Apply for The Catalogue for Philanthropy

Application Guidelines & Instructions

UPDATE: The 2017 Catalogue for Philanthropy application is now CLOSED. Click here to be notified when the 2018 application opens!

Why Apply

Being part of our network means you’ll be recognized as “one of the best” high-impact, community-based nonprofits in our region—something that means so much to supporters, both existing and new. While we do not guarantee a specific financial benefit, our track record shows that when nonprofits engage in a committed partnership with us, they receive both financial and other returns. (The Catalogue has helped raise over $37 million since 2003.)

Benefits of a Catalogue Partnership

What we'll do:

  • Collaborate with you on a powerful 170-word story about your work and your impact, to use in our Catalogue, and in your marketing, fundraising and other materials;
  • Promote your story through our print Catalogue (mailed to 25,000 local donors), our mailings to 50,000 additional donors, advertisements in Washingtonian Magazine and the Washington Post, our annual collaboration on Give It Up, DC with Washington City Paper, our Catalogue-based Giving Tuesday campaigns, a personalized webpage on our website, features in our blog, partnerships with local media outlets, social media, and more;
  • Give you access to our Nonprofit Portal, with customized marketing & communications materials from personalized booklets, to online fundraising platforms, to our “One of the Best” seal;
  • Invite you to workshops & events through our Learning Commons. These trainings are hosted by the Catalogue and our partners throughout the year, starting with our Orientation workshop for new nonprofits and continuing with sessions on development, stewardship, marketing and communications;
  • Continue this partnership for three years beyond your print Catalogue feature!

There is no financial obligation of any kind associated with applying to or being featured in the Catalogue for Philanthropy. Leading institutions and generous individuals in the Washington region support the Catalogue as a service to the community.

What you'll do:

  • Work with Catalogue staff from May to July to approve written content and provide photos or other imagery for your Catalogue feature;
  • Meet the rest of the Catalogue network and learn how to make the most of this partnership by attending our Orientation workshop in the fall and our launch event, Inspiration to Action, at the end of the year;
  • Help us track our impact, by reporting Catalogue-inspired donations made to you throughout the years that you are featured in print and online;
  • Bring your Catalogue webpage to life by uploading information about your events, recent press hits, volunteer opportunities, and impact throughout the year;
  • Spread the word, by using the Catalogue's co-branded materials, especially the "One of the Best" stamp, on your homepage, stationery, newsletters, and email signatures.


In order to apply for the 2017-18 Catalogue, organizations must:

  • Be a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization
  • Have an operating budget between $100,000 and $3 million (eligible nonprofits that have grown beyond our $3 million limit may reapply but, if successful, will be featured on the web only)
  • Serve the people and communities of the greater Washington region (District of Columbia, Montgomery County, Prince George's County, Charles County, Frederick County; Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, City of Alexandria, City of Fairfax, City of Falls Church) & have headquarters locally OR have headquarters outside our geographic footprint (including virtual offices or workspaces) but provide the great majority of your programs within our geographic footprint, OR, if international, have headquarters in the greater Washington region
  • NOT have been featured in the 2014-15, 2015-16 or 2016-17 print Catalogue (though organizations re-featured only on the website in these years may reapply to be featured in print)

For more information on the eligibility of local chapters of national organizations, professional associations, membership organizations, etc, please see our FAQ.

Review Process & Timeline

The application opens on January 4th and closes at 11:59 pm on February 28th. More than 200 charitable organizations apply to be included in the Catalogue for Philanthropy each year, and we select approximately 75 for our print Catalogue. Once applications are processed, over 100 reviewers from foundations, corporate giving programs, peer nonprofits, and the philanthropic advisory community are matched with applicants in the reviewers’ fields of expertise. Our review process (March–April) consists of three parts:

  • Program Review: Reviewers judge applications based on their assessment of the need each organization exists to meet, the quality of the programs it creates to meet those needs, its leadership and staffing, and the evidence of the organization’s impact. Most applications receive 5 to 8 reviews, some more than that.
  • Financial Review: A team of financial reviewers from Raffa assesses the financial soundness of potential finalists. Among other things, the team looks for reasonable year-to-year projections of expenses and revenue, appropriate ratios of administrative to program costs (though there is no absolute cut-off), reasonable salaries, board participation in fundraising and development, and fiscal transparency.
  • Site Visits: All reviewers are asked if they have site visited an organization within the past three years. Positive site visits confirm positive reviews. Negative site visits generate a phone call. Any organization that has not been visited by our review team will be visited by Catalogue staff.

Our goal is to create a balanced list of great nonprofits in all fields: we don’t want all of our nonprofits to serve one category – for example all arts organizations or all programs that serve the elderly. While final decisions are editorial, they are always guided by the rankings and comments of our review team!

Our vetted list of charities for the 2017-18 print Catalogue will be finalized in May and we will work with selected organizations to create their Catalogue features, wish lists, photos and more from May to July. The Catalogue is released on November 1, just in advance of the giving season.

If you have read our application guidelines, eligibility criteria and FAQ and are interested in applying to be featured in the 2017-18 Catalogue for Philanthropy, please download our application instructions.

Questions: Before you email or call, please read our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). If you don't find the answers you are looking for, call us at 202-955-6538, or email us at