How Much to Ask For

When filling out a grant application, how much money should be requested from a foundation? A grant writer should put as much thought in the numbers as the words.

Asking too much money and it may seem an impossible project for the foundation to fund. Too little and the nonprofit may have missed out from receiving more (a foundation cannot fund more than the request).

This is my method.

I research the foundation’s past awards. This can be found on their website or near the bottom of their IRS 990 form. I focus on awards in areas similar to the one I’m submitting. From this information, I get a range of award amounts.

Next, I look at how the economy is doing. If the markets are up, then donations and investments will likely be up and I tend to ask for the upper range of awards. If the economy is down, I’ll ask for the middle range. I want to be realistic with the foundation when asking for money.

Once I have a dollar amount, I look at the project’s expenses. I do not expect a foundation to fund more than a third of a project. Many foundations will not be the primary funder for a project anyway and asking them to do that means they won’t.

So, I make adjustments to the request and maybe the expenses.

It is rare that a nonprofit gets the whole amount they requested. So, I may ask a foundation to fund forty percent of the project expecting a third to be funded.

The most important advice with this blog entry is that, before the words, figure out how much to ask for. Once you have that goal in mind, the rest can be a little easier.

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