Every proposal to the Foundation begins with a a letter of inquiry, or LOI. This process is the same for new applicants and for past grantees.
The Foundation believes that the letter offers organizations the best opportunity to tell their story and to facilitate our review.
Here are the three steps in the Foundation’s application process;
Letter of Inquiry
Letters of inquiry are a way for organizations to tell their story and for the Foundation to evaluate its interest.
There are no deadlines. The Foundation accepts letters of inquiry throughout the year.
While the Foundation responds promptly, it may take six to nine months from the receipt of a letter to consideration of a grant application by the Board of Directors. The Foundation board meets four times each year.
Letters of inquiry summarize a fully developed proposal. The letter informs the Foundation about the opportunity or problem to be addressed, and convinces the Foundation that your organization can implement the project. Further, it should make clear how the project, if implemented, would produce positive results for the community.
In no more than three pages, the letter should concisely relate:
- The organization’s history, mission and scope of operations.
- A summary of the proposal, including the total budget.
- A request for a specific amount of money.
- A plan for how other support will be raised.
- A statement of how grant money will be used.
Letters must include; the organization’s name, mailing address, website address, contact email and phone number, and the name and title of the organization’s director.
Letters should be addressed to:
Bradbury F. Cheney
Ben B. Cheney Foundation
3110 Ruston Way, Suite A
Tacoma, WA 98402-5307
Letters must be saved as a PDF and uploaded to your organization’s account in our grant management system.
Please read through our grant FAQ’s, our tips for grant seekers, and the information about our grant portal before submitting your letter of inquiry. View a sample letter of inquiry to get a sense of what we find most helpful.
If the project outlined in a letter of inquiry appears to fit the Foundation’s grant making plans, the Foundation will schedule a site visit at your organization or a meeting with Foundation staff.
The Foundation appreciates face-to-face meetings, when possible. This meeting allows staff to get to know you, and gain more information about your project and your organization.
While we recommend that you limit the number of people at such meetings to best facilitate conversation, the people who attend should both represent the organization’s commitment to the project and also have the information to answer questions we may pose.
The questions that may be asked at the meeting will relate to the project and the organization.
Questions may include:
- Updates on any project elements that may have changed since the LOI was submitted.
- A more detailed discussion of the needs addressed by the program or project.
- Information about the organization’s annual operating budget and sources.
- Progress towards raising the needed funds.
The meeting with the Foundation usually results in scheduling a formal application. Our staff will initiate the invitation to apply.
The timing of the application depends upon several factors:
- The timing of the project
- The amount of the request
- The Foundation’s current commitments and budget
Grants over $15,000 must go to a full board meeting. It often takes six to nine months from the time a letter of inquiry arrives to when a formal application can be reviewed by the Foundation’s board of directors. While the Foundation seeks to be timely, it also balances the volume of requests with the timing of projects. Generally, the Foundation wants to see a significant amount of a project cost raised before proceeding with a formal application. The board meets four times each year.
Small grants, amounts under $15,000, can be processed more quickly. Often such grants can be reviewed in as little as one to two months.