The Affiliation Continuum
One of the catchwords of the grantseeking world is affiliation. It
is most probable that when you began to consider the possibility
of seeking a grant, one of the first things you were told was that
you must be "affiliated" in order to receive a grant.
This statement is unnecessarily intimidating to the grantseeker.
Thousands of grants are awarded each year directly to individuals
without specific institutional affiliation. Just to list a few:
A tape collector received grants of $10,000 from
the National Endowment for the Arts and $15,000 from the New York State Council
on the Arts to amass a recording-tape library of various machine sounds.
The John D. MacArthur Foundation, which was formed upon the death
of the insurance wizard, provides annual "no-strings-attached"
awards of $500,000 paid out over five years to fellows nominated
by a squad of talent scouts. The concept behind these grants is
to set brilliant individuals free to work on their own ideas on
a variety of subjects.
The U.S. Department of Energy conducts a program
whereby inventors and small businessmen receive grants of varying amounts to
develop and market their own energy-saving ideas.
At a summer Connecticut music festival, there
were two composers whose works were on the program: one composer was acknowledged
to be a Fulbright scholar and the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and
awards from the Koussevitzky Music Foundation and Boston Musica Viva; the
other, also a Fulbright fellow, was the recipient of a National Endowment for
the Arts Composers Grant and the Martha Baird Rockefeller Recording Award.
The Institute of Current World Affairs awards
one or two fellowships of about $10,000 a year to individuals (usually in their
twenties or thirties) to observe and study at firsthand foreign cultures or issues
of contemporary significance. Grant money covers living and travel expenses for
two to four years.
The Fund for Investigative Journalism awards
about fifty grants each year, ranging from $100 to $2,000, to journalists
pursuing specific investigations of a controversial or a worthwhile nature.
This list could be continued almost
indefinitely. The grants listed were chosen more or less at random not because
they are indicative of particular trends in grant making but rather because
none of the individuals who have received or will receive these grants are
"affiliated" in the sense that their grant money was contingent upon
their having formal sponsors. Yet all of the recipients have many affiliations
with various groups, organizations, and institutions in their daily lives. In
this sense, no one is truly "unaffiliated."
As our title suggests, none of us works alone on
a desert island. Defining affiliation in its broadest context as
"belongingness," we all belong somewhere. Determining which of our present
contacts or those available to us can best serve as sponsors for grant projects
requiring such sponsorship is one feature of successful grantsmanship for the
Affiliation may be viewed as a continuum
ranging from working almost totally in isolation to becoming an employee of a
nonprofit institution in order to seek funding for your idea. Identifying the
exact degree of affiliation necessary to your success is an essential
preliminary step in the development of your grant proposal.
View the affiliation continuum for the individual
There are numerous soft edges and overlaps on the affiliation continuum.
Your job is to find where you most comfortably fit in.