Alright, now I’m going to show you how to find grant funds via the private sector. Remember when I told you HOW YOU WERE GOING TO FIND FUNDS in an earlier article?
I will start at the tip of this iceberg and then work my way down. Please feel free to email me with any clarifications you may need at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here we go…..
Register for a free nonprofit data base.
My 2 favorite ones are Guide Star and the National Center for Charitable Statistics. They are free and you can research all day long on both of them.
Start searching for what is called “Private Grant Making Foundations” in your county and surrounding counties.
I usually find that starting local and then branching your search out is best. Most private foundations I have worked with prefer to keep the money local anyway (at least in the same state.) **Here is a random tidbit. You may hear of large entities having a grant competition. My suggestion is to not waste your time with these. They are highly competitive and look for organizations that possess a track record and reach a large amount of recipients. You are not there yet, you will be soon, but not yet. I want you to focus locally right now. If you need to, research within your state, but don’t go any further than that.
Perform further research on each foundation that you find.
You will be able to look at their most recent forms on file, preferably what is called the 990 form. Here, you will be able to see their giving interests, who they give to, how much they are worth, and obtain contact information. These forms will tell you what they are all about.
Look for the following items on the financial statements:
1. Check to see if they have a website. If they do, their granting guidelines and priorities should be on there. Follow their directions.
2. If they don’t have a website, call the number listed on the 990 and talk to person that picks up. If what you are doing fits with what the trustees want to do, awesome. The person you talk to can tell you what the next steps are that you need to take.
3. If they do not have a number listed, they usually have an address. Write and send what is called a Letter of Inquiry (LOI.) Keep it short and sweet and make sure to give them ALL of your contact info. I once had a president of a foundation call and grill me as I was frying pork chops, and making sure the 2 year old did not hogtie the cat (he did, but he eventually let her go.) If you put enough feelers out, you never know who will crop up and find you. 4. Keep a record of each foundation you locate and contact, along with your deadline for the proposal with the ones that are a match. Trust me, this will come in handy because a lot of information is about to be flung at you. My dyslexic self prefers post its. It’s just how my brain works. You may have better luck with an Excel spreadsheet.
Now, before you start sending off proposals to everyone, realize this: According to the most recent State of Grant Seeking Survey, the amount of applicants to private foundations has increased 267% since 2012.
This now means there are mountains of paperwork for trustees to sift through, and extremely tired and overworked grants administrators that need a snack and a nap. I strongly urge you to not make eye contact and approach them with your hand out. However, a basket of baked goods sent to the office anonymously will probably be most welcomed. Fresh doughnuts are a huge hit too.
So, it is now you and everyone else applying for the same funds. But, you have the edge. You have me now and we are going to get through this……
You are also going to get smart and you are going to get creative because you are awesome.
Here is how I want you to get smart and creative.
1. Research – before you call anyone, make sure you take a look at anything they have published, including an existing website. Grants administrators do not have the time to answer a question that you should have had the answer to, had you looked for yourself.
2. Don’t be snotty if you do happen to talk to someone – Once again, you are to practice all of your manners your momma taught you when you are on the phone with them. Every time. They owe you nothing. I’m serious. In addition, most Boards I have worked with are not paid for their time. So, imagine coming in after working 80 hours a week, to sift through 600 applications until the wee morning hours on your weekend.
3. When you are deciding on what amount to request, and you cannot obtain a straight answer from an employee or website, (this can happen) take a look at what they have reported on their last financial statement. You are not getting the entire amount so just don’t ask. If you decide to ask for every dollar they have, you may run the risk of royally ticking them off. That entire net worth amount that you see on their 990 will not be cashed in just for you, because you are cute and fluffy. That is usually what their portfolio is worth. Without those investments, there will not be any money for anyone ever again. My rule of thumb is to never ask for anything over 5-10% of their net worth. If that amount is less than what you need, divide your total needed amount up and apply with multiple foundations.
Alright, now you have a direction to go in….so go research….and then check out THIS ARTICLE as to how you need to prepare your grant proposal when you are ready.
Until Next Time,
Bare Philanthropy LLC