Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
The Inter-American Foundation (IAF) is governed by a nine-person board of directors appointed by the president of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. Six members of the board are drawn from the private sector and three from the federal government. The board appoints a president who serves as the IAF’s chief executive officer.
Congress annually appropriates funds for use by the IAF pursuant to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1969, as amended. The IAF’s other primary funding source is the Social Progress Trust Fund administered by the Inter-American Development Bank and consisting of repayments of loans originally made by the U.S. government under the Alliance for Progress to various Latin American and Caribbean governments. The IAF accepts donations for projects in the region.
- A value-driven mandate allows the IAF to support programs that promote entrepreneurship, self-reliance and democratic principles as well as economic progress for the poor.
- Responsiveness to the ideas of organized people drives IAF’s work.
- A focus on innovation and experimentation makes the IAF a pioneer in the development assistance community.
- A bipartisan public-private governing structure assures the IAF benefits from entrepreneurial experience and works toward the long-term national interest.
- A lean operating structure keeps overhead to a minimum and maximizes program returns.
The IAF uses the term “grassroots development” to describe the process by which disadvantaged people organize themselves to improve the social, cultural and economic well-being of their families, communities and societies. This concept is based on the premise that the key to sustainable democracies, equitable societies and prosperous economies is a people-oriented strategy that stresses participation, organizational development and networking.
- Support people, organizations and processes.
- Channel funds directly to nongovernmental organizations.
- Promote entrepreneurship, innovation and self-reliance.
- Strengthen democratic principles.
- Empower poor people to take the initiative in solving their problems.
- Treat partners with respect and dignity.
The IAF has been a leader in helping grassroots initiatives gain recognition as a critical factor in the sustainable development of Latin America and the Caribbean. Since 1972, the IAF has awarded more than 5,200 grants totaling about $730 million to support more than 4,000 organizations. Many grants went to grassroots organizations such as agricultural cooperatives or small urban enterprises; others were awarded to larger intermediary organizations that provided community groups with credit, technical assistance, training and marketing assistance. The largest portion of IAF funding has been invested in enterprise development, followed by food production and agriculture, education, training, and eco-development. Together the IAF and its grantees have tested cost-effective, participatory models for social and economic development. These models have been replicated and expanded by government and larger donor agencies improving conditions for hundreds of thousands of poor families throughout the hemisphere.
Grassroots development works. It not only engages poor people in improving their conditions but also fosters responsible citizenship. To gauge the impact of its investment, the IAF systematically tracks the results of its projects by using a conceptual grassroots development framework. This measures tangible results of projects and assesses the civic capacity of individuals, organizations and communities
- It knows how to select its partners. The IAF supports grassroots groups with a track record in participatory self-help activities, who are willing to invest and risk their own resources.
- It responds to local initiatives. The IAF does not design or impose projects; instead, it builds upon the ideas and commitment of local people.
- It encourages processes that are sustainable, either with revenue generated by grantees or with resources leveraged from private and public sectors.
- It supports innovative approaches that are replicable, allowing the IAF to increase the impact of activities through a multiplier effect.
The size of an IAF grant depends on the needs of the proponent organization and the amount of counterpart resources mobilized. Recent IAF grants have varied from $25,000 to $400,000 over one to four years. Currently, the IAF does not fund requests for amounts under $25,000 or for more than $400,000.
No, proponent organizations can only submit one proposal per funding cycle.
In general, the IAF does not fund proposals that request more than 50 percent in overhead expenses. Usually the lower the overhead, the more attractive the proposal.
Salaries are a legitimate expense.
Counterpart funding must be a component of the budget for the proposed project, but no minimum amount is required. Higher counterpart funding makes a proposal more attractive. Counterpart may be in cash donations or in kind, including, but not limited to, land, supplies, infrastructure, labor, and office, storage and meeting space.
Allowable administrative expenses include operations, rent, utilities, insurance, salaries, office equipment and supplies and other costs listed on the proposed budget form in the budget section of these guidelines.
Your organization will receive confirmation of receipt. Within four to six months, you will be notified of the status of the proposal.
The governing structure refers to the organization’s form of leadership which might include, for example, a board of directors, general assembly, fiscal council and/or chief executive officer. The operating structure refers to the division of labor. For example, the operating structure might include an educational team, a communications team, and an administrative department.
Here the word “composition” refers to the people who form the organization. An association is made of members, for example, and may also include volunteers and other interested individuals.
Yes, your field office may submit a proposal and any contributions from the main office may be included as counterpart for the grant.
Private giving is essential to strengthen our investments in grassroots development and help communities thrive in Latin America and the Caribbean through sustainable programming. As an independent agency of the U.S. government, we receive an annual allocation of funds through the federal appropriations process, which constitutes the majority of our operating and programmatic budget. However, we regularly receive more high-quality, viable proposals for projects than we can fund via agency appropriations. Private support from donors like you makes our limited federal funding go further, by allowing us to support more of the region’s best ideas and promote a sustainable funding model throughout the hemisphere.
Yes. The IAF is an independent agency of the United States government, and your donation qualifies as a charitable contribution under IRS Code sections 170(a) and 170(c).
We appreciate your interest in supporting our projects. The IAF carefully conducts a priorities and needs assessment of the region. While it is possible to have your gift directed toward a specific initiative or country where we work, we prefer that you make your contribution unrestricted to the IAF. Doing so ensures agency resources are more quickly and effectively available to meet the region’s greatest needs. If you have any concerns, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Inter-American Foundation is committed to respecting the privacy of donors. We will not sell, share, or trade your name or personal information with any other entity, nor send you mailings on behalf of other organizations.
This policy applies to all information received by the Inter-American Foundation, both online and offline, as well as any electronic, written, or oral communications.
Recent News and Stories
To launch our series on 50 years of grassroots successes, we explore why our grantees consider us one of the best funders of international development, according to the Center for Effective Philanthropy survey on grantees’ perceptions of their funders.
The Inter-American Foundation Launches its First Impact Investment in a Central American Microcredit LenderInter-American Foundation2020-01-31T12:05:14-05:00
The IAF launched its first-ever impact investment in Empresa para el Desarrollo (EDESA) in Costa Rica on January 30.