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Qualities the trustees favor when reviewing grant applications
Compared to government-manged or political approaches, markets generally deliver goods and services of higher quality and lower cost. However, the trustees do not subscribe to the view that markets provide optimal or socially acceptable solutions to all problems. Projects are supported that combine market approaches with regulations within a politically acceptable framework.
List of Desirable Qualities
The following are qualities the Trustees favor when reviewing grant requests:
- Does the project take a new and creative approach or apply existing methods to an emerging problem?
- Can the results of the project be applied broadly? Does it address a significant issue?
- Will the proposed project have lasting or temporary value? For long-term projects, is there a provision for obtaining future funding or generating funds through a market approach?
- Costly programs and efforts affecting multiple stakeholders should include funding partners and collaboration. If the applicant is seeking a seed grant, the proposal should include plans to seek partners or generate revenues as the project matures.
- Is the proposal designed to address a significant economic or ecological imbalance? Is the grant designed to address a problem?
- Is there a plan for reporting results. As a way to report on the outcome of projects and educate the public, the trustees require that successful applicants report results online under the grant reports section of this website.
- Does the project provide for objective analysis of results? Whenever possible, there should be provision for science-based analysis. An exception would be for projects that are small, primarily educational in nature, or designed to implement research as public policy. In these cases reporting should include reviews from sources outside the organization. The foundation's director also makes site visits to evaluate projects.
- Will the project likely have lasting impact? Sustainability is also desirable from an ecological perspective. Projects that promote short-term profits at the expense of long-term ecological damage will be rejected.
Following are qualities that do not receive favorable responses:
Ideological or political activities
- During the cold war era the foundation provided general support to organizations promoting free markets, but has phased out this type of funding in favor of projects that investigate or apply market solutions to specific problems.
General educational programs
- Requests of a general educational nature are not funded. The Foundation does fund requests that disseminate information on project results and promote greater knowledge of economic, scientific and related environmental issues. Unless research is of a sensitive nature, all grants should have an educational component by providing for the reporting of results to the public.
Deciding Between Projects of Similar Quality
Due to the submission of projects of similar quality, the trustees sometimes choose based on more subjective criteria. If a project relates to or builds on work that has been previously funded, or is in an area that is easier for the trustees to visit and evaluate, it may have a competitive advantage. However, in order to encourage creative problem solving, funds are reserved for innovative new projects each year.
© 2017 Alex C. Walker Foundation