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Finding Funding for Animal Welfare Groups

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I am not a grantwiter and I did get a grant for the Pet Foster Network. I was not successful the first time but I kept trying and one foundation finally funded my grant request. The following tips will help you get grants and in-kind donations for your animal welfare organization.

Search for Potential Funders

You can search in print resources such as Grants for Environmental Protection and Animal Welfare and the National Guide to Funding for the Environment and Animal Welfare. Public libraries sometimes have such resources. I did some research and found some organizations offering grants to animal welfare agencies. See Appendix A “Foundations and Organizations that Fund Animal Welfare Grants” from the ASPCA National Shelter Outreach Department and Appendix B “North Carolina Foundations that Fund Animal Welfare Grants.” See also “Available Grants” on the American Humane’s web site.

To find basic information about these foundations, use the Foundation Center's Finding Funders.

Example: I am looking for information on the Prickett Fund. I type in the name of the foundation I am looking for in the box under “Foundation Finder” and click on “Go.”

The result of my query is:

I then click on “Prickett Fund, Lynn R. and Karl E.” It gives me basic information on the foundation such as the address, contact, assets, and total giving for the year. It also gives me its Form 990-PF, the foundation’s IRS annual tax return.

The most important information about a foundation can be found on a Form 990-PF such as the name of the foundation, address, phone number, and amount of grants paid for the fiscal year (p.1 of Form 990); and names of officers (p.6 of Form 990). Click on “PDF” after “Most Recent IRS Filing.” Then select the most recent IRS filing.

Identify Funders’ Goals or Needs

Make sure you've found out all you can about what the foundation's interests are, and that your proposed program fits their interests. Look at their website, guidelines, annual report, who they have funded in the past, and if possible, talk to the program officer. Look at the foundation's IRS Form 990 which lists grant application information (p.9 of Form 990). If you cannot reach them by phone, send them a letter requesting grant information (see Appendix C).

If the foundation makes only contributions to preselected organizations and does not accept unsolicited grant requests, do not despair. Send them an inquiry letter (see Appendix D). They might invite you to send them a grant request.

It IS VITAL to look at this from the perspective of the sponsor—“What’s in it for them?” rather than from the perspective of your own needs. In your application, prove that you will help advance the organization’s goals.

Find out what the average gift of the grantmaker is. See the foundation's IRS Form 990 which list grants given for the reporting year (p. 10 of Form 990). This information can sometimes be attached at the end of Form 990 as an appendix.

Aim your first proposal between the low and average gift–it's best not to aim for the top amount for a first time grant from that organization.

For more information on how you can make your organization more attractive to potential funders, see No More Homeless Pets Forum “What Do Grantmakers Want?” and “The Business of Getting a Grant” by the

Write Your Proposal

Ensure that your proposal fits within the funders' mission—this is KEY to your success. For tips on how to write a grant proposal, see GrantProposal.com and Joseph Levine’s “Guide for Writing A Funding Proposal." See also the Pet Foster Network’s successful proposal (Appendix E).

Include with your proposal all documents the foundation requires along with brochures, newspapers articles, or reports (see the Pet Foster Network's progress report, Appendix F).

See also "Fund-Raising for Animal Care Organizations" published by the Humane Society of the United States.

In-Kind Donations

In-kind donations are given in goods, commodities, or services rather than money. If your organization needs pet food, equipment, photocopies, or supplies, always ask for it first before buying it. Make your request in writing (see Appendix G). Again, It IS VITAL to look at this from the perspective of the sponsor—“What’s in it for them?” rather than from the perspective of your own needs. In exchange, you can offer them for instance to distribute their promotional literature, advertise their business on your web site, place their logo on your stuff, or give them your mailing list for their promotional use.

When you receive in-kind donations from a business, always follow up with a thank you note. Make sure to keep them updated with any milestones you reach. They might help you more than once.

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