Ever wonder the best way to approach your foundation research? Not sure where to begin or what tools to use? Don’t want to have to do research over and over again each year? Do you have changing priorities that need constant research? Create an “evergreen” grants management system.
Here is the approach that I recommend to my clients, and follow myself when conducting grant research to create an evergreen grants management program.
Select a grants research tool. There are many tools on the market. However, the one that I recommend as most comprehensive is the Foundation Center Online.
Research all of the available materials on the organization (i.e., brochures, a case for support, annual reports, etc.).
Review these documents for all relevant programs, activities, and services. Develop a list of possible “keywords” that best reflect the organization (i.e., Adult Day Habilitation, Senior Services, etc.).
If your online grants research tool has an index of keywords for interest areas, review those indexed keywords to ensure that you are not missing critical ones.
Conduct grant research on each of the specific, identified keywords. If needed, narrow the search down depending on other pertinent requirements (e.g., by geography).
Compile a broad list of possible foundations for your selected criteria. I use a basic Excel spreadsheet to keep each of the keyword searches on separate “keyword” tabs independently. For example, all identified Senior Housing funders for the state of Massachusetts would be placed on one tab, while all of the Adult Day Habilitation services for the state of Massachusetts would be placed on another separate tab.
If needed (and recommended), conduct further, more in-depth grant research using your research tool to determine those most applicable. However, do try to keep this narrowing process more generic and broad as you want to maintain an internal database of possible funders that are EVERGREEN.
Meet with program staff yearly to determine possible programmatic needs (i.e., equipment, assistive technologies, capital renovations, etc.).
Go to your spreadsheet and identify the tab that most closely matches the identified programmatic need and determine the possible funding sources. If needed, do further research again to narrow down the foundations in your “bank” to meet your, now very specific, needs.
Consider putting together a calendar of submissions for the year, based on identified programmatic needs and matching foundations, so that you can stay on top of writing the grants according to noted deadlines for each identified programmatic need.
Review your evergreen list of foundations each year for a refresh to ensure that you have the most comprehensive broad list of foundations for each keyword.
In doing this process, you will have an evergreen list of foundations that will prevent you from having to conduct new foundation searches throughout the year for priority areas identified “on the go” by program staff. This will ultimately make your fundraising more efficient and effective and save you loads of time. Now that is precious!