We are a place-based donor focused on the well-being of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Aside from its own initiatives involving technology and the Awards of Achievement, the Foundation takes special interest in agencies serving Nashville’s most vulnerable populations. In addition, the Foundation makes grants to enhance Nashville’s unique community assets and to help agencies develop new streams of earned revenue.

In evaluating grant opportunities, the Foundation gives priority to organizations with strong track records of service to significant numbers of individuals. Grantees must be tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and not private foundations as described in Section 509(a). The Foundation makes a limited number of grants to other Nashville-based organizations to strengthen agency infrastructure and for management consulting as described below.

A significant amount of our grant portfolio is devoted to operating support for a variety of organizations including the Frist Art Museum, the Center for Nonprofit Management, Hands On Nashville, NeedLink Nashville, and several others.

But beyond these recurring contributions, the Foundation rarely makes new grants for operating expenses or programs. Exceptions may be made if support is needed as part of a realistic plan to achieve operational stability that is not dependent on short-term grants. Emergency operating support will be granted only if an agency has a compelling long-term plan for survival.

In all cases, it is a good idea to discuss the needs with Foundation staff before submitting a grant request.

Grants generally fall into the following categories:

Strengthening Agency Infrastructure

These grants encompass technology and capital needs – projects often integral to increasing service capacity or ensuring an organization’s long-term viability. Capital requests will be considered only if an agency’s basic operating budget is on solid footing. In addition, the Foundation pays special attention to grants that promise to strengthen earned revenue streams.


Management grants typically cover consulting expenses. They may include, but are not limited to: strategic planning, board development, financial management, development of strategies for revenue generation, and expenses directly associated with administrative collaborations or mergers. In some cases, the Foundation may seek to partner with other funders to support projects on a larger scale.


For legal reasons, the Foundation does not support individuals or their projects, private foundations, political activities, or advertising. As a matter of policy, the Foundation does not ordinarily support:

  • Recurring expenses for operations, programs or salaries, except as described earlier.
  • Projects, programs or organizations that serve a limited audience or a relatively small number of people.
  • Endowments or scholarships.
  • Social or fundraising events.
  • Biomedical or clinical research.
  • Schools below the college level, except for projects intended to serve the broader community.
  • Hospitals or nursing homes.
  • Organizations whose principal impact is outside of Middle Tennessee.
  • Religious organizations for religious purposes.
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Did you know?

The foundation's Awards of Achievement are the centerpiece of the largest nonprofit awards ceremony in the nation.

When the Country Music Hall of Fame wanted to move downtown from Music Row, The Frist Foundation stepped in with a $1 million grant.

The Nashville Public Education Foundation was launched in The Frist Foundation boardroom.