We’re halfway through first quarter. How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming along? You know, way back in January when the idea of creating a successful Foundation Strategy sounded like a great idea.
Well, you’re right. A Foundation Strategy IS a great idea, but it’s doomed to fail without preparation.
Four Key Indicators in a Successful Foundation Strategy
Here are four key indicators you can apply for success with foundation approaches and receiving grants. The successful nonprofit ministry can supply a:
- Clear and compelling case for support.
- Strong leadership and board backing.
- Dedicated foundation development team.
- Commitment to long-term grant approaches.
A Successful Foundation Strategy begins with the “Ramp-up Period”
Nonprofits need to supply an exciting and explainable campaign vision when approaching foundations. Even many established organizations may be not ready for foundation approaches due to various reasons, such as devoting time to programs or because of a prior focus on seeking individual donor funding. Faith-based foundations are keen to see the mission achieved but also expect to see the nonprofit ministry’s growth strategy and sustainability. In other words, measurable activities, outputs and outcomes will be expected beyond what an individual donor will require. As such, there is often a ramp-up period where the necessary documentation and strategy are acquired or accessed for attaching to grant proposals. Once that is complete, a designated person or persons then initiates the approach to foundations.
A Successful Foundation Strategy starts with Research & Communication
Foundation approaches can vary depending on the foundation’s size and type, any deadlines, or requested approach. It is imperative that the foundation is a match for your organization. After critical research is complete, communication with the organization begins as per their requirements. This communication phase will be the next step to determining the next course of action and can last from three to nine months before the nonprofit may hear back on submitting an application or a proposal.
A Successful Foundation Strategy continues with Building the Relationship
Once you have submitted a proposal, it can take another three to nine months to receive a reply from the Board of that foundation. If the answer is yes, there may be a period before your nonprofit receives the check. At that point, there is still much to be done by the nonprofit in reporting and continuing to build the relationship with the foundation. Foundations are focused on partnering with nonprofits that will provide key, long-term gains and building long-term partnerships While smaller family foundations may be able to move quickly on awarding grants, larger organizations can take from six months to even a year before a decision is made.
“Therefore, it is imperative that any ministry that seeks foundation funding is committed to it for the long-term.”
A Successful Foundation Strategy commits with Long-term Development
Once the nonprofit’s leadership and board have signaled their commitment to seeking foundation funding through developing a successful foundation program, this is when it is imperative to designate staff who will focus on fulfilling this area. Once the organization has developed a solid strategy for approaches (Ramp Up), a strong, successful foundation program will comprise the following areas:
Is your nonprofit ministry willing to commit to a foundation program? If so, there’s still time to set resolutions for the year.
7 Core Commitments for Foundation Approaches
- Develop a dedicated staff/team for foundation procedures and relationship-building
- Create a compelling case for support that is a unique proposition to our ministry
- Supply effective outcome methodology through logic model preparation
- Connect with foundations through various approaches and build relationships
- Review strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
- Focus on the learning aspect, recognizing that no approach—even when a ‘no’ is received is fruitful.
- Execute strong foundation protocols through yearly review and monthly strategy.
These 7 resolutions are just the start. If you're ready to start, we’ve put together a Grant Readiness Checklist for you to dive into the first steps or improve a Grant Foundations program with your nonprofit.
Vikki Walton, Certified Grants Specialist and Certified Grants Reviewer, has assisted many Christian and secular nonprofits in obtaining their first foundation gift and helping established organizations receive multiple, five-figure, and six-figure one-time gifts. They have achieved these gifts through adherence to critical actions advised for each phase of foundation approach for securing foundation gifts.