In this blog post we provided strategies for non-profit organizations looking to start fundraising. Part of this process involves setting goals and timelines for specific revenue streams, such as grants. Let’s say you’ve identified grants as a potential funding source and have set a goal of securing $100,000 in grant funding this year. Now, how do you start finding funders who might be a good fit to support your organization?
Finding funders is the first step of the grant writing process. During this research phase, it is important to focus on finding funders who best align to your mission, goal, and funding needs. We recently helped Faith Church research funders for their residential ministries: Vision of Hope and Restoration. Here are three tips we used with them to identify potential funders that could help your organization too.
1. Identify your objectives and funding needs
Before you even start looking for funding, make sure you and your team have a clear understanding around the project/ program/ initiative you want to fund. Having a clear concept and focus will prepare you to identify funders with the strongest alignment.
It’s also crucial to identify your funding needs. Do you need funding to support your operating expenses? Or maybe you’re looking at building a new facility and you need funding to support your capital goals. It’s important to understand these needs, as many funders have guidelines regarding the type of projects and expenses they are willing to fund.
When working with Faith Church, we determined that they needed funding to support their existing residential ministries for men and women. By understanding their target populations and the goals of their ministries, we were better prepared to identify funders who had similar interests and missions. Their funding needs included programmatic expenses and some capital projects, which helped guide our funder search.
2. Start by searching existing funder databases
Once you have clarity around your project and funding needs, it’s time to start researching funders. There are a number of existing funder databases that can help you find funders. Most of them have a subscription fee, but the investment is worth it. Funder databases help to streamline your research process and find funders more efficiently. The good news is that many of these databases have inexpensive subscription costs. Discuss and determine with your team how much you can invest in a subscription.
Here are some good places to start in your search:
- Foundation Directory Online (we feature the Foundation Directory Online database in this blog).
- Grant Station
- The Grantsmanship Center
- Trade Associations where Foundations are members. In Indiana, we have the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance. There are similar trade associations in other states.
When working with Faith Church, we used a couple of these databases to research funders. We also helped their team identify a database they could use past our engagement to continue to research and monitor grant opportunities.
3. Determine funders with the best alignment
Once you have found a funder database and compiled a list of potential funders, determine the funders who align most closely with your goals/mission. Consider any target populations or focus areas the funder is committed to and whether those priorities align with your project. It is also important to consider the type of projects they typically fund (i.e. capital projects, etc.).
For example, when working with Faith Church, we started by identifying funders with similar religious missions. We also identified funders who were committed to serving the same populations the ministries served, such as those struggling with substance use. Considering these factors helped us prioritize funders with whom to begin outreach and relationship-building.
Whether you are new to grant writing or have several proposals under your belt, we at TCG would love to help you identify future potential funders who can help you accelerate your impact. We are here to help you at all stages of the grant seeking process. Contact us today to learn more!