Considering a Foundation for a Proposal
Consider the type of foundation
- Is it national, regional, or local?
- Is it a private foundation, family foundation, public foundation,
corporate foundation, operating foundation, or a vehicle for individual
Consider the foundation's history and current frame of mind
- Read historical accounts to understand the basis for the institution's
- Learn from president and/or executive director's letters in
annual reports; this is often where new directions are indicated.
- Does it have a perpetuity or spend-down mindset?
- Are there distinct political leanings?
Consider the age of the foundation
- Is the founder still alive?
- How old is the foundation?
- How far removed from its original intent/mission is it?
- How many years has it had staff?
- Is there any? How many are fulltime professionals?
- What do program officers do?
- Has the head of the foundation always been the same?
- Don't overlook personal history of prominent staff.
Consider the foundation's grant-making approach
- How does it think problems are best solved?
- direct service?
- educating policy-makers?
- advocacy and activism?
- a mixture?
- Does it run its own programs?
- Does it use RFPs or have an open solicitation policy?
- How many funding rounds a year does it have?
- Is it accessible or tightly controlled?
- Does it make site visits?
- Does it use peer reviews?
- Who makes decisions?
- program staff
- leadership staff?
- family members
Consider all sources of information
- Pay attention not to just what they say, but what do they do?
Consider that the foundation may evolve
- Even when you think you know the answers to these questions,
it may change soon thereafter!