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Glossary
Guide to Funding Research

A Message to Grantseekers

If you are a first-time grantseeker, a new nonprofit staff or board member, or a volunteer for your favorite charity, this online guide was created with you in mind. It is intended both as a basic primer on the grantseeking process and as an introduction to some of the resources available with a special emphasis on those issued by the Foundation Center. If you prefer not to read the guide online, feel free to download sections for your own personal use. We cover foundations in detail, but we also talk about corporate and government funders as well as individual donors.

Researching funders that will turn out to be good prospects takes time, but the results should be well worth this investment. Be realistic in your expectations. Foundations and other grantmakers cannot meet all or even most of your financial needs. The vast majority of the money given to nonprofit organizations is actually donated by individuals. Foundations and corporations combined currently provide approximately 16.5 percent of all philanthropic gifts, but their grants can make up an important part of your support.

Do not make the mistake of focusing all your efforts on one "ideal" funder. Your prospect list should include a number of options. Even the most experienced proposal writers receive many more letters of rejection than they do grants. You also should avoid compiling a list of several hundred "pie-in-the-sky" prospects and sending off a mass mailing of your proposal. Approaching a funder for support is a highly individualized process that should be conducted in a businesslike manner.

The range of print and electronic resources now available to grantseekers is extensive. This guide targets those materials we think will contribute to an efficient, productive funding research effort, with a special emphasis on those issued by the Foundation Center.

Because most grants are awarded to tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, the overview of resources that follows is largely from the perspective of the nonprofit grantseeker. However, we also provide some recommendations and a list of resources for the individual grantseeker.

We have tried to touch all the bases while furnishing a guide that is easy to read. For the most part we have avoided fundraising jargon. If you come across a term that is unfamiliar to you, be sure to refer to the glossary. If visiting a Foundation Center library or Funding Information Network location is an option for you, it is a great place to begin your funding research.

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