The Tinker Foundation’s Institutional Grants program provides project funding to organizations working to improve the lives of Latin Americans, with an emphasis on support for organizations in the region.
Please read our note with information on the 2021 application cycles.
The Foundation funds research and advocacy, experimentation, scaling up of promising interventions, and exchange of knowledge and models – with the overarching goal of contributing to large-scale change in policy and practice. We award grants through three program areas that we have prioritized during the last decade because of their importance to the region. Click on the links below to learn more about our current priorities in each program area.
Funded activities may include, but are not restricted to, community engagement and capacity-building, applied research, measurement and evaluation activities, and workshops and conferences related to the Foundation’s areas of interest. We welcome collaboration among organizations in Latin America and prefer to fund institutions that are actively engaged with a broad array of stakeholders impacted by the identified challenge.
While the Foundation supports advocacy and policy-based work, as a private foundation we are unable to support certain types of activities related to legislation and lobbying. Please refer to the Overview of U.S. Lobbying and Political Campaigning Rules for Grantees prior to submitting letter of inquiry or proposal. Guidance on how to obtain funding for advocacy from private and public foundations is available from the Bolder Advocacy initiative.
This Quiz allows us to determine if your organization qualifies for support from the Foundation.
Letters of inquiry will provide a brief description of your proposed project as well as an estimate of the project budget.
Full Proposals should include all aspects of the project. They will only be required if the proposed project falls within our areas of interest.
The Tinker Foundation provides grants only to organizations that are charitable in nature, i.e., with a United States 501(c)(3) tax status or its equivalent if the organization is located outside the U.S. Organizations from Latin America do not need to have United States 501(c)(3) status.
The project must be focused on the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries of Latin America, including:
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
The project must fall under one of Tinker’s primary program areas:
- Democratic Governance
- Sustainable Resource Management
Our funds may not be used for:
- Individuals, including individual research
- Direct or grassroots lobbying (see our Overview of U.S. Lobbying and Political Campaigning Rules for Grantees)
- Annual or other fund-raising appeals
- School tuition or scholarships, or child sponsorships
- Support for building construction or major equipment purchases
- Production costs for film, television, and radio projects
- Art museum collections, films, and exhibits
It is our policy to fund organizations with 501(c)(3) charitable status, or, if based outside the United States, with local charitable status.
Project activities must take place in our areas of geographic interest.
We will fund only those projects that align with our programmatic priorities.
Tinker does not fund these activities or entities.
Can the Tinker Foundation make a grant to organizations other than United States 501(c)(3) public charities?
Yes. Tinker Foundation will assume expenditure responsibility for grants to non-501(c)(3) entities. For more information on expenditure responsibility, please click here.
Does the Tinker Foundation support fiscally sponsored projects?
Yes. Applicants with a fiscal sponsor are eligible for funding.
Do you make grants to for-profit organizations?
In most cases, no. We do not accept unsolicited inquiries from for-profit organizations.
Does the Tinker Foundation make grants to individuals?
How should we proceed if the project fits into more than one program area?
Apply to the program area that you perceive to be the primary fit. Foundation staff will coordinate internally to confirm program alignment.
If your project includes a partnership with multiple organizations, please list the organization that will assume responsibility for completing the application and for receiving and managing the funds.
If your project includes a partnership with multiple organizations, please list the organization that will assume responsibility for completing the application and for receiving and managing the funds.
The project summary should include a brief overview of the activities and goals of your project, along with some contextual background information. Ideally, the summary should be no more than two pages (roughly 1,000 words) using single-spaced 12-point font. The system allows you to exceed that page length if necessary, but we strongly prefer a concise letter of inquiry. For this reason, at this point in the process we do not accept extra information, such as graphics or other digital files. To avoid internet connectivity issues, you should prepare your summary in a Word document and paste it into the online application. After pasting, please review the online form to ensure paragraph breaks and other formatting elements have been maintained.
Country or countries where project effort is focused, using the options provided by Fluxx
If you are a university, you may enter your department/center budget.
Please include the total amount required to conduct the project over the total duration of the project.
Please include only the amount requested from the Tinker Foundation over the full duration of the project.
Our Board of Directors meets in June and December to determine grant funding. Successful applicants will receive awards within two weeks of our regularly scheduled meetings. The project start date should correspond to the Foundation’s approval schedule.
We provide support for a maximum of 36 months.
Select Democratic Governance, Education, Sustainable Resource Management, or Other.
Select from a menu.
Letter of Inquiry FAQs
What is a letter of inquiry?
Can I submit the letter of inquiry in a language other than English?
Who reviews the letter of inquiry?
Do I need a Fluxx login to access to submit a letter of inquiry?
Can I submit multiple letters of inquiry for different projects?
Should the letter of inquiry describe the concept of a new project or do you fund projects that are already in progress?
What if we are uncertain about the level of funding to be requested at the letter of inquiry stage?
We have a letter of inquiry that appears to fit within Foundation guidelines. Should we set up a meeting with Foundation staff to present our idea?
Why can’t I add information for more than one contact for the letter of inquiry?
It would be helpful to add multimedia to best describe my project. Will I be able to do this?
What happens once the letter of inquiry is summitted?
Would I be able to receive feedback if my letter of inquiry has not been successful?
Would I be able to apply again if my letter of inquiry was not successful?
How soon after submitting a letter of inquiry will I hear if I have been selected to submit a full proposal?
After reviewing all the LOIs, we invite a limited number of organizations to submit a full proposal. The proposal allows us to understand each project more deeply and confirm its fit with Tinker’s programmatic priorities. Although we limit the number of proposals we accept, an invitation to submit a proposal is not a guarantee of funding. In practice, we typically fund one-third to one-half of the proposals we receive. Final decisions are based on our assessment of programmatic relevance and potential impact of each individual project, as well as institutional strategic and financial considerations.
This section is generally between 10 and 15 pages in length and should be uploaded to Fluxx as a single document. The narrative section should include the following:
- Background and contextual information on the issue the project is addressing. Please provide context on how you currently work with communities or people affected by your work and how their perspectives inform the proposed project.
- The project objective and its practical and/or policy-related significance.
- Description of the evidence base informing the design of the project (e.g., how you are drawing on your organization’s own experience and/or that of others, established models, etc.) and any key hypotheses you plan to test through the work. Indicate if the project seeks to experiment with new tools or approaches.
- Plan of work describing the specific activities to be conducted. Indicate factors that could potentially delay the plan, change the length of time required to complete the project, or alter the human and financial resources required. This may be presented in a table or workplan format.
- Anticipated outcomes of the project, both short- and long-term, and how these will be assessed. Describe how will you determine if the project is on track and whether progress is being made toward short- and long-term outcomes. If the project includes plans for formal monitoring and/or evaluation, describe the mechanisms and tools to be used. Supplemental materials may be included as an appendix or uploaded separately.
- Relevant experience and capabilities of the organization for the execution of the project. Include brief descriptions of the qualifications of the project director and other project personnel. Curricula vitae should be submitted as attachments. If the project will require the organization to build or incorporate new capabilities, please explain the plan for doing so.
- Plan for dissemination, identifying the target audience(s) and how it (they) will be reached and engaged.
- Address any additional questions requested by Tinker upon inviting the proposal.
A. Basic project information such as:
- Project Title
- Project summary (brief description of objectives, target audience or beneficiaries, methodology, and plan for disseminating results)
- Project start date. If your grant is approved by our Board of Directors, project funding will be released within four weeks following our regularly scheduled Board meetings in June and December.
- Project duration (in months). Tinker will fund projects for a maximum of three years.
- Total project budget (annual and cumulative), in U.S. dollars.
- Total amount requested from Tinker (annual and cumulative), in U.S. dollars.
B. Tinker Project Budget Template showing total project costs and amounts requested from Tinker.
- Budgets categories will include, but are not limited to, personnel, travel and per diem, meetings and publications, and equipment and supplies.
- Line items that are general in nature, such as “other” or “miscellaneous,” should be explained.
- Indirect costs must be project-related expenses and cannot exceed more than 15 % of the project budget unless otherwise approved by the Foundation. For the purposes of the project budget, indirect costs include only those costs attributable to implementation of grant-funded activities. Program officers analyze indirect cost requests as part of their overall review of project budgets and approve them on a case-by-case basis.
- Capital expenses: Please note that we rarely fund capital equipment purchases on any single tangible item that has a useful life of more than one year and a value equal to or greater than $5,000. If you have any questions, please contact us. However, if your organization has 501(c)(3) status, capital purchases are allowable at the discretion of the program officer and are analyzed as part of the overall review of project budgets. If you have any questions, please contact us.
- The Tinker Foundation does not fund activities that are defined by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as lobbying. Please see our Overview of U.S. Lobbying and Political Campaign Rules for Grantees.
C. Project Budget Narrative to accompany the project budget, using the Tinker-provided template.
D. Curricula vitae of the project director and other key project personnel.
E. Names and contact information of up to three individuals who Tinker may contact about the value of the project and the organization’s capacity to conduct it. Indicate briefly the perspective they would be able to provide. Note these individuals should not be directly involved in the project. Please do not submit letters of reference unless requested by Tinker staff.
F. Please indicate geographic areas served by the project, using the options provided by Fluxx.
G. Basic organization information:
- Mailing address
- Financial and legal contacts information
- Year organization was legally incorporated
- Organization mission
- Brief description of history, goals, and recent activities
- Website and social media sites
- Number of full-time staff
- Most recent annual organization budget total
- Fiscal year start and end dates
H. Organization’s board members (including their affiliations)
I. Relevant tax identification information
J. Most recent audited or unaudited financial statements (may be in language other than English)
K. Current organizational operating budget (please include both revenue and expenses; may be in original language and currency)
L. A list of recent donors to your organization (Specify amount awarded and year granted. Provide contact information for at least one donor.)
M. 501(c)(3) status/U.S. organizations only: Most recent 990 form
N. Organizations without 501(c)(3) status/Non-U.S. organizations only: A copy of the institution’s by-laws, charter, and/or other governing documents (may be in language other than English)
O. Organizations without 501(c)(3) status/Non-U.S. organizations only: Please submit certificate of registration or other evidence of your non-profit/charitable status (may be in language other than English)
Full Proposal FAQs
Can I submit the proposal in a language other than English?
As a matter of general policy, materials should be submitted in English except for some attachments as indicated in the proposal guidelines. However, if this presents a significant challenge, please reach out to your program officer to discuss. In some cases, Tinker Foundation program officers may accept proposals in Spanish or Portuguese.
Some of the project details have changed since I submitted the letter of inquiry. Can I modify the letter of inquiry?
Although you cannot modify the letter of inquiry, you will be able to enter new information and/or updated numbers in the proposal. Inform the Tinker program officer if the project has changed significantly from the concept described in your letter of inquiry.
Do you have a project budget template? Or can we submit our own budget?
Use Tinker’s project budget template. Budget guidelines are described in the previous section.
Can we include bank transaction costs in the budget?
You may request grant funds for bank transaction costs.
What happens once the proposal is submitted?
Once a proposal is received, proposals will be reviewed and in some cases Tinker staff may follow up with questions. All final decisions are made during the Tinker Board of Directors meetings in June or December.
Would I be able to receive feedback if my proposal has not been successful?
We strive to give feedback to all proposal submissions as we understand the time and effort it takes to submit a full proposal.
Do I need to complete the proposal in one session?
At any time during the application process, you may click the “save” button, exit the system, and return at another time to complete your submission.
How do I return to an incomplete proposal that I saved, but have not yet submitted?
To access a saved proposal, log into the grant application system using your username and password. We recommended that you bookmark the page to return easily to a proposal in progress.
How long is the letter of inquiry review process? When will I know if I can submit a full proposal?
Letters of inquiry are reviewed on a rolling basis prior to the deadline for receipt of full proposals. You should receive notification of the status no later than three weeks following the closing date for the letter of inquiry.
I am a fiscally sponsored project. What information should I include in the letter of inquiry?
If your organization/project is fiscally sponsored, enter information about your organization/project, not the fiscal sponsor. [Fiscal sponsorship is a formal arrangement in which a 501(c)(3) public charity sponsors a project that may lack tax-exempt status per the United States Internal Revenue Service.]
I am a fiscally sponsored project. What information should I include in the proposal?
If your organization/project is fiscally sponsored, the project and the fiscal sponsor will need to submit organization documentation, if applicable. [Fiscal sponsorship is a formal arrangement in which a 501(c)(3) public charity sponsors a project that may lack tax-exempt status per the United States Internal Revenue Service.]
What happens once the letter of inquiry is submitted?
Program staff will review the letter of inquiry to determine if the concept is compatible with the Foundation’s programmatic objectives. If we have any questions about the letter of inquiry, we will contact you.
Is there a specific start date for projects?
If your grant is approved by our Board of Directors, project funding is generally released within two weeks of our Board’s regularly scheduled meetings in June and December.
How do we learn more about Tinker Foundation's past grants?
Information about our previous grants can be found in the Grants Database section.
What is the size of your grants?
Grant amounts vary by program area. However, the typical range is between $50,000 to $150,000 per year, for up to three years. We also welcome requests for smaller grants in support of more bounded projects or to complement other resources.
Can Tinker Foundation Funds be used for lobbying activities?
Tinker Foundation grant funds may not be used for lobbying expenditures. Please review the Overview of U.S. Lobbying and Political Campaigning Rules for Grantees.
Does Tinker Foundation support indirect costs of a project, and, if so, what is the maximum allowed?
You may include a maximum of 15 % in the project budget to account for indirect costs attributed to project implementation. In the budget narrative, provide a description of what is included in indirect costs. Program officers analyze indirect cost requests as part of their overall review of project budgets and approve them on a case-by-case basis.
What is your capital expense policy?
Please note that we rarely fund capital equipment purchases on any single tangible item that has a useful life of more than one year and a value equal to or greater than $5,000. If you have any questions, please contact us. However, if your organization has 501(c)(3) status, capital purchases are allowable at the discretion of the program officer and are analyzed as part of their overall review of project budgets. If you have any questions, please contact us.
What percentage of a project budget can we request?
In some cases, we will serve as the sole funder of a project, but we are open to and supportive of co-funding arrangements that allow us to contribute to a project that may exceed our funding capacity.
What is the maximum duration of a project?
We will provide support for a maximum of three years.
Do you provide general support grants?
Given our size and strategy, Tinker Foundation currently focuses its grant making on project support. Please consult the program officer to discuss the specific needs of your organization.
Are there deadlines for submitting my request for funding?
Yes, all deadlines for the current year are posted on our website and in Fluxx.
If we already have an open grant, can we apply for support for another project?
Yes. However, the Tinker Foundation prefers to close out a prior grant before considering a new request. Requests to submit a new application while an organization has an open grant will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Contact your program officer to discuss.
Does the Tinker Foundation accept applications for projects in multiple countries or regional in impact?
We welcome proposal addressing regional, transnational, and comparative approaches.
Does the Tinker Foundation make grants to network/partnership/consortium organizations?
Yes. However, one organization must assume programmatic and fiscal responsibility for the entire project. Consulting contracts or agreements between the network/partnership/consortium organizations are required.
Can Tinker Foundation grant funds be used to meet donor matching requirements?
Yes. The Foundation encourages grantees to seek matching or additional funds to diversify funding sources and to meet full project financing needs.
Who should we contact at Tinker if we have questions during the application process?
Contact our Grants Manager, Angelina Pienczykowski (apienczykowski[at]tinker[dot]org), with any administrative questions regarding due dates, reporting, or the online portal (Fluxx), etc.
Contact the program officer to discuss project details or if you have substantive questions regarding the project.