When Is a Foundation Grant Appropriate?
Foundation grants are most appropriate for local projects, especially those from organizations the foundations have worked with in the past or for projects in which the foundations have a high interest.
In Maggie's community, nearly all the foundations support agencies that provide services for young children, including child-abuse/neglect prevention, early education, and children's health and nutrition. The community foundation also sponsored a task-force study on issues of children in the community. The study recommended that there should be a new interagency approach to treating child-abuse victims. Because of the community foundation's stature, several other funders joined in. Together they launched a new program that, in its ten years of existence, has enjoyed relatively stable funding from all of the original funders and others in the community.
Foundations, unlike government funders, can be solicited for funding and can have their interest piqued by your communications. Often, as you establish relationships with foundation program officers, you can simply pick up the telephone and query the program officers about ideas for new projects.
Never submit a grant proposal to a community foundation unless it is targeted to your own community. These foundations are endowed by local people, and their intent is that the money be spent on local projects.
Organizations outside the headquarters area of national funders like the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, Gates Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, or the Rockefeller Fund should only approach these foundations in response to an RFP or by a special invitation from the funder. An exception can be made for projects that promise to have a national reach or effect. Grants from these foundations are difficult to get without a truly strategic and trendsetting project.