The Road to Uncovering “A Good Fit” Has Many Paths

Researching potential grant funders can be a daunting task. Sure, the databases are a good starting point but prospectors need to dig deeper than the cursory information to really assess whether the prospect is truly a good fit. We can't rely on the prospect snapshots to give us the full picture. Here's where the real research begins.


Consider these steps:
Review the last two years of the prospect's IRS Form 990. Confirm on page 10 that the prospect has not checked “does not accept unsolicited proposals” – if this box is checked, don't necessarily believe it's accurate. I know of several examples where a foundation has clicked this box but later in the 990 it states there are no restrictions which are confirmed by the prospect's website and specific grant guidelines. In fact, if I had stopped there one of my clients would have lost out on a $25,000 grant!
The Form 990 can also tell you who the foundation has given to in the past. Review the list closely – are there any organizations like yours that this foundation has supported? If so, and you meet the other eligibility criteria; keep going because this could be a strong lead.
Once you've finished reviewing the Form 990, move on to the foundation's website to confirm what you've uncovered. Foundations can change giving interests and guidelines as they need, so be sure the information you have is the latest and most accurate. The website might even include a list of current or past awardees—don't overlook this valuable information.
After you're done with the information uncovered from your database results, continue to dig. Circle back to the list of organizations each prospect has given to in the past that are like your agency. You could go back to the database if it allows you to search by grant recipient (like FDO does) and peruse the list to see if any new leads pop up. Also, visit that agency's website and look through their “Our Supporters” or “Our Donors” web pages for leads. Review the Annual Report and current newsletters. I recommend going even a step further to look at their board of directors list – does it provide affiliations for each member? If so, are there any potential corporate sponsors with which your agency aligns?
And, never underestimate the power of an Internet search. Don't just rely on Google. Use other search engines (Yahoo, Bing, Duck Duck Go, etc.) to see if they yield different results. You might not get a direct hit on a funder's website, but you may find press releases, news articles, or Facebook and Twitter mentions that can point you in the direction of funding success.

Let the research path take you down different roads. Remember that databases are only as good as the information they can keep up to date, so the nuggets you find in unsuspecting places can add to your prospecting success.
What are some other ways you've uncovered solid leads?
Lisa M. Sihvonen-Binder holds a Master of Science degree in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy with Graduate Fundraising Management Certificate and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing with a Communications minor. Since 2008 she has been a grants consultant and has raised over $7M for her clients from private and corporate foundations, and local, state, and federal funding sources. In addition to her consulting practice, she teaches the 8-week, graduate-level online course, Grant Writing for Corporate and Private Foundations, for Bay Path University and edits books for CharityChannel Press on nonprofit management and fundraising. She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband and three rescue dogs.

GPC Comeptency: 01. Funding Resources


By: Tamara Fox
On: 03/02/2018 13:28:03
I have added a Foundation search in NOZA to my research checklist. I find it helps me dig more deeply into giving by the funder, as well as who they give to. I don't know that it offers complete records, but it is one more place we can find valuable information.

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