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The Best Places to Find New Grant Opportunities Online

By Sumac Research

Introducing… Prospect Research

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Here are a few of the things you’ll learn about institutional donors through prospect research:

  • Does this institution give to non-profits that do what you do?
  • How much money does this funder usually give?
  • Does this funder give in your geographic area?
  • What does this funder expect of your organization in terms of personnel, size and type of project, level of evaluation, financial                          management and reporting?
  • What are the funder’s guidelines?
  • Who have they supported in the past, and at what giving level?
  • Who do you know (on your board or in your member base) who has contacts with this funder?

Anyone can conduct prospect research, though of course it requires an ability to dig into guidelines, explore the internet, and ask questions. Sometimes, professional prospect researchers are hired, who have access to a wide range of resources and databases. More often, fundraising staff include prospect research among their duties. In some non-profits, volunteers and interns do prospect research.

Prospect Research Online

Grant information is largely available online, and in some cases you can find all the information you need on free websites. Bear in mind, though, that you will almost certainly have to
img 2follow up a simple online search with more in-depth digging. Possible ways to supplement your free-site research include a call to the prospective funder to gather more information and request an annual report; a search of the funder’s tax records to see where the money went; or a Google search of the funder’s name to find out how they think about themselves.

There are few really useful, free online sources. Some, however, are literally worth their weight in gold.

Subscription-based databases provide much more in-depth information about grant making institutions. If you expect to do significant amounts of prospect research, you should certainly consider sources like the Foundation Center which will provide you with a wealth of online detail about each prospect in their extensive database. Most online grant databases require a subscription fee. Some of the top databases include:

As you review the guidelines for each grant prospect, you’ll want to review their limitations, giving procedures and deadlines.img 3Often, a foundation that looks like an ideal prospect at first glance turns out to give only in six states – and not in yours. It may also be that a funder is ideal for your organization, but that its deadline for grant submission has already passed.

Once you’ve eliminated prospects that are clearly wrong for your organization, you’ll want to carefully review guidelines to be certain you’re truly eligible for a grant. For example, you’ll want to double-check that the foundation’s grant making limitations don’t apply to you: if you have a religious focus, for example, you should be very careful about reading the guidelines. You’ll also want to be sure that you have all the documentation required; for example, some foundations ask for audited financials; others need to see proof of non-profit status.

Perhaps most importantly, you’ll need to be sure you can describe your project in enough detail to be credible to this prospective funder. You can find help with this in Top 10 Tips for Writing Grant Proposals. Often, funders want to see expert advisors involved a full evaluation plan, or other rather technical elements. If you don’t have these in place, this donor may not be a good prospect for you.

*This article was condensed and brought to you from Sumac Research. For the full article go to: http://sumac.com/the-best-places-to-find-new-grant-opportunities-online

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