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Funding Competition Details and Instructions


The Application Process

How do I submit a proposal?
The application process begins with an Online Funding Inquiry (OFI) on the John Templeton Foundation’s application portal. Please click here for the link to our online application portal. In the Cycle & Area section of the application, select the “Spiritual Yearning Research Initiative” funding cycle.
What does the application process look like?
The Foundation has a two-step application process, the first stage of which is the submission of an Online Funding Inquiry (OFI). A subset of OFI submissions will be invited to submit a full proposal. Here is the timeline:

  1. OFI Submission (June – August 2022): All OFIs must be submitted by August 19, 2022 for consideration.
  2. Review (August-October 2022): Applicants will receive notification of a decision on their OFI by October 14, 2022.
  3. Full Proposal Submission (October 2022 – January 2023): Applicants who receive an invitation to submit a Full Proposal should expect to submit their Full Proposal by January 20, 2023. Applicants will receive notification of a decision on their Full Proposal by July 14, 2023.
What do I put in each of the online fields?
Please read and consult the “Online Funding Inquiry Instructions and Notes” document as you work on completing the Online Funding Inquiry. This document is found within your JTF online portal.
The online fields are so short! Can I include more information as an attachment or in an email?
Due to the number of expected applications, we encourage applicants to limit their submissions to just the OFI form. We have found that the space provided is enough for applicants to provide a short-but-detailed project description. In addition to the applicants’ CVs or resumés, the online form includes space for one attachment. Please include an attached document only if it is absolutely necessary for helping us understand your proposed project. Please do not send additional project information via email.
Should my OFI include scholars from only one organization, or can it include individuals from multiple organizations?
We strongly encourage applicants to put together a project leadership team that spans the multiple disciplines from the psychological sciences, sociology, anthropology, religious studies, philosophy, and theology. The project team’s membership might be drawn from a single institution or from multiple institutions. However, please note that one dimension along which OFIs will be evaluated is cost-effectiveness; too many personnel may result in a less cost-effective proposal. Also note that any project that is funded will result in a single grant to a single prime grantee institution, even if multiple institutions are involved. The prime grantee institution may issue subcontracts to other institutions to support their project costs; however, the prime grantee is legally responsible for the project to the Foundation and must maintain sufficient discretion and control over any subcontracts. For this purpose, this means that the prime grantee makes (or approves) final substantive decisions about the funded work (e.g., timing of work, amount and purpose of distribution of grant funds to subcontracts), is accountable to the Foundation for the project, and has the direct relationship with the Foundation (e.g., prepares and provides reports about the project to the Foundation, communicates with the Foundation about the project and any issues that may arise, and oversees and manages the work of any subcontractors).
I’m planning to apply with a collaborator(s) from another organization. Should each of us submit a separate OFI?
No. Please submit only a single OFI for the project. For the purposes of the OFI, we ask that a single person serves as the Project Leader and include their organization’s details in the Organization section of the application.



Can non-U.S. organizations apply?
Yes. However, please note that non-US organizations are subject to special constraints on their project’s design. Please read and consult the “Online Funding Inquiry Instructions and Notes” document for further details.
What types of organizations are eligible to apply?
We welcome proposals from a wide range of organizations. We anticipate a significant majority of the awardees will have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit status or an equivalent nonprofit status recognized by a non-US government.


Proposal Details

How much should I request?
The Foundation will award up to $2,200,000 in grants in this competition, and we expect to fund between six and ten projects. When determining your request amount, we ask that you consider (a) the potential size of the project’s audience and scope of its outcomes; and (b) the cost of your activities and personnel. Generally speaking, a project that aims to engage a larger audience will require more complex activities and more funds. Your request amount should accurately reflect fair market-rate costs for your proposed activities and should also respect any constraints or rules imposed by your organization. Oftentimes, applicants note that the number of activities is flexible, with more activities requiring more funds, and fewer activities requiring less funds. There is no “right amount” to request, but we will consider the anticipated “return on investment” as a key decision criterion.
Can we submit an OFI for a project with a duration over 3 years?
Project length may not exceed three years (or 33 months in the case of organizations that do not have US public charity status).
When should proposed projects start?
All proposed projects should have an anticipated start date no earlier than August 1, 2023 and no later than January 1, 2024.
Does the Foundation pay overhead/indirect costs?
The Foundation allows for an overhead/indirect cost component within the budget, which is capped at fifteen percent (15%) of the direct costs. We welcome proposals that request a lower percentage. The overhead/indirect cost must be included in your Total Request Amount.
Do you support travel and lodging costs?
Travel and lodging for the Personnel Employed by the Legal Organization can be completely underwritten by the Foundation for all project activities. However, the Foundation has much stricter limits for the travel and lodging costs associated with anyone who is not employed by the Legal Organization, such as a Project Co-Leader at another institution or consultants or project personnel from other institutions. In general, JTF does not fund projects with budgets that exceed 10% travel and lodging costs for persons not employed by the Legal Organization.  Please also note that JTF will not pay for first class or business travel.
May our project team or organization submit more than one OFI?
In general, we ask that there be no more than one OFI submission per legal organization. We also ask that no one individual be a Project Leader on more than one OFI submission. However, a single person might be project personnel on multiple OFI submissions, and an organization might be involved in multiple OFI submissions, though not as the prime organization.
Should citations or references be included in our OFI?
The Foundation expects applicants to use their judgment in deciding how many citations are necessary to include as part of describing their project idea. While in-line citations for key references can be helpful, especially where the proposed project is building on or challenging a particular line of work, we do not expect a full reference list at the OFI stage.
Is feedback available for a declined OFI?
Regrettably, given the large number of OFI submissions, the Foundation is unable to provide each applicant with specific feedback.
What kinds of Outputs and Outcomes should we include on the application?
In general, Outputs are activities/products that are accomplished/delivered during the grant’s duration; more importantly, they are generally within the power of the project team to deliver upon. Outcomes, in contrast, are hoped-for changes that result, in part, from the project’s Outputs. In most cases, Outcomes are not within the power of the project team to deliver upon; other factors beyond the project team’s control must also be in place. In writing Outcomes for a proposal, we advise applicants to make plausible assumptions about such factors.

For inspiration in coming up with Outputs and Outcomes, we encourage applicants to consider the four items listed in the Parameters section of the RFP.


Special Requirements

  • Projects should have a start date between August 1, 2023 and January 1, 2024 and an end date after February 2026.
  • Successful grantees must design their proposal so that a project representative is committed to attending two required research workshops tentatively scheduled for January 2024 and January 2026 (assuming the Foundation convenes these workshops).
    • The first will be used to allow grantees to present their proposed projects, to receive feedback from other grantees, and to stimulate interdisciplinary collaboration.
    • The second will be for grantees to present their findings and to stimulate future collaborative efforts.

The request amount should include funds (up to $4,000 for North American grantees; up to $8,000 for all others) to cover travel and lodging costs for attending these two workshops. Please note that these funds might count toward the 10% cap on travel and lodging costs.


Review & Selection

What are the selection criteria?
OFIs will be evaluated primarily on the following dimensions:

  • Scientific-engagement: All projects, including those with primarily conceptual, normative, or theoretical aspects, must evidence a capacity for in-depth engagement with relevant scientific concepts, theories, methods, and research programs.
  • Scientific merit: Projects that involve empirical investigation of spiritual yearning must have realistic and rigorously developed methods, strong research design, and appropriate plans for analysis. All projects that involve empirical investigation must pledge to conform to open science principles in their design.
  • Crossdisciplinary program design: Inasmuch as a proposed project aims to facilitate cross-disciplinary research and interaction, proposals should describe activities and mechanisms that might plausibly yield high-quality cross-disciplinary research and interaction.
  • Logistics: The proposed research must be practically feasible given the timeline and budget.
  • Resources: Proposed projects must represent a careful and responsible use of resources. The overall financial plan must be adequate and foresee the resources (including personnel, equipment, and financial resources) necessary for success.
  • Expertise of project team: Proposed projects must have a Principal Investigator (and team when applicable) qualified to undertake the proposed work with professionalism and excellence. Collaborative proposals, in which two investigators with areas of expertise in complementary research strands join forces to conduct research that they would be less able to conduct separately, are encouraged.
  • Additional funding: An additional criterion of merit (though not requisite for success) is some quantity of additional funds, whether in-kind or cash, from other sources such as one’s home institution, public research funding bodies, or other private research funders.


Information Session

The Foundation will hold a virtual informational session on July 20, 2022, during which prospective applicants may ask questions about how best to structure their OFIs. If you wish to participate, please email syri@templeton.org. Details about the informational session will be communicated closer to its scheduled date.


Other Questions

Who should I contact if I have further questions about the application process?
For any additional questions, please contact: syri@templeton.org


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