Grants FAQ

This FAQ provides information about grant eligibility, proposals, budgets and more. If you have a question that is not answered here, or if you need additional information, please email [email protected].

A good story pitch written for an editor would be very similar to a good proposal written for a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism. What is the main question your investigation seeks to answer? What will you uncover that is new? 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?

Uncovering wrongdoing by powerful people or institutions.

Something important that was previously unknown or hidden.

Perhaps. The proposal should explain how the investigation would significantly advance the story or public understanding of the issue.

The next grant deadline is always posted on our homepage, We have three regular grant cycles a year (winter, spring and summer) and one grant cycle focused just on diversity grants or fellowships (fall). We review proposals for seed funding a couple of times a year. In rare cases, we provide expedited review of grant proposals that are extremely urgent. We review proposals for stories on threats to democracy on a rolling basis.

For regular grant cycles and diversity grants or fellowships, decisions are made within about six weeks of the application deadline. Applicants who are granted expedited review for extremely urgent proposals receive a decision within about two to four weeks of applying.

Some, if they meet the following criteria: International story proposals must come from U.S.-based reporters or have a strong U.S. angle, involving American citizens, government or business. All stories must be published in English in a media outlet in the United States.

No. To be considered for a grant, the story must be published in a U.S. media outlet in English. It also must come from a U.S.-based reporter or have a strong U.S. angle, as outlined above.

Yes, if they are investigative. Authors must submit a signed book contract in place of the letter of commitment required for other projects.

All journalists are eligible. Most grants are awarded to freelance journalists. Some journalists on staff at nonprofit and traditional media outlets also receive grants.

The summary should be about 100 words and the full proposal should be less than 1,000 words. The content is more important than the length. The proposal should explain clearly why this is an investigative project, what question it seeks to answer, what is new about it, what your investigative plan is, and why you’re uniquely suited to do it. See the Apply For a Grant page for a more detailed explanation of the proposal.

Sorry, no. Application materials are confidential.

The budget should be detailed and include an itemized breakdown of the costs of the investigation, with a rationale for cost estimates. See the sample budget for guidance.

Generally, grants cover hard costs such as travel and data collection, and often grants also cover small stipends.

Grants cannot be used to rent office space, purchase office supplies or buy equipment. However, grants can be used to cover the cost of equipment rental in some cases.

The Fund does not have the capacity to find news outlets for completed work and will not make grants for projects that might never find an audience.

The Fund suggests sample language for the letter that makes clear it is not an ironclad contract. A commitment letter can say that the news outlet will publish or air the specific story you propose – as long as it meets the publication’s expectations and standards.

The Fund’s board of directors reviews all applications and votes on which will receive grants.

Deadlines are set with grantees at the outset and they can vary depending on the project.

Yes. One person needs to be the lead and take responsibility for the grant. There is space on the application to share information about team members.

Yes, as long as this is disclosed in the application and budget. The Fund does not require exclusivity.

Yes, a credit should be included with the story, and the outlet should also credit the Fund in its social media promoting the project. (Sample language: “This report was supported by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.”) If the media outlet has a blanket policy against crediting funding sources, the reporter can discuss that with the Fund.

Yes. Applicants should first review the FIJ website, especially the Apply For a Grant page, and then email [email protected] for further questions and discussion.