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Application FAQs

What if my organization isn’t a non-profit/501(c)3?

You can still apply using an eligible fiscal sponsor that is a 501(c)3. Fiscal sponsors manage the grant funds and are identified as the Sponsoring Organization in the application. They must also sign a fiscal sponsor contract. You can find examples of fiscal sponsor agreements online; here is the sample you will find in the online application. Many organizations that regularly serve as fiscal sponsors for filmmakers have their own fiscal sponsor contracts. 

We’re collaborating with another nonprofit on a joint project. How do we apply?

Mass Humanities encourages collaborations. For your application, one organization must be the Sponsoring Organization, taking responsibility for applying for the grant and managing grant funds. Make sure to identify any partnering organizations in your application, explaining their role in the project and their relationship with the Sponsoring Organization. You should also upload letters of commitment from your partner organizations. 

I have a grant from Mass Humanities. When can I apply for another grant? 

If you have a Reading Frederick Douglass Together (RFDT) grant, you may apply for another Mass Humanities grant at any time. Otherwise, you will need to wait until you have completed your project, submitting your final report at least two weeks before the LOI is due for a new grant application. If you have an open grant but are partnering with another organization for your new project, you may have your partner apply for the new grant. Note that organizations can be fiscal sponsors on more than one Mass Humanities grant at a time and that colleges and universities can have more than one grant open at a time if those grants are for different departments or institutes.

Can I apply for more than one grant?

No. You may have only one application in process at a time. If you are applying for a Project Grant, for instance, but also want to submit an application for a Discussion Grant, you must have already received official notification that funding was not awarded for the Project Grant before you can submit an LOI for a Discussion Grant.

How do I find a humanities scholar?

Start by thinking about how a scholar (or in the case of Research Inventory Grants an Inventory Taker) could best contribute to your project.  What kind of expertise is needed for that role? Think about whether that expertise is most likely to be held by

  • A university professor from a particular academic discipline
  • A public humanist who may not be attached to a university
  • A museum educator or curator
  • An archivist, librarian, or indexer
  • An elder recognized as a bearer of knowledge about a particular community

Answering these questions will help you to know where to start looking for a scholar. 

Then you can begin contacting local universities, colleges, museums, libraries, archives, or community organizations, using the internet to learn about their staff when this information is available online. Many universities have websites for each department that lists their faculty by discipline or area of specialization and that provides a bio for each faculty member describing their research.

When you contact potential scholars, we recommend briefly describing the project, the role you imagine the scholar playing, the approximate amount of time you are asking them to commit, and the approximate amount they will be paid if the grant is awarded. Don’t be shy about asking for their recommendations for other scholars should they not be available.

If you need help, please contact a Mass Humanities Program Officer.  We regularly help applicants find scholars suited to their projects.

Can the Project Director and the Scholar be the same person?

Yes, the Project Director may serve as the Project Scholar if the Project Director has the relevant humanities expertise to add to the humanities content of the project. If you are not sure whether it makes sense for your Project Director to serve as the Project Scholar, just ask one of our Program Officers. 

Can an application have more than one scholar?  

Yes! One scholar will be designated as the Project Scholar, but you may have additional scholars serving a variety of different roles on your project. The expertise of each scholar should be suited for the role they will play in the project.

Can the Project Director and Project Treasurer be the same person?

No. They must be different and must not be related to each other.

Must programs be provided for free? 

No, but Mass Humanities gives priority to projects that make their programming as accessible as possible. Most of the public events we fund are free, and the chances of your project being funded will be higher if you keep ticket costs low.

There are many ways to do this. A theater could schedule its post-performance panel after its pay-as-you-can performance or apply to other funders to cover the cost of tickets for targeted low-income audiences. An organization that requires membership dues for its events could open its grant-funded programming to the general public for free. A museum that has a standard entrance fee for its exhibits could have one or more days during the grant period when visitors will be admitted free of charge. If your organization participates in the EBT Card to Culture program, your application would also explain what EBT card holders need to do acquire tickets to your funded events. In all of these cases, your organization would describe in its application the plan for advertising these opportunities to your target audience.

Can you provide some examples to help me understand the difference between in-kind and cash cost-share?

Yes! This is a common question, so you are not alone if you are trying to figure it out. Matching funds (the cost of your project that is not part of your funding request from Mass Humanities) will go in either the cash cost-share or the in-kind cost-share column in your application budget:

  • Staff time: If your staff use their paid time on the project, their work goes in the cash cost-share column because that portion of their salary is considered a cash payment, but if they will be working above and beyond their paid work time on the project and have volunteered to offer that time for free, then it would go in the in-kind column.
  • Publicity: If you will be printing flyers using your own printer, you can put the estimated cost in the in-kind column, but if you have a copy shop print the flyers for you, then you put the fee in the cash cost-share column. 
  • Venue: If you are renting the space for your events from another organization, the cost goes in the cash cost-share column, but if the event will be held at your organization’s space, then the estimated cost for the space goes in the in-kind column. 
  • Still have questions? You can always contact a Program Officer and we are happy to help you sort it out.

Can I apply for a grant if my organization has no other funds to contribute to the project?

That depends. All of our grants require a 1-to-1 match, meaning that the amount you request from Mass Humanities must be matched in either cash- or in-kind funds. For Monthly Grants (Reading Frederick Douglass Together, Research Inventory, and Scholar in Residence), you do not need a cash match and can meet the matching requirement entirely by in-kind contributions. For Project Grants and Discussion Grants, at least 10 percent of your match must be in cash. For more information, see our Grant Guidelines.

Do you award partial funding?

No, Mass Humanities does not award partial funding. Mass Humanities grants are typically awarded in competitive grant rounds and the more reasonable your budget, the better chance you will have of being awarded funding. 

If I submit my LOI early, will you make a decision on it before the LOI deadline?

No. Notifications for all LOIs are emailed to applicants within 10 days of the LOI deadline.  However, you can ask a Program Officer to give you feedback on your LOI ahead of time if you have questions about the project’s eligibility. 

When can my funded project and public programs begin? 

Grant-funded work may begin as soon as you receive notification from your Program Officer that you have been awarded a grant.  See our Grants Deadlines for notification dates. 

Public programs may not begin until a month after your award notification date to ensure adequate planning and inclusion of the Mass Humanities logo on your publicity materials. 

Work on the project before you are notified of your award cannot be covered by Mass Humanities funds and cannot be included in your match.

How many times will Mass Humanities fund the same project or projects by the same organization?

All applications are reviewed in open competition each round.  Mass Humanities seeks to expand the variety and accessibility of programming across the state as we help to build capacity in small organizations.  If you have received grants from us 3 years in a row, we ask that you take a year off before applying again. Leverage your past Mass Humanities grants to seek funding from new sources.

What email address should I use when I set up my account for the online application system?

When you set up your account for our online application system, enter the email address of the person who will be assembling the application.  Once your LOI has been submitted, all correspondence from your Program Officer will go to this address. 

Why can’t I see/access my LOI or Application?

The most common reason is that you have logged in with a different email address than the one used to set up your account.  Please also note that LOIs or applications that have been submitted are no longer available for editing. If you need to edit something you have already submitted but are unable to access the form, contact your Program Officer or Melissa Wheaton

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