Frequently Asked Questions
Please read this page if you are applying for funding.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Our investments range from $10k-$1m, depending on perceived potential and maturity. The median is around $200k. See examples of our investments.
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.
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.
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.
If you haven’t heard back within three weeks, please assume your application was unsuccessful.
Yes. However, we discourage you from submitting more than one application per quarter, or re-applying for the same project after receiving a decline.
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.
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.
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.
The Agency Fund is a multi-donor collaborative committed to improving lives by expanding agency. See our funding partners.
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.
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.
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.