×

Error message

How to Apply

The Foundation has a two-stage online application process which includes an initial inquiry and an invited full proposal. We have a team of program staff who manage active grants, build relationships in the field, review inquiries, and guide applicants through the application process. Quarterly board meetings guide our grant review process. Below, we’ve outlined what applicants can expect when submitting a proposal, from initial outreach through final consideration.

As a first step, we strongly suggest reviewing the program guidelines before submitting an inquiry form. This will allow you to confirm that your proposed work aligns with the Foundation's strategic priorities and eligibility requirements. If you would like to speak to program staff about your application before submitting an inquiry, please find a directory of Foundation staff here.

Links to start a new Inquiry Form are located below. Please note that Arts Education, Core Support for Arts and Cultural Organizations, and New Audiences/New Places have unique review processes, which may include site visits and proposal review by an internal team composed of board members and staff. As a result, these programs have unique deadlines, instructions, and Inquiry forms which are accessible from their landing pages.

 

Application Process

 

Step 1: Inquiry

Organizations that are new to the Foundation begin by creating an online account as part of the initial Inquiry form. The Inquiry form consists of several questions that describe the proposed idea/concept and budget for which funds are being requested. Three years of audited financial statements are required to be submitted with every Inquiry form. Additional documentation may be needed based on the program’s requirements. More detail about documentation requirements for submission can be found on the “Attachments” page of the Inquiry form.

With the exception of Core Support for Arts and Cultural Organizations and New Audiences/New Places, inquiries are accepted and reviewed on an ongoing basis. Once an inquiry is received, organizations are typically notified of next steps within 30 days.

Please note that submission of an inquiry does not guarantee that Foundation staff will invite a full proposal (step 2 of the process). Submitting inquiries or concept papers through email is discouraged.

 

Step 2: Full Proposal

If an organization is invited to proceed to the second stage of the process and submit a full proposal, the following timeline is provided as a guide for when materials are due for consideration at a board meeting. Organizations are encouraged to submit their materials by these deadlines. Your program officer will let you know when materials need to be submitted for consideration at a particular board meeting.

 

INQUIRIES DUE
September 1, 2016
December 1, 2016
February 28, 2017
June 30, 2017
PROPOSALS DUE
October 1, 2016
Mid-January 2017
March 31, 2017
August 1, 2017
SCHEDULED BOARD REVIEW
January 27, 2017
April 14, 2017
July 21, 2017
November 3, 2017

 

Grants at or below $82,500 are not required to be considered at a board meeting, and thus do not follow the deadline schedules above. However all grants are reviewed and approved by Foundation board members. Your program officer can provide more information about the timing and process for these types of requests. They typically follow the same two-step process outlined above.

 

Application Review

The inquiry and full proposal review process typically requires frequent communication between staff and applicant to answer questions that surface during review.  Questions may be related to any of the following components of the Foundation’s application review process:


Results, Milestones, and Activities

Every application requires a description of the specific result anticipated to be achieved through successful completion of the proposed work, as well as the key activities and milestones that will be critical to achieving that result.  Foundation staff may be in touch to clarify the project’s activities, milestones, and anticipated results.

 

Financial and Legal Review

The Foundation has an in-depth financial review process to assess the financial health of the organization and its ability to carry out the proposed work.  Three years of audited financial statements, the most recent IRS Form 990, a detailed project budget, and the current operating budget for the organization are required.  Foundation staff may follow up with questions regarding the organization’s financials and executive compensation. Grant requests undergo legal review that may also surface questions requiring follow up.

 

Project vs. General Support

The Foundation typically provides funding for projects rather than general operating support. However, direct costs can include funding for staff, materials, and other organizational costs associated with the project, and we encourage organizations to include funding to support related indirect costs or overhead in the project budget. As part of our Creative Communities funding, we provide arts and cultural organizations with core unrestricted operating support; this is the only area in which we provide such support.

Please note that it is Foundation policy not to fund more than 25% of an organization’s operating budget for more than three individual years in any given five-year period. The Foundation may make exceptions on a case-by-case basis under limited circumstances, subject to approval by the board of directors.

 

Multiple or Sequenced Grants

The Foundation will consider multiple applications from an organization, so long as total funding does not exceed the 25% threshold noted above.

Prior to submitting a new application, a grantee must be current with interim and final reporting requirements on all active grants. An outstanding final report on a previous grant may delay the review of the new funding request. Staff may request updates on previously funded projects as part of a new application. If you are planning to reapply for funding, please talk with your program officer before the final year of your grant to discuss the timing of your next request.

 

Grant Size and Matching Requirements

The size of a grant from the Foundation depends on the nature of the proposed work and the need of a particular project.  Information on recent grants approved by the Foundation can be found using the Grant Search tool within this site.

A match for grant requests is not required unless specifically communicated by your program officer during the application process. However, part of the Foundation’s focus on collaboration and fostering partnerships is an interest in bringing together multiple funders around shared priorities. We always welcome the opportunity to pool resources.


If you have questions about the application process that are not answered here or in program-specific FAQs, please contact us at grants@williampennfoundation.org. Our staff will make every effort to respond promptly.

 

Inquiry Forms

Links to start a new Inquiry form are below. Please note that Arts Education, Core Support for Arts and Cultural Organizations, and New Audiences/New Places have unique Inquiry forms accessible from their pages.

We strongly suggest reviewing the program guidelines before making an Inquiry. This will allow you to confirm that your proposed work aligns with the Foundation's strategic priorities and eligibility requirements.