Working with the Weingart Foundation
At the Weingart Foundation, we strive to provide our applicants with clarity and transparency regarding our grant guidelines and the grant making process. The Foundation utilizes our website as the primary vehicle for communication in these areas.
The following information is intended to complement the grant guidelines and application information presented in the Our Grantmaking section and designed to provide applicants with a better understanding of the application assessment and review process.
What We Look For
We are often asked what we perceive as a “strong” grant applicant, beyond the basic fit with our Grant Guidelines. We understand that every nonprofit operates in its own distinct context, and the even the strongest organizations have challenges. The Foundation recognizes that organizational needs and challenges may differ depending on where the organization is in its lifecycle. In addition, many organizations providing critical services in low-income communities are small and under-resourced. There is a need to build the capacity of these organizations in order to expand opportunity and strengthen civil society in the communities they serve. Therefore, the Foundation is committed to supporting organizations at all different levels of developing their capacity and infrastructure. With this understanding in mind, below is a list of measures we use as general guidelines (not a checklist) when we review grant applications.
Strong leadership and management;
A qualified, engaged and supportive board of directors;
Effective financial management;
A funding model that supports the organization’s infrastructure and core programs, which includes an appropriate level of cash reserves to sustain the organization;
A well-trained and supported staff;
A process to solicit and utilize client/constituent feedback;
A board of directors and staff that reflect the diversity of people and key interests of the communities served;
Programs and services that are responsive to the cultural and linguistic needs of its clients/constituents;
An effective strategy to accomplish the organization’s mission that results in positive and desired outcomes;
The capacity to measure and communicate impact and learn from results; and
The ability to identify and adapt to internal and external changes.
What to Expect When Working With Us
At the Weingart Foundation, we strive to provide excellent “customer service” to our nonprofit applicants and grantees. That means that our program officers and associates are available to provide guidance and answer questions organizations might have about our grantmaking priorities, guidelines, and application processes. Although all of the Foundation’s program staff have prior experience working in the nonprofit sector, we all serve as generalists at the Foundation and believe nonprofit organizations understand best how to address the needs and opportunities facing the communities they serve.
Given the large volume of applications we review, we are typically unable to meet in person with organizations outside of the formal grant application process or attend nonprofit events. We are also unable to review drafts of LOIs or applications before submission. Organizations with a question related to our process or guidelines should feel free to call or email us. Click here for a list of our program staff.
If, however, your organization has reviewed our guidelines and is comfortable applying without contacting us, please feel free to do so – we review each application on the strength of its fit with our Grant Guidelines, and there is no special advantage for agencies that have called first.
For information on how to apply, click here.
Letter of Inquiry (required for all requests over $25,000)
After submitting an online letter of inquiry (LOI), organizations can expect to hear back from us within approximately three to four weeks. During that time, the Foundation’s program staff may contact organizations for clarification or additional information regarding the LOI. If it is determined that the request meets the Foundation’s general guidelines and priorities, you will be provided with the instructions and forms required to prepare and submit a formal application.
Please note that due to the high-demand for our grant dollars, LOI’s requesting $500,000 or more will be previewed with our Board of Directors before being invited to submit a full application.
The formal application will be screened for its completion and fit with Foundation guidelines. If the application is deemed a fit with the Foundation’s guidelines and priorities, the application will be assigned to a Weingart Foundation program officer who will conduct a site visit of the organization. The site visit, which typically takes under two hours, is an opportunity for the Foundation to learn more about the organization and the request, as well as for the applicant to learn more about the Weingart Foundation. The program officer will then prepare a written assessment of the application’s fit with Foundation guidelines and present it to our team of program staff as part of a peer review process. Ultimately, this information is shared with our Board of Directors for a final determination at one of five grantmaking Board meetings each year. Due to the high volume of requests, the entire process from LOI to Board meeting typically takes approximately six to eight months.
Expanding Opportunity Fund (formerly the Small Grant Program)
All requests of $25,000 and under are considered through our Expanding Opportunity Fund (EOF), where high priority is given to organizations with operating budgets of $1 million or less. EOF requests are reviewed using an expedited process, and there is no letter of inquiry (LOI) process. After an organization completes the EOF online application, the application is assigned to a program officer who works in the EOF. If it is determined from the application that the request meets the Foundation’s guidelines, our program officer will contact the organization and conduct an in-depth phone conference to get a more thorough understanding of the organization and its request. Program officers subsequently summarize EOF applications and present them to the Foundation’s president & CEO and our Board chair, who together make the final determination. Our full Board of Directors ratifies all EOF grants at their subsequent Board meeting. The EOF process typically takes four months or less from application to decision.
After the Grant Has Been Awarded
Once a grant has been awarded, the grantee organization will receive a grant agreement for signature and specific information on report requirements and due dates. These reports are an important way for us to learn about the organization’s progress, as well as about any challenges. At a broader level, the reports also help us better understand and assess our funding and how we can strengthen our grantmaking to support the capacity and effectiveness of grantees. Beyond scheduled reports, we do not require additional communication from grantees. At the same time, we welcome timely updates regarding major organizational changes or requests for grant modifications.
Learning & Assessment
The Foundation began implementation of our Learning and Assessment Framework at the start of FY 2016. The framework is designed to assess how the Foundation’s unrestricted grants contribute to strengthening our grantees’ organizational effectiveness. What we learn through this framework will be used to inform our practices as a grant maker and contribute to learnings for the field. As part of the framework, executive directors from grantee organizations will be asked to complete a Grantee Survey as part of their Grant Reporting requirements, described below.
For Unrestricted Operating Support grants over $25,000, executive directors from grantee organizations are asked to complete a Grantee Survey and engage in a close-out phone conversation with their Weingart Foundation program officer in lieu of a final report at the end of the grant period, which is typically two years. There are no interim reports required for Unrestricted Operating Support (UOS) grants.
For Expanding Opportunity Fund grants, a brief final report is required at the end of the one-year period.
When we decline LOI or grant requests, we encourage applicants to call the Foundation for information regarding our decision. We strive to be as transparent as possible and can share where an application may simply be outside of our funding guidelines or where it can be strengthened for a more competitive request in the future.