If you're thinking of applying for a grant from Modest Needs and have questions, chances are you'll find the answer to your question on this page. If you can't find the answer to your question here, please feel free to contact us.

1. What kinds of assistance does Modest Needs offer?

Modest Needs offers grants designed to promote the self-sufficiency of individuals and families who, because they are working and live just above the poverty level, are ineligible for most types of conventional social assistance but who, all the same, are living one or two lost paychecks away from the kind of financial catastrophe that eventually leads to homelessness.

We give special consideration to persons living alone (single persons with no dependent children), veterans who have recently returned home from military service, teachers, and first responders - the people who do the most for our communities but who often cannot receive assistance from conventional agencies when they need that help the most.

For more information about the grants we offer at Modest Needs, please read about our Grant Types and Eligibility Requirements.

2. Does Modest Needs make grants or loans?

Modest Needs makes grants. The grants we offer come with no strings attached and do not ever have to be repaid.

3. Who is eligible to apply for assistance from Modest Needs?

Individuals and families are eligible to apply for assistance from Modest Needs if:

  • You are at least 18 years of age;

  • You are a legal resident of the United States or Canada;

  • You intend to apply for assistance either for yourself, or for a person living in your home;

  • Your household has at least one active bank account OR has filed a Federal Tax Return within in the past two years;

  • You have regular access to a computer and the Internet and can check your email and the Modest Needs website daily for the entire time that your application is active;

  • You have the ability to access a scanner or a fax machine for long enough to scan and upload or fax the documentation to support your application that Modest Needs will request from you during the grant application process;

  • If you rent (rather than own) your home, your household has a legal lease that your landlord and a member of your household both have signed. This lease must show the monthly cost of your rental, whether or not you pay all of this amount yourself;

  • Your household passes our 'income' and 'employment' tests, both of which are explained in the application process.

4. How Does Modest Needs Raise Funding?

We raise our funds through direct crowdsource fundraising - a method of fundraising we helped to pioneer back in 2002. This means that once an application is approved to go before our donors for funding, our donors work together to raise the amount needed for each applicant's request. While we cannot guarantee funding, we have a very high success rate in helping our applicants. This also means that Modest Needs generally cannot offer immediate funding. Instead, as we receive requests for help, we raise the funding necessary to assist each individual applicant.

5. Does Modest Needs charge a fee to apply for assistance?

No. Modest Needs does not charge our applicants to apply for help.

Rather, Modest Needs' donors pay a small 'fulfillment fee' at the time of their contributions that covers the cost of receiving, processing, and funding qualified applications.

6. What is Modest Needs' maximum / average grant?

Modest Needs' maximum grant varies depending on such factors as your household's income. Because everyone's situation is different, the only way to know for certain what your household's maximum grant might be is to complete our online application.

As far as averages go, over time, our average grant has been between $750.00 and $1,250.00.

7. I'm not sure whether I qualify for Modest Needs' assistance. Can I ask some questions about my personal situation before I apply?

Because every person's situation is different, there is no one in our office who would be able tell you for certain whether or not you qualify for help before you place an application.

The only way to know whether your qualify to apply for a grant from Modest Needs is to complete our online grant application.

For more information on our program guidelines please email

Of course, you're welcome to contact us with general questions about Modest Needs prior to submitting an application, but to avoid providing potentially inaccurate information to prospective applicants, Modest Needs' employees have been instructed not to answer any specific questions about you / your family's personal situation until you've completed and submitted an application for help from Modest Needs.

8. How do I apply for assistance from Modest Needs?

Because we are a small organization serving all persons in both the United States and Canada, we can accept applications for assistance only through our website.

To complete our online application, you'll first need register with us. Once you've registered, just click the 'For Applicants' tab located on Modest Needs' main menu, and then click 'Apply for Help.' At that point, our system will walk you through our application process, which will probably take about 20 minutes to complete.

9. I registered with Modest Needs a long time ago but have not logged in to the Modest Needs website for a long time. I need to apply for help now and just logged in, but I am getting the message that I cannot apply for help because my account is inactive. How can I reactivate my account?

Simple! If you receive the message that you cannot apply for help because your account is inactive, just log OUT of the Modest Needs system and then immediately log back IN.

As soon as you log back into the Modest Needs website, your account will automatically be reactivated, and you should be able to apply for help as normal.

10. Is there any limit to the number of applications for assistance I can place with Modest Needs?

Yes. At Modest Needs, we permit one active application per household at a time. This means that you may only have one open request for assistance at a time.

There are no limits to the number of applications you may place before your request is funded.

Once your request is funded and a grant check is issued you will then have to wait a full 12 months before you can place a new request. For example, if you apply for and receive a grant from Modest Needs in March 2013, you may not apply for another Modest Needs grant until March 2014.

While we are happy to accept a new application for assistance 12 months after your previous request was funded please keep in mind that, due to our funding restraints, we may not be able to consider an additional request for the same assistance, under the same circumstances.

In addition, if there appears to be an ongoing need for assistance rather then a one-time or unexpected need we may not be able to move forward with the new request.

11. What kinds of assistance can I request from Modest Needs?

Generally, Modest Needs helps qualified individuals / households to afford two specific types of expenses:

  • Unexpected or emergency expenses that an individual or family living paycheck-to-paycheck could not possibly afford without a short-term hand-up.

    Examples of expenses of this type with which Modest Needs has helped in the past include everything from the cost of medical care not covered by insurance to the cost of repairing or replacing a major appliance to the cost of required work tools or uniforms to the cost of legal fees to complete an adoption to - tragically - the cost of burying a family member that has unexpectedly passed away; and

  • Monthly bills that an individual or family living paycheck-to-paycheck cannot afford to pay at the time of their application because of a documentable extenuating circumstance.

    For example, if you were required to take unpaid leave from work because your child was ill and now cannot afford the cost of your auto insurance, or if you were in an auto accident and cannot afford this month's rent or mortgage payment because you had to pay a deductible to repair your car - under these kinds of documentable emergency situations, Modest Needs would consider paying a regular monthly bill on behalf of your household on a one-time basis.

12. Are there any types of assistance that I cannot request from Modest Needs?

Yes. We try to be as flexible as we can with the requests for assistance we receive. But, generally speaking, Modest Needs cannot ever help persons to afford expenses that fall into one or more of the following three categories:

  • Expenses we are not permitted to pay as a matter of law.

    Expenses of this type would include federal, state, or local tax payments, including property tax payments, past-due child support payments, or fines / legal fees associated with a civil or criminal offense with which an applicant has been charged (for example, we can't pay traffic tickets or help you to retain an attorney because you've been sued or charged with a crime);

  • Expenses that we cannot pay on behalf of an applicant without sending cash or a gift card directly to that applicant.

    Modest Needs' policies prohibit our sending cash directly to an applicant, so unfortunately, we cannot help applicants to afford, for example, the cost of groceries or gas, the cost of covering an overdraft in an applicant's bank account, or the cost of repaying a payday loan.

    Similarly, we can't make a rental payment if, for example, an applicant is renting from a family member (this would be like giving cash directly to the applicant's family), and we can't help applicants to afford the utility or rental deposits (these payments are returned to applicants as cash at the end of the rental term.)

  • Expenses related to credit card debt or luxury items.

    At Modest Needs, we believe that the best kind of giving is responsible giving. So, as a matter of organizational policy, we do not help persons to afford credit card bills or bankruptcy payments, and we don't help persons to afford luxury goods / services of any kind (for example, the cost of replacing a broken television or the cost of taking your family on a vacation).

You should NOT apply to Modest Needs for help to afford expenses that fall into any of the three categories listed above. If you do, we'll have no choice but to immediately close your application.

13. What happens once I submit my grant application to Modest Needs?

At Modest Needs, all grant applications undergo the four-step process described below:

  • Step 1: Application Processing: Once an application is submitted to Modest Needs and an applicant has provided us with the documentation that we've requested, our Client Advocacy Specialists perform 'due-diligence' on the application.

    Once we have the documentation necessary to support an application and are relatively certain that the applicant qualifies to apply for our help and has been honest with us about his or her situation, our Client Advocacy Specialists 'prequalify' the application, and it becomes visible on our website for donor review.

  • Step 2: Donor Review: Once we prequalify an application, it becomes visible on our website in an 'anonymous' format and is subject to donor review. During this phase of our application process, donors help to determine the order in which our prequalified applications will receiving funding by recommending to us which applications they would like to see funded most quickly.

    Donors make their voices heard by reading the applications they see on our website, contributing to Modest Needs and recommending that, if possible, we fund a particular application as quickly as possible with the funding we have on hand.

  • Step 3: Administrative Review: Once we've raised the 100% of the money necessary to fund a particular application per the recommendations of our donors, the application undergoes a final administrative review.

    During Administrative Review, we check to ensure that an application has been properly processed, that we have all of the documentation necessary to issue a grant, and that the recommendations for funding associated with that application were submitted according to our Terms of Use.

  • Step 4: Funding and Payment: When an application clears administrative review, that application is instantly updated to funded status. From that point, as soon as the applicant has left a testimonial to say 'Thank you' to Modest Needs' donors for their support of this very important work, we pay the bill with which the applicant has requested assistance directly to the vendor named in that applicant's documentation packet.

14. How long does it take for a new application to enter donor review?

This depends on how quickly you provide us with the documentation we need to perform due-diligence on your application.

Once we receive documentation from an applicant, it is our goal to process documentation as fast as possible. Please keep in mind that in times of high volume it may take a few additional days before our staff is able to view your documents.

We are only able to offer each application one round of review, so please make sure your documents are accurate and current.

Additionally, applicants can check the statuses of their applications by logging into their accounts and reviewing the information posted to their Account Pages.

15. Is the documentation that I submit to Modest Needs in support of my application secured in any way?

We take the security of our applicants' information very seriously at Modest Needs. The first, best way that we secure your documentation is by not ever asking you for the kinds of information that could potentially lead to identity theft. For example, we do not request and never need to know your social security number. We also specifically ask that you 'black out' certain information on the documentation that you do send to us, like actual bank account numbers, which we do not need to know and never need to see.

In addition, the documentation that you provide to Modest Needs is encrypted during upload and then stored electronically on a server that cannot be accessed from the Internet. Within our office, we meticulously track who has viewed your documentation, and why, during the application process to ensure that no one who does not need to review your documentation ever has the opportunity to see it.

Most importantly, we absolutely will not disclose any information about you, your household, or your application to any person under any circumstances short of a court order. Modest Needs' employees all sign confidentiality agreements at the time that they're hired, and under that agreement, discussing your information with any unauthorized third party is grounds for the immediate termination of that person's employment.

16. I need to send my documentation to Modest Needs but don't have access to a scanner. Does Modest Needs have a fax number?

You can fax your documentation packet to Modest Needs toll-free at (877) 212-6462. If you decide to fax documentation to us, it is very important that you put your name and application number on the top of every page of your fax.

One note: if we have not requested documentation from you, please do not fax any information to us. When we receive a fax that we have not requested, we don't review any of the information provided. Instead, we electronically shred the fax, so it is VERY important to wait to send documentation to us until we have requested it from you.

17. I don't have access to a scanner or fax machine. Can I send my supporting documentation to you through the mail?

Unfortunately not. Modest Needs has a very small staff, and at present, we do not have any way to process hard-copies of documentation that we receive by regular mail.

For the security of our applicants, we immediately shred any documentation sent to us by regular mail.

18. I provided the documentation that Modest Needs requested, but no one has reviewed it. What's wrong?

Chances are you haven't yet marked your documentation 'ready for review.'

Once you've uploaded all of the documentation that Modest Needs has requested from you, you MUST click the button that says 'Mark my documentation ready for review.' Doing this signals your Client Advocacy Specialist that it's time to review your documentation.

If you do not click the button 'Mark my documents ready for review,' then your Client Advocacy Specialist will not be notified that your documents are ready, and your application will probably just 'sit there' until it expires. To avoid this, PLEASE be sure to mark your documents ready for review once you've uploaded all of the documentation to support your application.

If you have marked your documentation ready for review but it hasn't yet been reviewed, it may simply be that we're flooded with applications at present. Under these circumstances, please be patient, and know that we're working to review your documentation as quickly as we can.

19. How long does it take for Modest Needs' donors to fund a new application?

This depends on a large number of factors ranging from the size of the grant the applicant has requested to the time of year.

Historically, we've found that our best applications can be fully funded within 10 to 14 days from the time they enter donor review. But this is just an average. Some applications are funded almost instantly; some take as long as two months to receive funding; and still others ultimately expire before we can raise the money to fund them.

20. I'm facing an urgent crisis. Is there any way to 'speed up' the application review or funding process?

Yes. You can speed up the application review process by ensuring that you provide us with all of the documentation we've requested from you as quickly as possible. We can't even begin to review your application until we have a complete documentation packet from you, so if you really need help quickly, you should make every effort to provide your complete documentation packet as quickly as possible.

However, if you are in IMMEDIATE crisis (for example, if you're going to be evicted from your apartment in 24 hours or less), Modest Needs is probably not the best resource for you.

Under these circumstances, instead of applying for help from Modest Needs, we'd urge you to call your local 2-1-1 to request a referral to local organization that may be able to provide you with the urgent assistance you need.

21. I have questions about a Modest Needs grant application that I've already placed. Whom should I contact with those questions?

You should contact our front desk at the main office line 844-667-3776 from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday.
If the front desk cannot answer your question you will then be directed to the staff member who can best assist you.

One favor we ask: please do NOT call simply to check the status of your application. This information is already reported to you in the 'Application Status' section of your Modest Needs Account Page and in the daily status email that we send to you while your application is active with Modest Needs.

Calling to ask questions already answered in the 'Application Status' section of your account slows the application review process for everyone.

22. How long does my prequalified grant application remain active at Modest Needs?

Prequalified applications for assistance remain in donor review at Modest Needs for 60 days. If, after 60 days, we have not been able to raise the money to fully fund an application, that application expires and is marked 'unfunded,' and any contributions donors have made to Modest Needs in support of your application are returned to their Modest Needs accounts.

If your application goes unfunded after 60 days, you're welcome to reapply for assistance at that time.

Please note that we may need to adjust this 60 day time period based on information regarding any deadlines related to the due date of the expense with which you request Modest Needs' assistance. You will be able to monitor your application deadline and progress by logging into your account and via the daily application status updates all applicants receive.

23. My application is about to expire but hasn't been fully funded. Can Modest Needs just give me the money that it has already raised towards my application?

Unfortunately not. The reason for this is simple: Modest Needs' donors do not give (and in fact, are not permitted by law to give) to any single, specific individual through Modest Needs (or via any other organization). When our donors make a contribution, they are contributing to Modest Needs, the charitable entity, and not to the individuals who have applied for assistance from Modest Needs.

Even if your application closes with Modest Needs having raised some, but not all, of the money necessary to fund it, there is no actual money attached to your application until we've raised 100% of the funds necessary to make a grant and management of Modest Needs has approved the grant. For this reason, there is really no such thing as an application being 'partially funded' by Modest Needs.

In the event that an application expires without being fully funded, any recommendations made by donors (and the funds attached to them) are returned to donors' account so that they can reallocate their available funding to other applications.

24. I've paid part of the bill with which I requested Modest Needs' assistance. Can I revise the cost of my prequalified application to reflect the payment I've made?

Yes. In order for us to change the cost of your application, you'll need to provide documentation of the reduced cost of the bill to your Client Advocacy Specialist. Once we receive this documentation, we can adjust the cost to fund your grant application accordingly.

25. If Modest Needs accepts or pre-qualifies my application, does that mean I'm guaranteed to receive the help I've requested?

Unfortunately not. Modest Needs accepts many excellent requests for assistance that we ultimately are unable to fund, often simply for lack of funding. While we do our best to fund every eligible application that we receive from our qualified applicants, we cannot absolutely guarantee that we'll have the funding to assist every person who qualifies to apply for Modest Needs.

But please don't let this reality of all charitable work discourage you from applying for the help you need. While we can't guarantee that we'll be able to assist every person who qualifies for help from Modest Needs, it never hurts to ask, and we can promise you that if you turn to us in your time of crisis, we'll do absolutely everything in our power to find a way to help you.

26. I have a question about applying for assistance from Modest Needs that was not answered here. Can someone answer this question for me?

Certainly. All of Modest Needs' contact information, including our telephone number and physical address, can be found on this page.

Let us hear from you with your question, and we'll do our best to answer it as quickly as possible.

Please note that while we enjoy hearing from you, the volume of correspondence that we receive at Modest Needs makes it impossible for us to return calls or respond to email messages regarding questions that are answered on this FAQ or elsewhere on the Modest Needs website.