Apply for The Catalogue for Philanthropy

Application Guidelines & Instructions

Our 2021 application window is now CLOSED. Please click here to be notified when our next cycle opens in December!

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 $40 million since 2003.)

Benefits of a Catalogue Partnership

What we'll do:

  • Collaborate with you on a powerful 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 direct mail efforts (70,000+ local households), media partnerships (e.g., City Paper), our Giving Tuesday campaign, a personalized webpage on our website, features in our blog, social media promotion, and more;
  • Give you access to our Nonprofit Portal, with access to an online resource library and marketing materials (e.g. Catalogue seal);
  • Invite you to professional development workshops, webinars, and collaboration events through our Learning Commons program. These trainings, which are free to our partners, include our Orientation workshop for new nonprofits, as well as workshops and collaborative sessions on development, communications, program evaluation, volunteer management, and board development;
  • Continue this partnership for four years.

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 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 your partnership by attending our Orientation workshop and our annual event, Community Changemakers;
  • Be available to participate in media opportunities and donor education events when appropriate;
  • 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 2021-22 Catalogue, organizations must:

  • Be a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization
  • Have a cash operating budget between $100,000 and $4 million (current partners that have grown beyond our $4 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) & and have headquarters or main offices locally
  • NOT have been featured in the 2018-19, 2019-20 or 2020-21 print Catalogue
  • Agree to adhere to our Non-Discrimination Policy which requires all of our nonprofit partners to affirm their commitment to core values of non-discrimination consistent with ours.

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 December 14th, 2020 and closes at 5:00 pm on February 19th, 2021. Each year, more than 200 nonprofit organizations apply to be featured in our print Catalogue, with approximately 75 being selected. Once applications are processed, over 150 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 (February–April) consists of three parts:

  • Program Review (February–March 2021): Reviewers rate 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.
  • Round 1 Notification (early April, 2021): In early April, we will send an update regarding the status of your application. Organizations that do not advance to the final selection rounds will have an opportunity to request feedback. All other organizations will undergo further programmatic and financial review before selection decisions are finalized.
  • Financial Review (April 2021): A team of financial reviewers 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 (April 2020): All reviewers are asked if they have site visited an applicant organization within the past three years. Positive site visits confirm positive reviews. Negative site visits generate a phone call. Any finalist that has not been visited by our review team will be visited by a representative from the Catalogue.
  • Final Selection (Early May, 2021): In May, organizations that have been selected to join the 2021-22 class will be contacted and asked to sign our Requirements of Participation (see sample here). Organizations that are not selected will have an opportunity to request feedback. The 2021-22 nonprofit class will be publicly announced in mid-May.

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. Final decisions are made by a Selection Committee and are always guided by the rankings and comments of our review team.

After our vetted list is announced, we will work with selected organizations to create their Catalogue features, wish lists, photos and more from May to July. The Catalogue is released by 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 2021-2022 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 202-248-5034 x0, or email us at

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