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Identify Common Areas of Interest

With a short list of philanthropies in mind for outreach, rural organizations can prepare by identifying common areas of interest and ways in which the rural program aligns with the philanthropy's priorities.

Examples of ways to research the philanthropy's work include:

  • Research the philanthropy's website to understand its funding priorities, departments, initiatives, and strategies. Pay close attention to the language that the philanthropy uses. It is also important to review any publicly available information about the philanthropy and its work. Reading the philanthropy's mission statement is not enough. For example, the foundation may have a social media presence. This research will help the rural organization to identify common areas of interest and communicate them effectively.
  • Identify upcoming meetings that the philanthropy is attending or speaking at in the community (for example, a conference or a local Rotary meeting) where it may be possible to meet them.
  • Research the funder's grantees over the past five years to identify other communities that have been funded to conduct similar work. Philanthropies often list previous grantees on their websites or in annual reports. Identify the program officer for the grantee and email or call them to learn more about this grant and similar work. Show your knowledge of the work that the philanthropy has completed in the past and its relation to the work that the rural organization is doing.
  • Review publications that reference the philanthropy about a topic of mutual interest in a journal, newspaper, or philanthropic magazine (not a mass email newsletter from the philanthropy). The authors of these publications, or people who are quoted, may be important contacts.

Implementation Considerations

The information you collect on the funder’s interests and past grantmaking will be helpful not only to identify potential opportunities to connect with project officers or other staff through mutual acquaintances, but can offer insight about how likely it may be for a project to receive a grant. For example, if a philanthropic organization almost exclusively funds projects in a given geographic area, an application from a different state would be unlikely to win support.

Resources to Learn More

New Frontiers for Funding: An Introduction to Grantmaking in Rural Aging
Document
Provides guidance on identifying partners, working in partnership with the community, and thinking about sustainability, with a focus on grantmakers working on programs in the field of rural aging.
Organization(s): Grantmakers in Aging
Date: 2017

Successful Corporate and Foundation Fundraising for Nonprofits
Presentation Slides
Provides a brief overview about building relationships with corporate funders and foundations for nonprofit organizations.
Author(s): Feather, J.
Organization(s): Grantmakers in Aging