Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

Grants prospect researching – ensuring the best project match every time!

NancyVic  Author: Nancy Vaughan

The team at Strategic Grant knows the importance of carefully researching every prospective funder you are intending to submit an application to, before you prepare your application. Unfortunately, many funders still report that they receive high percentages of applications that just aren’t a great fit with the guidelines, or worse still, are not eligible. While we urge all applicants to try to call the funder to discuss their application, the phone call of course comes AFTER the in-depth desk top research.

First impressions count

Demonstrate you have taken the time to know and understand the funder and their objectives before picking up the phone, and of course that you are eligible. You must be able to succinctly articulate how your organisation aligns with the Funders objectives and funding focus areas.

What does thorough research look like?

Let’s start with the obvious … visit the funder’s website and read the funding guidelines for the relevant grant program very carefully.  Read the FAQs and Hints and Tips. Then, read it all again. Is the project or program for which you are seeking funding eligible? And does it fit within the guidelines? Make sure you check for any exclusions and that the grant range and geographic focus also align.

Research the funders history – what have they supported previously?

Many funders will list previously supported projects on their website or in the Annual Report.

While this does not determine whether your project will be of interest, it does open up questions to ask when you are talking to the funder. Are they interested in funding similar or are they looking at different projects? A decision may have been made that enough funds are currently invested into a specific area, but that information may not appear in the guidelines. It will likely though come to light through a targeted conversation. Review the entire website with the aim of fully understanding the granting intentions.

Expand your sleuthing into social media

Does the funder have any social media accounts?  If so, read through their posts as they often provide extra detail about programs and organisations they support.  If your organisation is aligned with the objectives of the funder, it’s a great idea to follow or like them on social media. 

Look for connections

Look for connections between funder trustees and your organisation’s stakeholders, including your board members.  It is not uncommon for trustees and foundation staff to work across a number of grant -making bodies.  This is particularly vital when the funder is ‘by invitation only’. 

Conferences are also terrific places for learning more about funders: what they are seeking from applicants; what they consider vital for a strong application; and new ideas they are interested in hearing more about.SuperSleuth BlogImage1

Time invested in researching your major donors well, ensures that you are only presenting the best project to the right funder at the right time, which gives you the greatest chance of a positive result and raising more funds to continue your work.

Remember: Research, Research, Research!