About the trust


Common Grantseeker Questions


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

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

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.

Decisions regarding invited LOIs can take up to six weeks and decisions regarding invited proposals can take between four and six months.

The Trustees meet quarterly to review funding requests and make grant decisions.

Though the Trustees meet quarterly, the Trust does not publish the dates of the meetings.

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.

Please contact the Grants Associate at grants@smithct.org.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

No. In order to apply for funding, an applicant must meet all the Eligibility requirements.

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.

No. The Trust only makes grants to tax-exempt organizations that qualify as public charities.

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.

A foreign charitable organization may submit an inquiry to the Trust, as long as the organization and program meet the Trust’s guidelines. Before a grant is awarded, the Trust will engage NGOsource to work with the organization to determine whether or not the organization can be treated as equivalent to a U.S. public charity.

Candid maintains a comprehensive listing of U.S. foundations and their areas of interest: https://candid.org/