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Social Progress Trust Fund administered by the Inter-American Development Bank and consisting of repayments of loans originally made by the U.S. government under the Alliance for Progress to various Latin American and Caribbean governments.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 our ability to promote and invest in grassroots development and to help communities thrive in Latin America and the Caribbean. Through your generous contribution, we can increase awareness, understanding, and support for grassroots development in the communities where we work. As an independent agency of the United States Government, federal appropriations are and will continue to be the bedrock of our operating budget. However, one of our challenges stems from reduced financial resources from Congressional Appropriations and from the Social Progress Trust Fund, encouraging us to diversify our program funding. Private support from donors like you ensures that we can continue to support the best ideas emerging from the region and serve as an effective and transparent channel for foreign assistance.
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. While it is possible to have your gift directed toward a specific initiative or country where we are currently working, we ask that you contribute to unrestricted funding. By not restricting your contribution for a specific project or country, you will enable us to allocate our resources more efficiently and where the needs are greatest. In order to restrict an online donation, you must send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org after your transaction on pay.gov is complete. In your email, please tell us to which country or initiative you would like the funds directed. Please include your name, the amount of the donation, and your donation confirmation number so that we can locate your record.
The IAF is not a disaster relief organization. However, the scale of destruction left behind by Hurricane Matthew led us to reach out to our grantee partners in Haiti to see how we could help. The response illustrates the importance of grassroots organizations and their ability to mobilize community resources. Donations from private citizens complemented existing and former grantee partner efforts to address community needs after the hurricane. With our support, they were able to provide their communities with materials such as school supplies, hygiene kits, and seeds. Other rebuilding efforts included providing psychological assistance to deal with post-traumatic stress and training for community members to help their neighbors in times of crisis.
Recent News and Stories
On Sunday, June 30, 2019, we join the National Museum of African American History and Culture for an event with storytellers and scholars from the United States and Latin America.
The IAF has joined a new initiative under the U.S.-Caribbean 2020 framework to strengthen the region's capacities to thrive in the face of natural disasters.