Archive for the ‘Funder Research’ Category

GuideStar Silver

Many foundations and federated funds (also sometimes called community funds like United Way) are starting to require that applying nonprofits have at least a GuideStar Silver level or be a Better Business Bureau (BBB) accredited agency.

Question: What is required for my nonprofit to reach the GuideStar Silver level?

Answer: Here is some background info: It is helpful to download GuideStar Exchange levels benefits and requirements. Click here for recent info about the GuideStar Exchange program.

To answer your question, there are three requirements for GuideStar Silver level…

First, since the Silver level is about “financial information” for your nonprofit, you are required to provide an audited financial report OR GuideStar Basic Financial Statement. Many small to mid-size nonprofits do not have audited financials, so supplying the GuideStar Basic Financial Statement will suffice.

Second, your nonprofit confirms that financial information is up-to-date and accurate.

Third, you are required to complete the “basic information” of the Bronze level such as your nonprofit’s mission statement and agency profile.

To request permission to update a GuideStar nonprofit profile, click here. To learn the process for updated nonprofit profiles on GuideStar, click here.


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Free Funding Information Network

To find the Foundation Center’s free Funding Information Network (formerly called Cooperating Collections) where you can use their free Foundation Directory Online Professional database, follow these steps…

1) Go to

2) Enter the zip code where you are located.

3) Click on the name of the Funding Information Network closest to you. Note the address, phone #, hours (subject to change).

4) Call the phone # listed for the name you selected. Confirm hours. Set up an appointment to use the Foundation Directory Online Professional database. Allow for 90 minutes to 2 hours for your initial research.

5) Take your keyword worksheet(s) from Secret 15 with you to your appointment. Ask for help in using the Foundation Directory Online Professional database to research funders for your ideas/projects.

This is a left-brained approach to finding funders.


Funder Receptivity to Inquiries

Question: In reality, how receptive are the funder contacts to the questions and pre-proposal submissions you have mentioned in the lessons?

Answer: Funder contacts have varying degrees of receptivity to inquiries, of course. For example, one corporate contact locally is very receptive and actually prefers to meet in person to discuss your nonprofit needs. Other corporate and foundation contacts — especially large ones — are harder to reach. My experience is that all have answered my questions if I meet with them in person, some by the phone.

Government agency contacts often provide Technical Assistance workshops and will often meet with you during the time before and during the Request for Proposal (RFP) process. I’ve found all receptive to email and phone inquiries as well.

Although you have quite a few questions in Secret 21 (Pre-Proposal Contact) to guide you, you don’t have to ask all of them. In fact, I prefer to spend time up front verifying funder priorities and getting to know them and their goals a little before I ask any questions. Also, I like to have 2-3 proposal ideas on hand to run by the funder. Sometimes, it’s the 2nd or 3rd idea that interests them the most. I can’t remember any funders I haven’t been able to reach ultimately or who wouldn’t answer questions.


Funding for Small Business

Question: I hear a lot of funding for nonprofits, but I was wondering about funding for small business startups?

Answer: This course focuses primarily on grant funding for nonprofits, as the majority of grant funding has to be provided by law to organizations to the following grant-eligible organizations…


That’s more than $678 Billion in grants annually given by public and private funders like foundations, corporations and government agencies to over 1.27 Million “grant-eligible” U.S. businesses like…

  • U.S. Nonprofits: 1,036,255 public charities (source: National Center for Charitable Statistics)
  • U.S. Schools: 98,817 public schools, 33,366 private schools, 7,021 colleges/universities (source: U.S. Department of Education)
  • U.S. Local Government Agencies: 89,004 (source: U.S. Census)
  • U.S. Hospitals: 5,686 (source: American Hospital Association)

Regarding for-profit, small business startups, grants are few and far between. The two sources I would check out first would be

  1. Small Business Administration (SBA) local office in your local area. For example, click here for a link to the Las Vegas SBA office.
  2. Your state Small Business Development Center. For example, click here for the Nevada office.

Read More... Website

Question: I went onto the website. It’s very confusing. I tried to find listing of granters within my state, county and city. In order to do that, the Foundation Center wants me pay to join to get access to the information. Am I in the wrong section on the website?

Answer: Secret 15 says to go to and search for the Cooperating Collections nearest you. For example, for students in Las Vegas, NV, the closest Cooperating Collections is at the Clark County Library, run by Shelly Weiner. Call and set up an appointment with Shelly or whomever runs the one nearest you. Ask for a tour and to be shown how to use the Foundation Directory Online Professional for free. That should save you time and money in identifying grant-makers in your state, county and city … as well as nationally. Complete the keyword worksheet in Secret 15 and take it with you to your appointment. It will help you narrow down your research.

NOTE: After receiving the answer to her question, this student replied and said, “Met with Shelly on Thursday. It was fruitful indeed. Got 4 possible leads for grants.