Archive | November 2013

Lesson #12 – Evaluating a Profile

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Well the first snow of the year has hit my property, so I guess Winter is here!

So far in our lessons, we have gotten a lot of work done over the last couple of months. We are now ready to evaluate profiles. The bottom line is we are looking for a match between funders’ needs to make donations and Assistance League chapters who need resources to support their philanthropic programs We are attempting to find an opportunity to write an application.

So how do we go about evaluating a profile? Using GrantStation, one of the first things we need to do is determine if the funder provides donations in our chapter’s geographic area. For instance, I live in Nevada, GrantStation does not sort between Las Vegas and Reno. I need to determine if the funder gives to the entire state or only to Las Vegas. If the funder focuse only to Las Vegas, I close the profile and enter the name on an Excel spreadsheet so I know that I have reviewed this profile (our chapter is in Reno).If I cannot determine from looking at the GrantStation profile, I go to the Internet and check out the funder’s website to see where they make their donations.

Next, I go to GuideStar and pull up the Form 990 for the funder realizing that these are often over a year old. I scan the Form 990 to see how much money they gave away last year, how much they are worth, and the names of their Board of Directors (who knows I might know one of them). I focus on Section XV where the funder identifies if they accept applications and what the process is for making a request. If they accept paper applications, a name and mailing address will be present. If they give only to preselected charities, I stop the process of evaluation (this aspect will be discussed in a later lesson).

Lastly, I focus on who has received donations and the amount of the donations. I am looking to understand if there are any similarities between where the donations were made and the chapter’s programs. For instance, if I see that they have donated to a Boys and Girls club, I consider that a similarity. Generally this information is in the last pages of the Form 990.

Generally, when I get to this point I have found a a website associated with the funder, but not always where I can find additional information. At this point, I am looking for any reason to exclude this funder from further review. For instance, one time a funder wanted a policy to be in place if they were going to give money, another time I found that the funder only wanted to give to a 501 (c) (3) who had paid employees (that let us out since we are a 100% member volunteer organization). Another time, the funder only wanted to interact with charities that had a budget of $1 million dollars (well we are not quite there).

Now I read everything one more time since I know that on the initial review I am scanning and not really reading. I determine if this is a paper or online application. Lastly I determine if it is an open application period or whether there is a specific deadline to meet. Then I send the information to our Grants Chairman with a short email as to my findings and whether we need someone to write today or whether we need to list on what we call our Grants Standing Worksheet to evaluate at a later time. Her job is to determine who on the committee has time and energy to take on writing an application. It is very important that only one person makes this decision so there are not two people writing appliations to th same funder at the same time!

Before I close up all the screens on my computer, I note the website url address and paste it into a Word sheet. I save the sheet and the Form 990 to a new folder in Dropbox. I am careful to use the full name of the potential funder for the label.

When you are starting out this process working with someone else will make the process faster and more interesting. There is a real rush when you find a funder for your chapter that you believe will bring in funding. It all started for me when I found a funder for $20,000 for our food pantry program! I did have to make an application but it worked and the funding came through not only for the first year but also for the second year. That is 40,000! And it all started with GrantStation!

Okay this has been a long lesson, but the weather is getting cold, I suggest you call up one of your colleagues and sit down with a cup of tea or two and find some leads for funding your philanthropic programs. 😉

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

This entry was posted on November 20, 2013. 2 Comments

Lesson #11 – Foundation Directory Online

Greetings from GrantLessons! Leaves, leaves and more leaves and the temperature is getting colder. The game is getting the leaves up before the rain and snow start. I came in for a few minutes and have a cup of tea at my side.

In this lesson, I want to tell you about a different database available to grant writers. It is called Foundation Directory Online (FDO). FDO is very expensive ranging in 5 different plans from $20 to $180 per month. I have been exploring it for the last month to determine if I can find any new leads for our chapter. I am doing this by paying for a one month subscription and then immediately canceling the subscription since it is on a monthly recurring charge. This is what I have found so far. FDO makes searching for a potential funder faster. FDO gleans more information for the reviewer to analyze than does GrantStation. The Form 990 link for the specific funder being reviewed is available on the funder’s profile page. You can find more information at

To date I have only used the search grant makers subscription component but I am planning to explore the company search for corporations as well. So far, I have found one new grant potential that was not listed on GrantStation and sent it off to our committee chair that has gotten one of our committee members to write a letter of introduction. If this letter results in more than $20 it will be money well spent.

The home work this week is to search either GrantStation or Foundation Directory Online and get a list of potential grantors. Next week the fun starts as we look at how we evaluate the list to determine which ones we are going to spend time in writing an application.

For now, more leaves need to be raked up ;-).

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

Lesson #10 GrantStation

Greetings from GrantLessons! Fall is definitely in the air. A little more time indoors will help us focus on doing searches on GrantStation. GrantStation is available to all Assistance League chapters at $47 per year. I am assuming that your chapter has bought your subscription and you are able to do a search. I have created a video at where you can get step by step directions on how to click your way through to a list of funder profiles. It is located under the Resources tab. It is also located on YouTube at and is called, “Searching for OSB (Operation School Bell) Funders.

The output after putting in the search terms is a list of links to individual funder profiles who meet the criteria put into the GrantStation search boxes. If you have GrantStation and simply cannot figure it out, send a comment, so we can learn what you are having trouble with. In addition, recently I discovered that one can do a keyword search using your city, state or county and a small list of potential funders will come up. Note that because there are no other criteria put in, the search may not demonstrate any leads.

Note that once you have a lead you will need to print the profile for further review. You will not be able to look the funder’s Form 990 up while in GrantStation. However, in an earlier lesson we discussed GuideStar’s ability to retrieve Form 990s. Does your chapter have GrantStation? Have you accessed it recently? Ever think about just having one person be the chapter’s searcher. That is what I do for my chapter. I get really excited when I find a new lead. I do further research which I will discuss in a later lesson and then send it off to the committee where one of the other members actually writes the grant application. It really works well for us!
Our next lesson will focus on Foundation Directory Online, a new source for finding funder leads.

Enjoy the Fall weather, with a hot cup of tea, and your computer. Spend some time looking for a list of potential funders. You will need a sample funder list as we move into our next few lessons.

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