Application FAQs

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Grant Application FAQs

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There are many questions that come up in each round of applications, and several that probably should.

Below is a list of these queries – please feel free to share.


1 – What makes a good proposal?

A good story pitch written for an editor would be very similar to a good proposal written for an FIJ grant. Get to the point. What is the main question your investigation seeks to answer? What is your road map for tracking down information? Is the information obtainable through public records, interviews, or your own observations? What has your preliminary research found?

2 – What is your definition of “investigative”?

Uncovering wrongdoing by powerful people and/or institutions.

3 – What is your definition of “groundbreaking”?

Something important that was previously unknown or hidden.

4 – May I go deeper into a topic that has been in the news recently?

Perhaps. Explain how your investigation would significantly advance the story, or the understanding of the issue.

5 – Is there a successful proposal you can provide as a sample?

Sorry, no. Application materials are confidential.

6 – What expenses will FIJ cover?

Generally, FIJ covers hard costs such as travel and data collection, and often grants small stipends. See the sample budget for guidance.

7 – What expenses won’t FIJ cover?

FIJ cannot help you rent office space, purchase office supplies, or buy equipment. However, FIJ will cover the cost of equipment rental. FIJ also will not cover budgets that are submitted without itemized details.

8 – What is the word limit for a proposal?

The summary shouldn’t exceed 100 words; the proposal shouldn’t exceed 1,000 words.

9 – Why do you require a letter of commitment?

FIJ does not have the staffing nor the capacity to find news outlets for completed work and will not make grants for projects that might never find an audience.

10 – I’m having trouble getting a letter of commitment. The editor wants to see a copy of the story before committing. I’m sure if I get funding, I will get published (or aired). May I apply?

No. But do show your editor the sample language that we suggest (on the Apply For a Grant page) for the letter of commitment.

It is a pledge “that the news outlet will publish or air the specific story you propose – as long as it meets the publication’s expectations and standards.” It is a commitment, not an ironclad contract. FIJ cannot compel a news organization to publish something that does not meet its standards.

11 – I have more than two work samples I’d like to send.

That’s great! But select and send the best two.

12 – Does FIJ take phone calls to discuss project ideas or grant requirements?

Yes. But first look over the FIJ website, especially the Apply For a Grant page.

13 – Who reviews applications and chooses recipients?

The FIJ board of directors reviews all applications.

14 – Can you give me written feedback on a proposal before I apply?

We can’t provide written reviews, but if you call, we can answer specific questions.

15 – May I ask board members for feedback and information?

We ask that you don’t. If you question a board member about a proposal, they are required to recuse themselves from the review process.

16 – Is there a deadline for finishing a funded project?

The project deadline is one year from grant notification.

17 – If I am working on a grant project now, may I apply again for a new project?

No. Finish the first project before applying for a new grant.

18 – If I received a grant in the past, may I apply for a new project?

Yes. However, if a grantee has received several grants over the years, the board may take a pass on future applications.

19 – Does FIJ fund book projects?

Yes. In this case, authors must submit a copy of a signed contract in place of the letter of commitment.

20 – Does FIJ fund international reporting?

Some, if the story has a strong American angle and is published in the US.

21 – May I apply with a partner?

Yes, though one person must take responsibility for the grant.

22 – Does FIJ fund photo or other visual reporting projects?

Yes. Though photos would probably need text to explain the investigative findings. Video projects definitely qualify, and we also encourage other storytelling platforms, including audio.

23 – May I apply to more than one organization that funds investigative work?

Yes, as long as you disclose this in the application and budget. FIJ does not require exclusivity.

24 – How would FIJ prefer to be recognized?

Please include a credit in the primary medium that distributes the project. For example: “This report was supported by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.”