Case Study Research: Exploring the Most Commonly Used Grantmaking Criteria within Public and Private Foundations in Austin, Texas and Other Foundations Funding Austin, Texas Public Health Initiatives
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This applied research project looked at the grant criteria commonly used to make funding decisions within public and private foundations in Austin, Texas. Eight executive directors, program officers, and/or board trustees from eight community health foundations were interviewed. The goal was to extract information about the requirements, qualities, and characteristics each foundation considered the most rewarding for a non-profit organization requesting funding. Some of the foundations interviewed funded multiple initiatives, with public health being the common thread amongst them all. Interviews were conducted from September 8 to September 29, 2006. Document and archival data analysis and structured interviews with foundation officers provided evidence that either supported or refuted the five working hypotheses developed to determine the most desirable grant criteria within public health foundations. The findings were in favor of each set of working hypotheses. Most of the public health foundations were created with a set of focus areas in mind to fund non-profit public health initiatives in the same field of expertise (WH1 : FOCUS AREAS). Most of the foundations exist to fund unmet social needs and often give preference to grant applicants who are able to communicate the scope of the unmet need in the community (WH2 : SOCIAL NEED). The majority of the public health foundations want to have a significant impact on improving the health of Central Texans (the Austin area) and prefer grant applicants to provide proof of impact if funding needs are met (WH3 : IMPACT). The majority of the public health foundations looked highly upon sustainbility within the organization and required grant applicants to provide proof of outside funding and collaborative efforts (WH4 : SUSTAINABILITY). Finally, an overwhelming number of public health foundations required grant applicants to exhibit sound financial practices and appropriate financial documents to prove the organization's financial accountability (WH5 : FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY).