Aiming to have a broad effect on organizations or communities, some grantmakers choose to fund individuals. It's true that grants to individuals make special demands on foundations, both legally and administratively, but sometimes they're the only way to achieve an important objective.
In this guide, grantmakers talk about the rigors and rewards of investing in people. Learn how to design and manage a grants-to-individuals program, including developing a theory of change, using the right funding mechanism, and finding the right people to support.
What's in the Guide?
- Five funders, five programs, five theories
- From purpose to program: theories of change
- Grants to individuals and the law
- Supporting Individuals: Five Examples: Five funders, five programs, five theories about how individuals affect the wider world and what foundations can do to offer support. Each short profile describes the reasoning behind a funder's decision to make grants to individuals, the program itself, and a few words of advice. (A chart on page 7 includes snapshots of even more programs.) The lesson here: grants to individuals entail a few extra steps, but many grantmakers believe they're worthwhile.
- Designing a Grants-to- Individuals Program: There are decisions to be made about purpose, costs, selection criteria, extra features, and management and funding mechanisms. For private foundations, detailed planning is an absolute necessity, since many grants-to-individuals programs need to be approved in advance by the IRS. Careful mapping is important for any funder, grantmakers said, as is the need for good legal advice.
- Managing the Program: Grantee Selection and Beyond: A lot of work goes into choosing the right grantees and supporting them in ways that make the people, their work, and the program itself as effective as possible. Experienced grantmakers offer suggestions for managing major activities, handling tensions and tradeoffs, and fine-tuning program components.
- Evaluating Impact on People and Communities: Individual grantees are often asked to report on their progress or demonstrate their accomplishments. But how does a funder quantify the accomplishments of the program itself? In this section, grantmakers talk about what can and can't be evaluated -- and even hazard some views about why evaluation might not be worth the time and trouble.