Steps to grant success: a series, Part 2

Columbus Grant Writing Help

Columbus Grant Writing Help

The 990: tax form or goldmine?

Today’s installment of Steps to grant success is about the oft-overlooked, but worth your time, IRS Form 990. All private foundations must submit a Form 990 to the IRS each year. Because they have tax exempt status, the public has access to these documents, and all that they reveal. They uncover such wonders as:

  • Name and address of the foundation (or foundation manager)
    • This shows you who or what controls the fund (is it a trust in care of a bank?)
  • Their fiscal year (when their tax year begins and ends)
    • Helpful for knowing when their funds may be more available
  • Contact name and phone
    • Helpful for contacting them, which you should! Have your elevator speech ready and be prepared to ask questions and LISTEN!
  • Their assets, and amount of contributions made to the fund
    • A certain percentage of their assets must be paid out in grants, according to law
  • Board names (and sometimes addresses), and exec staff or foundation managers
    • This shows you how large a foundation it is, and how it is staffed
  • App requirements, and if they make contributions only to pre-selected organizations
    • Here you can find out if there is an online application, or if they prefer a proposal in letter form
  • Grants paid, with organization names and amounts
    • Useful to learn what kinds of organizations they have given to in the past, and in what amounts, so you can gauge what your ask can/should be

You can find copies of funder 990’s in several places (since they are public record. Some ideas of where to look include:

Stay tuned for the next installment of this series, the next step in grant success: your first contact with your new funder prospect.

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