily and cost effectively replicated in communities around the globe, and to meet the needs of the target population without a nearly equivalent investment for each individual or group. The long-term plan for the program enables it to flourish significantly beyond the resources provided by Cisco.

Possesses outstanding leadership

The organization has an outstanding leader or management team with qualities such as vision, execution ability, passion, ethical approach, expertise, external relationships, and a credible track record in the relevant area.


Application Process

Application Process

Global Impact Cash Grants multiply the impact of eligible organizations around the globe with national or multinational operations. We welcome applications from community partners who share our vision and offer an innovative approach with potential for broad impact.

Step 1: Eligibility quiz

The eligibility quiz will help you determine whether your organization and program are aligned with Cisco's mission, strategic approach, and objectives for grant support.

Take the eligibility quiz

Step 2: Initial information form

Eligible organizations will be invited to register and complete the online initial information form. This form requests detailed information about your organization, the program you expect to fund, population served, and your budget. Your answers will determine whether you will be invited to complete a full proposal. Before completing the form, we recommend you review our investment areas and policies.

Submission of an initial information form does not guarantee that your organization will be invited to submit a full proposal. The forms are reviewed wholly within the discretion of Cisco and the Cisco Foundation. Review may take up to one business quarter (3 months).

Step 3: Full proposal

If a Cisco grant administrator determines that your organization's program is aligned with Cisco's mission, strategic approach, and objectives for grant support, you will receive an invitation to submit a full proposal with an invitation code to the online application. If further information is needed, you will be contacted by a grant administrator. You can expect to hear from a grant administrator within one business quarter.

A request from Cisco to submit a full proposal application does not constitute a guarantee of funding.

Additional information

Cisco is not responsible for any proposal related expenses incurred by your organization, at any step in the grant application process. Grant policies and requirements are subject to change without notice, and become effective immediately upon posting to this website. The interpretation of these policies is wholly within the discretion of Cisco and the Cisco Foundation. All grants are made at the discretion of Cisco and the Cisco Foundation. Qualification under the policies listed on this website does not entitle an organization to receive a grant. We reserve the right to decline to make any grant requested.