Foundations are inundated with thousands of grant applications, and the Unfunded List’s mission is to offer recognition and connections to the many organizations who apply for funding and do not receive it. Beyond this immediate issue, however, is another potential obstacle for promising organizations: there are many foundations who do not issue open grant solicitations, and instead only accept proposals by invitation. This creates an offshoot of the Unfunded List, called the uninvited list (trademark pending).
The reasons for closed-solicitations are many. Some foundations might be interested in a very specific solution or particular geographic area, or do not have the resources to handle thousands of solicitations, or all of the above. Unfortunately, this closes the door for organizations that may have potential solutions before they even get their feet off the ground.
What can these uninvited organizations do? Fortunately, there are lengthy resources available that provide some good advice for navigating this obstacle. In addition, we would like to offer a couple of quick tips:
1. Improve your position with inbound marketing tactics
Inbound marketing is the latest trend buzzing from every corner of the consulting world. Inbound is just a phrase that is used to encompass web content tactics (blogs, case studies, white papers, videos, infographics, e-newsletters, social media, etc.) that help an organization gain a better SEO position, build awareness, and attract and convert prospects. Inbound shouldn’t be complicated; you don’t need to consult resources like this ridiculous periodic table, you only need to publish and distribute Web content pieces that can help you get noticed. This is especially important for start-up organizations because the overhead for Inbound content is so low, and furthermore, foundations and funders perform Web searches to gather information on organizations that serve a specific niche. Getting to the forefront of these searches is essential, and aspiring organizations can accomplish this by doing the following:
These are simple steps to help you get noticed through a higher SEO position or social media buzz. Again, don’t make it complicated; if you are unsure what content medium to use, stick with the blog, which allows for flexibility (and allows you to embed videos in case you produce them).
2. Make online connections with grant managers at invitation-only foundations
Easier said than done – obviously – but it’s the surest way to get on the invite list. The simplest way to make online connections is to use LinkedIn.
Of course, there will always be contacts who do not have LinkedIn accounts or who are not active on it. To cover this gap, make sure to reach out to members of your email and mailing list who are likely to have connections with grant-managers at foundations.
3. Get out and network
This is especially important for grants that are localized or serve a very specific niche. It’s likely that these focus areas include close-knit social circles, and your goal should be to go out, be seen, and introduce yourself to these people. Leaving the house; it’s the oldest trick in fundraising.