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  • How to Apply

    Understanding the application process for a First Niagara contribution

  • Before you get started

    Please take a minute to review our grant categories, areas of focus and eligibility requirements (see below) if you have not already done so. The application will ask you to specify which type of support you are requesting for a grant or sponsorship.

    All organizations seeking charitable grants must complete our online application.


    First Niagara generally will not contribute to or sponsor the following:

    • Organizations with limited availability to the general public
    • Individuals or programs that benefit specific individuals
    • Political organizations, candidates or lobbying efforts
    • National or international organizations, unless their programs have significant local impact
    • Organizations that discriminate based on: age, race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, marital status, receipt of public assistance, sexual orientation, or military status

    Additionally, the following restrictions apply to applicant organizations:

    • An organization can receive funding only once per year from First Niagara.
    • Organizations must serve communities within the First Niagara footprint.
    • Requests for funding up to $500 should be made through your local First Niagara branch.

    Submitting your online application

    1. You will need the following to complete your application:
      • Tax ID number
      • 501(c)(3) Letter from the IRS (for Regional Community Grants)
      • Mission statement
      • Program/project/event description, including goals, objectives and population served
      • List of organization’s Board of Directors
      • List of any relationships with First Niagara employees (banking contacts, board members, volunteers working with your organization)
      • Organization’s most recent financial statement
      • Annual budget and program, project or event budget
      • Various other information as applicable to your program, project or event, such as: media plan; sponsorship level information; and logo and ad specs
    2. Create a login name and password for your organization and complete the application online. You will receive an email confirmation once your application is submitted and accepted by the system.
    3. Applications must be submitted at least 90 days before the program/project start date or event to provide ample time for complete review and processing.

    Start a new application   |   Finish an existing application

    Application evaluation

    At First Niagara, we believe that decisions are most effectively made at the local level. Therefore, each of our regions has a Philanthropic Committee that meets regularly to review grant and sponsorship applications. Funding decisions are based upon this Committee’s recommendations. Requests must meet our eligibility criteria, be submitted via our online application system, and fall within our areas of focus to receive consideration.

    Decisions will be communicated to applicants within 30 days of the Committee’s final funding determinations, approvals and sign-off.

    First Niagara recognizes that there are many organizations doing great work in our communities. However, the requests we receive greatly exceed our annual charitable giving budget. We regret that we are unable to fund or support every application request and often must decline support to worthy organizations and programs. Such a response does not reflect in any way a negative appraisal of the applicant organization or the value of its services.

    In 1977 Congress enacted the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to assure that financial institutions are responsive to the needs of all the people within the communities they serve – specifically those with low- to moderate-income levels. First Niagara is committed to supporting CRA-eligible programs and initiatives to ensure significant resources reach and directly impact low- to moderate-income individuals in our communities.


    Have questions about our contribution process?

    View our FAQs.


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