Policy on indirect costs

Giving What We Can maintains a donation platform of organisations we regrant funds to per our inclusion criteria — this page outlines our policy on the maximum amount we will allow to go to indirect costs for grants aiming to fund particular projects.

Giving What We Can distinguishes between:

  1. Grants made to fund a particular project run by a university, community college, or other partner organisation.
  2. Grants to fund the entire operations of a university, community college or other partner organisation.

In the case of (1) Giving What We Can maintains a policy that limits indirect costs (‘overhead’) as follows:

For universities, community colleges and other partner organisations where we aim to fund a particular project: maximum 10% rate, i.e. indirect costs may not exceed 10% of total direct costs.

Giving What We Can defines indirect costs as expenses related to the general operations and administration of an organisation, which are not directly allocated to or identified with the project we aim to fund. This policy was created in October 2022, and applies to all partner organisations onboarded after that date.

Example Calculation

If Giving What We Can provides a grant to a specific department within an organisation, aiming to exclusively fund that department’s work, a maximum of 10% of that grant can go towards general operations of the organisation as a whole (or other departments).

This calculation is made as follows:

Let’s say you want to request a $110 grant and your indirect costs are $10. This would fit exactly within our policy, since the direct costs (direct costs = total - indirect costs) are $100, and the indirect costs are 10/100=10%.
However, if the total grant amount was $100 including indirect costs of $10, then that would be too high, since the direct costs would be $90, and 10/90=~11%.

Please contact us if you have any questions.