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Using ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer search for a foundation you wish to apply to for a grant. Once you find them, click on their most recent 990 filing. Click on the “Full Filing” button. This will load their 990 filing. (You can also do this on the IRS Charity Finder search).

Before you do anything else, scroll down to section XIV.


Do they state anything about not accepting unsolicited applications? Do they provide submission instructions? Does the address match the one you have on file? Is that address newer than the one you have? Make notes.


Look at the amounts that they gave and what kind of organization received that funding. Make a note of the size of contribution compared to the type of organization that it is. Is it a large organization? Is it well known? What does it state they gave the funding for? Did they provide details? 


Once you determine that this foundation accepts applications, you have the instructions, and you understand their giving behavior pattern, determine how your organization compares to those they have contributed to in the past. Are you in a similar location? Are you a similar budget size? Make your request compared to the averages you see that match your location and organization size. In some cases, you may want to request lower in order to be aware that you are new to them and they may not feel comfortable handing $20,000 to a new organization (new to them). They may start you at $10,000. If none of the other contributions were below $20,000, then go ahead and request $20,000. If the average requests were under $10,000, determine if the amount you can request will be helpful to your organization. Some foundations prefer small contributions and they believe it helps more. If you can’t complete your project with that amount, then you would have to return it. So determine if the ask is wise. 

Once you have determined all of this, write in the forum the foundation you have chosen and the rationale behind the amoun you intend to request. Stipulate your ask amount as well.


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