Advice nad Information on Grant Seeking and Proposal Writing
Mini Proposals and Letters of Inquiry
Many foundations (corporate & private) prefer to have some form of contact with an agency before they will consider a project proposal. This contact can take the form of either a phone call to the foundation's program officer or an initial letter of inquiry. The telephone is the preferred, and more personal, means of making this contact but this is not always a viable option. In that case, your first contact with the donor organization should be an initial letter or inquiry.

Do not underestimate the importance of this "first impression" the donor will have of your organization. It is not unheard of for a donor to consider awarding a grant based solely on the initial letter. However, in most cases the letter will result in either a request for additional information (mini proposal) or a reply indicating that the project does not match their interests. Again, do not be overly discouraged by a negative reply to your first contact with the donor organization. Foundations, more specifically the program officers, like to develop a relationship with organizations they consider funding. Think of your initial contact as a step in the process of building that relationship.

IRS Form 990-PF
The IRS requires that every private foundation (corporate and independent) file a 990-PF each year. These returns provide basic financial data, a complete grants list, the names of the foundation's trustees and officers, and other information on the foundation. The 990-PF may be the only source where you will find a complete grants list for smaller foundations. The amount of detail provided on each grant will vary from foundation to foundation. The Foundation Center has 990-PFs for all 40,000+ private foundations from the IRS. You can locate and search these forms at the five Center-run libraries or request them through a cooperating collection.

** Adapted from Getting Funded: A Complete Guide to Proposal Writing by Mary Hall

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