Nonprofit Tips & Hints: Grant Seeking, Part I

Identifying Grantmakers.

Grant seeking is a full time profession in and of itself.  However, many of our local nonprofit organizations are small scale, and most don’t have the resources to dedicate to a full time grant seeker.  That doesn’t mean that you should let precious grant dollars slip through your finger tips.  Someone out there shares your nonprofit’s passion and is desperate to fund your programs, you just have to know where to find them.  In this two part series, we offer insight into how to drill down to exactly what you need to do to identify the right funders and wow them with your grant proposal.

Types of Funders

Family Foundations:  These usually started as a legacy or a way to share family values through philanthropy.  Board members are often made up of family only and if there are any staff members at all, they are usually family as well.  67% of Family Foundation giving is local, and grant cycles are often invitation only.  Their missions align with their family values and they want to see specific impact with their dollars that can be scaled up or duplicated. A lot of family foundations are currently using a spend-down policy with larger grant sizes.

Corporate Foundations:  Corporate foundations are set up as separate entities from their corporations and run their own granting processes apart from any that the corporation actually facilitates.  Their grant cycles are normally open and staffed, and their guidelines are specific.  Their giving is often specific to 1) the region in which they are headquartered or the neighborhoods where their employees live, 2) to off-set their business activities or 3) to promote their business.

Community Foundations: There are more than 700 community foundations in the United States and together they only make up 1% of foundation giving.  They are geographically defined  and their values and grantmaking reflect their communities and a broad donor base.  Grant cycles are open, often specific and collaborative, involving the perspectives of community representatives.

Public Grants:  These large grants come from Federal, State and County sources.  They require a high level of staff capacity from the application through follow-up evaluation processes.  While rigorous and time-consuming, these grants are big money and often fund the entire grant budget.  Before taking these on, be sure your organization is ready. 

Read Grant Seeking Part II: Best Practices.  This article first appeared on November 4 Give Back Tahoe page in Sierra Sun. If you like this, look out every Wednesday to see what is happening in our nonprofit community and how you can become a part of a mission that matters to you. If you are a funder and would like to find a nonprofit in our community that shares your mission, contact TTCF at (530) 587-1776.