Milestones are the goals your organization reports on annually during your award period. Milestones are not exhaustive lists of every goal a partner has, but should be concise and focus on the major strategic goals your organization will strive for during the requested grant period. Milestone development is led by the partner, but milestones should adhere to the following instructions:

When proposing milestones:

  1. Should be 1 page in length per year of the grant term.

  2. For unrestricted or general operating grants, milestones should address the following strategic areas (for samples of each category click here):

    • Program Implementation and Impact

    • Expansion and Growth

    • Fundraising and Marketing/PR

    • Human Resources, Operations, and Systems

  3. For project-based grants, milestones need not adhere to the strategic areas listed in point 2 above. Rather, project-based grant milestones should be tailored to the stated goals of the project discussed throughout the proposal process.

  4. Milestones should be in SMART goal format. That is, each goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

  5. Milestones should include both: (1) your organization’s corresponding baseline information and (2) goals for the grant request period. For example, in crafting milestones, a partner should indicate current delivery levels, as well as each particular year’s goal (E.g., We currently serve 2,000 families each year, and our goal is to serve 2,500 in Year 1 of the grant, 2,750 in Year 2, etc.). When it comes time to report on those goal each year, partners should include (1) baselines, (2) goals that were set, and (3) actuals.

  6. If revisions are required in the proposed milestones, staff will reach out with specific questions or comments. 

When providing updates/annual reports

  1. Annual milestone reports are due by November 1st each year. Staff will typically follow up after submission to set up a check-in phone call for more context on how you're doing.

  2. Milestone reports should be, like the proposed milestones, just one page long, and should include (1) baselines from start of grant term, (2) the proposed goal for the period, and (3) the actual outcome. It's not necessary or recommended to include long written narratives on each milestone, as the report is simply a starting point for the check-in conversation with staff. Staff will reach out to partners to set up check-in calls as time permits.


Please note that potential for renewal funding will not be tied to absolute achievement of all milestones, nor will absolute achievement of all milestones guarantee renewal funding. Instead, we use milestones as guideposts to having meaningful check-in conversations with our partners along the way.

Grant Renewals

We are relatively new to the world of strategic philanthropy. We actively seek to learn more about how to improve our operations, portfolio, and impact, and this leads us to new lessons each year. Additionally, our applicants impress us more and more each year (you guys are amazing).


Between these two facts, one major challenge emerges: sometimes a partner that we felt incredibly aligned with 2-3 years ago no longer feels as aligned as some of our new applicants when renewal requests come around. One thing we've learned in our short history is that we need to handle those transitions clearly and do our best to "do no harm" to organizations we've supported in the past if we decide to transition away from a funding relationship. To that end, in 2018, we created the following policy.

  1. RTNF typically provides multi-year funding, and often that funding is unrestricted. In acknowledgement of (1) the length of time it takes to create meaningful social change and (2) the lead time needed for making grant renewal decisions, we recommend that applicants request grants that are 3 years in duration and that requestors build in risk management strategies in case of the contingency that RTNF cannot renew funding at the completion of the grant period. For example, in some cases, this means that the requestor may taper the annual allocation toward the end of the grant period, to avoid large funding cliffs that could leave an organization vulnerable to major service or strategy disruption. We want to highlight that partners should not expect that we'll renew funding (we mean it) because as a relatively new strategic funder, we want to continue to be open to learning and changing our portfolio as we do so. 

  2. That being said, we are not completely closed to renewal requests, and we wanted to make a clearer process for handling those going forward. Therefore, renewal requests should be submitted in January of the same year RTNF is to make our final grant installment (i.e., if the last installment of your current multi-year grant will come in November 2020, you should reapply for funding in January 2020). RTNF's board will make renewal decisions by July of the respective year (which is eariler than our regular application decisions will be made). This way, renewal decisions will be made with more time for re-applicants to adjust their plans (whether they can expect to continue to receive funds from us, or whether they should plan for our exit at the end of the current grant period). We hope this policy helps our partners plan for the future and that it reduces the disruption that comes when renewal decisions do not come with sufficient notice.

  3. Lastly, if grant funds are not renewed, we ask that the applicant wait 2 cycles (years) before reapplying for funding. This means if the final installment of your current grant period came in November of 2017, you would be asked not to reapply until the 2020 cycle (thereby skipping the 2018 and 2019 cycles).

Publicity for Grants

Generally, we steer clear of the limelight, except in cases where publicity may serve a compelling charitable purpose (e.g., when publicity may allow a partner to leverage RTNF funds to garner more support). Thus, when it comes to information that is published about RTNF, especially when it comes to recognition for grants made, we request that organizations will seek approval for the recognition types listed below:

  • Announcements

  • Press releases and conferences

  • Naming programs or spaces

  • Publicizing the grant amount awarded

Partners should submit a 1-page request explaining the desire for publicity, as well as the content and context of the proposed publicity tool.

Information for Current Partners

Updated January 12, 2021