April 16, 2020

Win Funding Faster by Earning a Seal of Transparency in 3 Simple Steps

Increasing the levels of trust and communication between nonprofits and prospective grantmakers is crucial to securing the funding you need to carry out your workEarning your Seal of Transparency on your GuideStar Nonprofit Profile is a key step in that process. 

Read on to learn more about Seals of Transparency and how you can claim your first Seal in three easy steps! 



What are Seals of Transparency? 

Seals of Transparency are free, tangible ways to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to transparency and build confidence among potential supporters. 

A Seal of Transparency appears on an organization’s Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar when the organization has publicly shared important information about its work. 


How do I earn my first Seal of Transparency? 


1. Claim Your Nonprofit Profile 

In 5 minutes, you can claim your organization’s Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar or create one if needed. It’s one of the easiest ways to grow your digital footprint and increase your access to hundreds of funders as a nonprofit.  

You can get started here. 

If you’ve already claimed your profile, head to step two! 


2. Update Your Nonprofit Profile 

Now that you’ve created a profile for your organization, update it with basic information (including your logo, mission statement, and program areas) to earn a Bronze Seal – it only takes 15 minutes. 

Adding additional information to your profile, including your organization’s financial statements, goals, and strategies will help you earn Silver, Gold, and Platinum Seals!  


3. Promote Your Seal 

Use your Seal like a badge of honor!  

Funders refer to a nonprofit’s Seal of Transparency to validate their organization before distributing grants. Promoting your Seal provides prospective funders with added reassurance that your organization is legitimate and transparent. 

Download your Seal of Transparency outreach toolkit to display your Seal on your organization’s website, social media channels, and more. 


To learn more about Seal levels and what is required to earn them, view Introducing our 2020 Seals of Transparency on the GuideStar blog. 

By Eva Nico, Senior Director at Candid. 


April 07, 2020

Finding Support for Your Nonprofit during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced us all to rethink how we fundraise so that we can continue to support the communities we serve.

Candid has developed a virtual coronavirus (COVID-19) resource page for nonprofits to gather information regarding funding opportunities, global giving, and relevant news items.

Here are additional actions you can take at this time to help boost your fundraising:


Tip 1: Look for Organizations Providing Relief

To help alleviate the effects of COVID-19 on nonprofits’ ability to carry out their work, organizations have created relief funds and other forms of support.

Candid has proactively compiled a list of these funds for nonprofits to access. The list is updated in real-time and can be sorted by geographic location. Access Candid’s coronavirus (COVID-19) relief funds list.


Tip 2: Connect with Past and Prospective Funders

Grantmakers are eager to support nonprofits. Proactively contacting and establishing relationships with funders is key to getting on their radar and securing much needed grant funding. Additionally, prioritizing past funders can help you gain funding faster as they are familiar with your work and more likely to fund you again.

Foundation Directory Online subscribers can view the Past Funders icon in search results andPast funder icon
on funder profile pages to see which funders have previously supported their work. Learn more about viewing Past Funders in FDO.


Tip 3: Go Digital

In the absence of physical meetings and events, cultivate unique virtual experiences to garner support for your cause.

Hosting digital events, such as virtual networking chats and webinars, allows for a wide variety of prospective supporters and funders to learn more about your cause.


Candid’s mission is anchored on ensuring the social sector has the information they need. For more information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) funding landscape, visit Candid’s popup page https://candid.org/explore-issues/coronavirus

March 31, 2020

A Foundation CEO’s Six-Step Formula for Winning a Grant

Woman working on proposalIn my long career as a funder, I loved the satisfaction of helping people who were doing wonderful things for other people. During those many years, I saw few proposals that advocated for bad ideas. But I did encounter an astonishing number of funding requests that were cast in the worst possible light.

In this space I’ll touch upon the recommendations offered in my book, The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Winning Foundation Grants, to help put your organization in the right position to land your next big grant.



Even in this sophisticated age, there are people that still plug a list of funders into their database and churn out generic proposals.

To ensure that you are targeting the right prospects, use a robust grantseeking tool like Foundation Directory Online to identify funders that match your criteria. With FDO you can uncover new funders and gain insights to build better prospect lists.



For most foundations, the standard technique they require of grant seekers is the LOI—Letter of Inquiry.

A letter of inquiry distills the organization’s request down to something brief. It gives the foundation an opportunity to express interest, and provides grantees an opportunity to receive feedback that might result in winning a grant.



As a proposal writer, know that your goal is to motivate the funder’s program officer to assign a code to your proposal that keeps it alive in the evaluation and screening process. At this stage, you should have no other goal.

I drill down to specifics in my book, but here I’ll simply offer four short tips:

  1. Present solutions, not problems. Although many organizations are indeed trying to address serious problems, I’ve seen far too many proposals that are almost all problem statement, with scant information about exactly what the applicant is going to do to remedy the concern.
  2. Write and rewrite. Avoid jargon and technical terms; use metaphor sparingly; equate statistics with cayenne pepper—a little goes a long way; and keep the words flowing with short sentences that draw the reader in.
  3. Focus on what you’re already achieving and how you plan to continue. Instead of telling me that if our foundation doesn’t give you money something awful will happen or that if we don’t fund you, you might cease to exist, better proposals say, “We’re doing something wonderful here, and we’re going to do it with or without you. With you, it’ll happen faster and better. Please join us in this excellent work.”
  4. Don’t bypass the system. In the course of your foundation research, you might discover that you’re familiar with someone on the board, or someone who goes to church with that person, or has a kid on their soccer team. So you figure, I’ll use this to my advantage and go straight to that individual. However, it is strongly encouraged that you resist this route.



Although it’s possible to receive a grant without ever meeting the funder, there are good reasons for having such a meeting.

First, some funders aren’t comfortable with a prospective grantee or a new idea until they’ve interacted beyond the piles of paper. Second, there are some ideas and facets of nonprofit work that must be seen to be appreciated. And, finally, some grantmakers are required to meet the organization they fund.


💡 Pro tip: Establishing personal connections with funders is a pivotal part of the fundraising process. Leverage FDO's integration with LinkedIn to quickly see how you are connected with key decision makers and establish relationships.



After you’re told the fabulous news about your grant award, I recommend you do three things:

  • Sit down with a tasteful piece of stationery or cheery card and send a thank-you note to the funder to cement your new relationship.
  • Put the funder on your mailing list—judiciously. If you have a monthly or quarterly newsletter, put the funder on the list for a free lifetime subscription. If your organization holds events, and the funder is local, make sure they’re invited.
  • Take an empty file folder, label it “Foundation Reports,” and place it on your desk. As successes or interesting events in your organization are documented, remember to slip a copy into the folder. When it comes time to report on a grant, reach into this file, go back 12 months in what you pull out, and make photocopies for your funder.



There are three reasons for paying close attention to grant reporting.

First, most nonprofits hope to receive repeat funding. Those that are late or fail to comply with reporting requirements will be on shaky ground for a renewal grant.

Second, you might actually teach the funder something. In most foundations, the board is interested in how their grants turn out, and they might even enjoy reports or at least summaries.

Finally, sitting down and summarizing what you did over the past year is an excellent way to improve your work. It forces you to step back from your daily tasks and think about what you accomplished, what your greatest challenges were, and what you’ve learned.

By Martin Teitel, former CEO of the Cedar Tree Foundation in Boston, is author of the newly updated edition of The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Winning Foundation Grants, from which this article is adapted.

February 24, 2020

NEW FEATURE: Search for Organization's Directly in FDO's Global Search Bar

Want to quickly access a prospective funder’s profile? Now you can search for an organization directly from the search bar on your FDO homepage!


Org Name Search Global Search Bar


Here's how it works:

  1. Begin typing in the name of a Funder you wish to view in FDO's global search bar
  2. FDO will auto suggest a list of grantmakers that match your text
  3. Click on the name of the Funder whose profile you wish to visit
  4. Doing a text search instead? Simply click SEARCH to continue


That's it!


This new enhancement is just one of many updates we’ve recently made to FDO. In addition to constantly building on our data, we are committed to adding new features to strengthen FDO based on subscriber feedback!

January 23, 2020

FDO’s Year of Grantseeking Growth!



In 2019, FDO grew exponentially as a premier prospecting tool for grantseekers. More than 270k contact information updates and 116k recipient profiles were added to FDO, in addition to 50+ product enhancements. The work doesn’t stop here, our mission continues to remain focused on ensuring fundraisers have the best prospect research tools available.

P.S. Did you know that our subscribers use FDO to conduct nearly 2,400 searches each day? Professional fundraisers know that consistent prospect research is the key to help secure grant funding.

We can’t wait to help boost your grantseeking even more in 2020!

To learn more about the power of FDO, check out our handy guide or our YouTube channel!

December 02, 2019

Your EIN is the Key to Quicker Funding

Update your FDO profile today, identify and tap Past Funders for new grants.

As professional fundraisers, you know just how important it is to stay connected to current and previous funders. FDO makes it easier to see who has supported your organization over the years. FDO subscribers can simply contact Customer Success to add their organization’s EIN to their account.

Adding your EIN enables FDO to display a green Past Funders icon in your search results and at the top of Grantmaker profiles.

FDO past funders@2x

FDO past funders@2x


Past funders icon
Past Funders icon


Prioritize your prospects! Past funders are familiar with your work and more likely to fund your cause again. Reignite the relationship to secure funding for the future!


September 18, 2019

NEW FEATURE: View Open RFPs Directly in FDO

FDO now makes it easier to keep up to date with open RFPs. You can customize what RFPs you see on your FDO homepage based on your Field of Interest.

New RFPs Feature
To change your field of interest, click on “Change Field of Interest” on your homepage or under the “Update Profile” section of your Account area.


You can also subscribe for weekly RFP update notifications. Simply check the box in the Current RFPs header to begin receiving these updates.

💡 Expert Tip: Open RFPs only make up a small portion of funding opportunities. Get access to all of the funding available to you by clicking on funders in the view Similar Funders section or conducting a full search using the main search bar in FDO. Unlock all the grantmakers who want to support your cause!

August 26, 2019

Tap into Donor-advised Funds with FDO

Expert fundraisers recognize that Donor-advised Funds are a growing source of funding for nonprofits. Between 2007 and 2016, assets in donor-advised funds nationwide skyrocketed from $32 billion to $85 billion[1].

You can now prospect research for DAFs easier in FDO. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to Organizational Type filter
  2. Expand Charitable gift funds (grantmaker)
  3. Select Donor-advised funds
image from image.send.foundationcenter.org
Open Additional Filter, go to Organization Type, select DAFs


💡Expert Tip: To ensure your organization is applicable for DAF funding, make sure to update your Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar and share basic financial information to earn a Silver Seal of Transparency. To get started, visit guidestar.org/update



[1] https://eyeonfdo.foundationcenter.org/2018/10/partners-in-philanthropy-how-to-work-with-donor-advised-funds.html


August 15, 2019

NEW FEATURE: Search for Grantmakers in a Specific Location

Good news! Searching for Grantmakers or Recipients in a specific location just got easier. Simply use the Organization Name filter AND Location filter together.

image from image.send.foundationcenter.org

This new upgrade will help streamline your prospect research.

💡Expert Tip: To ensure you don’t miss out on a potential funder, begin your prospect research by searching for all grantmakers supporting your mission. Simply use the global search bar.

May 21, 2019

A Foundation Insider’s 8 Tips to Help You Win Your Next Grant

GettyImages-171335460One of my favorite sections in the revised edition of my book the Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Winning Foundation Grants is called “The Grant Seeker’s Reality Check.” In 10 brief chapters I examine, from the vantage point of one who served for 40 years as a foundation CEO, a host of dos and don’ts when preparing and submitting proposals. 

You’ll discover, for instance, the four things you should never do when approaching foundations, the five mistakes many if not most applicants make, and seven ways to increase the chance of your proposal receiving full attention. In this space, I’ll share a handful of suggestions to increase the likelihood of your next proposal getting funded. 


To insure you’re targeting the correct funder, obtain and study their grants list for the past three years. Pay attention to more than the organizations that received support. It will also be helpful to know the lowest, highest, and typical amounts granted, the grant type (for example, general support versus project support), and the duration of the award—single versus multi-year. 

💡Fundraising tip: FDO Professional will give you access to a funder’s complete grant history to help you prioritize your prospecting efforts. 


Funders want to know what they’re getting for their money. That’s why so many of the items we buy come in transparent packaging. Your proposal should be a clear container showing exactly what will result from the funder’s investment. Concrete, measurable results will provide core reasons for funders to support you. 


So often, in the rush and stress of completing a funding request, the proposal writer is faced with decisions about what to include. There’s a natural but counterproductive tendency to pile on information, perhaps with the thought that bulk is impressive. The end result can be a mammoth and dense proposal that works against the goal of creating enthusiasm for your work. When in doubt of including a piece of correspondence or documentation, don’t. 


When it comes to presenting your budget, you’re indicating that you know what resources are needed to achieve the results you want, and that you can access and deploy these resources efficiently. Are you absolutely sure the amounts you list are prudent? Not only should your budget add up—and avoid simple math errors—but it also has to support the logic of the proposal’s narrative. For example, a $100,000 budget to reconstruct 16 flooded houses won’t make sense, nor will $700,000 to hire two new staff. Be certain that everything in your proposal is accounted for in your budget. Conversely, omit budget details that aren’t fully explained in the proposal narrative. 


Foundations are wary of all-or-nothing funding strategies, especially when pressed by more requests than they can fund. If you’re asked the question, “What will you do if we only support part of your request?” be ready with a credible fallback position that shows how your work will go forward with partial funding. 


There’s no need to gush or order flowers, but send a thank-you note to the program officer, whether you receive funding or not. Since he or she worked on your behalf, letting them know you recognize and appreciate their advocacy solidifies the feeling of relationship, which is central to good fundraising now or in the future. 


Get your reports in on time, as this clearly demonstrates competence, respect, good planning, and success. When you force the funder to chase you to comply with the contract you signed, you’re establishing a counter-productive dynamic. Most funders have long memories. 


We live in an imperfect world, and sometimes you’ll fail to do what you said you would. Don’t duck talking about the unforeseen or unexpected. Point out what happened differently from what you had planned or hoped for, and give specific reasons why this was the case. Don’t make excuses; just be matter-of-fact about the various outcomes, both planned for and not. 


In closing, I’ll add Don’t Beat Yourself Up. Keep in your mind, no matter what others may say, that you’re employed to do the best you can making funding requests. But it is your organization, with its board, staff, and program, that is the applicant. If successful, you did your component of the group’s work well. If funding didn’t come through, that doesn’t mean you did poor work. It means the foundation said no. Ultimately, getting funded is a result of the entire organization’s efforts. You’re but one element. 


By Martin Teitel, former CEO of the Cedar Tree Foundation in Boston, is author of the newly updated edition of The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Winning Foundation Grants, from which this article is adapted.

Source: GuideStar Blog