How do we apply for a grant?
Whether a first time grant seeker or a past grant recipient,
receiving a grant from the Ben B. Cheney Foundation requires
a three-step process.
- Submitting a proposal letter that summarizes
a full proposal for your project.
Those proposal letters
that fit our current priorities and grant budget move
on to the second step. Those proposal letters that do not fit
giving priorities or budget are usually acknowledged
within two weeks of our receiving the proposal letter.
- Foundation staff will
either make a site visit or ask representatives of the
grant seeking organization to meet in the Foundation offices.
The purpose of this meeting (whether a site visit or
visit) is to further investigate the proposal summarized
in the proposal letter. These meetings usually have one
of two outcomes:
an agreement on the time and amount for the grant seeking
organization to submit a formal application or a plan for
the grant seeking
organization to contact the Foundation again when the
project is more fully developed.
- A formal application to be reviewed
by the Foundations
Board of Directors. The timing of the application can
vary based upon the amount requested. The Foundation
has a small
for grants of $10,000 or less. Grants over $10,000 must
go before one of the quarterly board meetings.
believes that this process simplifies grant seeking rather
it. Staff does its initial review based
upon what they believe will be of interest to the Foundations
Board of Directors. This process allows us to let grant seekers
know quickly if a project falls outside the Foundations
interest. Further, staff and grant seekers are able to focus
their energies on the proposals that are most likely to be of
interest to the Foundations board.
How many grants do you
make and how many grant requests do you receive?
Foundation has made about 165 grants a year for the past several
years. That number includes about 33 grants to our scholarship
programs that are pre-determined. Of the remaining 130 or so
grants, just over 50 per year will be in our small grant program
(grants less than $10,000) and just over 80 go to a full board
meeting (grants greater than $10,000) for consideration.
do these numbers compare to the number of grant requests the
Each year the Foundation receives nearly
a thousand inquiries when one counts telephone calls and other
informal contacts. About 150 to 200 of those result in proposal
letters that are the first step toward the 130 grants, described
is your average grant amount?
Small grants average about $6400.
The average grant on the board meeting agendas currently ranges from
$15,000 to $25,000. The largest grants awarded are generally $100,000 and
are reserved for multi-million dollar projects.
Why do you choose some proposal letters and
The Foundation seeks to assist the best ideas that affect the
geographic areas where it works. The Foundation prides itself
on being responsive to a wide variety of ideas rather than too
closely defining its grant programs in advance. The main reasons
that proposals are disqualified from further consideration are:
- Proposals for projects that fall outside our geographic
focus. The Foundation occasionally make grants to organizations
are physically located outside its geographic priority, but
that is only when the organization can document significant
of service to people from those areas where the Foundation
- Proposals that focus on the infrastructure of an
area of service. The Foundation makes grants to a wide variety
from emergency shelter to the arts and from youth programs
to programs for the elderly. This approach favors projects
can clearly demonstrate how a project positively affects
the people served by the organization.
- Proposals for ongoing operating
costs. The Foundation prefers to make grants that complement
an organizations general
operating support. This approach allows the Foundation to
support a wide range of activities such as capital projects,
acquisition, and program start-up. In its first 28 years
the Foundation made nearly 3500 grants to about 1100 organizations.
Had the Foundation chosen to make significant and ongoing
for general operating support the result would have been
fewer grants to many fewer organizations.
What are your deadlines?
The Foundation accepts proposal letters all year around.
It may take up to six months from the arrival of a proposal
approval of a formal grant application by the Foundations
board of directors. Small grants can be considered on a timelier
basis, though it may still take two months from receipt of a
proposal letter to consideration of a formal application.
step three of the process grant seekers are instructed about
specific deadlines for submitting the formal application. Those
deadlines vary depending upon the size of the grant and the board
How often can we apply for grants?
The Foundation generally does not provide grants to an organization
in back to back years. Further, the Foundation prefers to see
close to a 24-month interim between grants. For example, an organization
receiving a grant in late 2003 would usually not be considered
for another grant before the September or December board meetings
If we get a grant, what happens next?
The Foundation usually mails checks within one to two days of
a grants approval.
The check will be mailed with a transmittal
letter than reminds you that 1) the grant is to be used for the
in your formal application, and 2) that you must report progress
on your project every six months until the project is complete.
How you report on a current grant has a tremendous
impact upon how the Foundation considers future requests. Reviewing
grant reports is the staffs highest
A well-written report goes a long way toward creating a relationship
of mutual respect between the Foundation and a grantee. Failing
to make timely reports reflects poorly on future grant requests.
proposal letter is rejected, can I rewrite it and submit it again?
The Foundation staff generally classify proposal letters into
three categories: those that will move on to a site visit or
office visit, those that may be of interest to the Foundation
at a later time, and those that are highly unlikely of receiving
a positive review from the Foundations Board of Directors.
Proposal letters that fall into category two receive a deferral
letter that outlines future steps for the grant seeker. Proposal
letters that fall into the last category receive a denial letter.
The Foundation generally does not accept rewritten proposal letters,
as it does not wish to encourage grant seekers to revise projects
just to get a grant.
Our organization isnt located in
your geographic area, but we serve people from your area. Can
The Foundation will review proposals from regional organizations
with a demonstrated record of service in the Foundations
areas of focus. Local service organizations located outside
the Foundations giving areas generally do not qualify.
For example, the Foundation would not consider a grant to a food
bank in South King County even though it may serve some clients
from northeast Pierce County because there are many food banks
in Pierce County. The Foundation has made grants to the Pacific
Science Center because it is a regional resource that wont
likely be replicated in Pierce County.