Grantees – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

National Geographic Society ▲

Click on the questions below for the answers.

Q1. Do you have a rule regarding the number of renewals you will permit for any given grantee?

No, we generally consider renewals on an annual basis. Throughout the year we analyze our portfolio of grantees to ensure we are meeting our Board of Director’s interests. Organizations in the portfolio whose programs, or missions in the case of general operating grants, continue to align well with those interests are given due consideration for renewal. For additional information, please see Current Perspectives on Grant Renewals.


Q2. What is the best way to request a grant increase for a renewal application?

Please keep your program officer informed of your needs and interests. He or she will be open with you about the potential for an increase when your renewal application is considered by our Board of Directors.


Q3. What is the best way to inform you about significant developments at our organization between grant cycles?

Contact your program officer. This is very important as we need to be aware of any meaningful changes, both positive and negative, if we are to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship. We want to champion your successes and, in times of difficulty, advocate on your behalf to our Board of Directors. If significant negative developments occur, it is never to your advantage for us to learn about them from elsewhere in the field.


Q4. Are there certain developments you are particularly interested in hearing about? If we experience one, what is the best way to inform you about it?

We want to know about any significant changes in management, organizational structure, financial condition or programs that are taking place or about to take place. It is helpful for us to learn about your plans to manage your challenges. While it is okay for us to learn about positives in the press, we prefer to hear directly from you about negative developments. If you have important news to communicate, please call or email your program officer.


Q5. If I am submitting an application for a grant renewal, do I need to resubmit all of the documentation I submitted with my last application?

We will provide you a Required Documents Checklist with the renewal invitation, which explains what you need to resubmit.


Q6. How and when will I know if I will be invited to submit an application for a grant renewal?

If we invite you to submit a renewal application, you will receive the combined evaluation and renewal application form via email from your program officer no less than 4 weeks prior to the date your application is due. Refer to the Annual Review Process for a timetable of each cycle.


Q7. Are you open to making multi-year grants?

Yes, although we are very judicious about considering them. It is best to communicate with your program officer about your needs and interests. In most cases, we can give you a quick read as to whether multi-year support is a possibility.


Q8. Are you open to requests for general operating support?

Yes. While we cannot provide any assurances, if the mission of your organization closely matches our Grantmaking Priorities and focus area goals, we will likely consider general operating support. Please communicate with your program officer about your needs and interests.


Q9. If we apply for programmatic support, are you willing to help us cover a portion of our indirect costs?

Yes, in fact, we expect the budget you submit with your application to include the indirect costs that must be covered to ensure a successful program.


Q10. Are you open to requests for capacity building support?

Yes. In addition to annual grants, we offer Professional Development and Technical Assistance (PDTA) grants to existing grantees. Information about PDTA grants is emailed to grantees in the first quarter of each year. Details regarding the purpose and permitted use of these grants, which can range from $250 to $2,500, are included in the email. There is no deadline for the submission of PDTA requests. Grants are available until funds are exhausted, which typically occurs well before year end. Grants awarded pursuant to this program will not impact the size or likelihood of grant awards during our regular spring and fall grant cycle process. Please communicate with your program officer if you have any questions.


Q11. Do you conduct annual site visits with your existing grantees?

In the first year or two after a grant is made, for organizations in or near Chicago, we generally conduct annual site visits. Thereafter, we try to visit most of our grantees at least every other year. While we understand this involves a significant commitment of time, we find that our program officers are in a much better position to communicate the strengths of your organization to our Board if we meet with you in person.


Q12. What topics will the Foundation's program officer want to cover with me during our annual due diligence site visit or telephone discussion?

Your program officer will want to obtain an update about the project that is being supported by the Foundation’s grant. We are interested and pleased to hear about all aspects of our grantees’ programs. Since we learn through the work of our grantees, we are equally interested in hearing about the challenges that were confronted and understanding why some program goals may not have been achieved. If you anticipate the need to make changes in the program going forward, which is certainly understandable, we would appreciate knowing about that as well. If the Foundation provided general operating support, the discussion may focus on overall organizational strategies, governance or operations or a particular area of interest to our Board. In all cases, we believe it is both efficient and important to use these sessions to engage in deeper due diligence so we can become more educated about the challenges and opportunities that exist in the fields in which our grantees work. If you have any questions about the topics to be covered or the people you should include in the session, we encourage you to ask your program officer.