Since Oak Foundation was founded in 1983, it has made over 4,650 grants to not-for-profits across the globe.
It partners with organizations that work to advance the foundation’s overall mission and the strategic goals within programs. Each program has its own funding criteria, geographic scope and requirements. The programs are managed by dedicated staff with deep field expertise and networks.
Oak Foundation has an invitation-only application process. The majority of awards are made to its long-standing partners or are invited to apply based on fieldwork and research.
Although it operates an invitation-only application process, it wants to hear about ideas and work that fit within its program strategies. Therefore, if an organization believes that strong alignment exists with Oak Foundation’s funding priorities, it encourages the organization to submit an unsolicited letter of inquiry. It will invite the organization to apply for a grant if it also finds alignment with its funding priorities and if there is available budget.
It occasionally develops or joins initiatives in its areas of interest by issuing calls for proposals on its website or convening policymakers and practitioners to explore solutions to critical issues.
Program officers will invite an organization working in its areas of interest to submit a concept note and/or complete an application for funding. Not-for-profit organizations who have not been invited to apply by a program officer can submit unsolicited requests for funding through its letter of inquiry process.
The Oak Foundation’s process
For program officers to make the best possible recommendation for funding, they strive to gain the most comprehensive view of the organization, its board members, the project and finances. Therefore, The Oak Foundation has a rigorous due diligence and selection process, which includes extensive discussions, financial reviews and site visits.
Funding decisions are made by the Board of Trustees, either individually or as a group. While the Board of Trustees meets twice annually, grants are considered on a rolling basis throughout the calendar year.
This process does not have a set time frame. It can take from two months to more than a year from the submission of a concept note to final approval, as indicated in the chart on this page. The formal application process begins only when an organization is invited to submit an application.
Timing depends on a number of factors, but it works to ensure the most efficient process possible. After the initial approval of a concept note, organizations are encouraged to reach out to program officers to learn about the grant-making process and the stages of the application.
The lines of communication between the program officer and the organizations are always open once the organization has been invited to apply – it is a collaborative effort.
For more information about the process and the timeline please click here.