Prospect Research: Not A “One and Done”

Conducting a serious job at Prospect Research is a game-changer for a beginning grants program. It’s a vital component of making the proper connections to suitable funders.
But for existing grants initiative, a minor overhaul of the Prospect Research can inject energy and new life into your grant program. Periodic Prospect Research can clean out the dead wood, bring to light new options you didn’t see on your first pass, and leverage a new way of thinking about your agency or program — and turn that new thinking into new partnerships.
Perhaps you have unintended program outcomes you can explore in your Prospect Research. Perhaps your agency is now serving an additional audience or segment of the population. YOU’VE evolved, changed, and grown — your Prospect Research should, too.
There are several reasons to take another look at your Prospect Research. Here are the Top Three:

⦁ There are new foundations cropping up all the time
Just like there’s new non-profits coming into being, so too are there new foundations. They develop when a patriarch or matriarch passes away and the family wants to honor their legacy. They may come about when an individual comes into some cash and has a personal mission they want to see fulfilled. Or a life event brings on a sense of urgency to cure a disease, or help save a population, or help clean up an environment. Strong allegiances to causes bring about financial support. Even if the funders you normally approach through their foundations have disbanded in favor of a DAF (Donor-Advised Fund), they still have the capacity to fund the missions they feel strongly about.

⦁ The mission statements of older foundations change over time
What was once biodiversity and visual arts is now education and indigenous communities. Happens all the time. The reasons for the shift are sometimes very personal. Or they evolve over time as new needs make themselves apparent. Or the foundation that was once biodiversity and visual arts sees a change in focus as a path to making a greater difference in the world. Point is, if your organization is visual arts or biodiversity, you now need to replace this funding stream. Not that foundations are quixotic, far from it. But it is within their purview to adapt, and so they should. We as non-profit organizations need to adapt as well. One way we can do that is by keeping our Prospect Research current and refreshed.

⦁ Attrition will outdate your prospect list
You can go back to the same well for a few years, or in rare cases several years. But over time, your list of viable prospects will dwindle simply because your organization has outlived its uniqueness. Sometime the foundation mandates that an agency can’t apply more than three times in a row. A foundation without limitless funds (in other words, all of them) needs to give their support to other organizations in the interest of diversity, growing their relationships and connections, and staying tuned in to new approaches to solving the world’s problems.
So, clear out the cobwebs and refresh your Prospect Research today! Your grant writer (and your bottom line!) will thank you for it.

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