|Presidents Drum and Bugle Corps wrote in April 2001:
"We are a 501(c)3 youth organization and we need someone to write grants for funding and to work with charitable foundations. In the meantime, how should we prepare?"
Tony Poderis (http://www.raise-funds.com) responded with this advice:
As you search for a grantwriter, I believe you will find that accomplished and experienced grantwriters will be more interested in serving your organization if you initiate a number of steps in the grantwriting process yourself, in advance of their writing effort.
- Determine what it is you wish to have funded. Set your priorities for the funds raised to support projected new programs and services, to support on-going programs and services, or to provide annual operating funds. Those priorities must come from your long-range strategic plan in the furtherance of your basic mission statement. (And be aware that you must have "life after grants" with campaigns for other funding sources - such as individuals who almost always give the most money.)
- Develop your prospect list. Through your area's public library, from the Foundation Center's information on where foundations in your area now give their money (http://foundationcenter.org/), from your Trustees, and from other people who know your community - get to work to identify the foundations with interests related to what your organization does. Also be sure to check whether you are located in the geographic limits required by the foundations. Check with your State Attorney General's office to see if that agency publishes a foundation listing. You may also obtain other organizations' annual reports and easily see which foundations give what amount to them from their printed donor listings. Then be sure to contact as many foundations as possible to secure their annual reports and giving guidelines. This is how you develop your prospect list.
While most experienced grantwriters will know such information about foundations if they operate in your area, it will serve you better - and it will cost you less - if you do most of your own research groundwork. It is not hard to do and will establish a process that you can follow well into the future - and the knowledge stays within your organization.
- Determined in advance the scope, intent, and the "case" value to the community of the project you wish to have funded. Again, this will save you money and give you a sound head start, as opposed to someone outside the organization doing it. It is very important that someone on the inside of the organization has full knowledge of the organization and its needs. That will be especially important when you have face-to-face meetings with foundation officials.
With all of this in place to some degree, you are better prepared to hire a grantwriter. But you do not want a grantwriter to be working directly and personally with your charitable foundation prospects - putting the grantwriter in a solicitation position. You want to hire a qualified and talented grantwriter, not a paid solicitor to engage prospects for you. That's your job. That's the job of your Trustees. You want your organization's officials to develop long-term and personal relationships with foundation officials, and you cannot accomplish that if others from the outside are so occupied on a project-to-project, short-term basis.
Updated 3/19/09 -- YBL