Frequently Asked Questions about Our Grants

The process begins with a determination of whether your organization or initiative is a good fit with what we fund. While we do not accept unsolicited proposals, if you think that your idea aligns with our goals we would encourage you to take a closer look at our grant application process and consider whether it would be appropriate to submit an inquiry.

Grants are awarded by the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The Board meets four times a year, and grantees are generally notified of the Board’s decision within one business day of the meeting.

The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation is primarily focused on funding organizations and initiatives that align with our three focus areas: education, health, and the vitality of Indianapolis. Learn more about what we fund.

Historically, the Foundation has made the following types of grants:

  • General operating support
  • Capital projects and endowments
  • Capacity building
  • Start-up or seed funding
  • Matching or challenge funds
  • One-year and multi-year grants

The following is a list of organizations or activities that we do not support, either as a matter of policy or law:

  • Supporting organizations controlled by disqualified persons to the Fairbanks Foundation, or non-functionally integrated Type III supporting organizations (as such terms are defined by the Internal Revenue Service in the Internal Revenue Code). For more information, please visit The Council on Foundations website and search for Supporting Organization or the 2006 Pension Protection Act.
  • Grants, loans, or scholarships for individuals.
  • Most for-profit organizations.
  • Initiatives that do not impact the city of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Yes. The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation limits grant awards to organizations serving greater Indianapolis, Indiana. We do not award international grants.

We welcome inquiries at any time. However, we would ask that you carefully consider the reasons given for prior declinations, and again review what we fund.

In August 2006, former President George W. Bush signed the Pension Protection Act of 2006 into law. Among other changes, the Act imposed tighter legal restrictions on grants awarded by private foundations, including the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, to a type of charitable organization referred to as a Supporting Organization. To avoid potential penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Service for failing to adhere to the provisions contained within the Pension Protection Act, our legal counsel advised the Foundation to implement an annual tax-exempt status certification process for all multi-year grant recipients. The certification process helps the Foundation ensure that an organization’s tax-exempt status has not changed since the grant was originally awarded. The Foundation’s certification process does not apply to municipal corporations or to one-year grant recipients. For more information about the Pension Protection Act, please visit the Council on Foundations’ website.