Most foundations fall under three categories: those that require an application, those that require a Letter of Inquiry at the beginning of the application process, and those that offer funding by invitation only.
Invite-only grants are usually open only to nonprofits that have an established relationship with the funding source. The funding source will contact selected nonprofits and encourage them to apply. Any unsolicited grant proposal that a funder receives is likely to be rejected unless the request for proposal is an open call for unsolicited applications.
Keep in mind that it may not be worth it to go down the rabbit hole of searching and applying when a funding source does not accept unsolicited grant proposals. But there is no shortage of grants on GrantWatch.com. The site adds over 1,000 new grants each week, so keep checking back for more grants!
However, if a nonprofit wants to apply for a grant that does not accept unsolicited proposals and does not have an invite, we are here to help. The nonprofit will just need to take a different approach and invest a little more effort to get there. Today, we will be sharing three ways to help encourage an invite from a funding source.
1. Make a Connection
Does invitation-only mean that a foundation is out of your reach? No, but it does mean you need to go beyond basic requirements. Some foundations specifically mention that interested parties can contact the board of directors or a staff member to introduce themselves and share their ideas. There is no harm in contacting foundations for an introduction.
2. Ask Another Grantee
Another way to get more information about the invitation process is to search the website for previous recipients and contact them. This might be a little less stressful than approaching the foundation directly. Ask previous recipients what their connection to the foundation is and how they managed to get an invitation for funding.
3. Go Out and Network
Find a common denominator. This is particularly important if a funder supports projects and organizations in your community or area. Someone in your school, a colleague, your principal, or a friend might know a board member. Another way to network and build connections is to get involved with the foundation itself. A nonprofit can do this by attending fundraisers or becoming a foundation member.
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