Lesson #5 – Form 990-PF

Greetings from GrantLessons! Today was a very pleasant day in Reno. The smoke is gone. It is calm and peaceful outside. Already we are on Lesson # 5, Form 990-PF.

Form 990-PF is filed by all 501(c)(3) private foundations. Form 990-PFs are available and free on GuideStar after one completes their registration. Form 990-PF provides information on the filing organization’s mission, finances, board of directors, whether the foundation takes unsolicited requests for funds and who they made donations to during the last year. This is very valuable information for the grant writer.

One of the first things I do when I am evaluating a potential funder is to examine their Form 990-PF. I take note of the name of the organization. I learned early on to write the full name rather than an acronym or a short title when someone got confused between two funders with similar names. I look to see what the funder has reported as their fair market value. I look at whether they made money and how much they gave out in grants. I like to find funders that have more than the net assets of our chapter. I then scroll down until I find the list of officers, directors, foundation managers and their compensation. I look to see if I know any of the people and I often ask the other members on our Grant Committee if they know any of individuals listed.

I continue down until I reach Part XV Supplementary Information. In this part one can determine if the funder is open to receiving unsolicited requests. If this is checked, close the Form 990-PF and stop your evaluation since the funder will only throw your application into the trash can. Often I find a note that says “See Statement 10, 0r 11, or 15” or “Schedule 2 or 3”. One continues scrolling down until they find the statement or schedule referenced in Part XV. The information found here is very enlightening to where one needs to mail the application or the website where the guidelines and application can be found.

The most interesting area is also located in Part XV where the funders must report the grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment. I examine the list of recipients closely to see if there are any similar programs to our programs and the amounts paid out. If all the donations are for $500, I know that I should not request $5,000 in our application.

If I like what I see and think that I may recommend the organization to our Grant Committee, I save the Form 990-PF to a new folder in Dropbox. I place the name of the funder on our “Potential Funder List” and bring it to the next committee meeting. This is a specific job on our Grants Committee. If someone suggests a foundation from the membership, the first place I check out is the organization’s Form 990-PF. You can find more information about Form 990-PF on GuideStar’s website at http://www.guidestar.org/rxg/help/faqs/form-990/index.aspx and you can find a blank Form 990-PF at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f990pf.pdf .

Therefore, now we start to build on our skills, we have a GuideStar account. We have located the Form 990 tab on GuideStar and now we can start to look up different foundations. Your home work is to go into GuideStar and pull up the following foundations to look at their Form 990-PF: Union Pacific Foundation, Hearst Foundation Inc., and St. Louis Community Foundation Incorporated. The test is which foundation accepts applications for funding, which ones do not.

Okay enough for today, the roast is a cooking in the oven and it is time to check it out and then off to granddaughter Alison’s soccer game. Remember you can find more information at http://www.grantlessons.wordpress.com.

Be sure to have the rest of your committee sign up so they can learn with you.

Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon. Sandie

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