In one of our very first blog posts, “The 3 Types Of Funders To Approach For Your Next Project,” we identified private foundations as one of three types of funders. As a type of private foundation, family foundations are very common, but often not very well known. And while there are thousands of family foundations across Canada, it seems like grant writers are sometimes hesitant to apply to them for funding, or are unsure of how to do so. There are a few myths surrounding family foundations and believing these myths means missing out on incredible funding opportunities.
Here’s What You Need To Know About Family Foundations
Family foundations don’t need to be so mysterious. By reading and understanding these three myths and their corresponding truths, you can feel more confident applying to family foundations for funding and increase your chances of funding success.
Family Foundation Myth #1
Family Foundations Already Know Who They Want To Fund
Some grant writers believe that because family foundations already know which organizations and projects they want to fund, there is no point in applying for their grants. Family foundations can sometimes feed this myth by stating that they “do not accept unsolicited requests,” essentially meaning that if they want to fund you, they will come to you. The truth is, they do this because they’re often small and do not have the capacity to handle the hundreds or thousands of applications that other types of funders receive.
While it is true that family foundations often have organizations or causes that are close to their hearts, just because you’re not one of them, doesn’t mean you’re out of the running completely. It doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in you. It just means you need a different strategy.
If the family foundation has explicitly said they do not accept unsolicited requests, don’t submit a proposal or letter of inquiry, as you might do with another type of funder. Instead, try to build a relationship first. Your organization’s board members might be great for this. Who do they know that is connected to that foundation? They may be opposed to formal applications, but they may be open to informal conversations. Provide the foundation’s members with opportunities to get involved with your organization and learn more about your programs and projects through events, volunteering, or a tour of your facilities.
Family Foundation Myth #2
Family Foundations Don’t Have A Lot Of Funding To Offer
Another myth keeping grant writers from applying to family foundations is the belief that family foundations only have enough money to award small grants, which are not worth the time or energy to apply. The truth is, family foundations come in all shapes and sizes, by which I mean that family foundations are all unique in the amount of funding they provide, depending on their history, their goals, and the contributions of their members. There are some family foundations that offer a large number of small grants and some family foundations that offer a small number of large grants.
For example, the T.R. Meighen Family Foundation provides a small number of small grants ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 each year. On the other hand, the J.W. McConnell Foundation does not typically award small grants, only larger grants, which are often given over a two or three year period. It all depends on what the foundation’s interests are.
Family Foundation Myth #3
Family Foundations Only Support Local Organizations
A third myth keeping grant writers from applying to family foundations for funding is the belief that family foundations only fund organizations in their region. This is not always true. Community foundations only support local organizations. Family foundations are able to fund wherever they want.
While it is true that family foundations are often interested in and dedicated to supporting organizations where their family members were born and raised, this does not mean these communities are the only places where they fund. Do some research on which organizations the foundation has funded in the past and the amount they have given in the past. This will give you an idea for who and how much they might fund in the future.
As with Myth #1, just because your organization isn’t located in the same community, doesn’t mean you can’t receive funding too. It just means you will need to develop a new strategy.
Want To Learn About More Grant Writing Myths?
At GrantsEdge, we love busting myths that keep grant writers from being truly successful in their fundraising endeavors. To learn about more grant writing myths that could be holding you back, check out our blog post, “3 Grant Writing Myths That Are Limiting Your Success.”