Getting your Nonprofit Project Funded w/ Targeted Prospect Lists
Prospect Research, the process of finding grant funders, is the first step in locating money for your nonprofit project. Last year, Maryland reported over 32k active nonprofits, so competition for grant money is high. But there are ways you can increase your chances and it starts with creating a Targeted Prospect list.
Tip 1: Focus on grants from local organizations and avoid large/ national competitions.
Everyone is impressed with the glitz and glamour of large organizations like Apple, Microsoft, and Walmart. Yes, these companies have a lot of money to give and they give out millions of dollars each year to worthy causes. However, when seeking funds from large organizations you are competing with thousands of applicants- fierce competition. Larger funders tend to be focused on global or national issues and support nonprofits that operate on a large scale. Best Practice: If you have a small or new nonprofit, your best bet is to seek funds from local organizations. These funders usually have an interest or obligation to spend their money in local communities.
Tip 2. Read the funder's website. Make sure your program aligns with their mission and priorities.
As a grant reviewer, I always come across grant applications that totally miss the mark. Why? Because they did not read the guidelines or the website. This mistake will cost your organization time and money- two things a nonprofit can not afford to lose. Best Practice: When looking for funders read the website, past publications, and their annual report. Ask yourself- do they fund organizations like mine? If the answer is no- move on to the next name. But, if the answer is yes, investigate some more and make sure the projects you want to focus on support the funder's agenda before you start writing.
Tip 3: Build a relationship BEFORE asking for money
Have you ever met someone who only comes around when they need help or money? We have all experienced this at some point in our life, and generally the first reaction is "NO". If this sounds like your approach to grant funding, its time to rethink your strategy. Best Practice: When you find a funder match your next step is to attend their events, and call, mail, or email the program officer. Pick 1 or 2 approaches and wait for a response, however, do not worry about ' being a bother' . Many project officers like to hear from interested applicants before they submit a proposal. Why? Well, it gives them the opportunity to hear your project before reading the proposal. They can also give you guidance on if you should apply and what types of projects they like to fund. Building relationships is a major part of the grant writing process and it starts before the application is released.
So how do you find funders?
To learn more about creating a targeted list