Should Your Small Nonprofit Go After Grants? - By Joanne Fritz

Joanne Fritz has worked in the nonprofit world for most of her 30-year career beginning with teaching at the secondary, college, and university levels. Fritz has served on numerous nonprofit boards and was chosen to participate in leadership programs in t
May 3, 2011 1:06 PM ET
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Should Your Small Nonprofit Go After Grants?

In 2009, according to Giving USA, foundations contributed 13% to the overall philanthropic pie, while individual giving accounted for 75% of it. It is wise for nonprofits to keep those proportions in mind when they are developing their annual fundraising plans.

Although foundation grants are a small chunk of philanthropic giving, it is an important one, and most nonprofits do or will pursue those grants. The question is where they should look for grants, and how much time and energy they should pour into the grant seeking process.

I asked three grants professionals for their opinion on two questions: 1) is there a recommended ratio of grants to other income for small nonprofits, and 2) where should small nonprofits look for grants?

Here is what they said:

April A. Northstrom, Jigsaw Communications, Inc, Savvy Grants Blog

"It is difficult to put an exact formula to the ratios that small, medium and large nonprofits 'should' depend on grant funding. My own belief, through experience and research is that any organization should not be more than 25% dependent on any type of grant funding.

"Funding from foundations and corporations is usually responsive to the economy and thus, just like with any investment, you don’t want all of your eggs in one basket. Even foundations don’t want you to be too dependent on their funds and usually like to see multiple funders supporting one project or program.

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