What are the primary grantmaking interests of the Laird Norton Family Foundation?
Our grantmaking reflects the values of the Laird Norton Family. We give in program areas that reflect current interests of the Family: Arts in Education, Climate Change, Human Services, and Watershed Stewardship. The Foundation also has a youth grantmaking program called the Sapling Fund that supports youth-focused organizations. From 2007-2016, we also gave through our Global Fundamentals program, which supported WASH projects in developing countries. More information about the specifics of our grantmaking and the organizations we have supported recently can be found on our program pages.
I believe my organization is a good fit for the Foundation’s mission. How should I contact the Foundation? Does the Foundation accept LOIs?
If you have thoroughly reviewed the Foundation’s priorities and grantmaking activity on the website and you believe your organization is a good match for our mission, you can fill out an information form here. Please be aware that the Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals or formal letters of inquiry and rarely makes grants to organizations that we first learn about through the information form—so we urge you to carefully review your fit with our organization’s priorities before investing time in filling out our information form. Full applications may be submitted by invitation only.
I have submitted an information form and haven’t heard back. Why not?
The Foundation staff does our best to respond to every information form that is submitted, however, we may not respond if the organization is an extremely poor fit for our priorities or if the form did not come through our website. We have a very small staff and cannot respond to inquiries immediately, but make every effort to respond in a timely manner.
How are grant decisions made?
Each Fund Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Laird Norton Family Foundation operates on its own annual cycle. After the invited applications are submitted to the Foundation, they are sent to the appropriate committee, made up of Laird Norton Family members. The Family and staff will review the applications and follow up as necessary with the applicants before meeting to make decisions. While each Family committee has its own process and priorities, consistent evaluative factors tend to be: the organization’s fit with the committee’s stated mission, the proven track record of the organization to have meaningful impact, and the quality of the organization’s partnerships.
Do you have suggestions for other Foundations I should investigate?
I believe I could be most effective in advocating for my organization during a face-to-face meeting. Why is it so difficult to set up a meeting with a staff person at LNFF?
We wish we had the time to meet with all potential applicants as well as others active in the fields we fund! Unfortunately, the Foundation does not have the staffing resources to personally meet with organizations whose work is not clearly aligned with our priorities. We do carefully review all submitted materials and perform extensive research on the areas we fund.
If we are invited to apply, how can I improve my organization’s chances of receiving a grant?
Every organization that is invited to apply should engage in conversation with Foundation staff before spending any significant time on the application. The staff will be able to keep you up to date on the committees’ current interests and priorities, as well as an appropriate ask. When actually writing the application, it is important to answer each question fully and clearly, providing evidence of how your organization will achieve impact and how that impact will be measured. Please also make sure to submit all requested budget and back-up information.
My organization received funding through the Taproot Fund. Does that mean we should consider applying for a grant?
The Taproot Fund is a matching grant program of the Foundation that matches individual Family members’ gifts to the organizations they personally support. We are proud to amplify the power of the Family’s personal generosity, but the Foundation maintains its own grantmaking priorities as spelled out on this website and is not influenced by individual philanthropic choices reflected through Taproot Fund matching grants. Unless your organization’s focus is closely aligned with one of the Foundation’s grantmaking programs, it is unlikely we would consider a larger grant.
Please note: The Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals or letters of inquiry, and rarely makes grants to organizations that were not invited to apply. For more information, please visit our FAQ.