Will Foundations Support Government-Funded Projects?

October 31, 2011 | By Adrianne Fielding | Post a Comment

(This guest post was written by Glenda O’Neal, a grantwriting consultant, founder of a new website for grantwriters, www.Grant-Writing-Proposals.com,  and a member of Thompson Publishing’s Editorial Advisory Board. ) One result of the poor economy and dwindling federal grants is that organizations that have relied on government-based funding for years are looking to the private sector, foundations in particular, for support. While some foundations have always supported them, more foundations are opening their doors to consider requests from organizations that receive government grants or public funding.

Historically, foundations have refrained from making grants to government-supported organizations, preferring instead to fund those relying on private sector support. Foundation funding is based, however, upon societal needs, and they are quicker to respond than government when the needs change. The economic downturn has caused foundations to readdress their funding priorities for applicant eligibility, and they are now both collaborating with governmental agencies as well as funding government-based projects.

Given the open door, how likely is a foundation to make a grant for a government-funded program? Several factors are involved: (1) the applicant’s program must match the foundation’s interest (i.e., education, housing, jobs creation, etc.); (2) the applicant organization should verify that the foundation is indeed making grants to support federal, state, and/or local government programs and projects; and (3) the applicant organization should check the geographic locations where the foundation is making grants.

It is advisable to review the foundation’s actual giving history to verify the aforementioned information. The foundation’s giving history can be located in its annual report, usually accessible on the foundation’s website, or via its IRS 990 Form available at Guidestar (www.guidestar.org) or other sources such as The Foundation Center (www.foundationcenter.org.)

In these grantmaking reports, a foundation will identify the agency and type of project it is funding, where the project is located, and the size of the grant award. The applicant will be able to draw conclusions from a review of this information whether the foundation is funding like organizations and in the same geographic area as where the applicant is located. Applicants should review the foundation’s web site, its funding interests and applicant eligibility information, as well. Then, when possible, contact the foundation and ask questions about the foundation’s willingness to consider grant requests from government-supported applicants. The call may lead to discussions on new ventures and partnerships with the foundation.

Lastly, if the scope of the project is local, for example, a congregate meal site for the elderly, look first at local foundations, then broaden the search to make inquiries of state and national foundations. Local foundations will be interested and more aware of the needs in their own backyard. Relationship building may be also easier and less costly because of the opportunity for personal meetings between the applicant and foundation representatives.

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