Frequently Asked Questions
  1. How much does the HMSA Foundation give in grants?
  2. What is the average grant size?
  3. What are the chances of getting funded?
  4. Does the HMSA Foundation make grants to individuals?
  5. Can we apply if we are not yet a 501(c)(3) but our application is pending at the IRS?
  6. Does the project have to benefit people in Hawai`i?
  7. If I’m interested in applying for a grant, what are the first things I should do?
  8. How long does the proposal have to be?
  9. If the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, can the proposal be submitted online by the next day?
  10. What is the process for reviewing grant proposals?
  11. When and how will I find out about the decision on my grant proposal?
  12. Might my proposal receive less than full funding?
  13. Does the Foundation pay for indirect costs?
  14. If my proposal is approved, what happens next?
  15. Do I have to publicly acknowledge the gift from the HMSA Foundation?
  16. How else might the HMSA Foundation be able to help me?
  17. Who should I contact for more information?

  1. How much does the HMSA Foundation give in grants?
    The Foundation has had a grantmaking program since 1998. Each year, we have made between $1.0 and $1.4 million in grants.

  2. What is the average grant size?
    Grants range from a few thousand dollars to over one hundred thousand dollars. In recent years, the Foundation has made a number of large multi-year grants. For a typical one-year project, grants tend to be in the $5,000 to $30,000 range. However, the HMSA Foundation does not limit itself with rigid rules. Grant proposals are considered individually and amounts should be commensurate with intended outcomes and the scope of the project. Efficiency in use of funds, however large or small the request, is always considered in funding decisions.

  3. What are the chances of getting funded?
    Obtaining a grant from the HMSA Foundation is a competitive process. Based on recent experience, about one in four proposals (25%) are funded. In a typical quarter, twenty proposals requesting about $1 million are reviewed. This amounts to many more requests than can be funded.

  4. Does the HMSA Foundation make grants to individuals?
    No. The Foundation only makes grants to organizations that are tax-exempt because 1) they are a unit of government or 2) they are a 501(c)(3) organization that is not a private foundation.

  5. Can we apply if we are not yet a 501(c)(3) but our application is pending at the IRS?
    No. Practically all foundations, like the HMSA Foundation, require that you submit proof of 501(c)(3) status (or that you are a unit of government) before your proposal will even be considered.

  6. Does the project have to benefit people in Hawai`i?
    Yes. The primary beneficiaries of the grant must be people within the State of Hawai`i.

  7. If I’m interested in applying for a grant, what are the first things I should do?
    Once you have determined that you meet the minimum eligibility requirements for a grant from the HMSA Foundation, begin outlining the general parameters of your proposal: what are the goals, how much funding do you need, and how long is needed for the project. At that point, contact the Foundation staff to talk about your idea. The staff may be able to give you some ideas for forming and improving your proposal strategy.

  8. How long does the proposal have to be?
    Every proposal should have a cover sheet, proof of tax-exempt status, list of officers and directors, financial statements, and other appendices. The narrative part of the proposal containing the description of the project, your organization and budget should be no more than 8 pages. Strong proposals are complete and concise.

  9. If the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, can the proposal be submitted online by the next day?
    Yes.

  10. What is the process for reviewing grant proposals?
    After your grant proposal is submitted, you will receive an acknowledgement letter. The Foundation staff may schedule a site visit or call for additional information. The grant proposal will be placed on the quarterly docket for decision making at the next upcoming Board meeting. Board meetings are regularly scheduled in March, June, September and December. Occasionally, a regular meeting must be postponed to the following month. Committees of experts from HMSA and the community at-large are sometimes called upon to give advisory recommendations for certain types of proposals.

  11. When and how will I find out about the decision on my grant proposal?
    In a few cases, grant proposals will be administratively declined because the request falls clearly outside foundation guidelines or for lack of foundation funds. In this case, the requester will be notified of the declination as soon as possible. In all other cases, final disposition will be given to requesters within one week of the next quarterly meeting. Dispositions may include approval, declination, or deferral to a future board meeting. While the Foundation will be available to provide assistance and answer questions, please refrain from inquiring about the disposition of your grant proposal; the Foundation will notify you of its decision as soon after the board meeting as possible.

  12. Might my proposal receive less than full funding?
    Proposals may be approved in full or in part. In most cases of partial funding, the Foundation will request a new budget to specify how the funds will be spent. Some proposals may be conditionally funded; i.e., payments will be made upon proof of certain accomplishments or upon obtaining sufficient matching funds from other organizations.

  13. Does the Foundation pay for indirect costs?
    A maximum flat rate of 5 percent of total budget will be allowed for indirect costs.

  14. If my proposal is approved, what happens next?
    Grantees will be required to sign a grant agreement that will specify the terms of the grant including timeframe and any applicable conditions. Once this agreement is signed, a check will be mailed after which the grantee must provide a formal written acknowledgement of receipt of the contribution. Grantees will be expected to provide a written final report to be submitted within three months after completion of the grant. Some grants may contain additional reporting requirements. Failure to meet the requirements of the grant agreement will jeopardize future grants from the Foundation. Project directors may also be asked to attend periodic meetings and/or provide a written report on the project’s findings suitable for wide dissemination.

  15. Do I have to publicly acknowledge the gift from the HMSA Foundation?
    You are encouraged to make a public acknowledgement of your grant. If you choose to do so, we suggest you use language such as, “Funding for this project was provided by the HMSA Foundation.” We would also appreciate advanced notice of any press release or media correspondence that references the HMSA Foundation.

  16. How else might the HMSA Foundation be able to help me?
    The Foundation truly appreciates your interest in serving Hawaii’s communities. Obviously, your primary goal is to secure needed funds. However, we hope that the application process and the relationship building between our organizations will prove beneficial whether or not your proposal is approved. For example, Foundation staff may be aware of other sources of funding or appropriate collaborators. We may also be able to assist in developing grant proposals and strategies.

  17. Who should I contact for more information?
    If you have any questions about the HMSA Foundation, please contact:
    Meryam Cabanilla Leong, Program Specialist
    Jason Paloma, Program Specialist