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Guide for Grant Seekers

Can I apply for a grant?

In general, we expect to identify most giving opportunities via proactive searching and networking. We expect to fund very few proposals that come to us via unsolicited contact. As such, we have no formal process for accepting such proposals and may not respond to inquiries. If you would like to suggest that we consider a grant — whether for your project or someone else’s — please contact us. We publish a good deal of information on the types of work we seek to fund and why. We recommend reviewing this information before contacting us. A good starting point is our list of current priorities.

What is your process for evaluating potential grants?

Our process for evaluating potential grants is evolving, and it tends to vary quite a bit from case to case. When we are considering a grant, one of our staff will serve as the primary investigator and contact person for the potential grantee. This person will explain the process we intend to follow for evaluating the particular grant and answer any questions. In general, our process involves the following:

  • The investigator will have one or more initial conversations with the potential grantee, to get a basic picture of the case for the grant.
  • The investigator will aim to answer key questions about the grant, through a mix of conversations with the potential grantee, requests for written materials, and conversations with others. The depth with which we investigate potential grants varies; it will be higher for grants that are larger and/or likely to require more involvement from our staff.
  • The investigator will write up their view of the case for the grant, so that they can discuss it internally and come to a decision.
  • Grants typically will be recommended to the Open Philanthropy Project fund, an advised fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. In some cases, we make grants directly from the Open Philanthropy Project 501(c)(3) or make recommendations to Good Ventures, the Open Philanthropy Action Fund (a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization), or to other entities.
  • Throughout the process, the investigator will aim to keep the grantee posted on the likelihood of receiving a grant, the likely timeline, and the likely amount of investigation that will be needed.

Do you require grantees to share information publicly? Are you willing to keep some information confidential?

We seek to share a significant amount of information about our work, and the work we support, publicly. All else equal, we prefer making grants about which we can share more information. With that said, we aim to balance our commitment to information-sharing with our commitment to maximizing our impact and building strong and productive partnerships. That means:

  • We never share private information from another organization without permission.
  • We share early drafts of our blog posts and grant writeups with the people and organizations discussed therein and invite their suggestions for improving the content.
  • We work with our partners to make key information public without unnecessarily undermining their work.
  • We write more thoroughly about major decisions and grants than minor ones.
  • If we encountered an outstanding giving opportunity where the costs of information-sharing significantly outweighed the benefits, we would take the opportunity and refrain from discussing it. But because we believe the benefits of information-sharing are substantial, we would set the bar accordingly high.