How To Determine A Foundation’s Openness to New Grantees


Amelie Heurteux


Customer Success Manager at Instrumentl

Reviewed by:


March 20, 2024

Last Updated:

April 4, 2024

Did you know you can see exactly how often a foundation hands out awards to new grantees?

If you’ve been eyeing a new funder, Instrumentl will help you easily see how open they are to new grantees.

Stop wasting time and effort on a proposal that doesn’t stand a chance— instead, use those resources to double down on a funder that’s a perfect fit.

In this post, we’ll show you how to assess new funders based on their geographical giving, grant sizes, and giving by category so you can refine your grant prospecting.

Let’s get started.

How To Find Funders Open To New Grantees

Browsing endlessly online for information on a new funder can sometimes feel like you're swiping through a dating app.

"Are they actually interested in meeting someone new?"

While your organization may technically be eligible to apply for a grant, it's worth looking at the funder's history to see if they frequently award grants to new applicants.

Some funders almost exclusively fund repeat grantees, meaning it’s probably not worth your effort to apply.

A quick aside: When we say "new grantees," we mean that your organization is new to that specific funder (not that your nonprofit is new to the industry).

The following steps will walk you through how you can use Instrumentl to quickly and easily determine if a funder you're interested in seriously considers funding new grantees. Instrumentl pulls and distills this data from foundations’ 990 reports—so you don’t have to.

Step 1: Set Up Your Nonprofit Within Instrumentl

First things first: you'll want to set up an Instrumentl account with your free trial. This two-week trial gives you the opportunity to explore Instrumentl and familiarize yourself with all of our unique features. The best part? No credit card is required!

Once you set up your account, you'll have the following easy tasks to complete:

  1. Share where you're located
  2. Create a project name
  3. Set up your grant search

First, enter your organization's basic info.

In the "Organization" section, provide details about your nonprofit, such as location and fiscal year, to filter out irrelevant grants.

Next, in the "Overview" section, you'll create a project. This is essentially a saved search.

You’ll also want to select "Matches & Tracking" so that you can be matched with new funding opportunities and track them within the platform.

Select “Save and Continue.

Finally, you’ll select the specific types of grants you’re hoping to match with.

In section 3, "Matches Setup," you will need to identify the type of organization you represent, which is usually just "nonprofit" rather than "college/university." Additionally, if you are a faith-based nonprofit, you can choose to view grants specifically intended for that type of organization.

Next, select where your project takes place. You can get as specific as the county your project takes place in.

Then, you’ll choose the fields of work your project is specific to. This helps Instrumentl match you with funders that most closely align with your mission.

To make your selection, click on the "+Select Field of Work" button and search for the causes you support. Next, select 2-3 suitable keywords from the drop-down list that align with your mission.

Once you've done that, select the grant sizes you're looking for and specify how you intend to use the funding. This includes projects, programs, operating expenses, and so on.

Last, but certainly not least, you'll want to select what types of grants you're interested in. Depending on the scope of your project, it could be all of them.

Choose “Save and Exit,” and you’re done setting up your basic profile!

Grant management isn’t done alone! You can easily invite your team members within the Instrumentl platform who will help collaborate on and manage your grants together.

Once you’ve gotten your profile all setup, you’ll be automatically matched with relevant funding opportunities.

You’ll also gain exclusive access to a whole treasure trove of advanced funder insights that can help you determine if the funders you’re matched with are a good fit for your nonprofit—including how open they are to new grantees.

Step 2: Look up a Funder You're Pursuing

Once you’ve created an Instrumentl account, you can search for funders and access advanced insights to help you evaluate your alignment with them.

To begin, click on the QuickFind button in the top left corner of your home screen. Type in the name of the organization you’re interested in pursuing, and select their 990 report. We’ll use the Kresge Foundation for this example.

Once you’ve clicked on the organization, you’ll be taken to its unique profile, as shown below.

Step 3: Review the Foundation's Openness to New Grantees

Now that you’ve reached the organization’s profile, you’ll get a “snapshot” of the funder’s 990. Our snapshots provide you with important information like the funder’s total giving, median grant amount, key people in the organization, and other important stats.

All of this information is incredibly helpful in painting the full picture of the funder. You can use this data to identify trends and understand your chances of securing funding from this particular funder.

One of these Advanced Funders Insights includes a foundation’s “Openness to New Grantees” (located on the right-hand sidebar, as seen below).

This snapshot provides you with an easy-to-understand graph that shows what percentage of a funder’s awards went to new grantees vs repeat grantees over the years.

For example, take a look at the breakdown from the Dubchansky Foundation in the image below.

As you can see, the Dubchansky Foundation has undergone some significant changes in how it awards grants over the last ten years.

In 2016, 85% of grants were awarded to repeat grantees. However, from 2019 onward, a large chunk of their awards have been given to new grantees—which is a great sign for new nonprofits hoping to apply.

Step 4: Identify Differences in Funding Between New and Repeat Grantees

After you’ve determined that a funder is open to new grantees, you can go even further to identify their differences in funding amounts between new and repeat grantees.

These insights can help you gauge the amount of award money you could expect and what an appropriate “ask” might be.

In the snapshot above, you can see that, on average, the Ford Foundation awards over two times more funding to their repeat grantees.

As you research different funders, these snapshots provide invaluable information that you can leverage to help you decide which opportunities will have the highest ROI for your specific organization.

Why These Insights Matter for Your Grant Strategy

Leveraging Instrumentl will help you determine which new funders are worth pursuing.

These insights can help you better understand how funders act. For example, knowing the amount of funds an organization normally awards to new vs. repeat grantees prevents you from lowballing your proposal. Or, conversely, asking for way too much.

Margit Brazda Poirier, founder of Grants4Good LLC, shared with us how Instrumentl’s 990 insights have made her life easier:

“Instrumentl calculates for us the average grant amount. I love this kind of information because I don't want to go through all of the funders, all of the nonprofits that got funding from this foundation and calculate the average or the median grant amount.”

No digging on the internet for this info. It’s all right there within Instrumentl for your whole team to see.

With our 990 snapshots, you’re able to more effectively answer questions like:

  • Does this funder prefer to work with repeat grantees primarily?
  • Is their average giving in line with our funding expectations?
  • Have they awarded grants to nonprofits like ours in the past?

Having all of this information in one easy-to-read dashboard frees up countless hours of research. Time and energy that would be spent digging through paperwork can now be spent perfecting grant applications.

With more time and fewer chances for mistakes, you’re setting yourself up for a significantly more effective grant-management strategy.

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Wrapping Up

Instrumentl streamlines the grant-seeking process, providing comprehensive and easily digestible data that saves grant managers like you countless hours of research.

Use these insights to make your nonprofit more strategic in pursuing funders with the highest chance of success. Sign up today for an 14 free day trial to get started.

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Amelie Heurteux

Amelie Heurteux

Amelie Heurteux, a Customer Success Manager at Instrumentl, works day in and day out training nonprofits and grant writers how to efficiently prospect new funders and streamline their grant tracking and management processes.

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