Archive | October 2015

Lesson #45 – Other Opportunities to Find Funding Leads

Greeting from GrantLessons!

The weather is starting to chill in the mornings but we are having lovely summer afternoons! I am returning with Lesson #45 – Other Opportunities.

Lesson #45 – Other Opportunities to Find Funding Leads

Finding potential funders can happen anytime. If you are writing applications talk about it freely with those individuals you meet. Let’s look at a few other opportunities that you may not have thought could result in a funding application for your chapter.

Walk-in Customers

Ever here of the TV show “Secret Millionaire”? One cold day a couple of years ago, I was sitting in the conference room of our chapter enjoying some hot soup when one of our members came in to the room. She said, ” I have someone who wants to make a donation”. Well as I quickly walked to our Senior Sampler Gift Shop where the lady was standing, I asked the member, “Does she want to make a contribution of clothes”? As I introduced myself to the lady, I found her name was Mary and she wanted to make a cash donation. I asked her if she wanted to look around. I took her on a tour of our chapter house. Eventually, I said, “I am sorry, I did not get your full name”. Her reply was “My name is Mary, I like to fly under the radar”. To make a long story short, Mary likes to walk in unannounced to do her own analysis prior to making a contribution. It turns out Mary is a director on a large philanthropic foundation. In the subsequent years she has funded one of our programs with thousands of dollars. The message here is you never know who is going to walk through your doors.

Speakers Bureau

It turned out to be a last minute call from a social group in the community who speaker had cancelled at the last minute. I was being asked to join other chapter members to make a presentation. We had an active Speakers Bureau at the time so we pulled three ladies together and went and made a presentation about our chapter’s work! We were good that day in that the presentation went very well. It was short, to the point, and pulled at the heart strings of the audience. Much to our surprise there was a foundation director in the audience who came up and talked with us afterwards. Needless to say, he gave us his card, we made an application  and we were funded. Remember you never know who you may be in the audience.


Another source of leads is the local newspaper where frequently foundations will provide information (Request for Proposal) . These are frequently competitive opportunities for foundation grants or corporate contributions. If you do not read the newspaper, be sure that you ask your member friends who do read it to watch for potential opportunities. It is better to have several members tell you about the opportunity than to totally miss an opportunity to fill out an application. Remember you can find opportunities staring your in the face over your morning coffee.

Other Members

Periodically, it is a good idea to let members know about the work of the Grants Committee. Putting a short article in your chapter newspaper about the committee’s work stimulates members to think about their contacts. We have had the good fortune of having members know foundation directors who are able to mention the chapter’s work while they are playing golf. The member has acted as a link between the work of the committee and the foundation director. Remember you never know who knows who.

Flying on an Airplane

While this last one did not result in an application from a foundation, it has resulted in thousands of dollars worth of pro bono time in creating TV commercials. I was sitting on a airplane in the window seat and this very petite blond haired lady sat down in the middle seat next to me. Since I am a chatter, I struck up a conversation with her. I started to talk about my work with our chapter. I am sure my enthusiasm spelt over and soon we were chatting back and forth. Towards the end of the encounter as the plane was landing she wanted to share contact information. This is why one always wants to have a business card on her. I gave her my card and then went off to the National Assistance League conference not thinking much about the encounter. I was suppose to call her but it seems like I did not get the task done.

I was presently surprised when one of the Thrift Shop workers brought her back into the administrative offices to meet me. Her name was Debbie and I showed Debbie around. Next thing I new Debbie was telling me that her husband worked at making local tv commercials and that she wanted her husband to come and see our work. The next thing we knew he was creating commercials for our Thrift Shop. Remember you never know who you are talking with.



A chapter’s marketing and grant writing activities go hand and hand. Strategic planning helps both identify where the chapter plans to go. The chapter’s website and Facebook allow funders to see more detail than what is often for in their applications. All Chapter members can help the Grants Committee find opportunities to increase the number of applications completed.

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