Before You Apply
We believe that funds, wisely invested, well focused, and provided at the right time, can have significant impacts. We strive to make the most of our dollars.
Our highest priority is to support projects that seek to promote social change and impact the way our culture, economy or political system addresses a particular issue. We look for efforts that offer a clear picture of how society should change while demonstrating an understanding of the mechanisms necessary for change. We recognize that this work can be challenging and multi-year and we will structure our grants accordingly, using multi-year milestone-based grant relationships where appropriate. We are increasingly engaged in collective impact efforts.
Our second priority is projects that provide significant benefits long after the grant period is over. We are looking for grantees who clearly understand those benefits and have a commitment to track project impacts even after a grant period has closed. We will make multi-year grants for these projects as well.
Our third priority is projects that provide solid service and track the impacts of that service. We are looking for efforts that can demonstrate results, rather than simply track the provision of the service.
We are interested in supporting projects from strong organizations with solid board stewardship, excellent staff leadership, and technically competent program staff and volunteers. We also look for good financial performance, sound accounting, and ethical behavior in all aspects of project implementation, management and fundraising.
We do not expect perfection. We understand that many non-profits are in a constant process of self-improvement, particularly as they change in response to their own growth or evolution of their mission. We value this process. We recognize that solid organizational effectiveness may look very different reflected in large and small organizations. We look forward to working with both.
Timing often plays a key role in the success of any endeavor. We will give preference to projects that take advantage of a strategic window where impact is likely to be the greatest.
OVERHEAD AND GIFT FEES
For research projects and programs conducted at universities and other established institutions of higher learning, the James S. Bower Foundation limits funding of overhead and/or gift fees to fifteen percent of total costs. For scholarships and fellowships the limitation is ten percent.