Many private foundations fund specific organizations multiple times over several grantmaking cycles. Doing so can help continue a particular charitable program or project, or simply provide a subsequent round of general operating support. As organizations seeking continued support (“returning grantees”) are viewed in a different light than first-time grant applicants, foundations often have modified expectations and funding requirements for them. In this issue of our Adapting Your Grant Approach Series, we asked our Philanthropic Advisory Services experts to share some of their tips on ways to best approach additional funding to a returning grantee.

Tailor Your Application Process

If you plan to repeatedly support certain organizations, here are some changes to consider making to your funding application process for returning grantees:

  1. Communicate Clearly. Be clear about your foundation’s capacity and willingness to repeatedly fund the same grantee. If you have a limit to the number of grants you will make to a single organization, communicate that information up front.
  2. Assess Charitable Impact. Ask for details (ideally both statistical and anecdotal) about the charitable impact the grantee organization made from your previous round(s) of funding. What did the organization achieve? Are its accomplishments remarkable enough to warrant further support?
  3. Look for Changes. Closely examine the grantee since you originally funded it. Has it grown? Changed staff or board leadership? Is there a greater or lesser need for its services?
  4. Avoid Overfunding. Examine how much of the grantee’s budget is represented by the funding you’ve provided. Has your support helped attract additional funders or does the grantee rely mainly on you? It’s important to note that if a single foundation provides too much of a nonprofit organization’s funding year after year, the organization risks losing its status as a public charity. (Foundation Source clients can obtain further insight into this rule from our Tax and Legal Services team.)
  5. Streamline Your Application. For efficiency, simplify your application to request only information that is new or that may have changed since the grantee originally applied for your support. Foundation Source technology offers this tailoring. With one click you can create rightsized electronic applications that request year-over-year data. Returning grantees can receive them automatically in the online GivingHub and complete them with ease. Such efficiency is appreciated by all parties and enables more impactful partnerships with multi-year funding applicants.

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About the Author

Foundation Source is the nation’s largest provider of comprehensive support services for private foundations. Its complete outsourced solution includes foundation creation (as needed), administrative support, active compliance monitoring, philanthropic advisory, tax and legal expertise, and online foundation management tools.