By Sarah B Lange under Fundraising, Grants on April 8, 2021

Did you know that winning a grant starts LONG before you start writing it?

Research is the underpinning of successful grant writing, and can make the difference between getting a rejection letter and a check. To ensure every single grant you write has the highest possibility of getting funded, it’s crucial to get to know your potential funder!

Before you write Word One, make sure you’re not wasting your time or squandering the funder’s good will. Find as much information as you can about their areas of interest, whether or not they serve your specific geographic area, who they’re funding, when the grant is due, what guidelines you’ll need to follow, the instructions for submission, etc. Where can you find this information?

1. The Foundation Directory Online is an online database with tons of information on foundations across the United States. You need to pay for a subscription, but some public libraries subscribe to it so local nonprofits can access it for free, so check with your local library first.

2. Philanthropy MA hosts a database which focuses primarily on MA, but includes many other New England funders. If you’re not in MA, see if your state nonprofit trade association knows if there’s a similar database for your state.

3. Guidestar is a free site where the 990 (tax forms) of Foundations are listed. They’re usually 18-24 months behind, but it will give you a good sense of what types of organizations they’ve funded in the past and the range and typical size of their grants.

4. The Foundation’s website – only 30% of Foundations have websites, but many are a treasure trove of relatively current information. Online databases have to rely on the Foundation to provide them with up-to-date information, and they don’t always do that.

5. The Foundation’s social media channels and LinkedIn profile.

6. Their newsletter. If they have a website and offer the option to join their mailing list, please do!

Does research require an investment of time? Absolutely. It can be a bit of long, uphill slog. BUT – it takes less time to do good research up front than it does to write and submit a grant, then wait several months, after which you receive a rejection letter, telling you that your organization isn’t a fit for their mission.

REMEMBER – two of the top three reasons grants get rejected have to do with not being a good fit and not following guidelines and instructions. Thorough research will help you avoid both of these mistakes and it puts your proposal in front of people who are more likely to say YES!

Ready to learn how to write winning grants – even in a pandemic? Join me for Writing Winning Grants in a Pandemic: What You Need to Know on Saturday, April 10 from 9:30 – 12:30 EST. You’ll learn how to write a winning grant and how to approach funders during the pandemic so you can land the grant money you need to continue running your programs and services. Even if you can’t attend in person, go ahead and register – we’ll be sending out a recording on the Monday following the workshop! To learn more and register, click here.


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