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Is it Magic? Funding From Foundations & Other Organizations

What Your Board Needs to Know

You have an idea to solve a community need. You found a partner who will fund it, if you can translate the idea into words to convey its wonder. This almost magic cousin-to-a-miracle quality is what many people believe is behind foundation and other organization funding. However, like almost all nonprofit income opportunities, it’s more complex than that. Yet, while foundation and other organization funding is not magic, it is special. This article provides a primer to help you understand and earn this vital source of nonprofit income.

1. Why do foundations and other organizations fund nonprofits?

2. What are some examples of foundation and other organization funding?

3. Who is the “other organization” part of this funding source?

Like the Kiwanis Club above, foundations are not the only organizations that offer funding. This category of nonprofit income also includes an eclectic collection of entities that offer grants, including federated giving programs like the United Way, service clubs like Rotary, congregations, and the like. Many organizations offer regular, competitive grant opportunities for nonprofits.

4. What forms of support do foundations and other organizations offer?

5. Is this a common source of nonprofit income?

Yes, it represents one of seven sources of nonprofit income. (Read about the others here. [1]) All together, foundation and other organization income equals three to five percent of all nonprofit income. The impact, however, is greater than these percentage numbers indicate. These funds often buy “extras” that allow nonprofits to increase quality and take next steps on important projects. 

6. Besides the money, what are the benefits of this type of support for nonprofits?

7. What are the risks?

8. What is your organization’s experience with foundation and other organization support?

Leaders need to learn about their nonprofits’ experience with funding from foundations and other organizations. Here are some starter questions:

9. What is the role of the board?

10. What is the general process of developing foundation and other organization support?

Identify sources. Respond to invitations and find additional opportunities by exploring databases. I like the Foundation Center’s online one. Identifying other organization sources is more challenging. Seek local lists. (See: Local Sources for Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte County Florida.) Continue your research with websites, donor lists, and newspaper announcements.

Develop relationships. If at all possible, meet with the Foundation. Attend public presentations about their work to better understand their interests.

Apply. Follow all the guidelines and deadlines.

Learn. In many, but not all, cases you will receive a notification of funding or a “no thanks.” If you do not hear, it is perfectly reasonable to contact the foundation or other organization to learn the decision. If it is a “no”, ask what you can do better in the future, find out if you can stay in contact, and learn if they have any other organizations they suggest you contact.

Making the Magic Work for You

Foundation and other organization funding is possible for most nonprofit organizations. The magic is that you as a nonprofit can provide a foundation or organization with a chance to move forward on their goals. The work comes in identifying the lucky foundation or organization that you will help – and helping them to see that you offer a special opportunity.


Foundation and other organization funding is only one of seven nonprofit income sources. This article on foundation and other organization funding is #5 in a series about each individual source. For the earlier issues, click here. [2]

For more on nonprofits and funding opportunities, listen to our collection of audio downloads, especially Money-tastic #2: Nonprofit Income Opportunities and Money-tastic #3: Creative Revenue Streams for Your Nonprofit. [3]