Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Monday, September 13, 2010

Get Seen By Private Foundations

If you've done any sort of prospecting for new foundation grants, either using one of the resources from the Foundation Center or any other publisher, you've certainly come across those listings that describe the perfect prospect - interested in your mission, located nearby, lots of money to give - but then you come across those fatal phrases: "Applications not accepted," or it's partner, "Contributes only to pre-selected organizations."

Many, if not most, of the private, family foundations seem to have this notice in their listings. These foundations are typically small (under $1 million in endowment), have no full-time staff, and no means of effectively screening and evaluating the volume of material they'd receive if they did open themselves up to unsolicited applications. And so, they typically make their grants each year to the same small set of nonprofits that their Board members are already aware of. The only way in is to know a family or Board member personally.

Foundation Source is a company that has, for about a decade, worked with these private foundations, providing management and back-office services, advisory services, and online research and application services. They manage over $4 Billion in assets for more than 900 foundations, granting out about $250 Million each year.

The majority of the clients that Foundation Source serves are those smaller, family foundations that currently do not want your unsolicited application. And they are about to make it a whole lot easier for nonprofits to be seen by these mysterious, but important, funders.

Foundation Source will soon launch it's Access website, which, among other things, will allow nonprofits to set up organizational profile pages, and Project Proposal pages, that will potentially be seen by the 900+ foundations managed by Foundation Source. You will also be able to associate your organization's profile page with different Cause Pages (such as Emergency Relief, or maybe Hunger).

When the private foundations, already using Foundation Source for their research and granting, are searching for an organization working on certain topics, there you are with your profile and project proposal pages, and they will be able to simply "click and fund," or, at least, invite a formal application - which will be a single online application for all 900+ foundations.

Sounds too good to be true? Of course, there is a hitch... Following the formal launch there will be a fee for you to post Project Proposal Pages (although maintaining your organizational info will be free). When I spoke to representatives from Foundation Source they were still working out the pricing details.

The good news, though, is that if you pre-register now, before the launch on October 1, you will have complete free access to all the site features through April 30, 2011.

Whether or not Access will provide a good return on your investment after that will depend on what fees they charge and whether or not their foundation clients really use the system to find projects to fund. But, the free trial is certainly a no-brainer, and sure to provide a positive ROI.

To pre-register and get the six-month free trial, go to and sign up before October 1.

No comments:

Post a Comment