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Foundations Frequently Asked Questions

What are foundations?

Most private foundations are nonprofit or charitable trusts that have collected large amounts of money from one source such as donations from an individual, family, or corporation. Often, foundations will give out grants to individuals, organizations, or agencies to help accomplish the goals of the foundation.  Some private foundations use their monies to run their own programs to accomplish their charitable goals, rather than giving out grants.  Public foundations, such as Community Foundations, also make grants to organizations or individuals; however, their funding comes from multiple sources.

What do foundations fund?

The interests of foundations vary. Some focus on a particular population group such as women, children, or a certain area of the country, etc.  Other foundations focus their funding toward specific fields or topics of interest such as the arts, healthcare, creating social change, etc.

Who can receive a grant from a foundation?

Most foundations award funding to nonprofit organizations with a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS; however, some exceptions exist.  Foundations also very often grant awards to individuals in the form of scholarships, fellowships, and travel grants. Sometimes foundations will request nominations for some type of award contest to recognize people, projects, or best practices in a particular field.

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