The grant application process varies by foundation, but for some non-profit organizations figuring out how to apply may be the most complicated part. Some foundations may choose not to accept any unsolicited grant applications, which means that if you're not invited to apply, you can't apply at all. The reasons for this decision are numerous, but may include:
- The desire to fund non-profits only in a specific community
- Wanting to fund very specific causes
- Needing to cut down on paperwork
Does this mean that these types of funding organizations are out of your reach? Not necessarily.
The Linked In group 'For Grant Writers Only" featured an excellent discussion on this topic recently. A grant writer asked for advice on the best way to get her non-profit organization "noticed" by a foundation that does not accept unsolicited grant requests. The responses were really valuable, and following them may help get your non-profit's foot in the door.
See Who You Have in Common
"Who you know" is a powerful tool. Determine who is on the Foundation's Board of Directors, and then ask your own Board of Directors, employees, and volunteers if they have any connections with any of those individuals. If so, ask if they'd be comfortable introducing you, and plan an informal meeting. During the meeting, express your interest in applying for grant funding from the organization, and ask for advice on how to do so.
Ask Previous Receipents
Many foundations list past grant recipients on their website. Don't be afraid to contact one of these non-profits and ask for advice on how to get a funding invitation.
Ask the Foundation Directly
Give the grant office a call, and ask them politely if they could explain how your organization might get on their short list. Be prepared to explain how your organization matches their funding goals, but remember - the aim of the phone call is to get information, not specifically to launch a sales pitch (save that for your actual grant application).
Do Your Homework First
Of course, before you try any of these options, be sure to research the foundation and determine that it is a good fit for your organization. Have they funded like-minded non-profits in the past? Do they fund organizations in your community? Do your goals align?
The Grant Helpers can assist with this type of research, as well as the entire vetting process. To find out more, contact us.