What is unrestricted funding? Towards a taxonomy

The current research project of the Center for Grantmaking Research focuses on the effects of long term, unrestricted funding. But what is unrestricted funding?

From a sociological perspective it can be argued that funding is never truly unrestricted. Even if there are no formal restrictions on grants, there will always be norms and perceived expectations that make grantees decide in a certain way on the money they have received (see Hunnik et al., 2021).

Still, we may classify different funding styles as being more restrictive or rather unrestricted or flexible. One of our aims is to develop a taxonomy to classify different types of funding based on what is agreed upon in terms of spending of the grant, involvement of third parties, communication, publication of the results, etc. This will help funders and grantees with a better understanding of the sector’s infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Genevieve Shaker (Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, IUPUI) and Pamala Wiepking (Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, IUPUI, and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) wrote a piece in The Conversation on the concept of unrestricted funding. The authors provide a working definition and discuss the context of the topic.

The article can be accessed here.