Board Screening of Foundation Officers

Board Screening of Foundation Officers


There’s always been a question, in my mind, about who should write foundation grants. It seems to me that the person closest to the project – the project manager or land steward – is in the best position to describe the purpose, scope, goals, procedures, and metrics of most projects. That person is in the best position to write grant requests.


Fundraiser’s Almanac: July

  • Fall Appeal Planning
  • Board Screening of Foundation Officers
  • Taking Stock
  • Direct Mail – Mailhouse


This is not to say that fundraising staff and volunteers are off the hook, though. Fundraisers do the research on potential funders, track deadlines and reporting requirements, and ensure each grant request is in the correct form required by each funder before it goes out.

Board members have a role to play here as well, because (hopefully!) they are well connected in the community and know key decision-makers. Now – in July – is a great time to organize their help in front of fall grant deadlines. Here are the steps:

  1. Research and prepare a spreadsheet of the key staff, trustees, and Board members of each foundation from which you’ll be seeking grant funding. First name, last name, and foundation name are all the data points (columns) you’ll need. You can find most of this information on-line. If not, call or write and ask for an annual report.
  2. Alphabetize the list by last name and check for duplicates. (Sometimes one trustee appears on multiple boards!)
  3. Now print the entire list and circulate it at a board meeting. Ask each board member to scan the list and indicate whether they know the individuals personally or whether they know someone else who does.
  4. Don’t expect your board members to know many people. They won’t. But DO capture the connections you find in your database and keep it current.
  5. Make sure the board member knows when a grant request is submitted – even send them a copy of the request. If there is a way to use the relationship that exists between the board member and the foundation, such as a letter of support or a phone call, this would be the time.
  6. Also include the board member in any visits or phone calls and make sure s/he knows when you receive word from the foundation – be it good or bad news.

By the way, this same exercise can be used for businesses and corporations.


How are you using your board members for foundation and corporate support?





Researching Foundation/Corporate Grants and Calendaring Due Dates


Photo credit: Snowy Egret courtesy of Walt Kaesler.


See how David can help you with a fundraising or “development” audit here.

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