CharityVillage talks Foundations: The Inside Scoop


In her article “Foundations: The Inside Scoop” for CharityVillage, Elisa Birnbaum shares general information about private and public foundations before offering tips and insider information about what happens once your grant application is received. The Niagara Community Foundation, Vancouver Foundation and RBC Foundation all use a processes of initial evaluation by experienced staff members followed by consultation from volunteer community boards with expertise in the granting area.

General tips from the foundations:

  1. Do your homework. Make sure you know the funder inside out: their mission, goals, etc.
  2. Ensure applications are written clearly and concisely.
  3. Don’t include extraneous information or forms not asked for.
  4. Follow instructions. If a question allocates a certain amount of space or works, for example, stick to it. Be respectful of the funder’s time.
  5. Pretend you’re an assessor when reviewing your own application to ensure you’ve addressed the criteria as would be expected.
  6. Demonstrate your organization capacity, that you’re able to do this project. To help solidify this point, identify your other successes.
  7. Show your willingness to learn from and engage with community partners and share that learning.
  8. Proofread the application before sending.
  9. Make sure to double and triple-check your math.
  10. Whatever you do, do not send applications as part of a mass mailing.

Andria Teather, Vice-President of Grants and Community Initiatives at the Vancouver Foundation also urges grant applicants to avoid commuting these common errors:

  1. The projects don’t comply with the guidelines or overarching goals of the foundation.
  2. Trying to fit the project into the funder’s world when it’s an obvious stretch. On their website, they clearly state what they fund – and what they don’t – to avoid those issues.
  3. Don’t clearly articulate what they hope to achieve, what issue they’re trying to address and how the grant will help them get there.
  4. Budgets are really unrealistic or just don’t add up.
  5. They don’t conduct an environmental scan and apply for projects done already by others.
  6. They don’t consult with communities who will be affected by programs.
  7. Forgetting to build in evaluation and knowledge transfer as key pieces of the project.

To read the full article, please visit CharityVillage .