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How to Prioritize Your Potential Private Funders and Grant Applications

3 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Finding and Applying for a Grant

It's always a good idea to keep your potential private funders and grant applications organized and prioritized. After you identify the potential private funders that are the best fit for your program, follow these steps:

  1. Contact each funding source (via e-mail, letter, or phone call) and ask to be included in the funder's mailing list.

    Doing so normally means that you get annual reports, grant-making guidelines, research, and other information that keeps you up-to-date. Armed with this information, you're ready to take the next step.

    You can also use this contact point to inquire whether the funding-request guidelines listed on the organization's website are current.

  2. Organize your potential foundation and corporate sources by the application due dates.

    This step is critical because some private sector funders have only once-yearly competitions. You may be a few weeks or many months away from the annual date for grant submissions. After all your hard work, you don't want to miss an opportunity to get a grant funded because you submitted your application late.

    Develop a good paper or electronic filing system for applications and for funder information in general. Use a separate manila or digital folder for each funder. You should have massive amounts of information at this point, and keeping everything in order is crucial. Sorting by due date helps you anticipate how much work you'll have in any given month.

    Be as organized as possible to maximize your chances of getting the grants you want. Grant-management software can be extremely helpful for organizing (see the nearby sidebar for advice on what to look for in this type of software).

  3. When you're ready to write, focus first on the proposals and applications that have due dates in 60 days or less.

    Get busy!

  4. Move on to the foundation and corporate funders who accept the Common Grant Application format anytime during the year.

    The Common Grant Application (CGA) format is fairly easy to follow and is the best way to apply for grants from corporations and foundations that accept unsolicited proposals but don't have their own specific grant application formatting guidelines.

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