External Grants Program RFP
Friday, August 10, 2012
Posted by: Robin Wehrlin
Initiative on Philanthropy and Decision-Making @ the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Initiative Director: John List
For full documentation, click here.
Request for Applications:
The Initiative on Philanthropy and Decision-Making at the University of Chicago
and the University of Wisconsin-Madison is pleased to announce a new award program
to support research involving the application of economic experiments to philanthropy
and decision-making. The Initiative has $650,000 in available funds. The Initiative will
support up to 10-12 ‘small grant’ proposals over the next three years ranging from
$5,000-$49,999 per award. In addition, the Initiative will support up to 3-4 large grants
ranging from $50,000-$100,000 over the next three years. The application process for
both ‘small’ and ‘large’ grants is the same, but the PI should specify which granting
mechanism his/her proposal falls under. We suggest that new/young investigators apply
for ‘small’ grants while experienced investigators apply for ‘large’ grants.
Proposals will undergo an objective review process by Initiative staff and an
external review board comprised of 5 eminent scholars – 1-2 external review board
members will have expertise in social psychology, while the remaining members will
have expertise in behavioral/experimental economics. Proposals will be evaluated based
on alignment with Sir John’s Donor Intent, academic merit, innovation and feasibility of
successful implementation. Proposals that do not meet the requirements (either in content
or style) of this RFP will not be considered. Faculty and doctoral students at research
institutions (including universities/think tanks) in the US and abroad are eligible to apply.
Proposal Submission and Selection Schedule:
June 15, 2012 – RFA announcement made
October 1, 2012 – Letter of Inquiry due
November 15, 2012 – Applicants invited to submit full proposals are notified
Feb 1, 2012 – Full proposals due (proposals sent to external committee for review)
July 1, 2013 – Funding decisions made/PIs notified (note – set your start between 07/01/13 – 08/01/13)
September, 2013 – Grant recipients attend workshop 1 (the University of Chicago)
January 1, 2014 – 6-month report due
August 1, 2014 – Final Report due (1 year after start date)
September, 2014 – Grant recipients may attend workshop 2 (the University of Chicago)
July 1, 2013 – RFA announcement made
October 1, 2013 – Letter of Inquiry due
November 15, 2013 – Applicants invited to submit full proposals are notified
Feb 1, 2013 – Full proposals due (proposals sent to external committee for review)
July 1, 2014 – Funding decisions made/PIs notified (note – set your start between 07/01/14 – 08/01/14)
September, 2014 – Grant recipients attend workshop 2 (the University of Chicago)
January 1, 2015 – 6-month report due
August 1, 2015 – Final report due (1 year after start date)
September, 2015 – Grant recipients may attend workshop 3 (the University of Chicago)
Some of the most fundamental questions concerning human nature revolve around
the existence of social preferences. Major challenges include the basic understanding of
why, when and how individuals decide to engage in philanthropic activities. Key themes
requiring new insights include disentangling separate motivations for giving, the role of
nature versus nurture in the development of social preferences; the relationship of
preferences with culture, and how preferences and beliefs translate into behaviors,
choices and actions. Despite the economic downturn, more than $303 billion – over 2%
of U.S. GDP - was contributed to American philanthropic organizations in 2009.
Contributions by individual households account for 75% of total giving – giving in the
past decade averaged $1,940 per household.1 At the same time, $2 billion is spent on
fund-raising activities annually.2 Although charitable giving continues to grow rapidly,
philanthropic organizations often rely on rules of thumb, rather than hard scientific
evidence, to attract and maintain donors to finance public goods.
Experimental methods are an ideal approach that allows the researcher to generate
new data to discover how individuals actually behave in different situations involving
philanthropy and choice to give. In laboratory experiments, subjects (usually university
students) participate in context-free strategic interactions under real-world monetary
incentives. In field experiments, context is often integrated and subjects can come from
different populations. Field experiments can be categorized into artefactual, framed, and
natural. Artefactual field experiments are similar to lab experiments but with a nonstandard
subject pool (i.e., children, young adults, community members, or older adults).
Framed field experiments are conducted in the context of the information that subjects
normally encounter (i.e., framing a laboratory experiment as donating to charity X or Y).
Natural field experiments are similar to framed field experiments except subjects do not
know they are participants in an experiment. Focus groups and surveys are more
qualitative in nature and allow us to merge our knowledge of how individuals actually
behave with what individuals say they believe.
About the Initiative
The overarching goal of the Initiative on Philanthropy and Decision-Making is to
develop a deeper understanding of the types of social preferences that shape philanthropic
giving (including altruism, reciprocity, inequity aversion, warm-glow giving, cooperation
and generosity) and to apply this knowledge to inform both practitioners and
policymakers interested in philanthropy and the private provision of public goods. The
research findings have extensive and broader impact to society, advancing innovative
operating strategies that philanthropic organizations can benefit from in practice,
pinpointing the optimal public policies regarding public provision of goods and tax
treatment of charitable giving, and providing new knowledge for the individual donor.
The research conducted at the Initiative is focused on using the principles of
behavioral economics to measure social preferences and investigate how preferences and
beliefs influence charitable giving and associated acts of philanthropy. The use of the
1 Data from the GivingUSA Foundation and the Initiative on Philanthropy at Indiana University Annual
Report for 2010 (http://www.givingusareports.org).
These figures taken from Kelly, Kathleen S. ‘‘From Motivation to Mutual Understanding: Shifting the
Domain of Donor Research.’’ In Critical Issues in Fundraising, edited by Dwight Burlingame. New York:
experimental methodology is emphasized, incorporating a novel, multi-faceted data
generation approach that includes laboratory experiments, field experiments, focus
groups and surveys. The research conducted at the center is aimed at generating new
knowledge of human beliefs and behavior as related to charitable contributions.
The Initiative for Philanthropy and Decision-Making is funded by the Templeton
Foundation. Therefore, the proposed project should be in line with Sir John’s vision for
Humility-in-Theology and his support for research that develops methods to measure
basic forces, including altruism and thanksgiving. See www.templeton.org for more
information about the Templeton Foundation and to read about Sir John Templeton.
Scope of Research Funded under the RFP
The goal of the Initiative for Philanthropy and Decision-Making is to fund novel
research projects that use the experimental approach (laboratory experiments or field
experiments) to investigate issues surrounding giving, including but not limited to giving
to public goods, motivation for giving, the impact of different solicitations or match
announcements on giving, social norms, and the development of social preferences.
Successful proposals will have a strong foundation in behavioral economics theory and a
feasible project plan. Moreover, successful proposals will have practical relevancy – the
proposal should describe how the results may be used in policy or practice. Proposals
may target the demand (philanthropic organizations) or supply (individual donors) side of
the market – both topics are of equal importance to the Initiative.
This Initiative will not fund proposals that do not use the experimental approach
as a primary data generation methodology, but encourages proposals that include a nonexperimental
secondary component (such as post-experiment surveys, additional data
gathering, etc.) The Initiative will not fund proposals with no direct link to the study of
philanthropy and giving behavior.
Proposals must be submitted by faculty, senior research associates, post-doctoral
scholars/fellows or doctoral candidates at a higher educational institution or other
research center both in the US and abroad. Doctoral candidates should apply with their
major professor as a PI of the proposal (please specify that this is the student’s work; if
so, multiple proposals from each PI for different students are allowed). We especially
encourage proposals from young researchers, including doctoral candidates, post-doctoral
researchers, and faculty who have received a Ph.D. in the last 3 years. If you would like
to verify that you are eligible, please contact the Initiative staff.
Each researcher may not submit more than one proposal in each round, but
researchers who have more than one potential idea are encouraged to contact the center
staff via e-mail to ask which of the ideas is most likely to be accepted. Alternatively, if
the researcher prefers, he/she may submit multiple LOIs, but only up to one LOI per
researcher will be invited for a full proposal. The limit does not apply for Co-PIs – a
researcher may be a Co-PI on multiple proposals but may only be PI on up to one
proposal in each funding round. This limit does not apply to faculty applying as a PI for a
student – faculty can be a PI on more than one student-initiated small grant proposal.
Researchers who have already been funded as a PI under this RFP may submit a
separate proposal as the PI in another round, as long as the total funding for each
researcher does not exceed $50,000 in 2 subsequent years. So for example, if the
researcher received $25,000 in round 1, he/she may request $25,000 for a significant
expansion or new project in round 2. Researchers may be Co-PI on multiple proposals
with no funding limits. Researchers who have already been funded under the ‘large grant’
line cannot apply again in another round to receive a ‘large grant,’ but may be eligible for
a small grant.
Letter of Inquiry Requirements
A complete LOI application consists of the letter of inquiry (not to exceed 2 pages
in 12 pt. Arial/Times font, excluding bibliography and cover page) and CVs of all
principal investigators. The LOI should include a brief description of the project,
• Cover Page: List the following - Name of PI, name of Co-PI(s), home
institution(s), approximate amount of funding requested, type of application
(small or large grant call), type of data collection (lab or field). Also answer – if
funded lab experiment, will you need space? If funded field experiment, is a
collaborating organization/population secured or do you need assistance from the
center? (We can provide contacts for field study sites in some cases). See the
cover page template on our website.
o Main research question
o Methodology – describe in detail how it relates to lab/field experiments
o Qualifications of PI – if new to the field/young researcher, describe related
experience and reasoning for starting work in this area of research
o Relevance of main research question to the Scope of Research
o Relevance of main research question to Templeton Mission
Proposals are by invitation only (following LOI). The main proposal includes
Cover page and Research statement. The proposal must also include as attachments a
bibliography, CVs of relevant researchers, budget, budget justification and timeline.
The cover page should not be longer than 1 page and should include:
• Cover Page: The cover page should include all the information from the LOI
cover page, as well as the name and contact information of the Authorized
Representative, contact information for the Representative/Organization, Tax
identification or DUNS number, the funding amount requested, and a bullet-point
list of up to 3 key research questions (or "Big Questions”) that your proposal
aims to answer. For example, "Disentangling the motivation for giving: pure
altruism or warm glow?” or "Does a matching grant increase contributions to
public goods?” See the cover page template on our website.
The research statement should not exceed 12 pages in 12 pt. Arial/times font, excluding
bibliography. We suggest that proposals follow the following format:
• Motivation: A clear statement of intellectual merit of the research and expected
significance should be included. In addition, broader impact (i.e., importance for
policy) should be discussed. Explain why your proposal is innovative.
• Relevance: Should provide support for how the project is within the scope of
research and the relevance to the Templeton Mission.
• Contribution: The description should be clear about the specific contribution. This
section should include the related literature in the area of focus, and should
explain the gaps in the literature and how the research team’s proposed project
addresses these gaps.
• Approach: The approach section should include a brief description of the design,
including information about the treatments proposed and the number of
participants needed for each treatment. In addition, this section should address the
theoretical model underlying the research question, and should propose several
hypotheses that will be tested by the design.
• Researcher/Team Qualifications: Researchers should provide a brief statement
about their expertise in the area of study. If the proposal is being made by a young
investigator or a researcher who is switching fields, a rationale for why the
researcher is interested in the subject under study is encouraged.
The bibliography does not need to follow any specific format, but we prefer that you stick
to one type (APA/MLA etc.). Make sure that any references cited in the work are in the
bibliography, and that any work in the bibliography is cited in the main text. The CV
does not need to follow a specific format. We prefer short and concise CVs that include:
education, experience, research interests, related publications and working papers, other
publications and working papers, and previous grants awarded to the investigator. The
timeline should be included; list the main activities to be completed and the timeline to
completion. It is recommended to start from the end and anticipate all activities required
to complete a working paper by the end of 12 months.
Budget and Award Requirements
A budget should be included with the proposal. The Initiative (and the Templeton
Foundation) will not fund proposals with greater than 15% overhead, and proposals that
request lower overhead are encouraged.
The researcher is asked to budget for one trip to the University of Chicago
workshop to present the proposal. Selected researchers will be invited to present their
results at the following workshop.
The researcher may also budget for travel to present the work at one additional
conference or meeting, effort time for the PIs (not to exceed 1 summer month of effort),
subject payments, and other research expenses. The researchers may not budget for
equipment exceeding $1,000. The overall budget (excluding overhead) may not exceed
$49,999 for small grants and $100,000 for large grants. The budget can be submitted as a
separate Excel file.
The budget justification should be 1 page long and should include reasoning for
each of the line items in the budget.
Grant Recipient Requirements
We require a working paper submitted to the Initiative one year after receipt of
the grant that detail the results of the work (the deadline for Round 1 reports is August 1,
2014; the deadline for Round 2 reports is August 1, 2015). These are hard deadlines,
since we must meet Templeton Foundation requirements. Intermediate progress reports
may also be required.
We strongly encourage grant recipients to attend a workshop at the University of
Chicago the year the project is funded. We will hold special meetings during the
workshop aimed at helping grant recipients learn about logistics of field experiments,
publication venues, and the like. If you would like to attend the workshop, please budget
for this in your grant and plan to present either your proposal or final paper.
In addition, we strongly encourage grant recipients to work with the center staff to
create a short, 3-5 minute webinar or research brochure, intended for paper and web
dissemination, on the research results. These webinars will be filmed during the
Submission should be made electronically to:
Please indicate that this is a grant submission in the subject line.
We prefer submissions in PDF format, but Word format is also accepted (though note
that you may have some differences in formatting.)