Jankowski Research provides you with the information you need to identify links and connections to foundations. Each foundation has its own characteristics and personality. Understanding its giving patterns can open doors to cultivating a long-term relationship. As you know, identifying and analyzing potential sources of funding takes research, getting acquainted, doing your homework, uncovering information, digging up data, leaving no stone unturned, noticing the details . . . time! A foundation's listing of grant recipients is the clearest, most precise record of its charitable preferences. Jankowski Research can take the guesswork out of your research process.  Research 101 will get you started.

Target and Tailor. The first step in the process of rating and evaluating prospective donors and their potential to give to your organization entails an evaluation of your own organization's mission, priorities, and direction. The research that follows can then target specific foundations that match your goals. You will be able to tailor proposals to the interests, guidelines, and personalities of potential donors. Foundations can be targeted based on geographic proximity and the types of organizations they support.

Going Geo. The most natural link an organization has is to funders in its own city, state, or region. Although some foundations give nationally and internationally, most funders limit their giving to specific geographic areas. Even when a foundation's charter does not restrict its giving geographically, it is a good idea to take a look at the grants made by a foundation to get a sense of geographic inclinations.

Are You My Type? With so many worthy causes, foundations naturally set priorities based on the donor's interests. These can be very specific or as broad as having "educational, social, charitable, scientific, and religious" interests. The idea is to identify and cultivate foundations that have expressed an interest in funding programs in a specific subject field. All grants listed in GrantsDirect.com are coded and searchable based on the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) classification system. Print out a complete list of the 26 categories and 600+ codes to use while you search the database, which currently contains organizations in 26 areas and 409 codes. This coding system allows researchers to compile information about organizations with similar missions or projects. In some instances, the project or program funded by a foundation is more specific than the organization's code would indicate. To assist the research process, we naturally code the purpose of the grant in such cases.

What's the Scoop? Now that you understand the basics of targeting your research, you need to organize and keep track of the results of your searching. Create a standard form for each foundation researched and answer the following questions as you go.

  1. What is the foundation's name, address, and phone number?
  2. What types of organizations does it support?
  3. What programs and/or projects does it support?
  4. What are its patterns for giving? Do most dollars go to educational organizations or are they spread across many interest areas? Can you rank interest areas hierarchically?
  5. What is the size of grants? Does it make large grants to one type of organization and smaller grants to others? What would be a realistic amount for which to ask?
  6. Are there any indications of the types of support it provides, for example, capital, challenge, endowment, multiyear, or general operating support?
  7. Do the recipients indicate a geographic preference?

Narrow the Pool. Once you have created a list of foundations that may be interested in your organization or project, click over to the index to profiles on GrantsDirect.com. From here, you can link to current profiles of approximately 6,000 donors. If the foundation has a Web presence, you will find its URL and link. If the foundation publishes an annual report or application guidelines, it will be listed in the profile. To narrow the pool, review the foundation's profile, send letters of request for published materials, and conduct enough additional research to answer the following questions:

  1. How big is the foundation? What kinds of revenues, expenses, and total contributions does it have? What is its capacity to support my organization and/or project?
  2. Are there any projects, programs, and/or entities the foundation will not support?
  3. Does it have stated geographic restrictions? If there is evidence of support outside the geographic restrictions, is there a discernible pattern as to why?
  4. Does the foundation publish guidelines or an annual report?
  5. How many grants does the foundation disburse annually?
  6. Who is on the foundation's board of directors/trustees? Is it large enough to have a staff? Any connections to my organization?
  7. Does the foundation have any preferences for how to approach them for support? Letter of inquiry or full proposal? Is there a form to fill out, formal application procedures to follow, or an informal decision making process?
  8. What information must accompany a grant application? What are the preferred attachments?
  9. Are there any submission deadlines or review dates?

The Corporate Connection. If the foundation is affiliated with a company, conduct additional research to try and uncover as much of the following information as possible by surveying and keeping up with local newspapers, business journals, chamber of commerce events, online corporate databanks, and, in some cases, fee-based services.

  1. What is the company's size in terms of annual sales/revenues and number of employees? How healthy are its balance sheets? Is this the headquarters office or a subsidiary, branch, or affiliate location?
  2. What are its major products, services, industry position, and/or future direction as detailed in its annual report, available online for public companies? Many private companies also have set up web sites for marketing purposes, providing researchers easier access to this kind information than in the past. Because corporations are more likely to support imaginative linkages between nonprofit organizations and their business interests, industry information is critical.
  3. Are there possibilities for other roles for the corporation beyond or in lieu of funding: in-kind support, hosting an event, board membership, meeting space, technical support, and/or employee volunteer opportunities?
  4. Do they have an employee matching gift program? The Council for Aid and Support to Education publishes a directory called Matching Gift Details that can help you research companies with such programs.
  5. Is this company a member of the Chamber of Commerce? Are there any ways you can collaborate? The best way to answer this question is for your nonprofit organization to be a member of the chamber. This is one of the easiest ways for nonprofits to build bridges to the corporate community, establish long-term relationships, and take every opportunity to educate corporations about a societal need and about your approach to addressing it. Remember, corporations are made up of people. A company's grantmaking first and foremost indicates a person's or a group of people's interest in leveraging corporate resources to give back to the community. Understandably, this is not a company's top priority. When a company uses resources that could readily be allocated for new equipment, product development, or the hiring of employees, a charitable gift must necessarily provide some element of recognition or benefit to the company. Corporate philanthropy balances altruism and self-interest. Nonprofits need to recognize these needs by explaining how you might work together for mutual benefit.

Go to the Source. To find detailed information on foundations that do not have Web sites or issue annual reports, you may want to read over the IRS tax return, its Form 990-PF. The IRS requires every private foundation to file a Form 990-PF each year. Copies of the tax returns are available at www.Guidestar.org.

If the Form 990-PF does not provide the information you are seeking, you may want to send a letter of inquiry to the foundations you have reason to think might be realistic prospects. The letter should describe the effort underway to identify foundation prospects for the institution. Provide a brief description of your organization and/or project and ask whether the foundation might be interested in supporting you. Ask if the foundation has guidelines or other information it might like to share to explain its policies and objectives.

Share the Wealth. Once you have compiled this wealth of information and identified the top prospects, share the information with staff and your board. Encourage cultivation and solicitation based on your accumulated knowledge of the foundations in your target area, and the confidence gained from tailoring your organization's mission to foundations in the donor community. Don't let your research become a monument to itself. Research is the precursor to action.

Are You In Over Your Head? A comprehensive foundation prospect identification strategy takes time to develop and maintain. In order to keep you up to date on the most current data, GrantsDirect.com is updated regularly. In addition, the Internet contains thousands of resources to assist novice fundraisers as well as seasoned professionals to keep up on research and trends in fundraising and development.

Get Yourself Linked. We recommend Charity Channel: www.CharityChannel.com. Subscribe Make a habit of reading the Grants and Foundations Review.

Take a Class, Attend a Conference, Join a Professional Society. The Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations (Maryland Nonprofits) <http://www.mdnonprofit.org> provides training and technical assistance, as well as a "Fundraising Readiness Training" program for staff and volunteers of nonprofits that do not have an extensive fundraising program in place. The Association of Fundraising Professionals <http://www.afpnet.org> and the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement <http://www.APRAhome.org> both put on excellent annual conferences, as well as meet monthly in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Join a Discussion Group/Listserv. A listserv exists for many aspects of fundraising and development, as well as on dozens of subject areas. These forums help you keep on top of what other professionals are thinking and doing, as well as provide networks of colleagues who can help answer questions and provide support. Charity Channel <http://www.CharityChannel.com> hosts a range of discussion forums discussing such topics as grants and foundations, health care philanthropy, ethics, and college and university advancement.

Seek Outside Help. Sometimes organizations need outside help, and consultants provide services to match the needs of any nonprofit, regardless of size. Maryland Nonprofits provides its members access to a consultant's databank. Check out the American Association of Fund-Raising Council's <http://www.aafrc.org> "Choosing Fund-Raising Counsel: The 8 Steps."