Applications Not Accepted? What’s a Grant Seeker to Do?

“Of the more than 86,000 independent, community, and corporate foundations in the United States, 60 percent state that they do not accept unsolicited proposals.”

– Bradford K. Smith, Foundation Center president

In our Grant Basics I class grant seekers learn about the opportunity to cultivate a relationship with funders who do not accept unsolicited proposals, but what does that actually mean?

Grant seekers want to know: How do I make contact?  Foundation Center has your answers, pulled together below:

Applications Not Accepted: Get on Their Radar [2011-04-25]” a transcript from an online GrantSpace chat with panelist Bradford K. Smith, president of Foundation Center, and Pamela Grow, author, coach, consultant and more, offers their thoughts and experiences on “preselect” foundations brought out the following resources and options for Grant Seekers entertaining building a relationship with a foundation not accepting applications.

Check out some notes or go straight to the source – read through this GrantSpace online chat 

Action steps for grant seekers:

1) Research the foundation thoroughly
2) Follow the foundation’s guidelines. “No phone calls” means just that, but don’t make assumptions.
3) Consider a Letter of Inquiry, which in this particular case is technically more of an “Exploratory Letter”*
4) Find a personal connection, through your board or staff
5) Build a relationship. Take an interest in the foundation’s work in the community, ask for their feedback or seek advice from their representatives
– Read the transcript for more.

*What is the difference between letter of inquiry and exploratory letter? 

“The major difference is that you note that you are aware that the foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals while noting that your research indicates that your mission aligns beautifully with theirs.” – Pamela Grow

Learn more about Exploratory Letters in Storytelling for Grantseekers by [Cheryl] Clarke, also available as an ebook for ACPL cardholders.

Related resources from GrantSpace’s Knowledge Base Q & A’s:

From this last resource: Common reasons that foundations do not accept applications include:

  • the foundation has an internal process for identifying and selecting its grantees each year
  • it has been legally set up for the benefit of specific organizations
  • it does not have the capacity to receive and review a lot of proposals

For more light reading, check out Bradford K. Smith’s PhilanTopic blog post “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” on why a foundation might choose to not accept unsolicited proposals.

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