1. Identify your search criteria.
Your criteria can include key words, subject matter, geographic area, target audience, gender, race, and any other parameters that fit your interests. Do this in advance so you can refine and target your search.
Predetermine your subject areas and the type of support you want, such as new program, capital
, general operating, etc. Your strongest prospects will be those foundations and corporations that have an interest in one of your subject areas and that fund the type of support you are seeking. Look for funders located in your geographic area...they will be hot prospects for you.
3. Learn all you can about a prospective grantor.Study all the information on each prospect you identify so you can determine just how good a match your organization and the grantor's will be.
4. Visit prospective grantor websites to learn even more.Once you have developed a list of likely funding sources, visit their websites to get to know them. Look at their annual reports, success stories of previous grants, staff biographies, and anything else they are sharing with the public. Check out their current guidelines. These change frequently and often have not found their way into the online directories.
5. Use the information to craft a proposal that "speaks" to each individual funderWith all of this information, you should have a good idea of how to target your proposals for each funder, in the language its program officer will likely be attuned to. You will also have a sense of about how much you can reasonably request from each funder. Do not just put together one proposal and send it to everyone.
A prospect grid lists every prospect you have identified; the program of your organization that most closely aligns with each prospect's funding interests; your proposed request amount; deadline dates; and any other pertinent information. Use this prospect list to seek input from your board and staff to see if anyone connected to you also has a personal connection to one or more prospective funders.