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Grants FAQ

FAQs for Grant Applicants

What types of projects do you fund?

The Commonwealth Fund carries out its mission by supporting independent research on health care issues and making grants to improve health care practice and policy.

The Fund supports research in the following programmatic areas:

Preference is given to grant proposals that seek to: 1) clarify the scope of serious and neglected problems; 2) develop, test, and evaluate the impact of practical, innovative models to address those problems; 3) disseminate tools and models of care that have proven to be effective; 4) identify policy options to ameliorate key problems of interest; or 5) analyze the impact of specific policies or trends. Examples of activities we fund include:

  • Research projects, including data analyses, surveys, evaluations, and focus groups
  • Policy projects, including convenings, analyses of policy barriers, and development of policy options
  • Pilot studies and technical assistance efforts, including work to test new models or provide guidance to stakeholders to assist with implementation
  • Communications and media grants to promote high-quality health journalism or develop video, print, or broadcast products
  • Workshops and conferences to promote dissemination of grantee work
  • In limited circumstances, the Fund will provide general operating support. This is done on an invitation-only basis

To review descriptions of funding priorities, please click on the programs above. To see a list of recently approved grants, visit All Grants.

Please note that the Commonwealth Fund does not support the following:

  • Ongoing activities or existing deficits
  • Endowment or capital costs, including construction, renovation, or equipment
  • Basic biomedical research
  • Conferences, symposia, major media projects, or documentaries, unless they are an outgrowth of one of the Fund’s programs
  • Individuals or scholarships, outside the Fund’s existing fellowship programs
  • Churches or other religious organizations, unless the project for which they are seeking funding is entirely secular

What is the average size and duration of Fund grants?

During fiscal year 2022–23, the average grant size was $157,276, with an average duration of 12 months. The average grant size, by grant level, were:

  • $40,688 for Small Grants
  • $157,203 for Intermediate Grants
  • $462,026 for Board Grants

Do you seek out projects to fund, and do you accept unsolicited proposals?

Program staff often develop projects collaboratively with prospective grantees but also respond to and fund unsolicited proposals. The Commonwealth Fund accepts letters of inquiry (LOI) on a rolling basis.

What types of organizations do you fund?

The Commonwealth Fund primarily awards grants to tax-exempt organizations. If no suitable nonprofit organization is available to conduct a given project, the Fund may award the grant to an organization that does not have 501(c)(3) status or other tax-exempt recognition. In these cases, the Fund must take expenditure responsibility, and financial support is earmarked for charitable purposes. See our expenditure responsibility guidelines.

Do you fund international projects?

Yes. The Commonwealth Fund takes expenditure responsibility for grants to international organizations. The guidelines are available here.

In addition, the Fund’s International Health Policy and Practice Innovations program, which generates research and analysis on health care issues common to many nations, makes grants. Learn more about the Fund’s international work and current funding priorities.

Do you provide fellowship or scholarship support for individuals?

The Commonwealth Fund has four major fellowship programs:

Apart from these fellowship programs, the Fund does not provide direct support to individuals. The Foundation Directory Online, an online tool from Candid, provides an up-to-date database of philanthropic giving to help individuals seeking support.

How do you honor your commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in grantmaking?

For more than a century, the Commonwealth Fund has sought to eliminate disparities in health care policy, practice, and outcomes. In 2021, the Fund launched a major grantmaking initiative with the explicit goal of advancing equity in U.S. health care. We continue to work to diversify our grantees, evaluate our grantmaking methods through an equity lens, and track our progress as we seek to fulfill our commitment to rooting out racism in health care. And to alleviate the administrative burden on new grantees, we recently revised our proposal and reporting guidelines and streamlined our processes.

How do I apply for funding?

Please submit a letter of inquiry to initiate the grant application process. Upon review, we will solicit a full grant proposal if there is a potential fit with our funding priorities. We inform applicants of the results of their inquiries usually within six weeks.

Is there a deadline for submitting my funding request?

Not for most proposals. Letters of inquiry are accepted on a rolling basis. Typically, projects recommended for approval by the Commonwealth Fund board (requests for more than $200,000) are in development for a few months before a funding decision is made. The Fund’s board meetings are held in April, July, and November. Small grants ($50,000 or less) and intermediate grants ($50,001 to $200,000) are approved on a monthly basis. Occasionally, the Fund also puts out requests for proposals (RFPs) related to specific topics. Unlike the rest of the Fund’s grantmaking, submissions to RFPs have deadlines, which are indicated in our grants portal and on the RFP announcement.

Are there guidelines for applying?

Yes, we offer guidelines for submitting an online letter of inquiry. Prospective grantees should not develop a full proposal without a specific request from the Commonwealth Fund. If we request a full proposal and budget, please visit the Applicant and Grantee Resources section on our website, where you will find detailed guidelines for those documents and other supporting materials.

Is there a proposal budget template or sample budget I can use?

Yes, but a full budget is not required at the letter-of-inquiry stage. If we contact you about turning your letter of inquiry into a full proposal, you can use our budget guidelines and templates available on the Applicant and Grantee Resources page.

What if I have additional questions about the Fund’s grantmaking process?

Please send email inquiries to [email protected]. View the Commonwealth Fund’s current funding priorities here.

FAQs for Current Grantees

What are the terms of grants and contracts?

After a project is approved, the Commonwealth Fund prepares a letter of agreement (LOA) that outlines terms of understanding and scope of work for the grantee organization. Sometimes the letter of agreement is edited to fit the nature of the project and reflect mutually agreeable terms for the grantee and the Fund.

How and when does the Fund issue grant payments?

Most Commonwealth Fund grants are paid in installments of two to three payments each. Payments are issued throughout the project period based on the schedule outlined in the project payment and reporting schedule (P&R).

The Fund makes grant payments electronically through After the approval of a grant award, the Fund will reach out to your institution’s financial point of contact to create a new account or link an existing account. If you have any questions or concerns about this process, please contact [email protected].

Funding for the approved project is to be used only for the explicit purpose outlined in the proposal.

How do I make changes to my project?

The Commonwealth Fund accommodates many requests from grantees to amend the duration, scope, budgetary allocations, or other terms of their project. Grantees must email their Fund program officer in advance with requests to change project objectives, implementation strategy, key personnel, timetable, or the approved budget. Some change requests can be approved directly by your program officer; others require formal approval by the Fund’s Grants Management Office or Executive Management Team (for example, change of principal investigator or grantee institution). Your program officer will advise you on the process required for approval.

Are dates in the payment and reporting schedule (P&R) flexible?

After a grant receives approval, the P&R is developed jointly by the Fund program officer and the grantee team. The P&R is meant to serve as a guide for the project timeline; changes can be made as needed throughout the project period. Grantees should discuss changes to the P&R schedule with the program officer during project check-ins or via email.

What is the process for publishing grant products?

Throughout the project period, grantee and program officer have collaborative, strategic discussions to determine the best venues for planned products.

Publishing on the Fund website. The Commonwealth Fund posts a variety of grantee publications and research tools on its website, such as issue briefs, To the Point blog posts, and chartpacks. Refer to the Fund’s Guidelines for Authors for an overview of each type of Fund publication, including key elements and word length, stylistic guidance, and examples. Following the guidelines closely will help expedite the editing, review, and production processes.

Drafts of all Fund-published products receive comprehensive review from program officers, communications staff, and leadership. The review process begins after grantees submit a draft product (either by email or through the Fund’s grants portal) to their program officer for initial review and comment. Products typically go through several rounds of editing and review. Final publication is contingent on approval from the Fund’s Communications Department and your program officer.

Time to publication varies depending on the product. Typically, To the Point blog posts have the fastest turnaround, with most posts published within four weeks of submission to Communications. Issue briefs typically require eight weeks between submission to Communications and publication, though some products take more or less time. Your program officer can provide more information about each step of the review process as well as the estimated time frame for your publication.

Publishing through another venue. Many grant products are published by institutions other than the Fund, whether the grantee’s own institution, a peer-reviewed journal, or other outlet. Drafts of products that will not be published by the Fund should still be shared with your program officer for review and comment, unless otherwise specified in the P&R. Grantees should keep their program officer apprised of publication dates, as we typically promote all Fund-supported products through various communications and social media channels. The Fund encourages grantees to include publication fees, including fees for open-access publication, in their grant proposal budgets when possible. If your institution does not have funds available to support open-access publication, we can help pay for these costs.

Grantees may request to include the Fund’s logo and other branding in products published by another institution (known as “cobranding”). If you are interested in cobranding a product, let your program officer know as early in the process as possible. Final drafts of such products will go through expedited review by Fund leadership and Communications staff for cobranding approval.