Top Ten Ways to Find a Grant Donor Who Will Give to Your Nonprofit

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Top Ten Ways to Find a Grant Donor Who Will Give to Your Nonprofit

10. Have done your homework - whatever your organization knows it needs grant money for (e.g. new program, ten new wheelchairs, a capital campaign (new building), etc.) be sure to have planned out: the timeline, staff, action items, expected results, research the target audience, understand what the real need in the community is that your new item/program is addressing, etc.

9. Research foundations, corporations, etc. who give grants. Do not print a list of foundations who operate near your town and decide the organizations on the list are who you're nonprofit is applying to for grants. Create a list of foundations who:

Your organization should begin the grant application process by submitting Letters of Inquiry (LOI's) (or initially approach the potential donor how they prefer to be approached, according to their giving guidelines), to the grant donors who meet all three criteria, above.

8. Write an honest, thorough, succinct, easy to read grant proposal and tailor an original (master template) according to each foundation's guidelines' directions. All foundations are different from one another. One foundation will want you to include the list of your organization's Board of Directors, and another won't. They all require different things - read each foundation's giving guidelines.

7. Get organized. Upon receiving responses (and some are always 'we are sorry but...' and 'please go ahead and apply') from foundations to your initial contact; plan out when each application that your organization has been invited to submit is due, or when you want to have it 100% completed by (to get it into the mail, to arrive on time).

6. Prepare and educate any executive director and board members who may meet with foundation (or grant donor) representatives. Sometimes grant donors want to see a site location (when considering giving to a capital campaign, for instance), or interview organization leaders to get a feel for the organization's culture, management style, openness, etc. Get each of your organization's leaders information on the foundation, on the grant that you're applying for, and help them with talking points. They should speak honestly from the heart about why they're with your organization, answer all questions, remain open. No executive director or board member should expect to do a 'perfect' interview. Rather, they are the 'cherry on the sundae' to the organization's reputation, successes, etc. and the grant application. They should try to relax and enjoy the talk, if they can; when a potential donor wants to meet with your organization - it's encouraging and a good sign!

5. Be grateful for the foundations who decline your application. When you receive a grant it's a great feeling. The reason why I say 'be grateful for the declines, too' is that they remain a potential grant donor to your organization now, just as they were when you applied. During your foundation research (prospecting) you determined that they are. So, give it a couple of days and call their program manager (if the foundation accepts calls - look in their giving guidelines to find out) and say 'thank you for reviewing our application, we plan on applying during the next giving cycle that we're allowed to (some foundations only allow an application a year, others don't care how often you apply), could you let me know why our application was not granted or give me some suggestions?' It's OK to do this. It allows you to understand better what they want and at the very least, they've read what your organization does. You always want potential donors to know about your organization and what it does. You've done this much. Apply again.

4. Manage any grant that your group receives. It's a donation from a potential future donor to your organization. Do not spend the grant on anything other than what you stated it would be spent on, in the proposal. Create a way to track the program, project, items, etc. that you received the grant for. Provide clients with a survey asking about the program. Track who receives a new wheelchair, ask the owner for feedback on it - gather stats on the people benefiting from the grant support. Whether the donor asks for it or not, provide the grant donor with an end of grant report (state what their money was spent on, what it helped to achieve, state how you know these data points, and say 'thank you').

3. Communicate with grant donors. If something 'bad' happens (e.g. major funding for the program falls through, the site that you were going to build your org's new building got bought from under your organization, etc.) call up the foundation and tell them. Be proactive, be forthright, and remember that you're trying to get a donation now but you want a good relationship with any potential donor and to do that - you must be honest. You don't want them to find out about the mishap through another source. Besides, I've literally heard more than once, that projects or programs that were in jeopardy were saved by the potential grant donor because they believed in the new program/project so much. They knew that the need existed in our community.

2. Do not send grant donors things like newsletters, annual appeal letters, etc. after they've given to your organization. They don't need extra mail. Keep a relationship up with their program manager but don't annoy them. Develop the donor to give again in the future.

1. Give your organization enough time to be successful. Grant writing is not a quick fix fundraising method. Be sure to plan ahead. Be sure to plan out the timeline. Give yourself at least three months to research and write; and give the foundation 3 - 6 months to decide whether they'll give the grant or not. Expect these time lines. They're pretty common.



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