By Lynnette Cale, Grants Development Consultant - Healthcare
Have you been searching high and low for funding for your latest program or project? What about looking into foundation grants! With over 76,000 foundations in the United States and an estimated $47 billion given away each year, the money you need may be right under your nose.
Utilizing funding from a foundation offers many benefits. To find the best fit for your program or project, start by looking in your own back yard. Local foundations are great options because they are familiar with your community, are looking to fund local programs and projects, you may already know someone on their board, and you are only competing with other local applicants, not a nationwide pool. Other foundation opportunities include regional, state, national, and mission-focused foundations.
Foundation grants are particularly beneficial if you are new to grant writing or short on time and staff to write a grant. Foundations tend to have simpler application processes than federal or state grants and are mission-driven rather than project or program driven, like federal or state grants. While federal and state grants dictate the project or program to be completed for funding, along with start dates, deadlines, reporting requirements, funding amounts, and a variety of other mandates, foundations tend to offer more flexibility.
If you have a new and exciting project idea that does not seem to fit into a federal or state grant, foundation grants offer the opportunity to get innovative to create and build your own program or project to best serve your population within the foundation’s mission and demographics they are dedicated to helping.
Foundation grants also tend to have a shorter application timeline, enabling usage for projects that fulfill a more urgent need. While some foundations only award funds once a year, many foundations have multiple application periods throughout the year or an open, rolling application deadline.
As is the case with all great things, there are some downsides to foundation grants. The level of funding or grant amount is typically smaller than you find from federal or state grants, making it necessary to apply for multiple grants to fund a project or program. Funding is also often limited to one-time requests. Finally, some foundations do not have websites, making them more difficult to find and apply to.
With those challenges in mind, I am sure you are asking, how do I find a foundation that is right for my project? Start by looking local. Keep an eye out for press releases in newspapers and social media about foundation donations in your area. Ask members of your organization’s board who may be involved in other philanthropic work or serve on other boards. Look for professional organizations that support your work, demographics served, or profession. And finally, use internet searches and social media.
Once you have found the perfect foundation grant opportunity, explain how your project or program, organization, and mission fit their mission and goals as well. Detail how your proposed project or program benefits those you both strive to help. Read and follow all instructions and requirements listed on their website and application. If they do not have an online presence? No problem. Take the opportunity to call or email the foundation prior to applying. This allows you to establish a relationship with potential decision makers prior to applying and to learn if your project or program is a good fit for their funds. Because of this early communication, the foundation will likely be looking forward to receiving your application.
If foundations sound like they may be a good fit for you and your next program or project, now is the time to act.