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Grantmaking Guidelines and Procedures

New Grant Templates and Guidelines


October 23, 2013

 

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation places great value in its collaborative relationships with grantees.  In an effort to make these collaborations as seamless as possible and to streamline and make consistent grant management practices across the Foundation, we have formulated new Foundation-wide templates and guidelines for grant proposals and reporting.  In designing these materials, we seek economy and clarity in grant management, while maintaining the Foundation’s close working relationships with grantees.

Beginning in October 2013, program staff will ask prospective grantees to utilize the guidelines and templates in all grant proposal submissions, reporting, and requests for grant modifications.  In many cases, the policies and templates will seem familiar.  While we expect that there will be some period of adjustment as grantees gain experience with the templates, we also expect that the benefits will be readily apparent.  During this transition, program staff will be prepared to resolve any questions or concerns grantees may have about the templates or guidelines.  We look forward to our continued work together.

 

Earl Lewis
President

 

 


Overview

Before a prospective grantee is invited to submit a grant proposal, Foundation staff will determine whether the proposed project falls within an area of Foundation interest.  If staff believe that the project is a candidate for funding, they will invite the prospective grantee to submit a grant proposal.  What follows are guidelines for grantees who have been invited to apply for a grant, summarizing the Foundation’s grantmaking procedures. 

 


Submission of Proposal

When invited to submit a proposal, a prospective grantee should be mindful of the following:

  • Proposals should follow the requirements set forth in the Foundation’s “Grant Proposal Guidelines” and include a completed “Proposal Information Sheet”;

  • A prospective grantee should be prepared to work closely with program staff in revising and refining its proposal, often through multiple drafts, before it is considered final;

  • If a proposal involves the development of software and/or the creation of digital images or content, the grant may fall under the terms of the Foundation’s “Policy on Intellectual Property,” and the awarding of funds will be contingent on the grantee’s agreement to the terms of the Foundation’s intellectual property agreement;

  • Use of consultants and third-party vendors should be consistent with the Foundation’s “Guidelines for Grants Involving Consultants and/or Subcontractors”;

  • In most cases, a prospective foreign grantee will be required to complete a “Foreign Organization Questionnaire,” providing information for the determination that it is the equivalent of a United States public charity.

 

When preparing an invited proposal, please note that the Foundation requires concision and few, if any, superlatives in proposal narratives.

 

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Timing of Consideration of Grant

The Foundation’s Board of Trustees considers grants recommended by program staff at quarterly meetings of the Board.  These meetings generally occur in March, June, September, and December of each year.  Grantees are encouraged to submit draft proposals to program staff at least three and a half months prior to the Board meeting to ensure adequate time for review and revision.  The Foundation’s management also considers and approves a limited number of grants of modest amounts between Board meetings (known as “officer grants”).

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Awarding of Grant Funds

The Foundation’s award letter is a contract between the Foundation and its grantees.  By accepting or depositing grant funds, the grantee agrees to abide by the terms of the award letter, including restrictions on the use of the funds and adherence to administration and reporting requirements.  If a grantee has not satisfied the pre-conditions of a grant award (e.g., the execution of an intellectual property agreement, determination of charitable status equivalency, or other grant-specific requirement), the Foundation will withhold grant funds until the conditions have been timely met.  Following the awarding of grant funds, the Foundation reserves the right to conduct on- and offsite audits of records related to the grant.  In cases where a grantee has not expended funds for purposes consistent with the Foundation’s award letter and other terms of the grant, the Foundation reserves the right to disallow certain expenditures, adjust budgets, request the return of awarded funds, or take other remedial actions.

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Restrictions on the Use of Grant Funds

In agreeing to the conditions of a Foundation award, a grantee commits to complying with the following:

  • Grant funds must be used only for the purposes, over the period, and in the manner set forth in the award letter and grant proposal.

  • In no event shall funds be used as collateral, to offset other financial obligations (including interest payments on lines of credit, securing or servicing debt, etc.), or to meet cash-flow or general operating expenses that are unrelated to the terms of the grant proposal and award.

  • In no event shall funds be used to support terrorist or other proscribed organizations, as identified by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control.

 

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Interest and Investment Income

The Foundation considers interest and investment income earned on grants to be part and parcel of the award.  In accounting for such income, grantees should:

  • Set forth in their grant proposals their institutional policies for investing grant funds, including their investment strategy and methods for calculating and allocating interest and investment income to the grant.

  • Note that it is the Foundation’s expectation that grant funds will be invested prudently and that income earned will be applied to the stated purposes of the grant.

  • Be mindful that management of endowment grants must be consistent with applicable state laws regarding the prudent management of funds.  For spendable awards, funds too must be managed prudently and be available for the purposes enumerated in the Foundation’s award letter and approved proposal.

  • Describe, on an annual basis, how income earned was spent, or allocated within the approved budget categories, in each financial report submitted to the Foundation, or provide a written explanation with financial reports if no income was earned on awarded funds in each year.

  • Furnish, for collaborative or multi-institutional grants, an accounting by each of the partner institutions of income on unspent grant funds.  For such collaborative grants, prospective grantees should state in the Budget Narrative section of their proposal that all partner institutions will track and report income on unspent grant funds they would receive under the grant.

 

In cases of endowment grants, the Foundation may require endowment funds designated for a specific purpose, such as a fellowship or chair, to be kept in a separate account within the grantee organization’s investment pool.

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Reporting

Timely and informative narrative and financial reporting is a requirement of all Foundation awards.  In accepting grant funds, a grantee agrees to comply with the reporting requirements set forth in the award letter and in the Foundation’s “Grant Reporting Guidelines.”  Failure to submit timely and satisfactory reports can jeopardize the continuation of the grant and consideration of future grants.  Financial reporting for spendable grants should be on the same spreadsheet submitted with the final proposal, allowing line-by-line comparison between budgeted costs and actual expenditures.

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Grant Modifications

Once awarded a grant, a grantee who seeks changes in the grant terms should consult with Foundation staff and obtain advanced written approval before making any changes.  Grantees should use Foundation templates for each of the four modifications listed in bold below. 

No-Cost Extension

If a project will likely exceed the grant term, Foundation staff may invite the grantee to request a “no-cost extension.”  Once invited, grantees should complete and submit the Foundation’s “No-Cost Extension Request Form” and required attachments.  This submission should occur three months prior to the end of the grant term.  The required attachments are: 
  • A written request from the principal investigator or other relevant official at the institution, giving (1) the reasons for delay, (2) the need for additional time, (3) the amount of time needed, and (4) a narrative summary of activities to be undertaken during the period of extension.

  • A financial report signed by a financial officer, indicating the current balance of remaining funds, an accounting of any interest earned, and expenditures to date.  The financial statement should use the same categories as the original budget proposal.

 

The Foundation will indicate in writing if the request for a no-cost extension has been approved.  

 

Reallocation

If a grantee wishes to amend a grant budget following an award, Foundation staff may invite the grantee to request a reallocation.  Once invited, grantees should complete and submit the Foundation’s “Reallocation Request Form” with all required attachments.  The required attachments are:
  • A written request from the principal investigator or other relevant official detailing the reasons for the reallocation and providing a narrative description of planned activities for the remainder of the grant.

  • A financial report signed by a financial officer, indicating the current balance of remaining funds, an accounting of any interest earned, and expenditures to date.

  • A revised budget.  (If instructed by Foundation staff, please use the revised budget form available here.)

  • A financial summary of funds to be reallocated, using the Foundation’s “Reallocation Financial Summary” template.

 

The Foundation will indicate in writing if the request for a reallocation has been approved.  

 

Rollover

Organizations with two or more active grants from the Foundation awarded for the same purpose may be invited by staff “to roll” all funds into the account for the most recent grant to consolidate narrative and financial reporting.  If invited to request such a “rollover,” grantees should complete and submit the Foundation’s “Rollover Request Form” with all required attachments.  Documentation needed to consider a rollover request are: 
  • A written request from the principal investigator or head of institution to roll remaining funds from one Foundation grant into the account for a more recent grant made for the same purpose, and a narrative description of activities planned for the remainder of the grant.

  • A financial report signed by a financial officer, indicating the current balance of remaining funds on the earlier grant to be rolled over, any interest earned, and expenditures to date.

  • A new budget reflecting the allocation of the rolled-over funds.

 

The Foundation will indicate in writing if the request for a rollover has been approved.

 

Transfer 

If a grantee wishes to relocate a project to a new institution, Foundation staff may invite the grantee to request a grant transfer.  Once invited, grantees should submit all documentation listed on the Foundation’s “Transfer – Checklist of Required Documentation.”  Documentation needed to consider a transfer are:
  • A letter from the current grantee requesting the transfer, signed by a person with appropriate institutional authority.

  • A narrative report from the current grantee, following the Foundation’s “Grant Reporting Guidelines” and covering the period from the previous interim report to the date of the transfer request, with a description of remaining activities.

  • A final financial report of all income, interest, and expenditures to date, signed by a financial officer.

  • A new budget, where reallocation of funds is expected.  (If instructed by Foundation staff, please use the revised budget form available here.)

  • A letter from the transferee institution containing all relevant grant-related information, accepting all grant terms and conditions (including Intellectual Property agreements), and signed by a person with appropriate institutional authority.

 

The Foundation will indicate in writing if the request for a transfer has been approved.

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Material Grant Changes

If the principal investigator or the leadership of the organization changes during the period of the grant, the grantee must inform the Foundation immediately, and the Foundation reserves the right to suspend or revoke the grant.

More significant changes to the terms of a grant require staff to seek the approval of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.  Such requests are not routinely brought to the Board of Trustees nor are such requests necessarily approved.  Examples of significant material changes include the following: 

Repurposing

If a grantee seeks to alter the purpose of a grant, Foundation staff may invite the grantee to request a repurposing of the original grant.  The request should include a narrative account from the principal investigator or the head of the institution of the reasons for the repurposing, a description of the objectives to be achieved, a signed financial statement indicating the current balance of remaining funds and expenditures to date, and a new budget proposal corresponding to the projected use of funds. 

Matching Grant

If a grantee wishes to alter the terms of a matching grant, the principal investigator or the head of the institution should provide a full account of the reasons for the requested change, a discussion of any challenges encountered to date and prospects for meeting the match under the amended terms, and a signed financial statement indicating the current balance of the grant, the progress of the matching effort, and total expenditures to date.

 

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Matching Funds

If an organization has received a grant with matching terms, requests for matching payments should be made on the Foundation’s “Matching Funds Request Form” and contain the following information and materials:

For contributions of $5,000 or more

  • copies of all canceled donor checks, bank statements showing the transfer of funds by wire or receipt of credit card payments, and/or signed documentation verifying the transfer of securities and their market value at the time of transfer (pledges do not qualify);

  • clear evidence that a donor’s intent is to meet the Foundation’s match, either by the donor’s indication on the check, a letter from the donor demonstrating the intent, or, in the case of an unrestricted donation, a designation from the grantee’s governing board, or senior official, that the donation is to meet the Foundation’s matching requirements.

 

For contributions of less than $5,000

  • a list of all such donations, including name of donor, form of donation (i.e., check, wire, credit card, security, etc.), date of donation, and amount of donation, with a signed statement from a senior authorized official restricting all donations on the list to the Foundation match.  In such cases, the Foundation does not require canceled checks, evidence of wire or credit card payment, or separate documentation verifying the transfer of securities.

 

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