Grant Application FAQ’s

  1. Can I apply for funding if I do not work for a nonprofit, university or research center either in the US or abroad?

Current tax law requires that those receiving funds be affiliated with a non-profit type of organization, committee or corporation either officially registered as a 501(c)3 (see number 6 for more on this) or, in some cases (especially for the overseas requests) other proof can be provided to show that funds are used in a way congruent with 501(c)3 organizations. Funds can not be used for personal use other than work on the project, etc.  Additional paperwork may be required for oversees applicants, however, applications from overseas are encouraged.

In your application please clearly note the name and address of the university, research center or not for profit organization to which you will want checks sent.

  1. Are all individuals and organizations eligible to apply for your 3F Grant opportunity, or is this grant only intended for applicants located in Marin County?

Individuals, like organizations, are not able to apply for funding unless affiliated with a non-profit type of organization, etc. (see number 1 & 6). However, grantees can live and work anywhere in the US or abroad.  3F is a donor advised fund under Marin Community Foundation (MCF)—grants do not come directly out of MCF funding—grants monies come from Faster Forward funding through MCF (MCF is our funding agent).

  1. How much funding is available and what is the range of funding you would consider?

The general idea is that six figures per request is too much and two figures is too little with a roughly normal distribution between those extremes. The budget range is likely to be fuzzily centered somewhere in the $5,000-$6,000 range but exceptional proposals can easily be funded for more than that, and smaller proposals for less.

  1. Can the time limit go beyond a one-year cycle?

Proposals can extend over more than one year as long as the recipient clearly explains this in the proposal; of course the three-payment time span would also be expanded. 

  1. Would a grant application to assist in completing a research paper/book/publication be considered if parts of the proposed publication have been previously published, but only in part, not in as a whole? (Current proposed project is building on previous work.)

If the request for funding is for a new publication, based only in part on previously published works, it would be allowed.

  1. What does 501(c)3 mean?

To be recognized as a non-profit under U.S. law, an organization must register with the Internal Revenue Service. A “501(c)3” organization is an organization that has registered under Section 501(c)3 of the federal tax code as non-profit, tax-exempt organization. In order to register the organization has to have a certain structure, including officers who will take responsibility for the organization. And it has to follow certain rules — for example, it can’t do or support political lobbying. It also has certain privileges, like being allowed to get foundation grants. (Most U.S. foundations only make grants to 501(c)3 organizations.) 

  1. What is a fiscal sponsor?

Since many community groups do not want to be 501(c)3 organizations for various reasons, they look for other ways to qualify for grants. One solution is to link up with a organization that is a 501(c)3, and ask them to accept grants on your behalf. The 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor accepts funding on your behalf and holds it for you. When you want to spend grant money, you ask them to release the funds. The fiscal sponsor is legally responsible for proving that the grant money has been spent on non-profit purposes allowed by U.S. tax law. So they may ask you to provide receipts or other information for their own records. They may also charge you for the service of being your sponsor — either because it requires some administrative work, or because they need to fund their own work. Fiscal sponsors usually take a percentage of the grant money you ask them to hold for you, from 3% or 4% or sometimes much higher.

A fiscal sponsorship arrangement should be written down and signed by the sponsor and the grantee. When 3F makes a grant through a fiscal sponsor, we may ask for a copy of that signed agreement.

  1. How can I find a fiscal sponsor for my project?

First, ask any of the universities, research centers, community organizations or religious institutions that you work with. Any one of them may agree to be your fiscal sponsor or refer you to an organization that will. Remember to ask other people doing the same kinds of work if they have a fiscal sponsor for their projects.