Research isn’t just for individuals

I realized recently that a majority of my research topics are often about finding and developing relationships with individual donors. But, research isn’t just for individuals – it can be equally as helpful for your foundation and corporate relations goals.

Think about it, one of the key aspects to securing foundation grants is through building relationships with the funder. There’s little chance of sending in a letter of intent or grant application to a foundation that has never given to your organization and in return, actually receiving a favorable reply.

So how can investing in foundation research help your organization? It can save you TIME and MONEY. Your organization will no longer be blindly searching for new opportunities, spending time preparing full-length grant applications and sending in unsolicited requests only to be turned down.

It can help you find connections between your organization and the prospective foundation funder through trustees and staff with known relationships. Having a personal or professional connection is a much more promising first step to securing that new partnership.

It can provide analysis of the foundation’s grantmaking activities to conclude whether what they SAY they fund is what they ACTUALLY fund. Say a foundation’s website states that they fund education, access to healthcare and animal welfare; but after analysis of recent years’ grants, you may find that 90% of their giving actually goes to making healthcare accessible. How likely would you be to get a grant if your organization was an animal shelter or a school? Not very.

It can show you what percentage of grants each year are awarded to NEW organizations (aka organizations like yours who have never been funded by this foundation before). How great would it be to know before spending two weeks crafting the perfect proposal that the foundation only awards 2% of its annual grants to organizations not previously funded?

It can also help you narrow down a list of prospective foundation funders to those that most closely match your organization’s mission and the programs you are looking to fund. And research also guides you to ask for the right dollar amount for the right program. After analyzing past grants, you will see the average amounts given for the type of program for which you are requesting funds. You will know you aren’t leaving money on the table or asking too much of a foundation.

Next time you and your colleagues are considering how to streamline your foundation relations department to improve ROI and efficiency, make sure to discuss the importance of research! And if you are in a pinch and need an extra hand, I am always here to help!

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