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Fundamentals of Foundation Grant Research and Writing
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Fundamentals of Foundation Grant Research and Writing Linda Holliday, Vice President for Organizational Development. Initiative Foundation Mission. Unlock the power of central Minnesota people to build and sustain thriving communities. Our Service Area. What we do….

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Initiative Foundation Mission

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Initiative foundation mission

Fundamentals of Foundation Grant Research and Writing Linda Holliday, Vice President for Organizational Development

Initiative foundation mission

Initiative Foundation Mission

Unlock the power of central

Minnesota people to build and

sustain thriving communities.

Our service area

Our Service Area

What we do

What we do…

  • Make grants and loans

  • Provide donor Services

  • Provide leadership training and assistance

  • Inspire local giving

Where are you coming from

Where are you coming from?

What are your expectations?

Topics to be covered

Topics to be Covered

  • Funding Sources

  • Program/Project Planning

  • Foundation Research

  • Proposal Components

  • Evaluation

  • Grant Review/follow-up

Who gives us money minnesota trends

Who Gives Us Money?Minnesota Trends

Source: Minnesota Council on Foundations

Foundation types

Foundation Types

  • Private

  • Corporate

  • Community/ Public








Areas of giving in mn grantmaking by subject area

Areas of Giving in MN Grantmaking by Subject Area

Areas of giving in mn grantmaking by subject area1

Areas of Giving in MN Grantmaking by Subject Area

Mn foundation trends grantmaking by geographic service area

MN Foundation TrendsGrantmaking by Geographic Service Area

Source: Minnesota Council on Foundations

Who gets the money

Who Gets the Money?

  • 501(c) 3 Nonprofit Organizations

  • Local Units of Government / Federally Recognized Tribes

  • School Districts

Initiative foundation mission

Start with a Clear Plan

  • DO: Have a clear plan and then identify potential $$

  • DO NOT: See available $$ and design a project that may or may not be a fit

Planning Activity

Initiative foundation mission

Workplan Worksheet

Low birth weights

Nutrition class for expectant parents

Parents, public health nurses, high school development class, U of M Extension

Expectant parents

School space/kitchen, Lions/Rotary $, Child Development class

Family Center staff

Food, transportation, staffing, postage, instructional supplies…

Nine months from now

Researching funders

Researching Funders

  • Area of Interest

  • Types of Support

    • Operating

    • Planning

    • Start up

    • Project/Program

    • Capital

    • Endowment

  • Geographic Focus

    Funder Research Activity

Mn guide to grantmakers

MN Guide to Grantmakers

  • User Friendly!

  • Strong Recommendation!

  • $175-1,035 /year

  • Up to nine users

  • Free pass today!

Initiative foundation mission

Funder Research Activity

1. Sheltering Arms Foundation2. At risk children / 0-33. Greater MN okay4. Project/Start Up5. $10,0006. Yes7. Letter of Inquiry

Inquiry letter vs proposal

Inquiry Letter vs. Proposal

Letter of Inquiry

  • Who are you

  • Why are you applying to this foundation

  • Brief description of the program

  • Rationale and purpose of program

  • Amount you want to request

Proposal components

Proposal Components

  • Cover Letter

  • Executive Summary

  • Organizational Information

  • Need/Situation

  • Project/Activities/Methods

  • Outcome/Evaluation

  • Budget/Budget Narrative

  • Supplementary/Attachments

The cover letter

The Cover Letter

  • 2- 4 paragraphs

  • Describe purpose

  • Background

  • Amount of funds requested

  • Timelines


Executive summary

Executive Summary

Summarize project at the start of a proposal

  • Typically two paragraphs to one page

    • Describe purpose

    • Background

    • Amount of funds requested

    • Timelines

  • See ES Examples

Organizational background

Organizational Background

One - two pages that tell:

  • History

  • Mission

  • Who you serve

  • Programs & Successes!

Need statement

Need Statement

  • Describe situation/issue/need

  • Explain why it is important

  • Don’t assume funder has knowledge of your area - you are the expert

  • Explain program benefits

  • Does not have to be all deficit model

Project activities methodology

Project Activities/ Methodology

What does your organization plan to do about the situation, issue or opportunity?

  • What project planning has taken place

  • Target audience

  • Units of service

  • Who will do the work

  • Start and end dates

Intended outcomes evaluation

Intended Outcomes/Evaluation

  • So What?

  • What change is going to take place?

An outcome recipe

An Outcome Recipe

INPUTS: $$, staff, volunteers, clients

OUTPUTS: Classes taught, educational materials distributed, participants served

OUTCOMES: Change in skills, attitudes, behavior, new knowledge, increased skills, improved conditions

Initiative foundation mission

Outcome Levels

  • Initial outcomes

    • change in knowledge, skills or attitude

  • Intermediate outcomes

    • change in behavior

  • Long-term outcomes

    • change in condition, status or situation

Initiative foundation mission

Outputs vs. Outcomes Exercise

  • Incarcerated parents attend an early childhood workshop.

  • Incarcerated parents read more to their children during visiting hours.

  • The food shelf hires a new program manager.

  • There are fewer “missed meals” in the City of Brainerd.

  • New immigrants receive ESL training.

  • Immigrants report feeling less isolated.

The budget

The Budget

  • Project vs. Organizational

  • Revenue

    • Earned income

    • Contributed income

  • Expenses

    • Personnel

    • Direct project expenses

    • Administrative or overhead

  • See sample budget

    Supplementary materials

    Supplementary Materials

    • IRS 501(c)3 determination letter

    • Letters of support

    • Financial statements

    • Board approval

    • Resumes

    • What NOT to include...

    Tracking your proposals

    Tracking your Proposals

    Have a clear plan to track:

    • Upcoming grants

    • Pending grants

    • Funder reports

    • Grants denied

    See sample tracking form

    The site visit

    The Site Visit

    Be prepared, organized and educated!

    Other resources

    The Minnesota Council on Foundations:

    The Foundation Center:

    The Initiative Foundation:

    See handouts!

    Other Resources

    Initiative foundation mission

    Thank YOU!

    Did we meet your expectations?

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