Grant opportunities are everywhere, but you need to research them to get the one fit for you and your program or project. A part of the research process is evaluating potential sources of grant opportunities such as community foundations, federal grants, private foundations to determine the right fit worth pursuing your organization. Therefore, you need to know what considerations to take to decide what and what not to fits. Here are things to consider as you evaluate grant opportunities you find before writing a grant application.
Always consider reviewing a foundation grants history to see if they have funded an organization similar to yours before. If yes, this is a sign you can try applying to it. But, most of these organizations that received grants have a relationship with the funder, so it is an advantage. When a funder receives grant applications that have similar work from organizations they have funded before, chances are higher they will provide funding to the organization they know. Thus, research the current grantee before you apply to see how they are performing. Check on how their work is with grants they received. If they have good use of the funding, it may continue. But if they manage them poorly, they may be interested in a new organization.
Look at the foundations’ list of current grantees and past ones too to get an idea of the kind of organizations the foundations like to fund. If there is no organization similar to your own in the grantee list, it can be a good and a bad sign. On the positive side, it means the foundation may be interested in your area of focus, and you should apply. On the other hand, the foundation may have an area of interest already with an existing grantee. However, if you still apply for the grant, whether good or bad, write your application for a more sophisticated audience due to the level of experience of the foundation staff.
Foundation areas of interest
Most foundations narrowly define their areas of interest. Most of the funding interests are in categories such as environment, health, or arts. Within the categories, funders create focused programs for grants, for instance, under the health interest category. A funder may only give grant funding to fund research to reduce child mortality. Therefore, as you review a foundation, research to ensure your organization fits within the funders’ main interest and the specific program area.
The foundations’ program interests may be ideal for your project, but you need to confirm if the organization meets the basic requirements to apply. For example, some foundations will only accept applications if your organization has a headquarter in a specific geographic region or country. Or they may only be considering applicants from existing grantees. For this reason, as an initial review of a foundation, always consider if your organization is within the basic eligibility requirements to know whether you can apply or not.
In some cases, you may find the right funder that fits the work you do, but the funder requires a burdensome reporting process for giving out small grants. The reports may be quarterly or semi-annual but well detailed. In this case, the funder is not a perfect fit for you. You need to evaluate the opportunity closely to ensure it does not cost you more money in managing the grant than you will receive in the grant funds. But, this opportunity cost is an issue with smaller grants offers. However, always consider the staff hours it takes to meet the requirements and the reporting requirements.
Review other sources about the foundation
You can learn a lot about a foundation from their website and foundation database as you evaluate if the opportunity is for you or not. Also, take the time and review other sources to see what else you can uncover, such as staffing changes, current priorities, and the latest news. Through doing the research, you will learn if the foundation is planning to spend more or less. Or it is planning to end a program and open a new one, among many other things.