Submitting a Letter of Inquiry Print E-mail

The following information is for organizations that are not current grantees and have not been invited by our program staff to submit a proposal. These three steps will help you determine if your organization is eligible for an Irvine grant, whether it fits with our program priorities, and, if so, how to submit a letter of inquiry.

1. Review our eligibility requirements

To be considered for a grant, your organization must:

  • Be classified as a public charity and tax exempt under 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1) or (2) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Benefit California: When James Irvine established the Foundation in 1937, he stipulated that it support only programs and organizations that directly benefit the people of California.
  • Be primarily independent from government support: Based on a restriction specified by James Irvine in our founding documents, we refrain from making grants to public agencies or organizations that receive more than 50 percent of their revenue from government sources.

    To determine your organization’s percentage of government support, please use the following formula, with figures from your organization’s most recent IRS Form 990: total amount of government grants (2008 IRS Form 990, Part VIII, Line 1e) divided by total revenue from all sources (2008 IRS Form 990, Park I, Line 12).

2. Read our program descriptions

We accept inquiries for Arts funding only through our Exploring Engagement Fund, which is open to eligible California-based nonprofit arts organizations. We do not accept unsolicited letters of inquiry for our Arts program.

Grantseekers interested in a grant from our California Democracy or Youth programs should read carefully the descriptions of these programs. If, after reading these sections, you believe that your organization's work is a good fit with our priorities, you can submit a letter of inquiry, using the link below. This online form will gather basic information about your organization and funding request.

Please note that we do not accept unsolicited inquiries for Special Initiative grants.

3. Submit your inquiry

To submit a letter of inquiry, please complete all sections of our online application. No later than three months after you submit your inquiry, you will receive written communication about our decision, in most cases by mail.

What we fund

We consider requests for a range of support, including:

  • General operating support when the organization's core work aligns with our program priorities
  • Strategies to improve or expand existing programs
  • New projects
  • Planning, management or technical assistance needs
  • Efforts to strengthen organizational leadership
  • Evaluation
  • Selected policy work and advocacy

What we do not fund

Please do not submit an inquiry for the following types of support, as we generally do not make grants for:

  • Capital campaigns
  • Films or videos
  • Deficit or emergency funding
  • Scholarships
  • Endowment contributions
  • Significant purchases of equipment

In addition, we do not generally sponsor events or conferences. We will make rare exceptions to this policy for events or conferences that fit closely with Irvine’s program priorities and, typically, are organized by a current Irvine grantee.

For more information, please read our answers to frequently asked questions. If you have more questions, please contact:

Grants Manager
The James Irvine Foundation
One Bush Street, Suite 800
San Francisco, CA 94104
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