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An earlier post promised to examine how potential applicants might use answers to a set of specific questions about information found in foundation directory grant maker profiles to sort out the strong leads from the weak ones.


As follow-up to that promise, this is the second of three posts on using foundation directories in prospect research. It covers: deadlines, purposes/activities, and fields of interest.



Some foundations award grants yearly, others semi-yearly, others quarterly, and still others on a rolling basis. Semi-yearly means there are two opportunities to apply per year; quarterly means there are four. A rolling basis means there is no fixed deadline and applications can be submitted at virtually any time.


In some cases, foundations use two-step deadlines: one for a pre-proposal (or a letter of inquiry or a concept paper) and a later one for a full proposal (if invited). Only if a pre-proposal is persuasive will a subsequent full proposal be invited.


Grant award notices may lag a month or longer after a board meeting where proposals are reviewed and grant awards are approved. After a proposal is rejected, an applicant may need to wait a year before it submits another; if its proposal is funded, it may need to wait two years.



A specific foundation may have many purposes or few; it also may fund many types of activities or few. A corporate charitable giving program may favor opportunities for its personnel to volunteer in the community and to enhance public awareness of its brand by product donations; it will not fund the purchase of similar products made by other companies. Foundations may fund activities, but not paid labor (usually termed personnel).


These varied grantor-specific funding purposes and allowable activities constrain the options available to potential applicants. A poor match here is not a match worth pursuing.


Fields of Interest:

A specific foundation or corporate charity may have many fields of interest or few. It may fund strictly within its proclaimed interests or it may also stray outside them from time to time. Directories list such fields only n general terms. By studying a funder’s recent grant making history, an applicant may verify what the declared interests may mean for its specific prospects.


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