Our Review Process

Grantseekers often inquire about the stages in the review process for competitive grants at the King Foundation. The entire process, for a successful request, takes about six months from application to award. There are decision points along the way: at submission (if the LOI does not meet our grant guidelines, for example), at LOI review (when the LOI must garner sufficient interest from the directors to proceed), and at final proposal review (when the board decides on the awards).

 

The paragraphs below take you through the process step by step.

Pre-proposal meetings and telephone calls

Staff at the King Foundation meet and talk with prospective grantseekers throughout the year, and we encourage agencies to contact us before applying. Although staff cannot definitively predict what the board will fund, they can steer you toward the approach they believe is most likely to be successful. They can also discourage you from applying if they know your request is not a good fit.

Letters of inquiry

Agencies serving residents of King Foundation service areas start the application process by submitting a letter of inquiry (LOI) to the Foundation through the online portal.

 

If you do not understand what we are asking for, call us for an explanation. Through our online system, we can see the application as you are working on it. So if you are unsure how to answer a question, we can look at what you have written and can give you guidance whether you are moving in the right direction.

LOI executive summary

Soon after LOIs are submitted, staff begin preparing an executive summary of each LOI for the board. The directors do not review the actual LOIs, only the summaries. The LOI executive summary describes the agency in general and the particular project or program for which funding is sought. At this stage, staff does not evaluate the agency’s finances, program results, or other factors that are part of the full grants review process. The principal question is whether the directors believe the request is a good fit with the Foundation’s mission and grantmaking priorities.

 

If a super-majority of the directors are interested in a request, the LOI advances to the next stage. If a request cannot muster a majority, we decline the LOI unless a director has indicated a particularly strong interest in the request. Historically, the board has invited proposals from about 50% to 60% of LOI applicants.

 

Within about six weeks after the deadline, all agencies that submitted LOIs receive an email from the Foundation notifying them whether or not they may submit a full proposal.

Proposals and due diligence

Applicants who have been invited to submit a full proposal must then do so through the online portal. As with LOIs, King staff check submissions for completeness.

 

Once your proposal has been submitted you will receive an email acknowledging your request. Proposals are assigned to a staff member who will review and analyze the request over an eight- to ten-week period

Site and telephone visits

The reviewer will set up a visit either in person or by telephone. Click here for tips regarding a King Foundation site visit.

 

Before the visit, the reviewer will analyze the agency’s financial statements and tax returns. She may also talk with other funders and perform research appropriate to the agency and request, such as checking on the agency’s status with regulatory agencies, before reaching a funding recommendation.

Proposal executive summaries

As is the case with the LOIs, directors review executive summaries, not the actual proposals themselves. The reviewer will prepare an executive summary, generally three pages long, that includes a description of the agency and project, the strengths and weaknesses of both, and the reviewer’s recommendation about funding. These executive summaries are provided to the directors, all of whom sit on the Grants Committee, a committee of the whole.

Committee and board meetings

The Foundation board awards grants at its regular meetings in June and December. The Grants Committee meets twice a year, a few weeks prior to the board meeting at which grants will be awarded.

 

Going into the committee meeting, the directors have reviewed the executive summaries as well as a worksheet summarizing the staff’s recommendations about funding.

 

At the conclusion of the meeting, the committee agrees upon a slate of grant recommendations that will be formally approved at the board meeting. Grant decisions are not final until the board meeting.

Notice of decision

We attempt to notify applicants of grant decisions either the day of the board meeting or the next business day. Successful applicants receive both an award letter and a grant contract spelling out the purpose of the grant, the payment date, and other conditions.

 

Unsuccessful applicants receive only a letter. But we encourage disappointed applicants to contact us by phone so that we can explain why the Foundation declined the request, in the hopes of helping the agencies strengthen future requests.

Grant payments

We attempt to pay our grants at a time that is optimal for both the agency and the Foundation. Grants awarded in June are paid within six months. Grants awarded in December are paid up to a year later, but most are paid sooner.

Grant reports

Our grant contract requires agencies to report back to us within thirty days after grant funds have been fully expended, or the project is completed, whichever occurs first. All grant reports are submitted through the portal.

Waiting period

The King Foundation generally observes a two-year window between competitively awarded grants. That means that a grantee should wait 18 months from the grant award date before submitting another LOI. For example, if an agency received a grant award in June 2014, the agency could submit a LOI in December 2015 for the spring 2016 grant cycle. Any grant reports due from prior grant should be submitted before the grantee applies again.

 

If a request is unsuccessful, there is no waiting period to resubmit, but we do recommend a discussion with staff about the reasons for the decline before resubmitting.