When an organization makes a request to the Ben B. Cheney Foundation it is asked to write a proposal letter outlining the project, as the Foundation focuses on project grants rather than supporting ongoing operating support. A project has three distinguishing features:
- A specific time period with a beginning and an end,
- Specific accomplishments for the project, and
- A specific budget that outlines both what resources the organization needs to achieve the stated accomplishments and where the organization plans to obtain those resources.
The Foundation prefers to make grants to projects rather than to line items because the Foundation understands that often there are line item costs that are vital to a project, but are unlikely to attract designated support. Further, the Foundation feels that it can best measure the value of its grants based upon what projects accomplish rather than by focusing on specific line item expenditures.
The Foundation also believes that with its limited resources it can achieve the greatest impact by making grants for projects that complement the organization's regular operating budget. This approach has allowed the Foundation to work with hundreds of organizations over its history.