Discretionary Funding Policy

Each year, the Board of Commissioners allocates discretionary funds to not-for-profit organizations in order to meet local needs and fill gaps in County services. Thus, discretionary spending is a critical tool in meeting needs in our communities.

As with all taxpayer funds, the public deserves to know that discretionary funds are going to organizations with the capacity and integrity to provide quality services. This guide outlines the discretionary funding policies and procedures of the Chester County Board of Commissioners and is to be a reference for not-for-profit organizations seeking Commissioner discretionary funds, Commissioners, and the public.

What is Discretionary Funding?

Discretionary funding is a duly appropriated sum of money in the County’s General Fund budget allocated for distribution to eligible not-for-profit organizations designated by the Board of Commissioners. 

There are three types of discretionary funding. 

The following categories have been developed through Board of Commissioner practice over the years, and are subject to change in the future.

Commissioner Initiatives:

Each Member of the Board of Commissioners is allotted an amount each year to meet local needs deemed important by that Member. Organizations may apply directly to an individual Commissioner.

Board Initiatives:

Funds allocated through this category are used to address community needs the Board of Commissioners feel may not be addressed by existing programs or services.  As such, entities that apply for funding that may be otherwise eligible for funding through existing County programs/services/funding streams are not eligible for discretionary funding.  Organizations apply to the County Administrator for review by the Board of Commissioners as part of the budget process.

Grant Matches:

Organizations may apply for funding to meet grant matching requirements where such grant matches are required to be provided by the local government.

Discretionary funding is allocated only to not-for-profit organizations. There are numerous types and categories of not-for-profits as defined by the IRS.  The most common recipients of discretionary funding are 501(c)(3) organizations, but there are numerous other types of 501(c) not-for profits.

An organization that receives discretionary funding must itself deliver the services of the funded program. Subcontractors or consultants may not be the primary service providers for programs funded by discretionary awards. In no case will payments be made to subcontractors or consultants by the County.

For-profit entities may not receive discretionary funds.

Applying for Discretionary Funding

This section provides an overview of the steps involved in applying for discretionary funds. The application process for Board Initiatives and Grant Matches opens, annually, June 1 and closes August 1. The application process for Commissioner Initiatives opens, annually, January 1 and closes December 15.