Grant Making Policies

Phil and Pat Willis Foundation provides funds to promote and support successful community programs, culture and arts, family strengthening, education and economic development in the greater Jackson area.  Funding requests from financially sound organizations with missions matching Foundation interests are accepted.  Grant requests for individuals, individual scholarships, or non-501(c)3 organizations are not considered.



Unless linked to a valuable programmatic and/or quality-of-life enhancing effort, the construction or purchase of buildings or other physical facilities, in and of themselves, rarely solve community problems or maximize community opportunities.  In deciding whether or not to fund a capital grant request, the link between the capital request and such efforts will be evaluated.  As a matter of policy, the Willis Foundation will consider applications for capital grants only if they protect current programs, implement new ones, improve the quality of life within the greater Jackson community or represent funding for entities we would normally support.


The Foundation encourages the development of strong, fiscally responsible, self-sustaining not-for-profit organizations. Investing in organizations with outstanding debt is inconsistent with this policy.  As a matter of policy, the Foundation does not provide grants for debt retirement.


As a matter of policy, the Foundation does not award grants to other endowments.



As a matter of policy, the Foundation does not provide organizations with funds for making grants to other organizations.  Significant exceptions to this policy are situations in which the Foundation initiates a re-granting arrangement as part of one of its own strategic initiatives and is therefore closely and visibly involved.  An example would be granting funds to a neighborhood based 501(c) (3) for the purpose of re-granting mini-grants to support grass roots efforts that strengthen children and families.

5)    UNITS OF GOVERNMENT (city, county, township, schools, etc)

Units of government are supported by taxpayer dollars.  They spend those dollars on providing essential goods and services to the residents of their municipalities.  There are, however, goods and services that are not essential, yet are important to enhancing the quality of life for residents.  It is rate that taxpayer dollars are available to fund these nonessential but important enhancements.  Funding from the Foundation to units of government is most appropriately considered when used to provide nonessential, quality-of-life enhancing goods and services not typically funded through taxes.  As a matter of policy, the Foundation will consider requests from units of government when the request for support is judged by the Foundation to be for programs, goods or services that would not be considered essential and therefore not typically funded through taxpayer dollars.



The Foundation does not consider it a wise use of its resources to fund programs, services or organizations on a long-term basis.  Rather our intent is to encourage nonprofits to develop realistic written plans for long-term sustainability that do not depend upon this Foundation or other foundation support.  We do, however, recognize that there are certain situations such as start-up periods for new programs, services and/or organizations, in which requests for repeat funding are legitimate.  We also acknowledge that in some instances, start-up periods may reasonable extend up to five years.

As a matter of policy, the Foundation will consider repeat funding for a period of time for the start-up costs involved with new programs, services or organizations.  Applicants will be considered for repeat funding if, in the Foundation’s judgment, they have a realistic written plan for long-term sustainability of the new program, service or organization for which they are requesting funding.  Each will be reviewed based on the merit of the request and the sustainability of the program.

We also recognize that there are many instances when the same organization approaches for funding several times, each time with a request for a different programs.  If the program is truly new and different each time, the Foundation considers these requests entirely legitimate and not technically a form of repeat funding.



The Foundation believes that the best use of its resources is to fund start-up costs rather than the costs of sustaining programs, services and/or organizations.  Operations and maintenance costs are typically considered to be costs involved in sustaining these endeavors.

As a matter of policy, the Foundation will only consider funding operations and/or maintenance in start-up situations or the individual merit of the program.  Sustainability of the requesting organization and the program is a major consideration.



The Foundation considers basic computer workstations to be standard office equipment.  As such, they are part of operational expenses and would not be considered for funding except in start-up situations or in situations where there is a need for specialized equipment designed to meet a special need.

As a matter of policy, the Foundation will only consider funding computers/computer equipment in start-up situations or in situations where the request is for specialized computer equipment designed to meet a special need.  An example would be an oversized display screen/monitor to be used for group demonstrations.



The Foundation believes that the technical assistance needs of Jackson area nonprofits will be best met through membership in the Jackson Nonprofit Network.  We recognize, however, that there may be situations in which a nonprofit may require extensive consulting beyond that which is provided for through Network membership.  Whether or not the amount of technical assistance required by a particular nonprofit is covered by basic Network membership, we believe that it is none-the-less best contracted through the Network.  The Jackson Nonprofit Network will offer high quality consulting services for members on a fee-for-service basis.  The Foundation will consider requests from Network members in situations where they are in need of extensive technical assistance not covered through their basic membership.

As a matter of policy, the Foundation will require that applicants seeking funding for technical assistance be members in good standing of the Jackson Nonprofit Network.  Additionally, in situations where we have determined that the grant- seeker is in need of technical assistance, the Foundation will consider covering the cost of a one-year membership in the Jackson Nonprofit Network.



Churches and other faith-based organizations are increasingly playing a key leadership role in addressing human service needs particularly at the grass roots level.  In considering applications for funding from faith-based organizations, however, we will not fund religious activities.  We will consider funding secular activities sponsored by churches and other faith-based organizations when participation in those activities in not based on religious beliefs and/or affiliations.

As a matter of policy, the Foundation will consider funding programs and/or services offered by churches and other faith-based organizations when they are secular in nature.  To be considered for funding, participation must not be based on religious beliefs and/or affiliations.  However, in certain circumstances, if the faith based organization is one which is normally financially supported by the principals of this Foundation the request, if merited, can be supported. 



Consideration for Foundation funding will be based on our mission, beliefs, strategic goals and the grant making policies stated above.


Revised Feb, 14, 2013 





400 S. Jackson St., Jackson, MI 49201