• June/July 2003
  • Vol. 4, No. 5

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Advice for Foundation Grant-Seekers

Jane Quinn, assistant executive director for community schools at the Children's Aid Society in New York City, has more than 20 years of fund-raising experience and has worked as a grant-maker for two national foundations. She offers this advice about seeking foundation grants:

  • Do your homework. The object of foundation research is to find a fit between its priorities and yours.
  • Find out how much money a foundation has. It matters whether a foundation's grants budget is $5 million or $50 million--and whether its assets are moving up or down.
  • Take no for an answer. Don't argue about why you think your project fits their guidelines, or why you think their guidelines are off base.
  • Don't make end-runs. Ask how the foundation likes to be approached, and follow that advice.
  • Stay in touch. Things change. It's possible you will eventually find a fit.
  • Ask for feedback. Grant-makers are often in a strong position to help you improve your work.
  • Cultivate relationships. Invite program officers to visit and add them to your organization's mailing list.
  • Do what you promised. It's better to exceed modest goals than to underachieve on ambitious ones.
  • Provide regular reports. Grantees who are thinking long-term take care to submit timely narrative and financial reports.
  • Ask permission if you need to change the plan. Most funders have established processes for authorizing changes.
  • Don't forget to say thank you.
  • Give credit where credit is due. Make sure you understand how each foundation wants its grant acknowledged publicly.

From Youth Today: The Newspaper on Youth Work (July/August 2002). Adapted with permission of the publisher. For more information about Youth Today, visit their website at www.youthtoday.org/youthtoday.

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