We strive to make our grantmaking process systematic, rigorous, and as streamlined as possible. Here are eight important things you need to know.
The Foundations' Grantmaking Process
Step 1: Letter of Intent
The Letter of Intent (LOI) is the required first step in the Foundations’ grant process. The LOI requests basic information about the project, including the request amount, a brief description of the proposed activities, and the anticipated results. If you would like the Foundations to consider your request, please submit an LOI.
The Foundations’ program staff reviews each LOI to determine if the proposed project represents a potentially successful opportunity to advance the philanthropic mission of AVDF. The Foundations consider each LOI in light of our limited resources and in comparison with other requests submitted within each Program Area. Those submitting the most competitive requests will be invited to submit a full proposal.
Step 2: Full Proposal
Full Proposals are submitted by invitation only and are the required second step in the Foundations’ grant process. Invitations to submit a full proposal are issued in accordance with the dates listed on the Grant Calendar.
The Full Proposal requires additional information about the project budget and the anticipated results of the project. It also requires applicants to provide a document that addresses key questions about the project. Most applicants find that information provided in the Letter of Intent can be repurposed for use in this document.
The Foundations have developed a rigorous process of Full Proposal review which takes up to five months. The review process for each Full Proposal involves one or more of the following steps:
Step 1: Initial Proposal Review
AVDF program staff review each Full Proposal and may request additional information or clarification as needed to carry out this initial review. These requests are sent via email and may require applicants to revise their Full Proposals through the AVDF portal. In some cases, proposals are externally reviewed.
Step 2: External Review
The Foundations sometimes use external reviewers as an additional means of assessing Full Proposals. These reviewers are asked to assess the quality and significance of the project and the capacity of the project leadership to carry out the proposed activities. In some cases, anonymous external reviewer comments are forwarded to applicants so that they may respond to questions or concerns or revise their proposal materials.
Step 3: Applicant Revisions
After Full Proposals are assessed by program staff and external reviewers, applicants may be asked to respond to questions or concerns or revise their proposal materials. Applicants receive requests of this sort via email, and are able to revise their proposal materials in the AVDF portal. The Foundations assign a specific deadline for responses and revisions in order to meet the timelines of the Grant Calendar.
Step 4: Final Proposal Review
At the conclusion of the revision process, the most competitive Full Proposals are recommended for approval by the AVDF Board of Trustees. AVDF aims for a Full Proposal approval rate of 70% or higher.
Step 3: AVDF Board Review
All funding decisions at AVDF are made by the AVDF Board of Trustees. The Board meets to decide Full Proposals in February and May. Because the review process for some Full Proposals can take up to 5 months, projects should not have start dates before June 1. All applicants will be notified via email of the Foundations’ decision concerning their proposal no later than June 1.