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

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2 thoughts on “Lesson #12 – Evaluating a Profile

  1. Hi Sandie, We just got our GS login info this week and I’m doing my first search. I assume you use the advanced search link and then search by “Funders with a specific geographic focus”.
    Is this the method you use? Thanks and happy holidays to you and yours!

    • Carol, you are on the right track. Then you can scan down the page and select some other options, like poverty and children, and programs for Operation School Bell. Let me know if you are successful.

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