We’re often asked the question of how much money  to ask from a Foundation. I’d love to tell you this is a simple yes or no answer, but the reality is that your grant request amount should be based on a  variety of different factors.

Initially, you will need to take into consideration the total amount of money you will require to ensure that your program, project or campaign will be completed and sustained.

If your project is a modest one and your total funding needs are just a few thousand dollars, then you might consider asking several Family Foundations for grants of $1,000 or more.  On the other hand, if your project is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range, these grants will not be of much assistance. You will need to identify Foundations that are comfortable with grants of $25,000, $50,000, or perhaps $250,000 to $1,000,000,000.

In a previous blog, I mentioned the importance of doing your research and, in this case, your research involves determining the Foundation’s comfort level for their gifts. What kind of amounts historically have they given to similar organizations doing similar work? We provide you this information in the Foundation Profile Page with numerous graphs and charts, as well as providing the Average Grant Amount, allowing you to quickly make this determination.  For example, if XYZ Foundation typically only awards grants under $5,000, it is very unlikely that you will be approved for a request of $25,000. On the other hand, it can be very helpful for you to know that ABC Foundation usually awards $75,000 to $100,000. It can also be useful to know that ABC Foundation, although it usually awards grants under $5,000, has been known to award grants of $100,000. You never know! Always go to the Profile Page and review Grant Analysis to discover the Largest, Median, Average, and Most Frequent amounts awarded.

Statistically speaking, the higher the amount that you request, the harder that grant is to secure. This tells us that your approval rate will improve if you keep your requests modest.  You could consider foundation grants as a way to supplement revenue and thereby freeing up your budget for other purposes.  Also, it is a good strategy to apply to multiple Foundations for the same project.  This way, you can actually raise significant funding resources for large projects by applying for multiple smaller grants.  Your success in applying for grants will improve if you ask for modest amounts and apply specifically for the amount that you know each individual Foundation historically awards.

Most Foundations like to see that the organization applying for these grants is making a significant contribution from their own resources. This can be donations, allocated funding from your budget, other fundraising events, gifts in kind, and even staff and volunteer hours. They also usually prefer to see that there are multiple sources of funding available (or requested) for the project.

Make it easy for a Funder to say yes. Knowing and understanding the “comfort zone” of each Foundation can dramatically increase your likelihood of approval.

By Kathie Murphy CPHR