Frequently Asked Questions

What's the focus of your giving program?

Currently, we’re providing $5 million a year to support the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and another $5 million a year to help expand the Nashville Zoo. Each spring, we offer a technology grants program to the broad nonprofit community and in the fall, a management awards competition through the Center for Nonprofit Management. The rest of our giving is spread across several areas including enhancements to unique civic institutions and strengthening the capital, managerial and technological capabilities of agencies serving vulnerable people. 

Do you ever make grants outside of Nashville?

Our mission is to strengthen agencies that serve Nashvillians.  As such, we don’t typically support agencies based outside of Nashville, unless they serve a significant number of people in Nashville.

Do you make operating grants?

On a limited basis. We give general support to the Frist Center and the Center for Nonprofit Management, organizations that we helped to create. Plus we support several organizations, such as the Young Leaders Council and the Community Resource Center, that provide important services to multiple nonprofit agencies.

Why don't you give operating support to more agencies?

We see our role as helping agencies with transitions. These may involve management, technology or facility expansions. By focusing on these needs, we can play a pivotal role in helping agencies adapt to a dynamic marketplace and changing client needs.

Do you support new organizations?

In evaluating grant opportunities, we look for agencies with strong track records. In our experience, it takes at least three years for agencies to demonstrate their value to the community powerfully enough to merit grant support. On rare occasions, the need for a new agency might be so compelling that we’ll help with seed money. Examples include the Civic Design Center, the Community Foundation, Conexion Americas and the Land Trust of Tennessee.

So how does a new organization begin to establish a track record?

First, we suggest putting your information on Giving Matters, the Community Foundation’s inventory of nonprofit agencies. Then we encourage you to document your service to clients and the broader community. Finally, we recommend that you connect with other agencies doing similar work or serving some of the same clients. With a thorough knowledge of the landscape, you can identify how your agency is unique, avoid duplication of effort, and even find partners to help with the work.

Do you need to call before completing a grant application?

That’s a great idea, especially if you’ve never submitted a grant request to The Frist Foundation. This gives us a chance to discuss your idea before you spend a lot of time and energy to submit something that might not fit with our funding priorities.

What's a typical first grant from The Frist Foundation?

In many instances, it’s a technology grant. Every year, we invite nonprofit agencies to submit requests through our Technology Grants Program. In 2016, a total of 132 technology grants were awarded – 10 of them to agencies that had never received a Frist Foundation grant.

What is your affiliation with HCA?

It’s a historic connection. The Frist Foundation was originally called The HCA Foundation and operated for more than 10 years as the giving arm of Hospital Corporation of America. In 1994, though, there was an ownership change, and the foundation spun off from the company. In 1997, we changed our name to reflect the philanthropic influence of founding directors, Dr. Thomas F. Frist, Jr., who remains a director, and Dr. Thomas F. Frist, Sr., who died in 1998.

How often are grant requests reviewed?

Technology grants are reviewed annually. All other grants are reviewed on an on-going basis.

How long does it take you to make a grant decision?

Grants of $25,000 and more are considered at quarterly board meetings, which typically take place in January, April, July and October. So depending on when you submit a request, it could take as long as three months to hear back. Grants below that amount are often decided within two weeks.

What kind of follow-up do you want/expect after grants are received?

The bigger the grant, the more closely we follow what’s happening with the money. For most grants, we let you know what we need in the way of follow-up when the grant is awarded.