Program Guidelines

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Program Guidelines: Southeast Asia

Through community building and empowerment, our goal is to strengthen local institutions and initiatives that sustain and improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable people in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. In 2010, the Southeast Asia program granted approximately US$1.7 million.

NOTE: This year, we are working to improve McKnight’s support for our Cambodian grantees. During this brief transition period, we will not accept grant requests from local organizations and people’s groups based in Cambodia for the May 2014 deadline. Please return to this website for program updates.

In this work, we employ three strategies to protect and strengthen local livelihoods:
  • We support efforts to increase self-determination for indigenous and ethnic minority communities.
  • We support efforts to increase community resource rights related to rural land, forests, rivers and coastal resources, as well as — in some cases — urban housing and other resources.
  • We support balanced approaches toward better management of natural resources in ways that support both local communities and biodiversity conservation.
Initiatives that are comprehensive or employ more than one of McKnight’s strategies are of particular interest. The program also considers emerging or innovative initiatives with potential to advance our program goals.

Support may be given to targeted policy or advocacy projects that are directly rooted in the challenges, opportunities, and threats facing marginalized people and communities.

Organizations must have a keen understanding of relevant issues through direct work in at least one of our three strategies.
We are especially interested in supporting organizations that:
  • promote indigenous leadership and capacity building within their organizations and communities;
  • are locally based and governed (international NGOs with strong local partnerships working to strengthen local capacities can also be considered);
  • have high standards of governance and financial accountability, and work with local communities in a participatory and accountable manner;
  • work in a collaborative manner with other organizations and initiatives;
  • maximize impact by making use of existing local resources and people, and minimize or exclude out-of-country management or overhead costs (such costs should never exceed seven percent of the request amount);
  • have emerging or innovative approaches with potential for broad impact; and
  • combine McKnight support with other resources or co-funding so that organizations and projects are not overly dependent on our long-term support.
Geographic Focus. To maximize program effectiveness and support collaboration among grantees, most grantmaking focuses on country-specific geographic regions: southern Laos; Cambodia’s northeast, Tonle Sap, and Phnom Penh; and Vietnam’s northern highlands. McKnight will also consider funding coastal areas in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Application Overview

  1. Read and review the above funding guidelines to confirm your work fits our program strategies.
  2. Preview the initial inquiry and full proposal applications.
  3. Review the Internal Revenue Code's lobbying regulations.
  4. When ready, follow the link below to start a new application.
In our Southeast Asia focus area, we have one annual deadline for inquiries: May 1. If we receive your completed initial inquiry by that date, your full proposal (if invited) will be considered by our board in November.

The online application system is accessible for one month prior to deadline. Board consideration is pending full proposal invitation.


Please visit the Funding FAQ section, send us an email, or call us at 612-333-4220.

NOTE: To aid in our review process, we may share initial inquiries with our program consultants, including Southeast Asia Development Program (SADP), and peer foundations. If you have questions, please contact Karyn Sciortino Johnson