Sleuthing for Clues to their Coffers


One of the funders I have identified this month accepts applications quarterly, on a rolling basis. What does that mean, and how can it work for or against you as you apply to that funder?

Well, foundations have annual budgets. Just like organizations and corporations do, they start a new fiscal year with their coffers as full as they will ever be in that given year. By the end of that fiscal year, if they are a generous funder, their coffers are nearly empty.  Knowing a funder’s fiscal year start and end dates can help you determine when is best to apply. In other words, you want to try and apply as close to the start of their fiscal year as possible, in order to take advantage of as much funds as possible. Unless they are VERY organized and VERY budget-conscious, staying strict each quarter with how much they award in grants, they will find themselves short come fiscal year-end.

How do you find out a foundation’s fiscal year? For starters, you can look at their 990, the form they must file each year with the IRS. It’s a public document and is full of information, like who they’ve funded in the past, and for how much. And their 990 also includes their fiscal year. 990’s can be found on GuideStar, Foundation Directory Online, and sometimes even on the foundation’s website.

Study the 990 of the foundation you wish to apply to, and learn all about them – their fiscal year, their board members, their application instructions, their contact information – tons! Happy hunting!

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