How can I apply for funding? Is there an application form?

The starting point to apply for funding is to submit a letter of inquiry (LOI) through the Fund’s online grants management portal. The Fund does not review full proposals at this stage. Letters of inquiry are acknowledged by email when received. Applicants are typically advised of the results of an initial staff review within two months. Program staff will contact applicants if more detailed information is required.

Please review the Fund’s Guide to the Online Inquiry Application before you register and submit your letter of inquiry.

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Are there deadlines for submitting my request for funding?

Letters of inquiry are accepted on a rolling basis; there are no deadlines. Typically, projects recommended for board approval are in development for at least four to six months before a board meeting. The Fund's board meetings are held in July, November, and April of each year. Small grants are approved monthly.

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Are there guidelines for developing my application?

At the letter of inquiry stage, if you are making your first approach to the Fund on a particular topic, please follow the guidelines for submitting an online letter of inquiry.

If a Fund program staff member has contacted you to discuss your letter of inquiry and asked that you submit a full proposal and budget, please visit the Applicant and Grantee Resources section of our website, which includes guidelines for developing proposals and budgets. Prospective grantees should not develop a full proposal without specific direction from a Fund program officer, following submission of a letter of inquiry.

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How long will it take for my letter of inquiry to be reviewed?

Letters of inquiry are acknowledged when received. The typical initial review could take up to six weeks, although in most cases we are able to respond much sooner.

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Is there any other mechanism for approving grants outside Board meetings?

Yes, outside of board meetings, the Fund approves small grants through its Small Grants Fund, where decisions are made on a monthly basis. Small grants are closely tied to the Fund's strategic purposes, and enable the foundation to move quickly and flexibly to underwrite targeted work.

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What percentage of overhead will the Fund allow in a grant budget?

The Commonwealth Fund allows overhead to be charged at a rate not to exceed 10 percent of total direct costs. We consider direct costs to be those costs directly related to carrying out the project for which the Fund is providing support (i.e., project staff salaries and fringe benefits, travel, consultants, meeting expenses, office expenses). Subcontracts with an institution and direct educational support (including fellowships, scholarships, tuition, and stipends) are excluded from the indirect cost calculation. The 10 percent allowance is intended to include space rental, furniture, equipment, heat, electricity, accounting services, library services, and the like. If any of these charges is to be listed separately, then the sum of that charge and indirect charge cannot exceed the 10 percent allowance.

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Can a grantseeker submit more than one letter of inquiry at the same time—for different projects?

Yes, the Fund will review more than one letter of inquiry from one researcher.

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If I receive communication that the Fund will not be able to fund my project, how long before I can re-submit?

It is a good idea to have some contact with the grants management office at the Fund before re-submitting, to determine whether your proposed project fits with the Fund's priorities. You can submit follow-up inquiries electronically on the online application portal.

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What if there is uncertainty about the level of the funding request at the letter of inquiry stage?

Uncertainty about budget amounts and sources at the letter of inquiry stage is perfectly fine. At the letter of inquiry stage, be sure to include an estimate of the total budget amount, and state whether you anticipate cofunding. Approximately 28% of the Fund's appropriations over the last 10 years have supported projects with cofunding, and the Fund actively seeks out collaboration through cofunding.

Fund staff will not review full line item budgets at the letter of inquiry stage. If prospective grantees are requested to prepare a full proposal and budget, guidelines are available on the Applicant and Grantee Resources page of the Fund's website.

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What if an individual has a project idea that fits with the Fund's program goals, but does not have an institutional base from which to carry out the work?

If an individual who is not affiliated with a particular organization requests funding for a project related to the Fund's major program areas and the project is of interest to Fund staff, then staff will work with the individual to try to identify a suitable grant-receiving organization to house the project and administer the grant, prior to any funding decision.

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