Information about the Trust's COVID-19 Response.

May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust

Looking for Answers? We can help.

Common Grantseeker Questions


Listed below are answers to the most common questions received from grantseekers.

Does the Trust accept unsolicited funding applications?
No, currently grant applications are accepted by invitation only. For more information about submitting an inquiry to the Trust, see Grantseekers.

What are the chances of receiving a grant after an inquiry?
A large number of worthy organizations approach the Trust for support. The process is highly competitive. Fewer than 3% of the grants awarded by the Trust each year result from an unsolicited request. Please note that all inquiries will be read, but only those that have potential to move forward will be contacted.

Our organization has been invited to submit an LOI or Proposal, when should we expect a decision?
Decisions regarding invited LOIs can take up to six weeks and decisions regarding invited proposals can take between four and six months.

How frequently are grants awarded?
The Trustees meet quarterly to review funding requests and make grant decisions.

When is the Trustees' next meeting date?
Though the Trustees meet quarterly, the Trust does not publish the dates of the meetings.

Can I set up a meeting with someone from the Trust prior to submitting an inquiry?
Due to the volume of requests received, its large geographic footprint, and a desire to treat all unsolicited applications equally, staff is unable to grant requests for introductory meetings. The Trust has developed a simple email inquiry process to enable aligned, competitive organizations to inform the Trust of their work. While all inquiries will be read, only those that have potential to move forward will be contacted. For more information, see Grantseekers.

What should I do if I am having trouble using the online grants portal or logging into my account?
Please contact the Grants Associate at

How does the Trust define government funding?
The Trust defines government funding as all direct or indirect funding received by an organization from government sources, whether in the form of grants; contracts from federal, state, and/or local government agencies, including public school districts, arts councils, and Regional Centers; or government funds received indirectly through medical or social service reimbursement programs, such as programs administered by Medicaid, Medicare, or a Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. The Trust rarely awards grants to organizations receiving more than 70% of revenue from government sources.

If my organization receives significant government funding, but the program for which we’re seeking funding receives no government funding, can we still submit an inquiry?
The Trust measures government funding at the organization level, not the program level. The Trust rarely awards grants to organizations receiving more than 70% of revenue from government sources. The most competitive requests are those from organizations that receive broad support from a variety of sources, including other foundation and corporate funders.

When is a new organization considered by the Trust to be beyond the start-up phase?
When an organization has secured funds from a broad base of diversified funding sources – including institutional donors, individuals, and local entities – and has been implementing a program that has demonstrated consistent, positive results for at least two consecutive years, it is more likely to be viewed by the Trust as an established organization that has moved beyond its start-up phase.

Is the Trust interested in funding a new program that an organization has never implemented before?
Typically, the Trust prefers to fund an organization’s well-established programs, those which it has demonstrated experience implementing to achieve sustained, positive results. However, the Trust encourages creative approaches, especially those based in, or refined to take advantage of, new research findings or practical evidence. Therefore, the Trust will consider requests for new programs from organizations that are able to demonstrate the expertise to support a new program and past success in implementing similar programs.

My organization’s programs inspire participants to explore their spiritual nature, but do not promote a specific religion. May we submit an inquiry?
Yes. The Trust will consider requests that fit within its funding guidelines from religious or faith-based organizations, provided that services offered are inclusive, nondiscriminatory, do not promote specific religious doctrine, and do not involve proselytizing or require participation in religious activities.

I see that there are several characteristics listed in the Alignment section that describe the most strongly-aligned requests. If my organization has most of these characteristics, but not all of them, may we still submit an inquiry?
The Trust’s alignment criteria are listed to help applicants understand the many factors used by the Trust to evaluate funding requests, and should help grantseekers determine if a funding request is well-suited to the Trust’s interests. The strongest requests directly align with one or more of the strategies identified in the relevant Trust program area, and demonstrate all or nearly all of the characteristics listed in the alignment section. The more characteristics an application has and the greater an applicant’s strength in each of these areas, the more likely its application will be successful.

Our organization provides services to a broad range of disadvantaged and at-risk individuals. Among our participants, some individuals fall within your focus populations: elders, foster youth, veterans, and adults with disabilities. Will an application from our organization be competitive?
An organization whose work benefits a variety of populations is more likely to be competitive if it has a specific program focused directly on one of the Trust’s four Program Areas, with at least two years of measurable outcomes related to the strategies identified in the relevant Program Area.

My organization fits all the Alignment criteria and most of the Eligibility criteria, however we only serve individuals outside of the Trust’s geographic service area. Should we still submit an inquiry?
No. In order to apply for funding, an applicant must meet all the Eligibility requirements.

I noticed that some of the Trust’s prior grants do not match its current guidelines. If my organization in not eligible according to the current guidelines, can we still submit an inquiry?
No. The Trust strictly follows its current grantmaking guidelines, as described on this website. The Trust’s guidelines changed significantly in January 2014 to match the Trust’s 2014-2018 Strategic Plan, which was updated for 2019-2023. The Trust’s grantmaking prior to 2014 followed different guidelines. Please note, inquiries are not accepted for Discretionary grants.

Does the Trust make grants to individuals?
No. The Trust only makes grants to tax-exempt organizations that qualify as public charities.

Does the Trust make grants to organizations that work with a Fiscal Sponsor?
The Trust makes grants to nonprofit organizations that are tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code and not classified as a private foundation under Section 509(a) of the Code, and to non-U.S. organizations that can demonstrate that they would meet the requirements for such status. Organizations can also submit applications through a sponsoring organization if the sponsor has 501(c)(3) status, is not a private foundation under 509(a), and provides written authorization confirming its willingness to act as the fiscal sponsor. For more information and guidelines for applying through a fiscal sponsor, please click here.

How does a non-U.S. organization demonstrate that it meets the requirements to be treated as equivalent to a nonprofit organization that is tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code and not classified as a private foundation under Section 509(a) of the Code?
A foreign charitable organization may submit an inquiry to the Trust, as long as the organization and program meet the Trust’s guidelines. If a proposal is invited, staff will request an Affidavit and Schedule of Financial Support from the foreign organization to determine whether or not it can be treated as equivalent to a U.S. public charity.

Can you suggest other funding sources?
Candid maintains a comprehensive listing of U.S. foundations and their areas of interest: