1. Know Yourself
Finding a funder means making a match: a match between a funder's
interests, mission, and goals and the interests, mission, and capabilities
of your organization. Even before beginning to research potential
funders, it's important to have a clear idea of what your organization
is about and how it will appear to grant makers.
Here are some of the questions you should be prepared to answer:
Does your organization have 501(c)3 status? Most grant
makers typically provide funds for organizations that qualify
for nonprofit status under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue
What is the mission of your organization? Do you have a
written mission statement that explains clearly and concisely
the services you provide and to whom you provide them? How well
does your mission align with that of a potential funder?
What are the goals of the particular project for which you
need funding? Can you demonstrate how the project meets a
need in the community? Are there others providing services that
meet the same need?
Who is in charge? What is the background of your management,
staff, and trustees? Do you have the experience to accomplish
the mission of your organization and of the particular project
for which you are seeking funding?
Where does your funding come from? Be prepared to disclose
all of your income sources. Funders generally want to see some
indication of continued support. Suggest other sources of
alternate or partial funding you have or are considering.
2. Understanding Grant Makers
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the thousands of grantmaking
organizations is that, in many ways, each of them is different.
There are many similarities of course, to greater and lesser
degrees, between one grant maker and another. But the better
you understand how different kinds of grant makers operate and where
a particular funder fits in the grant maker universe, the better
prepared you'll be. Here are some steps to gaining a better
understanding of the types of grant makers and how they work.
Review the section on "Types of Grant Makers" in the AGM
Grant Maker Directory. Learn the difference between
a private foundation, a community foundation, a corporate foundation,
a corporate giving program, and other types of grant makers.
Read about the inner workings of foundations and other grant
makers. See the list of recommended readings on grant
makers in the bibliography section of
Get to know the language of philanthropy.
Read what the grant makers are reading. The Resource
Center's Janet C. Taylor Library has several key publications
covering topics of interest to grant makers. These include
Foundation News & Commentary, The Chronicle of Philanthropy,
Philanthropy Magazine, Corporate Philanthropy
Report, and others.
Check out grant maker "affinity groups" on program areas that
interest you. Groups like Grantmakers in Health, Grantmakers
in the Arts, Asian Americans / Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy,
Funders for Gay & Lesbian Issues, and others produce reports,
newsletters, websites, and other sources of information that grant
makers use to keep up on news, trends, issues, and developments
in their field.