Diverse needs, difficult funding decisions
One might think of the philanthropic world as a quilt wrapped around our communities. Each square of the quilt represents a different charity or foundation; each meeting specific, important, yet diverse needs. The Board and staff of The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation are committed to remaining absolutely faithful to our mission based upon the vision and direction of our founder.
In addition to the overarching theme of providing direct services to low-income and vulnerable populations, Harry Weinberg established general funding guidelines which continue to frame the Foundation’s comprehensive grantmaking goals today. Two of those specific guidelines referenced a commitment to funding services in the Jewish community as well as a commitment to capital grants.
Based on Harry Weinberg’s charter for the Foundation, and the policies of the Trustees leading the Foundation, the core guidelines for Foundation grantmaking are as follows:
- First, and foremost, the primary beneficiaries of every grant must be those who are financially disadvantaged.
- As one of the largest foundations committed to both the Jewish community as well as the community-at-large, the Weinberg Foundation has a goal of 60 percent of all grants annually (approximately $60 million dollars) supporting the Jewish community and 40 percent (or $40 million dollars) funding the community-at-large.
- On an annual basis, the Foundation is required to dedicate 50% of all grant funding to capital projects and 50% to operating/program grants. Furthermore, for any one capital project, the Foundation may not give more than 30% of the total project cost.
- The Foundation is prohibited from making grants to individuals (as distinguished from charitable organizations) or to colleges, universities, and cultural institutions such as museums or orchestras.
There are also geographic priorities for our grantmaking
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation has permanently broadened its geographic focus for capital grants only.
Funding nationally (beyond the Foundation’s “hometowns”) had been restricted to grants for Older Adults and Workforce Development. But the Weinberg Foundation is pleased to announce that capital grants throughout the United States and Israel now will be considered in any of our program areas, subject to the Foundation’s other grantmaking criteria. Letters of inquiry (LOI) will be received on a rolling basis.
The maximum length for an LOI is three (3) pages. LOIs will be reviewed only if three (3) pages or less. LOIs exceeding three pages will not be considered. Please click here for more information.
What We Fund
Even with strict guidelines to fulfill our grantmaking mission, the need reflected in grantee applications is overwhelming. While the Foundation regularly distributes $100 million every year, the total requested can easily be more than five times that amount. Obviously, that means many worthwhile grant requests are declined or simply were not eligible to begin with.
Every week, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, President, and Program Directors meet as the Program Committee. This committee reviews each grant request that has received initial approval as a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) or was submitted as part of a streamlined process within our Maryland Small Grants Program. You can learn more about LOI’s and the entire process by clicking here.
The Program Committee meeting is the embodiment of the grants decision process. Sometimes spirited debate centers around “3 C’s” — comparative, competitive, compassionate. Tough questions are asked including “How does this particular program compare with others? Does it duplicate an existing program or services? Is a prospective grantee competitive in terms of leadership and financials?”
To be considered for funding, an organization must meet several requirements including these:
- Applicants must submit evidence of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
- Applicants must carry on their work principally to serve lower-income individuals in the communities in which they reside
- Applicants must be committed to assisting vulnerable and at-risk populations
Note: If you previously submitted a Letter of Inquiry to the Foundation and the request was declined, please do not submit a 2nd Letter of Inquiry for the same project unless there are substantial changes that would make a new submission appropriate.
What We Don’t Fund
The Foundation does not provide funds for the following:
Annual appeals and fundraising events (in most cases)
Endowments (in most cases)
Arts and culture
Colleges and universities
Political action groups
Academic or health research
Scholarships for higher education