July 24, 2022

Opportunity Research

And you – small non profit – we see you! You’re tiny but mighty and there’s plenty of funding out there for your big-impact programs that mean the world to your communities.

Welcome to the first in a series of posts by KDS designed to help small and new nonprofit organizations in their fundraising efforts. Just because you’re new to the game doesn’t mean you don’t have something valuable to pitch to foundations – the trick is to find out who will be most receptive, how to tell your story, and how to define a long term strategy of relationship building.

And you – small non profit – we see you! You’re tiny but mighty and there’s plenty of funding out there for your big-impact programs that mean the world to your communities.

It’s difficult to find agreement on just how many foundations there are out there who give grants, but we know it’s a lot. The Chronicle of Philanthropy cites that the United States boasts a charitable organization for every 860 citizens and a private foundation for every 4,000.

But how do you find them? Which foundations care about the kind of work you do? Which care about the geographic area you serve? Which ones will even speak to you if they don’t know you already?

The best places to start looking are on foundation databases such as GrantStation and Foundation Directory Online. Both require a subscription fee (the former is way cheaper than the latter, but some public libraries may pay for a premium subscription for FDO – call to ask!). You can search by a number of fields and parameters – you can also look at who is funding organizations similar to yours! Make sure to look at the foundation’s IRS Form 990 – we’ll talk more about that in a future post but you can glean a lot of good information about who they give to (and how much they have given) to help you in your decision-making and planning.

Don’t discount a Google search! It might feel like you’re combing the desert (Spaceballs reference!) but using search terms that can narrow your population and geographic focus can yield viable results.

Before you start searching, think about the following questions:

-What are you trying to find funding for? A program? Core mission support (aka “overhead”)? Seed funding? Yes to all the things?

-Who are you serving, and where?

-How large a grant are you ready to accept? Remember: with great, big numbers come great, big responsibilities!

While you’re researching and learning about each funder, think about:

-Whether this funder shares your organization’s and community’s values.

-What type of funding they provide and for what: Some funders only give for new programs, some want a prior track record of success. Some invest in capacity building, while others are willing to pay for overhead or general operating support (we wish more did). Some want to pay for supplies and not salaries – some want to pay for salaries but not supplies! Some want to pay for research, and some focus their giving on collaboration between organizations to create bigger community impact.

Researching funding opportunities is a critical service that KDS provides to our clients, who are perpetually expanding, revising, and developing new programs and partnerships. Each new program or partnership creates new potential to attract different funders. Politics, pandemics, inflation, and other big societal/economic shifts can impact philanthropic giving and priorities. And we strive to be on top of it when they happen!

There are as many types of private funders and opportunities as fish in the sea, and the ocean can feel like a big place. At KDS our resources can be fine-tuned and customized when conducting our searches to cast the right net to catch the right fish. We research using multiple platforms and search engines, our own internal database, and comb the numerous funding opportunities that cross the threshold of our inboxes every day.

Still not sure how to start your research? Want to chat about a specific opportunity? Or do you just need some help in visualizing how to launch your grantseeking strategy? Make an appointment for a consultation with KDS – we’re here to help! Give us a shout at heythere@kazanasstrategies.com!