Finding Funding Sources: Less is MORE!

“I need to apply to as many foundations as possible so that I can increase my chances of getting funded!”

“I’ve sent out hundreds of applications, but I haven’t gotten many responses. The few I do get are rejections.”

FrustratedwithlaptopWe’ve seen these types of statements many times. People come to us exasperated because their grant writing strategy hasn’t worked. The “throwing out as much as you can to see what sticks” strategy almost never works. Grant writing isn’t particularly difficult, but it is extraordinarily specific. As with many areas of life, the old mantra of “less is more” is very fitting when it comes to finding funding sources.

Applying to hundreds or even thousands of funding sources is not the best strategy. Behind all foundations are people and they should be treated as such. If you have been sending out hundreds of applications, your approach is not targeted. That approach is more similar to sending out junk mail.

Think about when you get “junk mail” and by that I mean those sales fliers that may have your name in them but are clearly not targeted at your wants and needs. What do you do with them? My guess is that they go directly in the recycling bin. How do you feel about these appeals? I wouldn’t be shocked if you said it was offensive or irritating, because we all have limited time (and often limited space in our mailboxes) and getting pieces like this wastes our time. With a mailbox full of junk, it can be difficult to sort out what is important and what is junk.

Sending out an impersonal mass mailing to every foundation you can find an address for is never going to build the relationships required to secure meaningful funding. This is not only going to get your application rejected; it is also going to create a negative reputation for you and your organization. Having your organization associated with such “junk mail” can irreparably damage your grant writing strategy. Each time that funding source receives something from you, they see the name and think “junk,” and I’m sure you can guess where it goes. Again, think of the junk mail you receive… I bet there are some notices you get that you never even open. You know just by looking at the sender that whatever they have to say or appeal they wish to make is simply a waste of your time.

If you’ve already been employing the junk mail strategy, stop and start working today to reverse it. It may take time to turn that around, but it is worthwhile. In our experience, a successful strategy, after some years of development, can secure between 30-50% of the annual budget from grant funds.

If you are considering beginning a grant writing strategy for your nonprofit, research foundations thoroughly and make sure that selecting the appropriate funding sources is a top priority. Review any information the funding source makes available to find out what types of programs they are interested in funding. Make sure your programs are doing the kind of work in which the funding source wants to invest. Look at their 990 forms to see what organizations they’ve given to in the past and how much. Apply only to funding sources that will likely be interested in your organization and programs.

There are many resources available to you in your quest to find grant funding sources. Many libraries offer free access to the Foundation Center database. We offer a Christian Funding Directory for a small subscription fee. We also offer a Funding Source Report where we research the appropriate funding sources for your ministry and provide you a report. If you need help finding funding sources for your organization, contact us today.