How are Grants allocated?
From the money received from book distribution, the BBT, as closely as possible, gives fully twenty-five percent for grants. Money for loans, therefore, is squeezed from the funds the BBT uses for book publishing, especially from the twenty-five percent kept for increasing print runs, printing new titles, and publishing books in new languages. (Thus, we edge back towards Srila Prabhupada’s original formula of “50/50.”)
One may ask ‘why twenty-five percent?’ Srila Prabhupada was clear about fifty percent for Construction.
In July 1977 some of the trustees asked Srila Prabhupada if we could accept the principle of twenty-five percent of the BBT’s income being used for his projects since putting aside fifty percent was impeding the production of new titles and new language editions etc.
Srila Prabhupada conditionally approved of this idea. The condition was that when all the books were completed in the BBT, it would then be able to give fifty percent as he originally conceived.
Since that time the BBT has more or less been operating under the twenty-five percent principle.
The BBT offices around the world all contribute towards BBT grants, except for some offices in specially exempted “developing countries.” To keep book prices in line with local economies, some local BBT offices, with the approval of the BBT directors, sell books to ISKCON temples at less than double the cost of producing the book. (Except for special exceptions, the concessional price is not less than production cost times 1.35.) (This is in line with Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. As Srila Prabhupada wrote to Ramesvara (16 October 1975), “Our main purpose is to distribute books[,] not making extraordinary profit. I think India and Africa, both are poor countries; so it is up to you.”)
The BBT’s that sell books at concessional rates, of course, don’t contribute for construction, or contribute proportionately less.
Currently Construction Grants requests are vetted by a sub-committee of the Global BBT who make a recommendation to the Body which makes the final allocation. Grant requests are to be emailed to the Executive Secretary of the Global BBT in the prescribed form. It should be accompanied by an endorsement from the GBC member(s) of the ISKCON entity applying for the grant.
The BBT directors take the responsibility for ensuring that the funds are allotted only for the purposes Srila Prabhupada gave—that is, for temple construction and renovation. Which temples are to be constructed or renovated are decided on a case by case basis.
The local BBT offices have no spiritual authority to award grants independently. Once a year, in June at the annual meeting of the Global BBT the group conjointly take account of the grant funds available, allocate funds for scientific preaching, and make “the twenty-five percent” available for temple construction and renovation.
Though Srila Prabhupada said that eventually the BBT could spend for temple construction all over the world. Srila Prabhupada gave BBT grants for construction only in India. The Global BBT directors have already started allocating funds to projects outside India although the bulk of the funds are still allocated to India and specifically the TOVP.
Apart from grants given for construction, the BBT, following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, gives annual grants for preaching in the scientific world.
“Now we are forming scientists party and we shall try with their help to establish Krishna consciousness as the genuine scientific movement of the world exposing the so-called scientists as nothing but speculators. Svarupa Damodara has received very good response here in India from the scientific community and there is good hope that many others will join him. He is returning to America for preparing some publications and when these are completed I have asked him to tour vigorously throughout the world lecturing with his other colleagues at all major institutions and universities. He has drawn up a budget of immediate needs, a copy of which is enclosed and I immediately sanction this amount. Whatever expenditure he requires supply him immediately from the BBT. I am prepared to give $10,000 or more monthly if required to finance this most important preaching program. So whatever money Svarupa Damodara needs must be supplied monthly and he will send you accounts.”
–letter to Ramesvara, 2 April 1977
These funds, too, come not from the twenty-five percent reserved for temple construction but from the additional twenty-five percent kept for printing. (Again, therefore, we edge closer to Srila Prabhupada’s original formula of 50/50.)
These funds are directly allotted by the Global BBT after being vetted by a sub-committee. Grant requests are also made through the Executive Secretary.
There are also ‘printing grants’ which may periodically be given within the BBT to help the development of BBT titles in new languages etc.