Determining our Grants Budget
Community foundations, including The Trust, allocate their grant money very differently from private foundations. The Trust is made of nearly 2,000 individual funds. Almost three-fourths of our grants are made at the recommendation of individual donors. When you apply for a grant, most of the money comes from our discretionary funds. Knowing something about how we allocate these funds may help you understand some of our grant decisions.
We honor donor intent.
The promise we make to every donor is to carry out his or her wishes forever. Some donors designate their funds for particular charities, and each year we make grants to those nonprofits. Others name a field of interest. The field can be broad—for the arts—or very narrow—for injured classical ballet dancers. Others leave their funds unrestricted; these donors have left full discretion to our board.
We have broad charitable interests.
Because we're a community foundation, our mandate is to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. Our four program areas cover pretty much everything, but they are focused. We review each grant program periodically and make adjustments as needed.
We're in for the long haul.
When we take on a problem, we commit to it. We also make sure that it is adequately funded within our resources.
We spread the money.
We first allocate the designated money and then the narrow field-of-interest funds, for which we have limited flexibility. We then look at our broad field-of-interest funds and allocate the money to the appropriate grant programs. Finally, we take our unrestricted funds and allocate them to programs for which we have no dedicated money and to fill out the budgets of other programs where there is only modest field-of-interest money.
This process enables all our program officers to know how much grant money they have to spend for the year, and allows our board to track actual spending against targets.