How to apply

We consider requests for funding that meet the overall mission and goals of the Foundation. We fund a variety of time-bound projects, core costs, technical assistance and collaborative activities. Each programme has its own funding criteria, geographic scope and requirements.

We occasionally initiate our own programmes or form initiatives in our areas of interest by issuing calls for proposals on our website, or convening policymakers and practitioners to explore solutions to critical issues.

Our principles

While each programme has its own areas of focus, as a whole, we adhere to seven funding principles. These include funding initiatives that:

  • target root causes of problems;
  • are replicable either within a sector or across geographical locations;
  • include plans for long-term sustainability;
  • strive to collaborate with like-minded organisations;
  • demonstrate good financial and organisational management;
  • value the participation of people (including children) and communities; and
  • have secured co-funding;

Trends in our grant-making

Oak Foundation has an annual grant-making budget of more than USD 200 million and makes grants to organisations located in countries worldwide. See our recent Annual Report for more details on our grant-making.

Our grant-making has evolved over the years and in recent times we have increased:

  • the length and size of grants;
  • the number of core support grants;
  • support to capacity building, policy work, campaigns and new types of social movements; and
  • joint programming work to address issues from many different perspectives.


Funding Restrictions

We do not provide support to individuals, and do not provide funding for scholarships or tuition assistance for undergraduate or postgraduate studies. We also do not fund religious organisations for religious purposes or election campaigns.

Except in special circumstances or in Zimbabwe, we generally do not provide programme grants under USD 25,000.


We respond to requests for support from organisations working in our areas of interest. Unsolicited requests for funding come to us as a letter of enquiry. Programme officers will invite an organisation to submit a concept note and/or complete an application for funding.

For programme officers to make the best possible recommendation for funding, they strive to gain the most comprehensive view of the organisation, its board members, the project and finances. Therefore, we have a rigorous due diligence and selection process, which includes extensive discussions, financial reviews and site visits.

Funding decisions are made by the Board of Trustees, either individually or as a group. While the Board of Trustees meets twice annually, grants are considered on a rolling basis throughout the calendar year.

This process does not have a set time frame. It can take from two months to more than a year from the submission of a letter of enquiry or concept note to final approval, as indicated in the chart on this page.

Timing depends on a number of factors, but we work to ensure the most efficient process possible. After the initial approval of a concept note, organisations are encouraged to reach out to programme officers to learn about the grant-making process and the stages of the application.

The lines of communication between the programme officer and the organisations are always open – it is a collaborative effort.

Oak Foundation accepts unsolicited requests for funding through a letter of enquiry.

Follow these steps:

Step 1: Review Oak Foundation's criteria for funding

Read Oak Foundation's criteria for funding,  review previous grants in our grant database and assess whether your organisation meets the general requirements of the Foundation.

Step 2: Read Programme requirements

Each programme has its own goals, geographic scope, funding restrictions and requirements for funding. Please read our programme pages for details.

Step 3: Submit a request for funding

Organisations who are interested in seeking a grant should submit a letter of enquiry through our online form.  

We will respond within three months if we require further information or if the applicant is invited to submit a formal proposal. Unfortunately, due to the volume of requests that we receive if you do not receive a reply, please assume your enquiry was not accepted.

We would be most appreciative if you do not contact the Foundation directly to discuss your request.  For initial contact, please do not telephone or visit the offices. Thank you for your understanding.