Myths About Trusts and Foundations

two men carrying boxes

Fundraising via trusts and foundations is a valuable and effective strategy for nonprofits, but like any fundraising approach, it is not without its myths and misconceptions. Let’s explore some common myths associated with fundraising from trusts and foundations:

Myth 1: Trusts and Foundations Give to Anyone

One of the common myths is that trusts and foundations are eager to provide funding to any nonprofit that asks. In reality, trusts and foundations have specific missions and priorities that guide their grantmaking. They carefully consider the alignment between their goals and the nonprofit’s mission and projects before awarding grants. Nonprofits must demonstrate how their work aligns with the foundation’s focus areas to secure funding.

Myth 2: Large Foundations Are the Only Ones Worth Pursuing

Some organisations believe that only large, well-known foundations are worth pursuing for funding. In truth, both large and smaller foundations offer valuable support. Smaller foundations often have more accessible application processes and can provide funding for grassroots initiatives. Diversifying your foundation funding sources can help build a more stable financial base for your nonprofit.

Myth 3: Foundations Fund Operating Expenses

A common misconception is that foundations will fund an organisation’s general operating expenses. While some foundations do provide funding for overhead costs, many prefer to support specific projects, programs, or initiatives. Nonprofits should be prepared to demonstrate how their operating expenses relate to the project they are seeking funding for.

Myth 4: Trusts and Foundations Have Unlimited Resources

Foundations operate within budgets and funding constraints, just like any other organisation. They allocate a fixed amount of money for grants each year and often receive more requests for funding than they can accommodate. Nonprofits should not assume that foundations have unlimited resources or can fulfil all their financial needs.

Myth 5: You Only Need to Apply Once

Some nonprofits mistakenly believe that sending one grant proposal to a foundation is sufficient to secure ongoing funding. In reality, trust and foundation grants are usually awarded on a competitive basis, and nonprofits must reapply for funding for each new project or grant cycle. Building strong, ongoing relationships with foundations can increase the chances of receiving repeat funding.

Myth 6: Grants Are Awarded Quickly

The grant application process can be time-consuming, and organisations sometimes expect to receive funding shortly after applying. In reality, foundations often have rigorous review processes, and it can take several months or even a year or more to secure a grant. Nonprofits should be prepared for the possibility of a lengthy application and approval process.

Myth 7: Foundations Only Care About Numbers

While measurable outcomes and impact metrics are important, foundations also consider the narrative and qualitative aspects of a nonprofit’s work. Effective storytelling and demonstrating the human impact of your programs can be just as influential as statistics.

Myth 8: You Can’t Approach Foundations Without a Previous Relationship

While having a prior relationship with a foundation can be helpful, it’s not always necessary to secure funding. Many foundations accept unsolicited grant proposals from organisations they have not previously funded. A well-crafted proposal, showcasing the alignment between your work and the foundation’s mission, can still secure funding without a pre-existing relationship.

In conclusion, understanding the reality of fundraising via trusts and foundations and dispelling these myths is crucial for successful grant seeking. Nonprofits should approach the process with careful research, clear communication, and realistic expectations to build strong partnerships with foundations and secure the funding needed to advance their missions.