Puffin Grant FAQ’s
This information is for prospective grantees as well as those who have been awarded a grant. We strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with all our procedures and guidelines before applying for a Puffin grant.
- Section 1: Applying for Puffin’s Annual Artist Grant Program
- Section 2: Eligibility
- Section 3: What Puffin Funds
- Section 4: The Review Process
- Section 5: For Grantees (Those Who Have Received an Award)
- Section 6: Miscellaneous
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE 2024 GRANT CYCLE IS NOW CLOSED.
DECISIONS WILL BE MADE ON A ROLLING BASIS THROUGH JULY.
Section 1: Applying for Puffin’s Annual Artist Grant Program
We will be accepting requests for applications for the 2024 grant cycle from 9/15/23-12/1/23 for projects in fine arts, music, photography, and environmental artistic activism. Completed proposals are due by 1/5/24. See below for all procedures and deadlines.
*What is the process for applying for a 2024 Artist Grant?
If you would like to submit a project proposal (i.e. apply for a grant) via our online portal, you will need to first send for, and then send back to us, a very short (paper) request form.
Upon receipt and approval of the completed request form, we will create a unique log in for you in our submission portal. An email will be sent to you with instructions.
After logging in to the portal, you will be able to create and submit your grant proposal.
DETAILS AND DEADLINES:
9/15/23-12/1/23 – Request period for access to the online portal
During this time frame, you may request a form from us by mail. Put a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE ) in another envelope and mail this to us at the address below. You don’t need to include anything except the SASE, but make sure to put “Application Request” on the outer envelope. Please make sure that your SASE uses a #10 business envelope, 4 1/8″ x 9 1/2.
The Puffin Foundation, Ltd.
20 Puffin Way
Teaneck, NJ 07666
All requests must be postmarked no later than Friday, December 1, 2023.
We will use the SASE to send you a request form. Fill out that form and send it back to us if you would like to apply for a grant.
12/15/23 – Deadline for completed request forms to be returned to our office
All completed request forms must be postmarked no later than Friday, December 15, 2023.
Upon receipt and approval of the form, we will open an account for you in our online portal. You will be sent an email with instructions. Keep an eye out for it! It will come from “.”
1/5/24 – Deadline for online submission of project proposals
Project proposals (grant requests) must be submitted via our online portal by 4:59 PM EST on Friday, January 5, 2024. The portal will close at 5:00 PM EST. No submissions will be accepted after this time.
Please note that we do not email any request forms, nor do we accept the completed forms by email. We have found that making these forms available electronically leads to a large number of submissions that do not meet our criteria. This creates an administrative burden that diminishes our ability to respond to stronger applications. If you are not in the US or for other reasons can’t easily receive or send letters by mail, we suggest that you ask a friend, colleague, or family member in the US to submit the request on your behalf.
*What genres does Puffin fund, and which will you be funding in 2024?
In 2024 we will be funding proposals in the genres of:
- environmental artistic activism
- fine arts
Applications in other disciplines will not be considered (unless the main focus is environmental activism). Please note that the primary focus of your proposal must be one of these four genres. For example, please do not apply for a video/film grant if you are composing a musical score for a film, or for a fine arts grant if you are creating the set for a theater production.
The other genres that Puffin funds in alternating years are:
Our genres rotate in 2 year cycles, meaning that each genre is open for project proposals every other year. The only exception is environmental artistic activism, which is open every year.
*What is “environmental artistic activism?”
This category is for projects focusing on solutions to environmental issues and the climate crisis, in any artistic genre or discipline, including genres that Puffin is not funding in the current grant cycle. Please note that the project methodology and materials should also take into account environmental concerns. If your project involves, for example, plane travel, or utilizes a lot of raw material, or in other ways seems to be contributing to rather than addressing the existential issues of human-caused climate change, our reviewers will take this into account.
*What do we consider to be “fine arts?”
This genre includes any visual arts except for photography, which we consider separately. Our fine arts genre includes: painting; drawing; sculpture; ceramics; printing, etching, and lithography; applied arts (aka crafts); and certain multimedia work. The primary focus of a project in this genre must be fine arts. In other words, costume design in service to a theater or film project would not be eligible in this genre. If you are unsure about the genre or eligibility of your project, you may email us: .
*What types of work samples and supplemental materials should I include in my application?
The portal will allow you to upload and link to work samples and supplementary materials to assist us in understanding your project. There are sections for:
- visual samples of your work
- links to short selections of video or music (5 minutes maximum for primary example)
- supplemental materials
Examples of supplemental materials are: media write-ups; letters from partner organizations or colleagues; educational resources or curricula you’ve created to accompany your work; sections of scripts or screenplays; look books, flyers or programs for upcoming or prior performances. If appropriate, please attach or link to a sample of work up to 5 minutes in length that best represents or encapsulates your work or the proposed project. You may attach or link to additional samples, but this work sample should speak for itself. Do not upload books, complete scripts or screenplays, or full length films. You may include links to full texts or films, but it is unlikely that we will be able to review them.
Letters of reference are not required. You may include up to two if you would like to. Do not have letters or any material pertaining to your project sent separately from your application; include them in your application or they will not be considered.
*Do I have to provide a social security number (SSN)?
Yes, if you’re applying as an individual. The Foundation has a special tax status that allows us to grant money to individuals (not just nonprofits), and anyone applying for a grant as an individual is asked to provide an SSN. If an award is given, we generate a 1099 because the money is considered as “gift income” for tax purposes and we require an SSN for our records.
With the large number of grants that we award, it would be burdensome for us to retroactively request and receive SSNs from grantees that we can then provide to the IRS if audited. For that reason we request the information of individual applicants up front. Social security numbers are encrypted upon entry and we delete all record of SSNs after the date of any possible use by our own auditors or the IRS.
*What do you mean by federal ID #, EIN, or non profit #?
These tax identification or Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) are only requested of applicants who are applying as a nonprofit organization or using a fiscal sponsor to receive and administer any grant received. These applicants do not have to supply their personal social security number. Nonprofits are required to include a digital copy of their IRS Determination letter.
Section 2: Eligibility
*Do you have to be a US citizen to apply?
Our tax status only allows us to grant money to citizens and permanent residents of the United States with a social security number (SSN). We will also accept proposals from current DACA recipients with SSNs. While we do, on rare occasions, fund citizens/permanent residents for projects taking place outside of the United States, we recommend that you include some information regarding the accessibility of the project to people residing in the United States. As per the FAQ in section 3, we do not not fund travel expenses, so that should not be a part of your proposal budget.
*Do you have to have non-profit status to apply?
No! The Foundation enjoys a tax status which allows us to fund individual artists directly, even if they are not part of a tax exempt organization or tax exempt themselves. But please be aware that grants made to individuals count as gifted income that should be declared for tax purposes and we issue 1099 forms at the end of the year. Grantees can also be organizations or utilize a fiscal sponsor. The decision as to how to apply is yours. Whether you apply as an individual, organization, or with a fiscal sponsor typically has no bearing on our decision making process, unless the fiscal sponsor is charging an unusually large administrative fee.
*Can I use a fiscal sponsor/What is a fiscal sponsor?
Both organizations and individuals can use fiscal sponsors to receive a Puffin grant. Such sponsors can offer tax advantages and fiscal services to those who utilize them, but will almost always charge an administrative fee in exchange. For more information you can refer to this material on fiscal sponsorship from the National Council of Non Profits. Please note that the Puffin Foundation does not itself act as a fiscal sponsor.
If you choose to use a fiscal sponsor when applying for a Puffin grant, the award will be mailed directly to the fiscal sponsor, in support of your specific project. More information on where checks will be sent can be found in this FAQ in Section 5.
*Uh-oh! I left an item out of my already submitted proposal. Can I add it after the fact?
Please read over your proposal carefully before submission to make sure that it is exactly how you want it. Due to the volume of grant proposals that we receive, we are unable to make changes to proposals after submission or allow applicants to do so themselves. The only exception would be if your project plans significantly change before you have received a decision from us. See FAQ in section 4 for more on this.
Section 3: What Puffin Funds
*Can you explain your mission statement about the type of projects you fund?
We’re interested in art that educates the public on topical issues. For example, projects that seek to enrich and inform the public on important subjects such as our worsening climate catastrophe, health care, social justice, civil rights, and other contemporary issues facing the country (and the planet) that some organizations might hesitate to fund. The Foundation also gives special consideration to communities that are under-served by the arts. While The Foundation loves to hear from new and emerging artists, established artists are not less likely to be considered if they can demonstrate fiscal need. Our archive of grantees will give you an idea about many of the projects we have funded.
*What’s the most important thing you’re looking for in a proposal?
We use many criteria to evaluate proposals including but not limited to:
- budgetary need and the amount of the request
- how established the applicant is their field
- the potential audience for and impact of the project
- the topic(s) addressed in the proposal.
- the feasibility of the project
- pertinence to our mission
All are important in our decision making.
*What is NOT eligible for Puffin funding?
- Education-related expenses
The Foundation does not have the resources to offer financial assistance for scholarships or for any projects or expenses related to education or professional development. If the project as a whole or in part counts toward any of your coursework or your degree, no part of it is eligible for funding. Likewise, if you are a professor, projects related to the coursework you offer are not eligible for funding.
- Travel, conference fees, related expenses such as food and lodging
Puffin does not fund travel or conference fees, or related expenses such as food and lodging, even when they are an integral or unavoidable part of a project. If travel-related expenses or conference fees are a part of your project, they should be reflected in your budget, but excluded from your funding request.
- Projects that involve the use of artificial intelligence (AI)
We do not fund any projects with AI components. Projects which consist of or utilize, in whole or in part, content generated by artificial intelligence are ineligible for funding by The Puffin Foundation. This includes works that comment upon or critique actual AI-generated material (regardless of origin). This policy applies to works in all genres of art that we support.
- Literary and written word projects, dance projects (formerly supported by The Puffin Foundation)
The Foundation has limited resources, and has made the painful but necessary choice to discontinue funding for projects in certain genres. Literary and other written word projects, including developmental writing for theater, video, film, and radio projects, are no longer eligible for Puffin funding. Likewise, the Foundation does not fund dance-related proposals. (Exceptions can be made for projects whose main focus is environmental artistic activism.)
*What is the typical grant amount?
Our average grant size is between $1200 and $1500. The maximum grant size is $2,500.
*What is the upper limit for project budgets and organizational budgets?
The Foundation does not offer grants in the Annual Artist Grant Program to organizations whose annual budget is $250,000 or more, nor do we fund projects whose overall (total) budget is greater than this amount. We also give an extra close look to projects with budgets over $100,000. In general, the larger the budget, the less critical our funding is likely to be to the realization of the project. By focusing on organizations and individuals with smaller budgets, we can prioritize applicants with fewer financial resources and maximize the impact of our support.
*Do you fund projects that air on radio or the web?
Traditional radio shows, podcasts, and web-streamed content (in both audio-only as well as video format) are eligible for Foundation funding under our FILM AND VIDEO genre. Content may be documentary, theatrical or in the general public interest. Proposals in this genre are accepted every other year.
*How often may I apply for a grant?
One of Puffin’s funding goals is to reach as many grantees as possible. Therefore, each applicant is limited to one proposal in any given year.
If your project is funded, we ask that you “skip” the next year, and wait until the following year before applying again.
If your project is *not* selected for funding, you are welcome to apply again the following year, but because our genres rotate in 2 year cycles, you may need to wait until the genre in which you work is open for applications again.
*Can I apply for a multi-year project?
Yes. As long as you spell out your proposed timeline in your proposal, multi-year projects are fine. Please note, however, that the project will only be eligible for funding once, so consider which year makes the most sense for your request.
Section 4: The Review Process
*How long will it take to review my proposal?
We’ll start notifying applicants in late January. All applicants should receive their decisions by the end of July. We judge each project on the merits; being reviewed earlier in the process does not increase or decrease your chances of being awarded a grant unless the performance/exhibition date for your project has already passed. (See next FAQ.)
*What if my proposal is for an event early in the year, before you have a chance to review it? Will you fund projects retroactively?
The grant review process starts in late January and grants are awarded on a rolling basis. The proposal allows you to indicate if your project has a particular start date. While we attempt to prioritize the review of projects with impending deadlines, there is no guarantee as to when specific proposals will be reviewed, and if your project takes place early in the year, the deadline may be missed. We encourage you to take this into consideration when applying for a Puffin grant.
Puffin grants will not be awarded retroactively for projects that have already taken place.
You may use Puffin funding for budget items purchased *after* the submission of your project proposal, but you may not request retroactive funding for budget items already purchased at the time of submission.
*Since I submitted my proposal, something has changed (timing, venue, the work being undertaken, etc). Is this ok?
We understand that project plans can change, and because our review timeline goes from January through July, it’s possible that substantive changes to your plans may take place before you receive a decision. If there is a major change to your project plans, we ask that you please contact us at and describe the changes. If the budget has been affected, please include an updated budget document. Examples of major changes would include but are not limited to:
- a subject matter change
- a timeline shift of more than a few weeks
- a change in the medium or platform being used
- a change in collaborators that will significantly impact the project
- a venue change
If in doubt about whether or not the changes to your project are signficant, we encourage you err on the side of caution and email us. Most changes will not affect the chances of your project being awarded a grant, but we do need to have an accurate description of your project plans as well as a budget that accurately reflects those plans.
*How will I be notified of Puffin’s decision?
All applicants will receive an email informing them of our decision.
Section 5: For Grantees (Those Who Have Received an Award)
*How will I receive my award?
If your project has been awarded a grant from The Puffin Foundation, you will receive an email directing you to the online portal where you submitted your project proposal. After logging in, you will be prompted to agree to the terms of the award. Once the terms have been agreed to, a check will be issued and mailed.
Where the check will be sent depends on what type of grantee you are:
- Individual applicants without fiscal sponsors will have their checks mailed to them at the address provided in the portal.
- Individuals and organizations with fiscal sponsors will have their checks mailed to the office of the fiscal sponsor, at the address provided in the portal.
- Organizations without fiscal sponsors will have their checks mailed to the organizational address provided in the portal.
Please note: if your address, or that of your organization or fiscal sponsor, changes after you apply for a Puffin grant, make sure to update this address in the portal so that your award will not be sent to the wrong address! You may also send this information to us via email: .
*How should I acknowledge Puffin support in my promotional materials, social media, etc?
The Foundation asks for acknowledgment of our grant in all relevant on-line & printed material. We also greatly appreciate when you include a representation of our logo. We believe that recognition of the Foundation’s work will further strengthen the importance of the mission to which we are jointly committed. You can find Puffin logos under the “Community” tab on our website or by clicking here.
Sample wording acknowledging Puffin support:
- If Puffin funding accounts for more than 50% of your project’s budget: “Funding has been made possible by The Puffin Foundation.”
- If Puffin funding accounts for less than 50% of your project’s budget: “We’d like to thank The Puffin Foundation for their support of this project.”
- If Puffin funding accounts for less than 10% of your project’s budget or if you have many funders, we ask that you include our name and/or logo when listing supporters.
*My project won’t be finished by the end of the calendar year. Is that a problem?
We realize that the Foundation’s rolling awards schedule does not always match an applicant’s timeline and that many projects may not be finished by the end of the calendar year, regardless of when funding was awarded. If your project is not completed by the end of the year in which it was awarded, we simply ask that you file your Annual Report (see next FAQs) and continue working on your project in the following year(s) until it is completed.
*What type of reporting do you require for grantees?
At the end of the calendar year in which the Puffin grant was awarded, all grantees are required to send a report.
- If the funds from Puffin have not yet been fully spent and/or if the project has not been completed, you will file an ANNUAL REPORT.
- If the funds have been fully spent and the project has been completed, you will file a FINAL REPORT.
- If you file an Annual Report, you are required to file another report at the end of the following year. Use the same criteria as above to determine whether an Annual Report (ongoing use of funds or project) or a Final Report (completed use of funds or project) is called for.
The following FAQs contain more information about how to write and file your reports.
*What should be in the Annual and Final Reports?
We require reports as part of our responsibilities as a foundation. And we love getting reports because we get to see the wonderful work that our grantees are doing! That said, we want the reporting process to be simple for you.
On the portal where you submitted your grant proposal, you will find a reporting form to fill out. The form asks for short descriptions of your project and how Puffin funds were used, and for your thoughts as to the goals that were achieved and the impact of the project. If the project is ongoing and you are filing an Annual Report, you can discuss where you are in the timeline and what expenditures, if any, have been covered by Puffin funds thus far.
We also allow you to upload images that we may use in our social media or annual reports. These can be images from the event, advertising, media coverage, or similar relevant materials. Please provide appropriate credits for these images where needed.
*How do I get my grant featured on your website?
In the year following the awarding of your grant, we will send you, via email, an invitation to create your own web page for your grant on our site, in the Archive of Grantees. Given the large number of grants awarded each year and the need to review each of these web submissions, groups of invitations are sent out on a monthly basis.
Section 6: Miscellaneous
*Can you recommend other foundations or sources for me to get funding?
Sorry, Puffin does not make such individualized recommendations. We may periodically list resources under the Community tab on our website.
*Where does Puffin get its funding?
The Foundation is privately funded. We do not solicit donations.
*How can I exhibit my work or give a performance at the Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck?
Please see this page of the Puffin Cultural Forum’s website for information on how to submit a proposal.
*Are you affiliated with Puffin West?
Puffin West is an independent foundation. There is no legal affiliation.