How to Apply

The Foundation welcomes project concepts from the community, and actively seeks opportunities for funding partnerships. We rely on our expert staff to research and recommend grant proposals that offer creative and measurable solutions to community challenges. Our program team solicits concepts, evaluates the strategic fit and benefits of the proposed work, and guides applicants through the application and grant development stages. However, it is important to note that funding will not be considered to any organization that discriminates on the basis of race, ethnicity, creed, gender, or sexual orientation in policy or practice.

The Foundation uses a multi-stage submission process for grant development. Funding requests are considered at quarterly board meetings and specific submission deadline dates are outlined in the matrix below. Requests for Arts EducationCore Support for Arts and Cultural Organizations, and New Audiences/New Places have unique submission and review processes, which may include site visits and proposal review by an internal team composed of board members and staff. As a result, these programs have different deadlines and submission instructions that can be found on those respective pages. The Creative Communities program team can provide further information about the timing and submission process for these types of requests.

Periodically, the Foundation solicits proposals through an open call process. These open requests for proposals (RFPs) are for special funding opportunities initiated by the Foundation. These announcements are posted on our website and on social media.

The Foundation does accept unsolicited requests for funding, but in lieu of speaking with a Program Officer we strongly encourage reviewing the What We Fund and How We Fund sections of our website to understand program guidelines and eligibility requirements prior to submitting a funding request. Proposed work should align with the Foundation's strategic priorities and eligibility requirements. Further questions can be directed to a program staff member prior to submission. Contact information for program staff can be found in the What We Fund section.

Following is a general outline of the Foundation’s grant development process and instructions for submitting a funding request.

 

What to Expect in the Grant Development Process

Grant development is an iterative process between the Foundation and applicant organization and may take up to four months before a request is considered for approval.

The Foundation uses a multi-stage submission process for grant development – the first step is an inquiry, and the second is a full proposal.

If you would like to share a project concept for consideration, we recommend you reach out to the appropriate Program Officer first or to Grants Management at grants@williampennfoundation.org who can direct you to the appropriate team. Program Officer contact information can be found in the “About Us” section of our website. Once an idea has been discussed and if aligned with the Foundation’s priorities, applicants will receive an email directly from the Program Officer inviting the submission of an inquiry or full proposal. The inquiry invite email is general, but the full proposal invite email will include:

  1. a specific due date for completion and applicants should submit the completed form as instructed by the due date. Any delay in submission may result in a delay of funding consideration.
  2. additional questions that program staff expect to be answered in the full proposal
  3. instructions for completing the Project Budget (Attachment)
  4. instructions for completing the Results, Milestones, and Activities (Attachment)

 

The Foundation accepts inquiry and full proposal submissions only through the Grantee Online Portal. Email submissions are discouraged.

Submission of an inquiry does not guarantee that Foundation staff will invite a full proposal for funding consideration. Submission of a full proposal does not guarantee funding will be awarded or awarded at the requested level.  

 

Review Timeline

 

Inquiry Due
Proposal Due
Scheduled Board Review
June 19, 2020
July 31, 2020
November 6, 2020
September 11, 2020
October 23, 2020
February 5, 2021
November 30, 2020
January 15, 2021
April 23, 2021
February 26, 2021
April 16, 2021
July 23, 2021
June 18, 2021
July 30, 2021
November 5, 2021

 

All grant proposals above $110,000 follow the schedule above. Applicant organizations are strongly encouraged to submit materials by these deadlines. Program staff can provide more information on timing and materials for consideration at a board meeting.

Funding Requests for Arts EducationCore Support for Arts and Cultural Organizations, and New Audiences/New Places have unique submission and review processes, which may include site visits and proposal review by an internal team composed of board members and staff. As a result, these programs have different deadlines and submission instructions that can be found on the website. Creative Communities program staff can provide further information about the timing and submission process for these types of requests.

Grants at or below $110,000 are not required to be considered at a board meeting, and thus do not follow the deadline schedules above. Grants of this size are accepted on a rolling basis, and program staff can provide more information about the timing and submission process for these types of requests.

 

 

Step One: Inquiry

**To reiterate, If you would like to share a project concept for consideration, we strongly recommend you first reach out to the appropriate Program Officer first or to Grants Management at grants@williampennfoundation.org who can direct you to the appropriate team. Program Officer contact information can be found in the “About Us” section of our website.**

The Inquiry provides program staff with an overview of a concept/idea and how it aligns with Foundation funding strategies. It determines if a full proposal will be invited. At this stage, applicants provide:

  1. Narrative that describes the proposed idea/concept and the budget outlining use of the funds requested
  2. Audited financial statement for the most recently completed fiscal year
  3. Additional documentation (based on the requirements of the program. The Attachments tab in the online portal provides further instruction on additional documents needed.)

Submission of an inquiry does not guarantee that Foundation staff will invite a full proposal.

With the exception of Core Support for Arts and Cultural Organizations and New Audiences/New Places, which are reviewed on a special schedule as indicated on their respective pages, inquiries are accepted and reviewed on an ongoing basis.

 

Step Two: Full Proposal

The full proposal provides program staff with a detailed description of the proposed work and chosen approach and how it aligns to the Foundation’s strategic focus and goals. A full proposal includes:

  1. Proposal Narrative – answers to a set of questions describing the proposed work and chosen approach, organizational capacity; financial information, research and evidence to support the work; and risks.
  2. Result, Milestones, and Activities (RMAs) – anticipated result that the grantee expects to achieve through successful completion of the grant, as well as the key activities and milestones that will be critical to achieving that result.
  3. Project Budget – how the grant funds will be used to complete the project
  4. Funding Sources - description of other committed or prospective sources of funds toward the project 
  5. Documentation Required:
    1. Audited Financial Statement - for the most recently completed fiscal year
    2. Internal Financial Statements – Current Year-to-Date Statement of Financial Position/Balance Sheet and Statement of Activities/Income Statement
    3. IRS Form 990 – most recently filed
    4. Operating Budgets - current fiscal year and one year previous
    5. Board of Directors list
    6. Key Staff, Consultants, Partners (list and resumes)
    7. Additional Documentation as determined by program area requirements

 

Advocacy and Lobbying Guidelines

If a request for funding will support advocacy efforts and/or lobbying activities are included in the project, please follow these guidelines.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) prohibits private foundations from earmarking grant funds for “lobbying.” However, the IRS allows private foundations to fund projects undertaken by section 501(c)3 public charities that include lobbying activities so long as the private foundation demonstrates that its grant funds are not earmarked for any lobbying activities and the grant satisfies the “Project Grant Rule.” The Foundation uses the Project Grant Rule as set forth in the IRS Regulations. Under the Project Grant Rule, the total grant requested from the Foundation cannot exceed the total non-lobbying portion of the project.

The Project Grant Rule pertains to lobbying as defined by the IRS in section 170(c)(2)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code. Using the IRS definition of lobbying, applicants should estimate the cost of lobbying and non-lobbying activities for the proposed work and provide the expected lobbying budget for each project year. The full project should be considered to determine lobbying costs, not just the portion of funding to be requested from the Foundation. The Foundation cannot fully and appropriately review the proposal until this information is provided.

If lobbying activities are included in the project, the Foundation cannot be the sole source of funding for the project. Adequate sources of other committed, pending, and anticipated funding should be available and indicated on the "Other Funding" tab of the application form. This support must reflect donations or pledges of cash; the IRS will not consider in-kind support for Project Grant Rule purposes.

To use the Project Grant Rule, applicants are required to have enough non-WPF funds on hand to cover the full amount of the lobbying allocation prior to the request being considered for approval. Program staff will work with applicants to resolve any issues if enough funds are not available by this time.

Also note that under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

If your organization has questions about how the Project Grant Rule or Campaign Intervention regulations apply to your project, please contact your organization’s legal or tax advisor. 

 

Using a Fiscal Sponsor

Applicants may use a fiscal sponsor for fiduciary oversight of a grant with these considerations:

  1. The full proposal and associated required documents must be submitted by the fiscal sponsor.
  2. All Foundation records will be in the name of the fiscal sponsor.
  3. The grantee for the project is the fiscal sponsor; they will be responsible for all terms and conditions of the grant and will be expected to execute the Grant Agreement which is a legal binding document.
  4. The fiscal sponsor will be responsible for all reporting required by the grant. Payments will be made directly to the fiscal sponsor. 

If a fiscal sponsor will be used, please contact grants@williampennfoundation.org prior to starting an inquiry or full proposal so our records can be adjusted accordingly.

 

General Operating Support

It is Foundation policy not to fund more than 25% of an organization’s operating budget. The Foundation may make exceptions on a case-by-case basis under limited circumstances, subject to approval by its board of directors.

 

Overhead/Indirect Costs

The Foundation provides funding for projects rather than general operating support (except for our funding of Core Support for Arts and Cultural Organizations). Direct costs can include funding for staff, materials, and other organizational costs related to the project. We also encourage organizations to include funding to support related indirect costs (or overhead). The percentage allowed for indirect costs to support a project cannot exceed 25% and is determined at the discretion of the Program Officer; program staff work with applicants on a case-by-case basis to determine what is reasonable and appropriate and in proportion to the organization, scope of work, and level of reporting required under the intended grant. The amount of indirect expenses should be allocated over the term of the request and entered as part of the Project Budget.

 

Unsolicited Submissions 

Unsolicited submissions for funding are from organizations that have not discussed a project with Foundation program staff directly nor have been invited by a program staff person to submit an inquiry for consideration. Prior to submitting an unsolicited inquiry, we strongly encourage reviewing the What We Fund and How We Fund sections of our website to understand program guidelines and eligibility requirements. Proposed work must align with the Foundation's strategic priorities and eligibility requirements. Further questions can be directed to a program staff member prior to submission. Contact information for program staff can be found here.

If you feel your proposed work aligns with Foundation strategies, visit https://williampennfoundation.force.com to access the WPF Grantee Portal. Register for an account and navigate to the Explore Grant Opportunities tab to complete the inquiry form for Unsolicited Requests. Please read all instructions prior to clicking the link to access the form. Further information about accessing the WPF Grantee Portal and completing the forms can be found in the Portal Resource Guide for Inquiry Submission (Unsolicited).

 

What to Expect Post-Submission

Grant development is an iterative process between the Foundation and applicant organization and may take up to four months before a request is considered for approval.

During this time, applicant organizations can expect frequent communications with their program officer to clarify objectives of the proposed work, reasons for the chosen approach, anticipated results, milestones, and activities that the applicant intends to achieve through successful completion of the grant, or to finalize the expected project budget. Because this is an iterative process, the proposal may require resubmission to finalize this information.

Financial Review – The Foundation conducts an in-depth financial review to assess the financial health of each applicant organization to assure the prospective grantee has the business capacity to carry out the work during the grant period. The assessment identifies potential risks and determines the level of WPF financial exposure. Finance staff use the financial statements provided to make this assessment. Members of the Foundation’s finance team may contact the applicant organization directly to clarify or request further information if needed.

Legal Review – Proposals may also require comprehensive legal review, especially for advocacy requests or if lobbying activities are included as part of the proposed work. (Please refer to our Advocacy and Lobbying Guidelines mentioned above). Legal review is necessary on more complex grants such as unusual grantee structures, recoverable grants, program related investments (PRIs), or grants of a very significant size. These may require communications with our legal representatives to assure that potential grants are aligned with IRS requirements.

The Grants Management team is always available to assist with any question applicants may have about the process, forms, or expectations. Please contact grants@williampennfoundation.org with any questions or concerns.