Having a few tips for success in your back pocket might just come in handy when you are looking to reengage past funders or have conversations with new ones. Below are some tips given directly from Foundation leaders and program officers about working with foundations to secure grant funding. Where better to get advice than from the people who write the checks?
What should grantseekers look for BEFORE submitting a proposal?
- Do your research!
- Know who is on the foundation board. Do you have a connection?
- Does the foundation have established priorities that align with your mission?
- Review the foundation’s past grant awards.
- What is the foundation’s typical dollar range for grant making?
- Are they open to Challenge Grants?
- What is their funding cycle?
- Call and speak to a Program Officer to make your initial contact (if allowed for unsolicited).
What do Foundations look for AFTER the proposal has been submitted?
- Complete and thorough answers to questions. Don’t just give a partial answer.
- Concise needs statements. Why should we fund your project? What difference will it make?
- Broad public support.
- Detailed budget.
- Evidence of collaboration—not just letters of support.
- Most foundations don’t like to be the “first ones in” with money.
My best advice is “do your research”. I've been there, done that and seen what it is like to learn the hard way. Don’t go blindly into the proposal process or set unrealistic expectations for your team because you heard “somewhere” that a foundation funds programs like yours. Be smart and stay on track. A little research can go a long way!
Adapted from Joan Flanagan © 2005.