John D & Catherine T Macarthur Foundation

7 survey respondents

Location: 140 S Dearborn St Ste 1200, Chicago, 60603 IL

EIN: 23-7093598

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How many hours did the grant application process take?

40 hours




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How successfully do you think the funder is accomplishing its current philanthropic goals?

Important Information

2017 Deadlines:

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Top descriptors for this funder

3Builds relationships2Bureaucratic2Responsive1Difficult to work with1Risk averse1"Gets" nonprofits and issues1Culturally sensitive1Friendly1Openminded1Positive leader in the field

Advice from a Friend

John D & Catherine T Macarthur Foundation

Aug 05, 2021

Reviewer 5153 - Grant Applicant - applied before 2014

If you are successful expect a lot of supervision, not to say micromanaging by the foundation, and be prepared to file frequent reports. It’s clear that the funding officers we worked with had their favorites, and their not so favorites.


Difficult to work with, Bureaucratic, Risk averse

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Jan 07, 2019

Grant Applicant - applied in 2016

Macarthur is a large foundation and our program officer had a large and diverse portfolio of grantees. When applying a grantee should weigh the likelihood that their work is central to the mission of the foundation. If you feel on the fringe, with few fellow grantees to collaborate with, you will likely stay that way and receive very little attention from your grants manager.

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Nov 09, 2018

Reviewer 7276 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2017

It is extremely important to have the "subject matter experts" involved in any initial outreach. Their program staff "know their stuff" . Most of their programs do not have open RFPs, so it is important to develop relationships.


Culturally sensitive, Builds relationships, Responsive

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Apr 18, 2018

Reviewer 1430 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2017

Our 20-year successful organization advocates for communities that are disproportionately affected by bad stuff. So our grassroots work, while empowering, requires dealing with captured agencies and going up against the military and governmental regulators that cause direct harm to minorities. MacArthur Foundation only funds sunny, feel-good programs. It took us years to figure this out, because they are a waste of time.

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Apr 16, 2018 1

Grant Applicant - applied in 2016

Staff are pretty thorough in doing their due diligence so this is a relationship that takes time to develop. But staff members are, in my experience, professional and responsive, even without a strong relationship. As part of their due diligence staffers seem to show up at a lot of conferences/gatherings so that can be a helpful avenue for getting a door open.


Builds relationships, Openminded, Responsive

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Oct 30, 2017

Reviewer 441 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2016

The web portal application form is VERY thorough! It will require a fair amount of time to write since there are many questions and they require in-depth responses. The budget form is kind of a pain since it requires you upload your budget but ALSO input your numbers into their system. Be prepared to crank on this one since they gave us only a week after the invitation to submit the proposal.


Friendly, Builds relationships, "Gets" nonprofits and issues

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Oct 05, 2017

Reviewer 419 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2016

The MacArthur Foundation is a large, complex foundation and our organization fits multiple funding priorities. The do not have very good ongoing, regular communications with their grantees. For example, they are winding down one program area in which we have been funded for years (they gave buy-out packages to several program officers), yet they have never communicated "officially" with us about it. We get a lot of information through informal channels (sch as former staff or other funders in their same program areas). Their online system is also pretty onerous, asking for lots of narrative information which I doubt anyone needs (and possibly no one reads) . They should publish every RFP in a pdf with all of the questions (including word/character counts) and requested attachments so that it can be easily shared with internal departments (finance, program. etc). Right now you need to fill in the questions to advance to the next section -- so time consuming.

While I have always been impressed with the "MacArthur Genius" program, this new $100M change competition they ran seems like huge waste of nonprofit resources. I heard that more than 1,700 organizations prepared responses to their RFP for 1 grant. That's a lot of wasted effort in the field.

They do continue to give general operating grants to some organizations in Chicago thorough their "Chicago Commitment", but it doesn't seem to be a high priority.


Positive leader in the field, Bureaucratic

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John D & Catherine T Macarthur Foundation