Grant Research Questions to Find Ideal Prospects | Funding for Good

Grant research questions are time consuming and can be frustrating. It is not easy to determine the number of grants to apply for that will guarantee funding for a program, project or organization. Common estimates suggest that first time grants to a foundation are awarded at a 30% rate. Some say you have the apply numerous times to receive funding. While this may be true for some, my methods says otherwise and I’ve been writing grants for 25 years. The method that works for my team revolves around answering key grant research questions and building a relationship with the potential propsect.

Answering grant research questions and building relationships are time consuming. What must be remembered is the return on investment for both is unparalleled. When they are combined, amazing things can happen.

I encourage you to take the time to investigate prospects using every method at your disposal. One way is to review the 990-PFs. Another method is to research the foundation’s website. Ultimately, extensive grant research allows you to find the ideal foundation prospects for your current needs prior to calling or emailing a program officer. Then, when you find qualified prospects, contact the foundation or a program officer with 2 Goals in mind:

  1. Determine if the foundation’s current priorities align with your organization’s need.
  2. Start the Relationship Building process.

Once you speak with with the foundation, you will know if you should pursue that grant. Basic grant research questions don’t always uncover all the information you need. If you don’t know the answers to these 5 questions, ask the foundation officer:

  1. When should I have a request to you to be considered for the next grant review cycle?
  2. If we are selected for funding, when can we expect dollars in-hand?
  3. Assuming we start the project before funding is in-hand, can we reimburse ourselves for expenses we already spent once funds arrive?
  4. Would you like to come for a site visit?
  5. Ask any clarifying questions regarding what the foundation is looking for. Example: If a foundation asks for audited financials, which you may not have, be sure to ask if they will accept a 990 or compilation report (which is less expensive).
  1. When should I have a request to you to be considered for the next grant review cycle?
  2. If we are selected for funding, when can we expect dollars in-hand?
  3. Assuming we start the project before funding is in-hand, can we reimburse ourselves for expenses we already spent once funds arrive?
  4. Would you like to come for a site visit?
  5. Ask any clarifying questions regarding what the foundation is looking for. Example: If a foundation asks for audited financials, which you may not have, be sure to ask if they will accept a 990 or compilation report (which is less expensive).

Most grant writers don’t have time to guess and submit a bunch of proposals hoping that some will be funded. Grant research, that due diligence, is worth the time and energy prior working on a grant application. I encourage all of you to focus on key grant research questions and relationship building. Ultimately, this is how you determine which foundation’s priorities are the best fit for your current needs. 

Use this check list to make sure a potential donor is a good fit prior to making initial contact:

1. Does my program/project fall within the donor’s area of interest?

2. Where will my program/project have an impact?

3. Is our area of impact within the donor’s area of interest?

4. Does the average grant size fit my need?

5. Will we be required to match the grant? If so, by what percentage?

6. Are we confident we can ‘find the match’?

7. Are funds paid upfront or is it a reimbursement grant?

8. Grant funds can take time to acquire. Will the dollars come in time for our need?

9. Are there restrictions? (i.e., faith-based, no transportation, etc.)

Use this check list to cover your bases when speaking with the program officer:

1. Have a specific program/project in-mind and the reasons behind why you feel it is a good fit for the foundation.

2. Know your project/program start date.

3. Have an educated guess about how much you would like to request based on your research, looking at the foundation 990s and reading their website about giving amounts.

4. Be able to share information about other potential funding sources, foundations you have applied with for the same project, how you plan to fully fund the project and/or sustainability plans for future success.

5. Be ready to accept feedback, take suggestions, or tweak your proposed project/program to fit the priorities of the foundation if there is a good fit.

6. Email or call to set up a time to chat about your project. Do not assume the program officer will have time to talk when you make initial contact.

7. Be ready, willing and able to hear a ‘no’ if that is what you are being told. This will save you time and energy in the long run.

I am sharing this video link about Grant Conversations with Program Officers. I have a few role-playing scenarios if you want to know what to expect on these calls.

 

The foundation of successful grant writing is grant research and relationship building.  Work these steps and tips into your grant process and you will be more efficient and successful. If I can help with Grant Writing, or you want my team to help with Research, schedule a 15 minute Visioning Call anytime!