There are between fifty and sixty private family or independent foundations that have assets of more than $1 billion and make millions of dollars in grants annually. They are staffed with numerous program officers and often have communications departments, presidents, vice presidents, financial officers, and other departments and staff similar to that of a large corporation. Their sophisticated operations and programming can make the private independent foundation more difficult to reach, especially if the geographic or social reach of your program or activity is narrow.
Many of these larger billionaire foundations are now focused on world issues, such as developing philanthropy and a nonprofit sector in emerging democracies, finding a cure for HIV/AIDS, or saving the rain forests in South America. Often, even if your nonprofit organization is located in the same city as the offices of the foundation, you will have a difficult time getting their attention. Your nonprofit must have a really creative solution to a perplexing systemic problem and be as highly sophisticated in its operations as the billionaire foundation if you are to be successful in approaching these foundations.