How to Capture Those Elusive Grants – Part 1

Grants - Part 1

Grants - Part 1The trouble with obtaining grants from foundations is that you either have to be very well known, like a children’s hospital or a well-established school, or you have to have a very strong in. Most nonprofits, especially new ones, typically have neither. However, if your program is fulfilling a compelling need in a new and creative way, you may still attract those elusive grants. So what to do? Don’t sit back and assume you haven’t got a shot. Instead, look at what you CAN do.


  • Take a grant request writing course. There you will learn invaluable tips on grant etiquette and approaches that help you present as an organization that knows what it is doing. You will also make important new contacts. Consider
  • Join professional groups such as the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits (or similar in your state). They often have seminars where the directors of these foundations speak and hold round table discussions. These are a wealth of information and an opportunity to make great connections. If you want to meet one of these directors ask them a short, appropriate question and start it out by saying: I’m Davy Jones, I’m the director of Find Homes for Seals, we serve more than 2,000 seals a year, finding them homes, providing health care, and I had a question about item 14. Use that two-second opportunity to get your name and mission out there. One of the top rules in fundraising is making yourself known!


  • Send gifts of any kind, or offer to take them out to lunch/dinner, etc. This is strictly forbidden.
  • Send videos or newsletters. This makes you look like an amateur.
  • At conferences and seminars don’t stalk those granting directors. Never intrude. Never make yourself a nuisance. I’ve seen women follow a grant director into the bathroom. How rude is that? And how self-defeating?


This is a guest post by Patricia Gilbers. Patricia has co-founded and co-directed a nonprofit agency. Patricia now consults for nonprofits specializing in start ups and grant request writing. Patricia also writes novels, short stories, and screen plays.  She can be reached [email protected].


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