Frequently Asked Questions

Please read this page if you are applying for funding.

What do you mean by “human agency”?

By agency, we mean the capacity for self-determination. When you have agency, you envision the future that you want and you consciously chart your path toward it, accounting for the reality of your circumstances as well as your personal interests and values. Agency is closely related to the concepts of capability, freedom, dignity, and flourishing.

Why focus on agency?

The agency framework is a powerful theory of change: it makes sense of many research findings and often appears predictive of impact. We are excited by the demonstrated cost-effectiveness and broad relevance of development approaches that help people navigate important life choices (read more).

How can human agency be enhanced?

Generally speaking, agency can be enhanced by expanding access to tools that offer information, insights, experiences, inspiration, advice, or other forms of decision support. These tools should account for people's affordances - for what options are realistically within reach.

Are you a research funder? Is research always a necessary proposal component?

We do fund research, including academic research. We are generally interested in rigorous impact evaluations that study the potential, or evaluate the cost-effectiveness, of agency-led approaches.

Yet even in non-academic proposals, we seek a strong commitment to learning. We see our endgame as a vibrant ecosystem of “learning organizations” that operate at the intersection of research and action - trying to have an impact now while learning how to become even more impactful in the future.

What is the appropriate amount of funding that I should seek for a project?

Our investments range from $10k-$1m, depending on perceived potential and maturity. The median is around $200k. See examples of our investments.

Who can receive which types of support?

We offer fellowships to people with or without institutional affiliation.

Institutions worldwide can apply for other funding. We highly value and encourage applications from low- and middle-income countries.  

For-profits may be eligible for project funding and seed investments (by invitation-only),  but are  ineligible for unrestricted grants.

Where possible, we prefer donating to U.S. 501(c)(3) public charities for efficiency; but this does not affect our selection.

What is the application process, and what happens after I submit?

To apply,  submit an application. After a call's closing date (see calls), two independent reviewers read each application. Five or more reviewers comment and score finalist applications.

We aim to respond within three weeks of the closing date, either with specific questions or requests for further information, recommendation of another funder who could be interested in your application, or letting you know we cannot fund or support your application.

Where can I find an official address for The Agency Fund?

Certain applicants need our address as part of the internal process of their organization.
Please use the following information:
Legal name: The Agency Fund
Official Mailing Address: 2261 Market St, #4524 San Francisco, CA 94114

I have not received a response to my application - why?

The most common reasons for not receiving a response are: 1. three weeks haven’t passed since the call's closing date 2. Our email was not received, possibly due to a spam filter. 3. You entered your email incorrectly or entered multiple emails in the application form, causing an error in our system.

If you haven’t heard back within three weeks, please assume your application was unsuccessful.

Can I submit multiple applications?

Yes. However, we discourage you from submitting more than one application per quarter, or re-applying for the same project after receiving a decline.

Are there strings attached?

Grants require reporting. Most reports are informal. Outputs and outcomes may be tracked—occasionally publicly and continuing after the grant period. Outcomes of interest include socioeconomic impact and scale. Research projects must follow openness and transparency standards, including pre-registration, open code, and open data (with privacy limitations). Details of the grant agreement will be provided upon award.

Who reviews ideas and applications, and will my ideas be kept confidential?

Our team and investment committees have access to application materials. Our investment committees make funding decisions and consist of our team, funding partners, grantees, and external reviewers.

We respect applicants’ sense of ownership of their ideas, but not all ideas are unique. To protect ourselves from intellectual property claims, we require applicants grant us a license over any intellectual property in their application materials. This is  a precautionary measure, since our application is open to everyone.  We have never been involved in an intellectual property dispute.

How much is being awarded? What are the odds of getting an award?

See our investments for past grants we’ve made. We encourage applications that are a good fit for what we fund. We receive many more applications than we fund (~20x), but we seek to fund as many promising applications as possible.

Where do your resources come from?

The Agency Fund is a multi-donor collaborative committed to improving lives by expanding agency. See our funding partners.

What is the Agency Fund's overhead policy?

For pilot and demonstration projects, we generally fund the direct expenses needed to complete the project. For overhead restrictions on research and project grants to universities, please see our policies page. Our invitation-only scaling and learning capacity grants are usually unrestricted.

Before applying, can I present my organization or talk to the Agency Fund?

To maintain a fair process, we encourage you to apply as a first step. We will be in touch if we think you could be a good fit.

My question is not answered here, what should I do?

We’re glad you’ve reviewed our FAQ page. Please also review our website. If you still have a question, you can contact us here. While we may not be able to  respond to every question due to limited resources, we’ll do our best to assist you.