Here’s a step-by-step process for gathering information on potential grantmakers whose giving preferences align with your mission and the population you serve.
You’ve got your budget mapped out, and set your fundraising goals for the upcoming months or fiscal year. Now you’re ready to start researching.
- Start your research. Find 20 grants that at a glance look like a good fit for your organization by using a database such as the Foundation Center. Find information for your target grantmaking organizations.
- Organize your research according to due dates for each grant’s letter of inquiry or proposal deadline. Make columns for other pertinent information such as the amount to be requested, the grantmaker’s preferred first approach, contact person, preferred program funding areas and any other information that will help you during the process. Do they want you to call first or submit an LOI? If the board meets quarterly when would your personal deadline be?
- Then, take a look at each foundation’s website for more information and to make sure you the requirements you have are all correct.
4. Double check again to determine if the funding is a good fit. Make one more pass. Are each foundation’s funding priorities in alignment with your programs? Get a second pair of eyes to read through your research and weigh in. If there’s a possibility that a researched grant might not be a good fit, call and ask the grantmaking organization or table this one for the next round of grant research and writing.
5. Begin organizing your calendar. For each month make your to do list and update it often. Which foundations should be contacted? When are LOIs or proposals due? When would you hear the results of a grant proposal? If awarded funding, what month should you report back to them with their requested reporting information?
6. Send your research list around at your next board and staff meetings. Find out if anyone had a standing relationship with anyone at the foundations/corporations. If these relationships exist, have that person reach out first to express interest. A warm relationship is much more likely to be successful. If any of your board or staff members are hesitant about any of the grants you’ve researched, get more information and/or consider holding that grant until the next round of proposals.
7. And finally, each month tackle your to do list. As you make contacts get more information, continue to schedule activities, if you are invited to send in an LOI or proposal, put that in the appropriate month. Your calendar is constantly getting updated. See? You’re on your way.
This post is the second in a four-part series.