Creative Communities

Great Learning

Watershed Protection

The Grant Process: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How did the Foundation select its priorities?

The Foundation has had a longstanding commitment to youth, the environment, and arts and culture. Recognizing that it is more important than ever for us to allocate finite resources for maximum impact, we undertook an extensive planning process in 2011-2012 that incorporated input from our staff and board, the Haas family, and numerous thought leaders and practitioners. As a result, we have focused our programmatic investment in three areas we believe are essential to making Philadelphia a vibrant place to live, work and visit.

Does the Foundation ever fund outside of its stated priorities?

The Foundation is committed to its current areas of focus and works diligently to ensure that we align funding with our strategic priorities. Within that context, we have created an internal approach that allows the current strategic priorities, set in 2013, to evolve as contexts change, new information and opportunities become available and the Foundation learns from its grantmaking. To this end, as part of an ongoing process of learning and exploration, the Foundation will offer a number of grants designed to explore new, but related areas of work. Additionally, we may make grants to support transformation in critical partners, make possible exceptional civic opportunities or advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region.

When should I fill out an inquiry form?

Organizations may submit an inquiry at any point during the year. We strongly suggest reviewing our program guidelines before making an inquiry. This allows organizations to get initial feedback on an idea from the Foundation without having to go through the full proposal process. We review the submission and notify the organization of next steps, typically within 30 days. You can access the inquiry form here. Organizations interested in applying for funding through the Foundation’s Arts Education or Advancing Arts and Cultural Organizations strategies should follow the separate application instructions for those programs by accessing these links.

How will I know who my program staff person is?

As part of the proposal review process, the Foundation will ensure that you have a primary point of contact. Once we receive your inquiry or application, we will assign an appropriate person on the program staff to follow up with you directly.

Does the Foundation board approve all grants?

Yes. All grants are subject to review and approval by Foundation board members.

What is the typical size of a grant from the Foundation?

The size of a grant from the Foundation depends on the nature of the proposed work and the need of a particular project. Figures for the Foundation’s past grantmaking can be searched using the Grant Search tool below.

Does the Foundation require a match for grant requests?

We do not require a match unless we specifically communicate to you otherwise. However, part of the Foundation’s focus on collaboration and fostering partnerships is an interest in bringing together multiple funders around shared priorities. We always welcome the opportunity to leverage funding from other organizations with mutual interests.

How does the Foundation measure an organization's financial suitability?

The Foundation has a detailed financial review process to assess the financial health of an organization and its ability to carry out the proposed work and continue to be financially viable. All organizations should be prepared to submit financial audits and IRS form 990 along with their grant proposal.

Does the Foundation provide general operating support to organizations that do work aligned with Foundation priorities?

The Foundation supports specific projects with measurable outcomes. However, project costs can include funding for staff, materials, and other organizational costs associated with the project, and we encourage organizations to allocate a portion of project funding to support necessary support functions (i.e., overhead). As part of our Creative Communities funding, we provide Arts & Cultural Organizations with core organization support. 

Will the Foundation consider a proposal from a current grantee?

Yes, the Foundation will consider multiple proposals from an organization, so long as the total funds do not exceed the amount the Foundation's policy specifies for funding general operating costs.

What is the Foundation's policy for funding general operating costs?

In general, the Foundation does not fund more than 25% of an organization’s general operating costs for more than three individual years in any five-year period. The Foundation may make exceptions on a case-by-case basis under limited circumstances; these are subject to Board approval.

Do I have to submit a final report before reapplying for funding?

To submit a new application, existing grantees must be current with their reporting. We do not require organizations to submit a final report before reapplying for funding, unless the report is already past due. If the final report is not due before you submit your new application, we will ask you on the new application to provide a current update of the previously funded project. If you are planning to reapply for funding, please talk with your program officer before the final year of your grant to discuss the timing of your next request.

I still have unanswered questions that have not been covered in these FAQs. Whom should I contact?

As a first step, please review the program guidelines and program-specific FAQs. If we have not answered your questions there, then contact us at grants@williampennfoundation.org. The staff will make every effort to respond in a timely fashion.

Grant Search