Archive | July 2015

Lesson #28 – Decide on a Funder and Lesson # 29 – Develop Potential Funder List

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Remember it is never too late to ask a new committee member to join us on GrantLessons Blog!

Lesson #28 – Decide on a Funder
When the committee researcher makes a decision on recommending a funder to the committee to write an application, it is a serious decision. The researcher has spent valuable time in coming to this decision; she now is ready to hand her analysis over to another member, a writer, to complete the application. Of course the researcher and the writer can be the same person.
The following information should be gathered and shared with the person writing the application:
• Name of the funder;
• Paper or online application;
• How to access the application (Is it on a website?);
• Form 990, does it have information where to write in Section XV;
• Chapter program targeted for the application;
• Amount recommended; and
• Any required deadlines for application submittal.
The researcher should provide the writer with the location in Dropbox where her research has been placed.
The researcher can write the application and may choose to do if the application is short. However, by handing it over to another member, the committee researcher can go back to the task of researching additional potential funders.


Lesson #29 – Develop Potential Funder List
Using a planning calendar helps the committee keep track of important application deadlines. There are several methods to keep track of the information.
Microsoft Word Document or Excel Spreadsheet
A planning calendar can be developed where all the potential funder’s are listed with any deadlines that need to be met. You may have found a potential funder but this year’s deadline may have past. Be sure you make a note somewhere so that you can take a look at this potential funder in another six months.
Wall Calendar
A wall calendar provides a visual method for members to see the date an application is targeted for completion and by using different colors which member has the responsibility for completing the application.
When first starting out one may not see the need for a planning calendar but as the number of applications increase and when a committee finds themselves writing applications for two different fiscal years, they will find the planning calendar as a valuable tool to keep everything straight.

In Section II, the committee learned how to prepare for application writing; how to find funding sources; how to actually write an application; how to submit a paper or an online application; and what to do after the decision has been made. In Section III, we discuss the writing  component in more detail.

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


Lesson #26 – Other Ways to Find Funders and Lesson #27 – Synthesize Research

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Today I am slip sliding away to Portland with my grandson, hope you are enjoying these beautiful summer days!

Lesson 26 – Other Ways to Find Funders
Using databases to find funders is very useful. But there are other ways to find funders.

Watch the local papers for requests for grant proposals.

You never know who you are talking to, smile and talk passionately about your programs to all who walk through your Thrift Shop doors.

Google Search
A Google search on the terms grants, city, state will bring up a list of potential funders.

Word of Mouth
Keep your ears you may hear someone talk about a new funder in your local community.

Lesson #27 – Synthesize Research
The word “synthesize” means combining information. The researcher should review all information about a funder that is possible. After reviewing the funder’s profile, Form 990PF, website, social media, and any other ways to learn about a funder, the researcher is ready to make a recommendation to the chapter’s committee. Writing a case statement or application is time consuming. However, with much of the information in Dropbox, it is not necessarily difficult for a good writer.
• What is the funder’s legal name (take from Form 990)?
• How much assets do they have?
• How much was allocated to grants last year?
• How many grants were made to nonprofits?
• Were the grants written for programs similar to the chapters’ programs?
By now, the researcher should have a good idea of which program fits the funder’s needs the best and the amount to be requested. It is a good idea to discuss the analysis with another member. Both then learn how to judge the possibility that the application will be successful. When one is learning how to complete an online application one may decide to practice by writing an application to a funder where they are unsure if they will be successful. This is good practice for those who are new and have skepticism about completing an application.

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


Lesson #24 – Evaluating a Funder’s Website and Lesson #25 Evaluating a Funder’s Facebook

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Hope this short post finds you enjoying your summer vacation!

Lesson #24 – Evaluate a Funder’s Website
Many funders have websites that provide information about their funding opportunities.

Foundations frequently have a website associated with their philanthropic work. It should be noted however there are many family foundations that do not have any website linked with their work. Generally, these foundations ask for paper submissions of either a letter of inquiry or a proposal.
Corporations frequently have a website associated with their philanthropic work. Corporations may either have their philanthropic work on the same website as their business website or they may have a separate website that handles their contributions. Often times there is a link on the business website to the corporation contribution website.
One may find the information about a grant or contribution by simply typing the name of the company and the word “giving” to find the correct place. The term “corporate social responsibility” is often used to assist one in finding information about corporations.
The following information can generally be found on the funder’s website:
• Application process (online or paper),
• Deadline for making an application (ongoing or a specific date or dates),
• Frequently asked questions (how long the review of an application can take),
• Limitations for an application, and
• Contact person (some foundations/corporations do not want any contact from applicants).
It is important to read through the entire website 3 times before making a decision to write an application. It is important to read again just prior to completing the application.

Lesson #25 – Evaluate a Funder’s Social Media
Funders participate in social media at different levels. Many have Facebook accounts. To access type Facebook and the name of the corporation in your search engine.
On Facebook, you will find out more information about the funder. You may find the same information as is on their website. You may find additional information. You will generally find more pictures and videos. Reviewing a few of their posts provides you with more information about the potential funder.

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

Lesson #22 Evaluating a Funder’s List or Profile and Lesson #23 Evaluating a Funder’s Form 990 PF

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Hope all had a great weekend celebrating our heritage. Welcome rain has come to Reno! This week we continue with our review of our potential lest of funders. We are getting closer to finding resources for our philanthropic programs.

Lesson #22 – Evaluating a Funder’s List or Profile
Now we either have an Excel List with a list of funders in front of us or we have a GrantStation or a Foundation Directory Online profile and we must determine if this is a good match between the funder’s need to donate and the chapter’s philanthropic program need. Here are some tips on how to evaluate the GuideStar Excel list and the GrantStation and Foundation Directory Online profiles. We are attempting to find an opportunity to write an application.

GuideStar Excel List
Using the GuideStar Excel list one needs to sort it to ensure that the funders have funds and are currently receiving income. Simply delete any foundation names (generally corporations are not listed in GuideStar) that do not have assets and/or income. One goes back into GuideStar and pulls up the foundation’s Form 990 and continues to evaluate the Form 990.

GrantStation Profile
Using GrantStation, one of the first things we need to do is determine if the funder provides donations in the chapter’s geographic area. For instance, if you live in Nevada, GrantStation does not sort between Las Vegas and Reno. We need to determine if the funder gives to the entire state or only to Las Vegas. If the funder focuses only on Las Vegas, we close the profile and enter the name on an Excel spreadsheet so we know that we have reviewed this profile (our chapter is in Reno). If we cannot determine from looking at the GrantStation profile, we go to the Internet and check out the funder’s website to see where they make their donations. Next, we can go to GuideStar or Foundation Directory and pull up the funder’s Form 990 realizing that these are often over a year old. Using a keyword search using the city, state, and targeted population may identify funders. Remember the geographic focus is the most important variable since most foundations provide funding to a specific geographic region.

Foundation Directory Online Profile
Using Foundation Directory Online, the member finds that there are more variables to search on resulting in more data elements in the profile for examination. Foundation Directory Online allows a profile to be emailed to another committee member which can be helpful. Foundation Directory Online provides a summary of important elements on the profile. It also allows the researcher to search on a specific city or county. Access to the Form 990 is available.

Lesson #23 – Evaluating a Funder’s Form 990 PF
Form 990
Chapters complete Form 990 because they are public charities. Form 990 contains information about a nonprofit’s demographics, financials, programs, and board of directors.

Form 990PF
Funders complete Form 990PF because they are public foundations. Corporations do not complete a Form 990. Form 990PF contains similar information found in Form 990 about a foundation’s demographics, financials and board of directors. However, there are two extra sections to a Form 990 PF. Section XV provides specific information on whether the funder accepts unsolicited requests for grants. Funders who do accept unsolicited requests provide specific information on how to apply or where to go to find additional information, such as, the funder’s website. Section XV may direct you to see a specific statement within the funder’s Form 990.
Additionally Form 990 provides a list of grants that the funder has made over the last fiscal year including the amounts made. The list of grants is generally found at the end of the document. The list provides an idea on how much the funder is willing to fund proposals. The funder will have a philosophy of either giving a lot of small grants to many or several large grants to a few.
GuideStar allows the ability to search on Form 990s for free. GrantStation does not allow one to search on Form 990s. Foundation Directory Online allows one to search Form 990s with a paid subscription.

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 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 applications to the 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 folder file.

When you are starting out this process working with someone else will make the process faster and more interesting. Finding a potential funder is exhilarating!

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


Lesson #20 Examine Funder Databases and Lesson #21 How to Conduct a Search

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Hope you all are getting to ready to celebrate a happy Fourth of July. We are experiencing very hot days here in Reno, so I am staying in and enjoying the air conditioning. Now is a great time to ask your fellow committee members to join GrantLessons! We are now getting to an important strategy how to search for potential funders. Remember you can go to and add your email on the upper right of the screen. You will get an email from GrantLessons on Wednesday morning providing a short lesson on finding funding resources for your chapter’s philanthropic programs.

Lesson #20 – Examine Funder Databases

Each database contains variables/categories. A variable is a discrete piece of information.

Each database is set up differently and supplies different information as its output that helps in finding potential funders. There are distinct differences between each database and how they are structured and what information we are able to get from them.


After one claims their GuideStar Premium Subscription, they are able to do searches on a variety of different categories. The output is an Excel spreadsheet that captures the variables selected to include in the report. A nonprofit chapter can download 5,000 funder profiles per month. GuideStar database contains funders who accept both unsolicited applications and who only give to pre-selected charities.

The following categories are contained in the Advanced Search feature:

  • Nonprofit Search,
  • People Search, and
  • Knowledge Base Search.


While GuideStar provides an Microsoft Excel worksheet with a list, GrantStation provides a profile. GrantStation cannot be exported into Microsoft Excel.

The following categories are contained in the US Grants/US Charitable Giving feature:

  • Funder Name,
  • Advanced Search, and
  • Keyword Search.

The Advance Search feature allows searches on the following categories:

  • Geographic Focus (national or specific state),
  • Areas of Interest,
  • Target Populations, and
  • Types of Support.

Within each of the categories listed above there are subcategories to narrow the search. One needs to realize if they try to narrow the search too much they will not receive any profiles from the search.

Note the geographic focus does not allow for searching or sorting by city, however, entering the name and state into the keyword search will bring up information by city and state. However, you will find that the number of entries received will vary greatly by city.

Foundation Directory Online

Foundation Directory Online is a robust database. There are three different subscriptions which open up different database capacities.

The following categories are contained in the search capacity:

  • Power Search
  • Search Grantmakers
  • Search Corporations
  • Search Grants
  • Search 990s

In summary, each database has different search capacities and limitations. GuideStar is free, GrantStation can be purchased for $47 through the National Assistance League, and Foundation Directory Online has three different subscription plans ranging from $50 to $200 per month.

Lesson #21 – How to Conduct a Search

Each database has a different approach to how it works and provides the list or profile where the committee may find a match between their program philanthropic needs and the funders need to expend their 5% annual assets to maintain their IRS standing as a private foundation. Corporations may or may not be part of the specific database.

There are some general tips on how to conduct a search that are applicable to all searches which include:

  • Typing correctly is essential, computer programs are literal;
  • Determining how the search program works will take a little time;
  • Having patience when you start will help you in the process; and
  • Learning the difference between the following three databases will help you determine the time and cost ratio involved with each one.

GuideStar Input

Search using any of the following variables (elements):

The following search fields are available in the Nonprofit Search tab:

  • Organization Name/Location
    • City,
    • State,
    • Zip Code,
    • Metropolitan Statistical Area (very useful),
    • Affiliation Type;
  • Location Type;
  • Categories of Funding;
  • NTEE Code, The National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities, (NTEE) system is used by the IRS and NCCS to classify nonprofit organizations. It is also used by the Foundation Center to classify both grants and grant recipients (typically nonprofits or governments).
  • IRS Subsection, (generally we want to select Private Nonoperating Foundations, Assistance League chapters are considered Public Charities)
  • Financial Overview; and
  • GuideStar Exchange Level.

GuideStar Output

GuideStar exports a list of potential funders to an Excel worksheet. Each funder has the following information unless the items are reduced by unchecking the item. The following items are included:

  • Organization Name
  • EIN
  • Current Fiscal Year Start
  • Current Year End
  • Address
  • City
  • State
  • Zip
  • IRS Subsection
  • NTEE Code
  • Total Income
  • Total Liabilities
  • Total Expenses
  • Total Administrative Expenses
  • Fundraising Expenses

One can also search on People Search and Knowledge Base Search. Just go to the Advance Search and select either People Search or Knowledge Base Search. People Search is useful to see if a Director who sits on one Funder’s Board of Directors also sits on any other Funder’s Board of Directors. Knowledge Base Search provides information on many related topics related to writing applications for foundation grants and corporate contributions.

Your first search on GuideStar can be by Metropolitan Statistical Area and Private Nonoperating Foundation.

GrantStation Input

The following search fields are available at GrantStation by selecting US Grants and then U. S. Charitable Giving Database and finally Advanced Search. Simply follow the directions and check off the boxes to start a search using the following options:

Step 1: Select a Geographic Scope

  • National Funders
  • Funders with a specific geographic focus
  • Funders with both national and geographic focus


Step 2: Select Areas of Interest

  • Arts, Culture & Humanities
  • Civic Affairs
  • Community & Economic Development
  • Education
  • Environment & Animals
  • Health
  • Health: Diseases
  • Media
  • Religion & Ethics
  • Sciences/Social Sciences
  • Social Services & Issues
  • Targeted Populations

Step 3 Select a Type of Support

Under each of the above options there are subcategories that one can select to focus or narrow their search.

After selections are made, one selects Find Funders and a list of profiles returns based on the selections chosen for the search.

GrantStation Output

Each profile contains the following fields:

  • Name and Contact Information,
  • Primary Contact,
  • Geographic Scope,
  • Geographic Focus,
  • Type of Organization,
  • Total Annual Giving,
  • Grant Range,
  • Average Grant,
  • Grant Details,
  • Eligibility Requirements,
  • Application Deadlines,
  • Areas of Interest,
  • Application Procedures,
  • EIN, and
  • Last Updated.

Foundation Directory Online Input

The following search fields are available in Foundation Directory Online by selecting:

  • Grantmaker Name;
  • EIN (Employer Identification Number);
  • Grantmaker Location;
  • Fields of Interest;
  • Geographic Focus;
  • Trustees, Officers, and Donors;
  • Type of Grant Maker;
  • Total Giving, Total Assets, Year Established;
  • Keyword Search; and
  • Exclude Grantmakers not accepting applications.

Within each search field there are options which are selected to narrow the search. Being able to exclude Grantmakers not accepting applications eliminates those funders who do not want to receive unsolicited applications.

Foundation Directory Online Output

  • Background,
  • Limitations,
  • Purpose and activities,
  • Program Area(s),
  • Fields of Interest,
  • Geographic Focus,
  • Types of Support,
  • Publications,
  • Application Information,
  • Donor(s),
  • Officers and Directors,
  • Financial Data,
  • Additional Location Information, and
  • Selected Grants.

To be successful, a grant writing team needs a database to help them identify potential prospects.

Enjoy your holiday but be sure to do just one thing that brings you closer to writing applications. This work is very rewarding and be sure to have fun on the Fourth of July, I am heading up to Birch Bay, Washington for the holiday weekend, catch up with you next week. Sandie