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  General Information
  Affiliation - Who Needs It?
  Why Many Grants Call for Institutional Affiliation
The Affiliation Continuum
    Work on Your Own
    Form Your Own Organzation
    Umbrella Groups
    Become an Employee
  Conclusion: Individualism and the Grantseeker
  No One Works Alone
Guide to Fiscal Sponsorship and Affiliation

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 individual grantseeker.

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 grantseeker.

There are numerous soft edges and overlaps on the affiliation continuum. Your job is to find where you most comfortably fit in.

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