Indirect Costs Guidelines

Indirect costs, also known as "overhead," "shared," or "administrative" costs, are those costs that are not directly attributable to a specific program, but which are necessary to the operation of the program.  Such costs are often shared among programs and include those costs that are necessary to the overall functioning of an organization.  Examples include: bookkeeping and accounting functions, rent, utilities, insurance, and technology, among many others.

The Foundation will allow indirect costs, generally up to 15%, on most project grants awarded to organizations with annual operating budgets of less than $15 million.  The Foundation will not fund indirect costs for organizations with budgets of greater than $15 million.

Examples of Indirect Costs

Some examples of indirect costs include:

  • rent, lease, or mortgage payments for administrative offices
  • utilities (heat, electric)
  • communications (telephone, postage, courier fees)
  • building or facility maintenance and repairs (cleaning service, garbage pick up, grounds maintenance)
  • security
  • office supplies, furnishings, and equipment (photocopiers, fax machines, telephone system)
  • technology (hardware, software, maintenance, and upgrades)
  • website development and maintenance
  • bookkeeping and accounting costs, bank fees
  • annual audit fees
  • insurance (property, liability, Directors & Officers)
  • executive staff salaries
  • support staff salaries
  • human resource administration
  • marketing / public relations (advertising, newsletters, publications, printing, etc.)
  • annual report production
  • legal fees

For comparison, here are some examples of direct costs, or costs that can be allocated directly to a specific project or program:

  • program staff salaries
  • occupancy or rent for activities specific to a program
  • insurance costs specific to a program
  • equipment, materials, supplies, and food that are necessary for or used by a program
  • staff travel or training that is necessary for a program
  • publications, licenses, membership, or association fees that are specific to a program
  • program evaluation and reporting costs
  • marketing and communications costs that are specific to a program
  • technology costs that are specific to a program

Additional information on this subject can be found on the following websites:

Indirect Costs Guide for Foundations and Nonprofit Organizations