I am working for a non-profit and recently have begun writing agency grants as well. This organization in the past has never relied on grants, but instead on funding from two fundraisers and the state and federal monies.

However, it seems that all of the foundations we are writing to are coming back and saying that they are not funding in the state or we fall outside their parameters or no reason at all.

We are using a web-based software called Foundation Search. Any opinions on online searches?

Here's my answer

I can't stand writing grants. To me, grants feel like a crap shoot or playing a one-armed bandit.

That being said, you can't just "apply for grants" by blindly sending out grant applications. You have to do your homework. That's just part of being a professional. It's not worth wasting your time or their's by applying for a type of project the funder clearly states they aren't interested in.

Most foundation clearly states:

  • what types of things they give to,
  • where geographically they like to focus their giving, and
  • what their funding priorities are.

I am not familiar with the web-based software you mentioned, but I really like the Foundation Center's Foundation Directory Online. You can get incredible information there. I'm using it for a campaign right now. (If you don't like online, you can go to one of the five centers in the USA and many libraries.)

Use the phone

One of the best things you can do is call the foundation after doing some initial research. Tell them why you think they're a good fit and see if it sounds like something they'll look at.

More and more funders are inviting calls. It can be hard to hear a person say your project won't fit, but it sure beats wasting a grant application!

If this answer was way too basic for you, check out Betsy Baker's Grant Writing Masterclass webinar on June 11. This class is NOT for beginners!

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