Program officers for foundations are responsible for all aspects of the evaluation and distribution of their foundation's grants. Foundations are involved in many financial activities, such as scholarship and grant funding; program officers are heavily involved in these activities, evaluating scholarship applications and/or grant proposals.
For grant proposals, program officers examine applications to decide whether they meet the foundation’s requirements and fit with the foundation's overall mission. After reviewing initial solicitations, program officers meet with candidates, make site visits to review proposed developments, and perform further background research into the proposal. They then produce a recommendation to the foundation to accept or reject the proposal. Foundation officers may also proactively seek grantees and scholarship candidates by reaching out to the community or working with universities to spread word and develop relationships.
In addition to approving grant proposals, foundation program officers review documentation related to previously approved grants, including progress reports for continuing projects and final reports for completed ones. Additionally, they report on these projects to the foundation board. Program officers typically work in an office environment during regular business hours. They may be required to travel to make site visits or meet with candidates, depending on the employing foundation.
Program officers, foundations are typically required to hold a bachelor’s degree, and sometimes a master’s degree, in a field related to the foundation’s mission. Several years’ experience (typically five or more) working with foundations or grant proposals is required. Program officers must have excellent written and oral communication skills.
Program Officer, Foundation Tasks
- Follow up and assess funded initiatives.
- Support program research and overall grant administration for a non-profit foundation.
- Market and manage outreach efforts for special programs.
- Manage grant-related correspondence and records.