Scope of Funding

The Clowes Fund generally offers grant awards up to $50,000. First-time grants are generally within the Fund's small grant range (up to $20,000) for a single year. Previous grantees should seek guidance from Fund staff regarding an appropriate range, term and type of request. The Fund only makes grants to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations based in the United States that are also described in Internal Revenue Code section 509(a)(1), 509(a)(2) or (in certain cases) 509(a)(3). Types of grants and a list of ineligible requests are detailed below. Please review our guidelines (PDF) for additional information.


The Fund prefers to support innovative projects and programs, to provide “step up” money to expand programs, or to build organizational capacity. The following types of grants may be awarded:

  • Capacity Building - Funding that strengthens an organization to better fulfill its mission.
  • Capital - The Fund may invite a proposal for endowment, facilities or equipment. 
  • Challenge - Funding that is contingent upon the grantee achieving an agreed-on fundraising, program or operating goal.   
  • Matching - Funding that is contingent upon the grantee raising qualified matching funds.
  • Operating - The Fund may invite an operating (also known as unrestricted) proposal from a grantee with which we have an established grant history. A mature organization may be eligible for operating support upon establishing a threshold of core competency. A developing organization may be eligible for operating support upon successful completion of a start-up or seed grant, through which it has demonstrated a threshold of competency.  (The Fund also awards operating grants to a few select organizations that honor the legacy of our founding donors.)
  • Project/Program - Funding for a designated initiative or endeavor.  (Program grants may include a proportionate share of overhead.) 
  • Seed Money - Funding awarded to help launch a specified new project, program or initiative. 

In addition to these types of grants awarded through the competitive process, the Fund awards a limited number of small unsolicited grants through its member, director and employee discretionary matching grants programs.


The Fund will not consider grants for the following types of activities or entities:

  • Organizations that discriminate in either policy or practice against people because of their age, race, national origin, ethnicity, creed, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
  • Programs that proselytize or promote specific religious doctrine.
  • Sponsorships for fundraising events.
  • Scholarships or direct financial awards to individuals.
  • Unsolicited proposals from colleges and universities. 
  • Unsolicited proposals from any organization for operating or capital support.
  • More than one request per organization per calendar year, including Clowes support that your organization may be receiving through a third party or funding collaborative.
  • Lobbying or political elections.
  • Certain Type III Supporting Organizations.