3 Steps for Successful Prospect Research for Foundations

Dream big
Dream big

1) Self analysis

Before you start with the research, cop your look at your own organisation and project. Is your organisational profile precisely formulated? What is your long-term strategy? What are your core competences?

Develop a short (one-page) concept paper with the following information:

  • Sector topic & target group (What do we want to do and for whom?)
  • Where do you want to implement the project?
  • Duration (if a long-term programme, we may only search financing for a sub-project)
  • Beginning and end of project (calculate with at least 6 months for funding decisions)
  • What are your core competences? Why are you a good match for the foundation?
  • What is your own contribution? (include also voluntary work or third party donations)
  • Type of costs (staff costs, material costs, investment/overhead?)

2) General analysis

Now you can start with your web-based research. At this stage, you aim to compile an extensive list of foundations that would provide a good match with your organisation and venture. For this we recommend the following three (consecutive) research strategies:

  • Identify like-minded organisations (NGOs) in your region/country and sector
  • Search for print and online foundation directories and databases
  • Search for specific (fee-based) grants and donor databases for development

3) Detailed analysis

By now, you will have gathered a long list of potential foundations after browsing through the different directories and databases. Now it is time to narrow down the focus to really find 'the perfect match(es)'. Each potential foundation should now be scrutinized according to its specific mission and main programmatic focus (e.g. within the field of education, some foundations may only want to fund primary education), selection criteria and funding dimensions. Here are some possible guiding questions that help you decide whether the foundation should remain on your 'match list':

  • Does the foundation really fund external projects or does it operate its own projects?
  • Does my project fall within the (sometimes narrow) geographic focus area of the foundation?
  • Does the foundation run specific programs within which my project would (ideally) fit?
  • Is our target group in line with the foundation's criteria?
  • Is are funding request correlate with their funding policy? Have we clearly stated our own (financial or in-kind) contribution?
  • How does the foundation feel about co-funding partners?
  • Do we have the resources for the required application procedures?
  • Do we have the correct staff details for initial correspondence?

After having gone through these 3 steps, you should finally come up with a solid prospect list.

Good luck with your prospect research! Your TripleMinds Team!

Good luck with donor research
Good luck with donor research