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How to Apply for AFP Research Grants

Please Note: There is currently no funding available for the AFP Research Grants program.

Research grants up to $10,000 annually are available through the AFP Research Council to members who want to explore new aspects, trends or issues related to fundraising.

The AFP Research Council offers grants up to $10,000 each year to individuals who wish to undertake research projects that enrich the profession’s knowledge of fundraising and improve the practice of fundraising. Grants are awarded on a rolling basis twice a year, with deadlines of Feb. 1 and Sept. 1.

Major directions for the Research Council in the next 2-3 years include:

  • Salary survey, especially incentive compensation
  • Cost of fundraising/Fundraising Effectiveness Project
  • Trends/gaps in knowledge
  • International issues
  • Demographics of fundraisers/donors

Recent grants have supported the following research projects:

  • “Giving Circles and Fundraising in the New Philanthropy Environment” by Angela Eikenberry
  • “The Revolving Door: A Study on the Voluntary Turnover of Fundraisers in the Nonprofit Sector” by Aleah Horstman
  • “An Exploration of Capital Campaign Team Organization and Functioning and the Impact on Fund Raising Success” by Preston Hicks
  • “Current Conditions and Development Strategies of Philanthropy and Fundraising in Japan” by Tamaki Onishi
  • “An Exploration of Institutional Strategies to Enhance Black College Giving” by Noah Drezner
  • “Causes and Correlates of Charitable Giving in Estate Planning” by Russell James
  • “Identification, Death and Bequest Giving” by Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang
  • “Gender Differences in Bequest Giving” by Patrick Rooney and Melissa Brown
  • “Between Intention and Final Distribution: An Examination of the Barriers to Charitable Estate Transfers” by Russell James
  • “Giving Patterns by Types of Community” by Patrick Rooney and Melissa Brown

For a full list of the funded projects, see the attachments section, below.

Guidelines for a Proposal

In general, a proposal for research should include or discuss the following items in order to receive full consideration by the AFP Research Council:

  1. Define the research need, rationale, goals and objectives.
  2. Include a review of the literature related to the proposed research.
  3. Describe the research methods to be used.
  4. If applicable, estimate the size of the sample to be studied.
  5. Outline the anticipated benefits of the study and quantify them if possible.
  6. Specify the time frame for the project (usually a six to 24-month period) and note whether this is part of a larger research project for which funds are being sought from other funders.
  7. Indicate the particular project costs that the grant will support and note whether you would be able to conduct this research if awarded partial funding of project costs. [Note: Because grant funds are limited, AFP’s Grants Committee has a policy of paying direct costs only.]
  8. Include a letter from a cooperating nonprofit organization executive documenting permission of the nonprofit to carry out the project. General letters of endorsement are neither required nor desired.
  9. Include the investigator’s resume.
  10. Show how the project supports the goals of the AFP Research Council.
  11. Include a plan for dissemination of research results.

Fundraising professionals who wish to submit proposals are encouraged to seek advice from or partner with academic institutions in developing the research design and to attend the AFP International Conference information session on how to submit a grant application to AFP. Applicants will also be asked to submit documentation of compliance with ethical guidelines for any research involving human subjects.

Process for Consideration

Proposal letters will be reviewed and grants recommended by the Grants Committee of the AFP Research Council, which may include representatives from the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) and other academic organizations. Grants will be authorized by the AFP Research Council.

The researcher should be willing to share research results with AFP members by preparing a complete analysis of the research methods and outcomes for possible publication as an article in Advancing Philanthropy and/or in an online publication. Any other publication derived from the research project should note the grant support from the AFP Research Council.

Grant awards are made in two equal payments, the first upon receipt of the grantee’s signed letter of agreement and the second upon receipt of the final written report for the project.

Funding for AFP's grants program is from AFP, the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy and Legacy Leaders.

Inquiries and proposal letters should be sent to: Cathlene Williams, Ph.D., CAE, Association of Fundraising Professionals, 4300 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 300, Arlington, VA 22203; (703) 684-0410; email .

These guidelines are also available in the Attachments section below as a PDF document.


Grant Recipients — PDF Format

Research Grant Guidelines — PDF Format

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