Strategies for Funders Giving Only to Preselected Foundations

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Cooler days in Reno, with sunny warmer afternoons leaves us time for some reading and thinking. As you remember from last week’s post, we have been looking at potential funders from our GuideStar search. Many of the lesser known foundations, including many family foundations have a checkmark in Section XV where they indicate they only give to preselected foundations. When we look at their list of donors we find some are giving to charities in China but many are giving to local charities in our cities that have similar programs to Assistance League.

How do we get noticed? How do we as one writer puts it “scale the wall” to get attention to our programs?  Rick Cohen recently published a great article called, “Scaling the Wall: 5 Ways to Get Unsolicited Proposals Heard” published August 19, 2014 in the Nonprofit Quarterly. Cohen presents 5 strategies for a nonprofit organization including:

  • Get visible to build relationships
  • Research their boards and staff for connections
  • Send information, working papers, and thought pieces
  • Send a LOI (letter of inquiry) anyhow
  • Work for philanthropic change

Cohen’s cogent advice once again is about building relationships, get out at local conferences so that you become known, provide an annual report once a year to the foundation and then send it again next year, and the year after. Send a quarterly newsletter to the funders. After you have done some of the soft sell techniques mentioned earlier by Cohen, then go aheard and send the LOI anyway. For most of us I don’t think we will be pursuing trying to get the entire system to change so that funders would be open for a portion of their funding to be available for unsolicited proposals. You can read the full article at .

I will soon be meeting with our Grants Development Subcommittee to finish the evaluation of our GuideStar search and to get their ideas on what strategies we hope to use in our efforts. If any of you out there reading this post have ideas on the topic of conquering the funders who only give to preselected nonprofits, be sure to post a comment to the blog, we would love to hear your ideas.

Soon, after we have an opportunity to meet, we hope to have a simple plan to work this particular target audience. For now, catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon! Sandie



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