How do I apply for a grant from The Lia Fund?

The Foundation no longer makes grants. After a period of six years, the Foundation closed its doors at the end of 2013.

Why did the Foundation close its doors so soon?

Acknowledging the great financial need of social movements today, the Board and Advisors of the Foundation decided to sunset and spend down all of its assets within a much shorter period than the traditional practice in philanthropy. Generally, foundations give away only 5% of their assets every year, the minimum annual payout mandated by law. This practice ensures that philanthropic institutions continue to exist in perpetuity while sitting on large amounts of assets. By sunsetting within six years, the Foundation was able to boost its grants budget threefold, a boon for grassroots social change organizations, especially those impacted by the 2008 global economic crisis.

What types of work did the Foundation support?

The Foundation focused grants in three funding areas: Community Arts, Climate Solutions, Holistic Health & Healing.  For more, please see The Lia Fund Legacy Report [PDF].

How much did the Foundation give away?

The Foundation awarded a total of $5 million to 107 grassroots organizations over the course of six years, from 2008 to 2013. Grants were generally between $15,000 and $25,000, but some grants were considerably less. The Foundation believed in providing both general support and multi-year grants.

What were some lessons learned?

• Build trust with each other.
• Build trust with grantees.
• Be nimble.
• Take risks, prepare for setbacks.
• Be prepared when things don’t work out.
• Conduct site visits.
• Aim for systemic change, sustainability, and ripple-out effects.
• Consider the long-term impact of general support and multi-year grants.
• Grantees benefit, but so do the Board and Advisors.

What key insights did the Board and Advisors gain?

• Democratize philanthropy: Involve community activists in decision-making.
• Recognize the interconnectedness of issues, communities, and teams of both grantmakers and grantees.
• Adhere to bold principles of systemic change and sustainability.
• Be aware of who benefits and how grantmaking supports the underserved.
• Develop a trusting relationship with grantees and be aware of their burden.
• Stay committed to grantees.
• Establish an appropriate infrastructure that satisfies legal requirements but also facilitates diverse participation.

For grantees' stories of their work that embodies these principles, please see The Lia Fund Legacy Report [PDF].