"As the chances of getting a grant from the larger foundations increasingly become slim to none, many nonprofits are rethinking their strategy of applying to the philanthropic behemoths....In this environment, nonprofits would be wise to look beyond the largest foundations to the largely untapped reservoir of philanthropic dollars in family foundations. Many operate almost invisibly, often providing needed funding in their own hometowns."
Foundation Source, "the nation's leading provider of outsourced support services for private foundations", recently surveyed 120 of its clients to find out how they would advise applicants in their quests for funding. While the sample size may be small, the results are still worth telling.
What do these foundations advise?
- Focus on building the relationship first, not writing the proposal.
- Contact them via email, their preferred mode -- unless they instruct otherwise.
- Small family foundations may be more willing to provide general operating support.
- Make sure the project falls within the funder's grantmaking guidelines ("64 percent said they reacted negatively if the 'request does not reflect an understanding of our foundation's priorities or guidelines.'")
- Follow the funder's application instructions.
- Demonstrate that you have clear goals, plans, measures for success, strong need, and expertise for the project.
What turns them off?
Sandy Pon, Virtual Library/Learning Center Specialist