Looking for a grant is a job as big as applying for a grant. As of today, there are approximately 1.4 million tax exempt organizations, over 100k of them are private foundations. Private foundations mainly exist to give out grants to individuals and other nonprofit organizations.
Private foundations should be one of your main targets for grant funding. Once you locate several foundations that you believe are a good fit for you, you must study their grant guidelines carefully before you make any efforts to apply. Here are a few tips on what to pay attention to in the guidelines to determine that you are eligible for the grant.
Eligibility. This section should describe whether the foundation is giving grants to individuals or organizations. It should also list specific geographic areas that the applicant should be operating in. If the foundation funds charities in Chicago and you are serving Atlanta, don’t waste your time on this grant application.
Areas of Funding. Study carefully what fields of service they fund. This section should clearly describe what programs and projects the foundation favors. For example, it may say that grants are awarded to athletic programs for underprivileged youth, GED programs, youth centers, etc.
The Purpose of the foundation. Make sure that the funder shares similar goals and beliefs with your organization. If the grantor’s purpose is to put an end to homelessness and your charity provides mentoring and assistance for the homeless to gain employment, then you have a good chance to get this grant.
Grant amount. This will give you a good idea about the size of grants. If the foundation typically funds small local projects, and you are trying to get funding for a back to school program, then it is definitely worth applying for this grant. On the other hand, if you plan on building an orphanage in Africa and need $1m for the project, you might have no luck with this grantor.
Limitations. Most funders will provide information on what they will not fund. It can be educational loans, travel grants, religious projects, conferences and meetings, special events, etc. Some grantors specifically require that the funds cannot be spent on management-related expenses.
“Grant funds are committed”. If you see this statement in the grant guidelines, that generally means that the foundation is only assisting the same charities that it has a relationship with year after year and doesn’t accept new proposals.
“No unsolicited proposals considered”. You should not submit a proposal or grant application until you have met with a representative of the foundation and he/she showed interest in your program.
The Grant deadline. Give yourself plenty of time to meet the deadline. Grant applications submitted late are generally not accepted.