5 Ways to Use Funder 990 Data To Get Your Dream Grant w/ Margit Brazda Poirier
Looking to use funder data to secure more grants? Look no further!
In this 1-hour webinar (with 15 minutes Q&A), Margit Brazda Poirier will share with you 5 ways to use funder 990 data to get your dream grant.
By the end of this Instrumentl Partner Webinar, you’ll be able to learn:
- REALLY understand your funders before you apply
- Find out WHO to contact and HOW
- Understand WHAT you can get funded!
- How Instrumentl can save you tons of time in researching Funder 990s and identifying good fit funders
Create your Instrumentl account using the link above. Save $50 off your first month should you decide to upgrade when your trial expires with the code GWS50.
Margit Brazda Poirier founded Grants4Good LLC in 2009 and has since helped thousands of nonprofits achieve their grant seeking goals. She has over 25 years of nonprofit management and grants experience, a GPC, and is a GPA Approved Trainer, having written and received over $30 million in federal, state, foundation and corporate grants.
Instrumentl Partner Webinars are collaborations between Instrumentl and its community partners to provide free educational workshops for grant professionals. Our goal is to tackle a problem grant professionals often have to solve, while also sharing different ways Instrumentl’s platform can help grant writers win more grants. Click here to save a seat in our next workshop.
Click the video link below to start watching the replay of this free grant workshop, or check out the transcriptions below the video.
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5 Ways to Use Funder 990 Data To Get Your Dream Grant - Grant Training Transcription
Chandler: All right. Hi, everybody. Welcome to our Instrumentl partner webinar. If you haven't already go ahead and use the link that was both in the chat and on the screen and create your Instrumentl 14-day free account. It'll help you as we track through this. Otherwise welcome to 5 Ways to Use Funder 990 Data to Get your Dream Grant with Margit Brazda Poirier.
This workshop is being recorded. Slides will be shared. And in case it's your first time here, this free grant workshop is an Instrumentl partner webinar, and these are collaborations between Instrumentl and our community partners in order to provide free educational workshops for grant professionals.
All right. With that, our goal is to tackle problems that grant professionals often have to solve while sharing different ways that we can leverage our platform to do so. With that in mind, be sure to stick around for the entirety of the presentation. At the end, we're going to have a raffle as well as some wonderful resources for you. So be sure to stick around until the end.
And with all that out of the way, I want to introduce our speaker for today. Margit, she has founded Grants For Good LLC and has since helped thousands of non-profits achieve their grant-seeking goals. She's got a wealth of experience, a GPC, GPH approved trainer. She's a wonderful source and we're so excited to have her here with us. And with that in mind, I'm going to go ahead and get out of the way and pass it to you, Margit.
Margit: Thank you, Chandler. Hi, everybody. Thank you for spending this next hour with us today. I know your time is valuable. I know everyone is stretched to the limit these days. We were hoping maybe time would slow down a little bit for us, but it doesn't.
So again, I want to honor your time and share with you the most relevant information that I possibly can so that you've got something to walk away with and have some very distinct actions you can take to improve the chances of getting your dream grant. So I want to look quickly in the chat box. A lot of you have joined in and in the Zoom chat, you have shared your name, your organization, and what is your dream grant?
Don't be shy, dream big. Before we started live here, I was noticing some people signed in. This is great to see some familiar faces and some new folks, too. Yeah, keep on popping that into the chat box. Everyone can see it and it makes it feel like we're a little bit more in the same room together, at least in this virtual space.
Let's see, we've got Vanessa coming in from Homes of Divine Intervention, Transitional Housing, and Community Development Grants. Great. I love it. Someone's working on cognitive skills rehabilitation that's not covered by insurance. Awesome. Michelle, Clackamas is with NAMI national, oh, gosh. National association for... you're going to have to qualify that. I know what it is. I can't put my name on it.
We've got some museum executive directors here. Dream grant would be to provide funding for research overseas. We've got Kim from Boy Scouts of America. I know we had somebody from Girl Scouts already. So welcome, everybody. Thanks again for joining today. Keep putting your name and stuff in the chat.
I may look back on some of those and use some of your organizations as examples. So this is really helpful. Today's outcomes. We are always talking about outcomes when it comes to grant writing, right? So it's only appropriate that we start with outcomes today. Here's what you're going to walk away with in less than an hour.
I want to be sure you really understand your funders before you apply. I'll show you how. Find out who to contact and how, because this is one of the most difficult things to really nail down is who do I reach out to? We're also going to talk about how funder IRS 990s can help you understand what funders are funding and how much money they're giving out grants for.
And as Chandler mentioned, we have some bonuses and some additional resources for you towards the end of this webinar. So without further ado, I hope you're as curious as this owl. I just couldn't help popping that picture in there. I don't know how they got a photo of that. Great. But let's get going.
First I do want to let you know that grants are still out there. Now, many of you in this call or this webinar today, you already know that. Maybe you've done some research. You've gotten some grants already. You just want to know what else you can do in a streamlined way as possible to increase your chances of getting the funding and help you find funders a little bit better that are a better fit.
But for those of you who are feeling discouraged, and this happens in our profession, it's just a reality in fundraising, unfortunately, you may be thinking to yourself, oh, my gosh, there's just no money out there. Or maybe your directors, your board of directors are pressuring you and saying, well, you know, Oprah gives out grants.
And so does Bill Gates, you know, why aren't you getting them? Well, you might be shaking your head thinking. Yeah. Yeah. That's not that easy, you know, easier said than done. But good news is giving is increasing. So last year alone, there were over 450 billion given in grants and donations. That's a real positive.
Someone needs to mute their sound. Chandler, if you can help take care of that as you join in. Thank you. We've also got 10 billion given out in Canada. If we have any folks from over the border joining us today. There are also about 100,000 grant-making foundations in the US and thousands of state and federal grant opportunities every year.
Those numbers probably point to one thing. They say, okay, there's no shortage of funders and the funding, but how the heck do I get to it? How do I narrow it down out of 100,000 foundations? How do I narrow it down? Only the best funders? Well, that is a much bigger topic than we'll cover here.
And I do teach that in my online course called All About Grant Writing, which I'll give you a bonus for that at the end. But today in the short time we have, I want to hone in on one particular tool that is extremely helpful for finding good funders. And that is the IRS 990. Now you may wonder what is this?
Well, it is now March. We're in mid-March. I'm guessing most of you have filed your taxes. You've given your forms to your accountant, or you've gotten onto a TurboTax, something similar. I know we have. And you've submitted your tax return. You're just waiting for that big, huge check coming back to you.
Funders, anyone, any private foundation that issues grants also has to fund this type of tax return and it's called an IRS form 990 and it is public information. So if you and I file our personal income taxes, or perhaps you have a consulting business like I do with Grants For Good, we file income tax returns, but they're not public information. You cannot access the billions of dollars that my husband and I make. If only, right? But with public charities, such as the nonprofits on this call and with funders that are also tax exempt, their 990s are public information.
And that's why it is such a great tool to use for research. So let's look at number one of the five top things that I like to use funder 990 data for that I think you'll find useful as well. And one is perhaps the most basic thing, and that is finding the contact information on your organizations.
Now, again, I mentioned 990 data is public, but how do you get to it? Well, there's a number of ways. Most simply you can find your favorite search engine. I tend to use Google and type in the name of the foundation that you want to know more about and type in IRS 990 or tax return. And you will no doubt get some hits and you'll be able to see their most recent form 990. So that's one way.
Another is some of the grant research databases that are out there do have free versions where you can see IRS 990s. And a third way, which we'll kind of sprinkle throughout this presentation, is our host here, Instrumentl. And I've been using Instrumentl for, gosh, I'm going to say four years.
It was really -- Chandler, it was way before your time. It was when Gauri -- when they just started Instrumentl. And I interviewed your founders and they're on one of my blogs. So you can check out an interview that I did with them, because I want to know more about why they started this and how it works, but Instrumentl does provide all those 990s on there as well.
And they go a little bit further, which we'll talk about, but first of all, contact information. Let's say you just put into Google the name of a foundation that you're interested in and up pops the IRS 990. What do you do with it? They can be anywhere from 20 pages long to let's say hundreds and hundreds of pages.
If you're looking at something really big, like the Gates Foundation. If you're looking at a smaller family foundation, perhaps in your town or city, your IRS 990 form might be 15 to 30 pages. The very first page is extremely important. It has the contact information. Here's an example of the Pew Charitable Trust. Tells you their address.
They're located in Philly, PA. It gives you their phone number. It gives you their employer identification number, all kinds of information they have to provide to the IRS. And so it is also visible to you. It also has their website in this case, which can be quite handy. Now, the other thing I like about this is, and this isn't one of the five, but I'm throwing this in there. It tells you the calendar year of when they submit their tax forms. So you and I have to submit our personal taxes, April 15th, unless there's an extension as there was the year of 2020, but foundations have to submit their taxes five months after their tax year ends on the 15th of that month.
So this particular foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, their tax year ends June 30th, 2020. So they have to submit their taxes. What is June plus five months? August, September, November 15th. Most foundations have a calendar year. Their tax year ends on December 31st. So they have to file their taxes by May 15th of the following year.
The reason that is important is because you can start to gauge when you're going to be able to see their most recent 990. And I'm going to let Chandler talk in a few minutes as to why there's sometimes a delay of you seeing the most recent 990, but suffice it to say contact information is the number one thing you're going to see here.
Here's another example. This is the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation. They are located in Rochester, New York, which is where I'm calling in from today. And we have surprisingly sunny 50 some degree weather. I was skiing yesterday morning, but today is beautiful and sunny. Can't complain.
The Farash Foundation, they're more typical in that their tax year ends at the end of the calendar year. And again, same thing. We've got their address here. We've got contact people. Excuse me. We've also got some additional information. If you look at section I here, fair market value of all assets. Keep that one in mind. I'm going to refer back to that.
Now contacting funders. What are some key ways to do this? Again, I wanted to share with you some very quick tips so we can cover all five of these ways to use your IRS funder 990 data, but people often ask, well, how is the best way to contact people? Do I jump right in and call them?
Do I email? Do I send a letter? With an IRS 990, I would caution you not to call first. And here's why. The phone number that appears on that 990 might be the home phone number of the family member who happened to agree that they will be the ones working with the accountant to submit their tax forms.
And they may not be the best person to contact. Not to mention, you may catch somebody by surprise. They're having dinner and all of a sudden, somebody calls and talks about their nonprofit and the funding opportunity. So I would say to go with a softer approach, and that would be, writing a letter to the address that's at the IRS 990, checking out their website, and getting an email.
So you can send email and mention that you'd like to set up a call to speak with them. That would be my preference. The only way I would jump in with a call right away is if I do know something about the funder, I know that they have an administrative office and then I'm going to reach a staff person, not somebody at home making dinner.
And then who can help with contact information? And how does social media play into all this? The who, we're going to talk about board information soon. So we're going to hold out on that one. But the social media aspect is really important right now in terms of finding out who to work with. And this is something where Instrumentl is helpful, too, is they list your board members and you can start to get on LinkedIn with some of them or on Facebook and connect with some of the people you want to.
So for example, when I look back at the Farash Foundation, we do not have a person listed for this. So what I would do here is look up their website and find out who is their executive director, staff person to contact. Whereas if I go back here, the Pew Charitable Trusts, this is a massive foundation on a federal level.
I would look for Susan K. Urahn on LinkedIn and see if I could connect with her and learn a little bit more. I would go that route. We've got a whole host of options. Facebook and LinkedIn is where you're going to find a lot of people. Now let's look at number two. Why do I use IRS 990s? How can you use them to best help you with getting your dream grant?
Well, another way is looking at the assets and distribution of a particular foundation. So let's use the example of the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation. Again, they're in Rochester, New York. And if you recall, I said, take a look at the box I on the lower left of the screen and you see fair market value of all assets at the end of the year, which in this case is December 31st, 2019.
And what you'd want to do with this, as you can see that they have -- I'm going to round it up to 300 million dollars. So 296,597,952. So for simple math, let's say it's $300 million in assets is what they had in their foundation.
So what do you do this information? Well, to answer that you have to understand one very important rule and I'm not an accountant, but I am fascinated by accounting and by how these IRS rules affect us as fundraising professionals and grant writers. You have to understand that the IRS minimum distribution rule and what this says is that 5% of the average market value of a foundation, investments, and assets have to be distributed the following year.
5% at minimum, most foundations will give more. How much more? Well, funny you should ask. There've been some national studies and it looks like anywhere from 7 to 8% is typical. I would love to see that go up. I think there's a lot of pressure to increase that because 5% is pretty low when you look at the extent to which foundations are actually getting returns on their marketing investments.
But right now, as it stands, it's 5%. What you would do is take $300 million and calculate 5% of that. Let's see who does it first. Pop it in the chat box. What does that amount to?
What does this foundation need to give out? There you go. Thank you. Lisa. $150,000 per year. All right. This gives you an idea of what they absolutely have to give out. Now, the other thing to remember, you maybe don't have a crystal ball to know how much a foundation is going to give out, but you can look at how the market is performing today and how it performed last year.
So if you look at how the market performed, the stock market, in 2020 and 2021, it was surprisingly better than most people would have predicted. Given the fact we are in a global epidemic, we were in a recession for a portion of 2020, it is surprising just how well the market performed. And so what happened as a direct result is foundation assets increased quite a bit in 2020, then on top of that, they increased even more in 2021.
So when you start to have access to iRS 990s that finish off 2020 and 2021, that one's going to take a little while, but when you start to see those, you're going to be amazed how much they have in assets. And when you take 5% of that, that number is going to go up pretty darn quickly, which means one thing. Foundations have more money than ever in 2022 that they have to give to charitable organizations.
There are some nuances. I talk about that in one of my blog articles. If you want to go to grantsforgood.com, I've got a blog. And I talk about the 5% rule. Nuances are things such as not all of the 5% has to go to your nonprofit or any nonprofit. Some of it can be used for their financial advisors.
Some of it can be used for staffing, but there are limits to all that. I just like to use as a general rule of thumb 5%. You've got a math project to do every time you look up your foundations. Now one thing I do like about Instrumentl and actually, the reason I keep renewing every year is I just find that Instrumentl saves me a ton of time.
For example, here's the Farash Foundation again, here's some data. Total assets. You'll see, it's the same number 300. 300 million is right here. Okay. 300 million. So it, oh, thank you. I was thinking 150,000 sounded low. Vail is chiming in. It's 15 million is 5% and you are right. Thank you. I appreciate that because I cannot talk and do math at the same time.
So thank you. So yeah, total assets, 300 million. They have to give out 15 million each year on average, over five years. Now, take a look at total giving. Oops. We're at 8 million. We're just over 8 million. So they did not meet their 5% in 2019. Now what that means is they need to give out more or would have needed to give out more in 2020 and 2021.
The three-year average is still 5% each year and that is allowable. If foundations don't do this, they pay what's called an excise tax, and nobody wants to do that. It's a waste of money, frankly. Here's hoping that they gave out 15 million and more in the following years and I believe they did.
It does also tell you 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 non-profits that got funding from this foundation and calculate the average or the median grant amount. So thank you, Chandler and team for doing this for me. It saves me a lot of time.
So we've got average grant amount. We have the median grant amount. We also have, when we click on Instrumentl and look up, we just type in Farash Foundation and get all of this right away. You also have the phone number, you got their website, their address. You get their board of directors names, which is what I'm going to jump into next.
Just one more example with the 5% rule, I typed in another one, the KONG Toy Grant. This is a much smaller one. This is one that has 2.3 million in assets if I round up and they are giving out or they need to give out 5%, which would be 114,000. So I just wanted to show you that that shows up.
And Instrumentl, and it gives you all that information right there. And they went way above their total giving so congratulations. They gave out almost 600,000 that year. Now, before we leave this topic on the 5% rule on total assets in the 990, Chandler, can you jump in and tell us a little bit about how do you obtain the IRS 990s and take that information and put it into Instrumentl.
Chandler: Absolutely. Great question. Essentially once the information is filed with the IRS, it's released in batches. And so there's no way of knowing exactly when those batches are going to come out, but usually they're putting out batches of related grants. Essentially government grants will come out all within the same period, maybe not all, but at least a large chunk.
And so when those batches come out, they're immediately put into our system. And one exciting thing that's going to be happening this year is they're going to be shifting to that digital filing rather than filing with paper and pen. So it should be a lot quicker of a process moving forward after this year.
Margit: Thanks, Chandler. And that's a big relief because Instrumentl is not alone in this. I've done research in a lot of grant funder databases. And one thing that has frustrated me a little bit is that, and it's not their fault. It's just none of them can access the IRS 990 data quicker than it is open and available for them to download.
So like you just said, Chandler, if they are private foundations are submitting this online now, you will hopefully get access to it quicker so that we can access the data quicker as well. Because right now, when I look up some of the foundations that I gave just gave examples of, you'll see that it's still looking at tax year 2019, and some of them have tax year 2020, but none of them have tax year 2021.
And that's understandable given we're only in March of 2022, but I was hoping to see more 2020 tax years. And so, I'm really glad that that's how things are going to shift in the future. All right. Let's move on to number three and we will have time for questions afterwards. So I'm going to just move right along. If you have questions coming up, pop them in the chat box, Chandler?
Chandler: Yep. Pop them in the chat and then I'll collect them and we can answer them at the end.
Margit: That sounds good 'cause sometimes as we're moving along, you're thinking yourself, oh my God. I have a question right now. I can't hold it. So don't. Just go ahead and put it right in the chat box. Number three. What else can we use 990 data for? Quite simply we can find out who is on the board of directors of every foundation. This has to be reported. I'm going to use this example of our local foundation called Farash.
And you can see that not only do we see who is on the board of directors, but we also see if they're paid or not. And it isn't unusual for foundation staff to be paid. I do find that a lot of foundation staff are not paid, but sometimes the bigger the foundation, the more likely they are paying their board of directors.
One thing they also do is where it says compensation, it may not mean they are being compensated this amount of money directly. So the reason this becomes interesting is I was director, executive director, of a pretty big foundation in New York. And we gave out millions of dollars each year. And the board of directors was not paid cash directly, but they received a certain amount of money that they could allocate to charities of their choice.
So it was in a way, a reward for them for volunteering their time to be on the board of directors. And their compensation was essentially the ability to give unrestricted grants to charities that they strongly believe in. Why is this important? Well, because one way you can look at this IRS 990 data is you can see who is on the board first and foremost, to see if there's anybody you know on this board.
And if not, you can share this list. You can copy paste it. You can share the Instrumentl link, share it with your board of directors and see if anybody on there, on your board of directors, knows somebody on the foundation's board of directors. Why? Because when we talk about contact with funders, the best introduction is one where there's already some familiarity.
So it's not always possible. In fact, a lot of times it isn't, especially if it's not a foundation right in your community, but it's always worth a try to see if there's that connection. The other reason this is so important is if you look at the compensation line items, I don't know for sure and there may be a way to see this, but I don't know for sure if people are being paid 20 to 30,000 to be on this board, or if that is their discretionary funding that they can use to issue to non-profits. And if so, then having a connection with one person on that board is even more important because, and I've seen this happen many times, they may say, well, we'd love to give you a $10,000 grant and just submit a letter. Okay. As opposed to saying, please complete the online lengthy application form that is on the foundation's website.
And then we will put you in with hundreds of other applicants in a competitive process where we decide who gets funded, which as you know, is usually how things go. But that's why I wanted to share a board of directors with you is maybe there's a potential for discretionary funding as it's often called.
To highlight some tips for working with board of directors of foundations, you can use this 990 data to again, ask your board of directors to introduce you to anybody on the foundation's board of directors. If that's not a possibility, you can research people on the board on social media and connect with them.
So when you send that, I hope you're all on LinkedIn or at least maybe you're following some of these foundations on Facebook right now, but you will want to connect with them. And LinkedIn always gives you the option of attaching a little message. Always do that because it's more helpful if somebody wants to connect with you, you send them a message of how you know them or how you found them or why you'd like to connect rather than just a blanket invitation.
It's just a little more personal. And third, you can connect, you can follow their web page, LinkedIn has a way you can follow foundations online. Facebook similar, and that further allows you another way to start to engage with people at foundations. So those are some quick tips I want to share in the time that we have for this.
All right. We are moving along. I see there are still people joining so welcome as you come in. Welcome very much. I'm glad you're here with us. I do want to remind everybody here that you will be able to see the recording of this webinar. Chandler is going to email you a link to the recording probably in a day or so, or maybe even today, maybe even today, to this web recording.
We are on number four, who gets funded and where? Here's another great usage of the IRS 990 tax return. When a private foundation has to submit one of these, and again, I had to work with accountants when I was executive director of a private foundation, and we had to gather all of the people, all the nonprofits to whom we gave grant funding and give those to our accountant.
And this all has to be recorded in the IRS 990, which again is public information. So I'm going to use the same example I've been using much of this webinar, the Farash Foundation located in Rochester, New York. There is a very long list of organizations that receive funding from them each year. Here are the first three, these are an alphabetical order, of course.
Alzheimer's Association, American Jewish Distribution Committee, American Red Cross, et cetera. And so, I can look at this and see exactly who was funded and how much. So already from these first three entries, there were grants that ranged from $5,000 to $150,000. Now, if I want to see the rest of the list, I can go through all that.
But one thing I like, another thing I like, about having an Instrumentl subscription is I don't have to do this myself. I really appreciate that. When I am trying to work as efficiently as possible, when I'm trying to work for my clients as efficiently as possible, I really can't afford to spend any extra time.
So for me, I use this feature a lot in Instrumentl. One thing I like about it is it tells you who they funded, how much. It also gives you links. They're in purple here where you can just click on the organization. So let's look at the Alzheimer's Association. When I'm an Instrumentl, I could click on Alzheimer's Association and guess what I would find? I would find everybody who funded the Alzheimer's Association. So now I can do something called cross-referencing. I can look at everybody at the Farash Foundation funded. It's great information. Then I can click on the Alzheimer's Association and see, okay, they got $5,000 from the Farash Foundation, but guess what? They also received $20,000 from the Pew Charitable Trust Foundation.
I'm making this up or a whole bunch of other foundations. And so the way cross-referencing works is now I say, okay, our organization is really similar to what the Alzheimer's Association does. Let's say we are developing a program for seniors with Alzheimer's at our nursing home, and we need funding.
We could say, well, if this funder is interested in funding the Alzheimer's Association, they might just as well be interested in funding us as well. Let's do some more research into that funder and see if we are a good fit. What this does, is it minimizes your time in finding the best funders. It also makes the funder's job easier.
Now, this may sound funny because you may be thinking, well, what's easier than deciding who to fund and writing checks. And I found it was surprisingly difficult because there are always more projects that come in that you can fund in any given year. You know those dreadful letters. You've all seen them.
I certainly have that say you had a great project, but we don't have enough money to fund you. I'm paraphrasing. So what I like about this is when you contact funders, and you're a great fit with them, you are actually making their job easier in terms of determining who they need and should fund in any given year.
So this is one of my favorite features of Instrumentl and it's pretty new within the last 12 months, which is truly awesome. Chandler, is there anything else you want to add about this or have I covered it? Am I speaking too much for your organization? I just want to talk about how I use it because it may help other people use it as well.
Chandler: Yeah. I mean, I think you're doing a wonderful job. You should steal my job, but just the other announcement that I have is that we just launched our Standard Plan. And so with that, we're able to dive into some extra features looking at these cross-referencing, we're able to really nail that down based on location using those Standard features. So just one other option in case you want to take it to that next level.
Margit: And I know you guys have a lot of demos on just the regular Instrumentl plan and the Standard Plan. I'm going to confess. I do not have the Standard Plan. I have the regular one. And for me, I'm finding a ton of what I need in this one.
But it's worth looking into what the Standard Plan offers. And I may be doing that as well. For those of you who just want to use your 990s, absolutely. Because as we look back here, look, all the information is there. It's all there. And essentially Instrumentl is getting it from the 990.
The difference is I like the additional features that save me some time, like clicking on Alzheimer's Association right away seeing who funds them and having this all in one place. So let's move on to the fifth thing, the fifth way that you can use IRS 990 data to get your dream grant. The fifth thing is how much. We touched upon this in number four, but one big question that I often get from people who take my All About Grant Writing course are people that I'm helping and consulting with directly is they'll say, okay, Margit, we followed your instructions.
We've got a list of 20 funders that we want to approach. We're going to come up with a strategy, but now we need to know how much money do we request. We don't want to ask for too much and be way out of the ballpark, but we don't want to minimize our own needs and ask for too little. So again, I use 990 data to determine what's there.
I personally use Instrumentl because I subscribe to it. I like to see what the median, the average is, and what's most common. I use this feature a lot. This is in the regular Instrumentl, not the Standard Plan that Chandler just mentioned, but it's a great feature. It gives you a range. If you like bar graphs, which I do, I'm a very visual person.
I can see that for any given grant, I would be very much in the ballpark if I asked for it between 21 and 50,000, I could even stretch it from 50 to a 100,000, especially if I've had a great conversation with somebody from this foundation. And they said, boy, we love what you're doing. Why don't you ask for something on the higher end or maybe they even give you an exact amount or a range?
I would never do a first-time ask that goes over 100,000, unless I was encouraged just by looking at this graph. And I certainly wouldn't ask for under 20K 'cause I feel like I would be a little too low on the ask at that point. Knowing full well that so many foundations, when they fund you, sometimes do not fund you the full amount. Yes, it is frustrating, but it does happen. I'll just be honest, for me, I like to go a little bit on the higher side. I like to kind of push that envelope a little bit, not to where it's out of the ballpark, but just a little on the higher end.
All right. So that's the how much part? Our five things, I'm going to review with you real quick. We covered them for first of all, we can use the IRS 990 data to obtain contact information of staff, addresses, phone numbers, websites. Secondly, we can use the information to determine the total assets of a foundation, and that is important because of the 5% rule. They have to give out these 5% of the assets from the prior year and the great news at this very day, and we all need some good news, right? The great news today is that foundation assets did remarkably well in 2021 and in 2020. So I know for a fact that private foundations have more money that they need to distribute now than they did in 2019 and prior. So this is the year. If you're new to this, or if you're trying to find more time to pursue grants, 2022 is a fantastic year to do it.
Absolutely. And so I would offer you, well, we'll talk more about that, but the third, number three board, you can get your board information. And we talk a lot about how to use that information and we linked it to discretionary grants as well. Four, you can find out who is getting funded and where. And fifth, you can find out how much you should be asking for funding.
I would say that's an awful lot of data that comes from a public document like the IRS 990. Instrumentl, I talked about throughout, Chandler, towards the end of today's webinar, he's going to tell you a couple more things, but for me in a nutshell, I just find it saves me a lot of time. I like having all this stuff at my fingertips.
I like that they update deadlines for me, myself, and the people who work with me, my colleagues, we use this to actually track deadlines and make sure that we're following up with funders as well. So three learning takeaways from today, before we jump into a couple of bonuses for you, and Q&A, three learning takeaways. First and foremost, I think it's pretty clear now that these IRS 990s are wonderful for helping you find some really vital information on funders.
Secondly, Instrumentl will save you time in your grant research. Thank you. It has saved me a ton of time. It has really changed how I do my work. I used to, I would still charge my client the same amount of money, but I would have to spend days and days doing this. And I feel like I'm far more accurate now, which is wonderful.
I want you to be able to save time doing this grant research. And the third big takeaway 2022 is the year to get grants. Keep in mind the 5% rule. It is absolutely the year to do it. Many of you wear multiple hats. You have to plan fundraising events. You have to work with individual donors, major gifts. Maybe you're doing annual appeal letters as well. You have so many things on your plate and you're thinking to yourself, well, how am I going to find time to write grants as well? Good question. It's really hard to make chunks of time to devote to this, but all I can tell you is it will pay off especially this year. We can't know given world events, we can't know how well the stocks are going to perform and how people will finish out 2022. But we do know today that 2022 is a great year for this.
One thing I want to offer you is as a next step, you learned about some free resources, you learned about Instrumentl and the next step if you need help with grant writing, if you want a step-by-step process that goes into everything from planning your project to finding the best funders for your work to actually writing each section of a grant proposal, whether it's the need statement, the evaluation section, the outcomes, the logic model, that's all included in the course.
As is a lot of information about how to develop your grant project budgets. This is where a lot of people get stuck and we have some significant information on there for this. So you can check out the course. It's at allaboutgrantwriting.com. It'll tell you exactly what's included, eight modules. It will help you raise, you'll have the skills to raise at least $100,000 or more.
One of my clients in six months raised $200,000. This was just while she was taking the course. It'll help you save time so you can find only the best grants. And I have a unique seven-day plan to help you get the grant proposal done. So the way I designed the course is so that you don't have to sit there and watch webinars and hours and hours of course modules, you are actually developing your grant proposals as you take the course. This is what people love about it. I see Bob is here with us today. Bob needs to get a gold star for his work because I think he completed this course quicker than anyone I've ever seen.
And so, and he's been in touch with me, which I'm really excited about. So I know that they are on their way to getting grants out the door. Also, the neat thing about this course is that you don't have it for 30 days or 90 days. It's forever, because I know when I buy a course, I want to be able to refer back to things and maybe watch a particular lesson again. I don't want to have to find a way to learn all this in 30 days, if something suddenly comes up and I don't have the time to finish it. And I bought a course. I bought a course for $1,000 and it took me three months to even start it. But once I did, I was on fire. I was just going right through it.
Today I'm going to offer you a special coupon code. I want you to save $100 since you're here today with us and Instrumentl. When you go into allaboutgrantwriting.com, learn about what's involved in this self-paced online course, type in GRANTS100 and you'll automatically get the discount.
And I will leave that discount up until next week till March 23rd, a week from today. So make sure you use it. And here's my information. If you have questions about the course or anything I covered today in the webinar. You can reach at [email protected] You can check out my Grants For Good website and of course, get to the All About Grant Writing course.
Lastly, if you are considering Instrumentl, if you want to do a two-week free trial, that's how I got started. I'm big into testing things out. I did my two-week free trial and ultimately bought it. But here's the coupon code where you can get $50 off for your first month or even your year, if you choose to pay it that way of Instrumentl as well.
There's some good freebies for you. I know we covered some of this kind of quickly, but I want to have enough time for Chandler to pop in and also to address your questions and answers. On to you, Chandler.
Chandler: Awesome. Thank you so much, Margit. Well, first of all, I'm going to pop in the chat, our feedback form. And this will help you if you want to fill that out, qualify for raffle, things like that. We have a few questions that I want to make sure that we get to before I go into anything further. We have two questions from Jill Barry. The first one is what will foundations spend money on in 2022? She suggests financial advisors and blank. So what would you say?
Margit: Financial advisors, that may have been a little confusing. I mentioned it. There's a tiny percent of that 5% distribution rule that they can spend on financial advisors. I don't have the number handy right now, but it's very miniscule.
Most of it has to go to charitable organizations. So to answer your question, and this is a great one. Here's the trend I have seen is I've seen that because of COVID, because of the pandemic, more foundations are giving money for pandemic relief, less so in 2022 than they did in the last two years, for obvious reasons because most people have their PPE equipment now they are more prepared, but I'm still seeing that there's more opportunity this year to get general operating funding. Now, I don't want to raise your hopes up too much because it's still not the easiest thing to get, but I feel like you can make a stronger case now than ever before for general operating funding because you have undergone most likely some pretty severe financial hardship in the last couple of years due to the pandemic.
And that general operating is extremely necessary to keep your organization where it is now providing the valuable services you're providing now. And it may also be essential to helping you reach new audiences or to grow your non-profit if that is in fact, within your mission. I think there's a little bit more opportunity to get those kinds of funds.
Secondly, I see a lot of trends that started in 2020 that really focus on equity. So that focus on racial equity, that focus on lifting up people out of poverty so that economics is more equitably distributed. So if you are an organization that is helping people that are disadvantaged in some way, and I'm going to say most of you are because most of the people I work with, the clients, they are working with this population.
There is funding out there for you. So I would say those are the two biggest trends right now. I would welcome anyone in the chat box if they want to chime in on that, but that's really what I've been seeing. Great question. Great question. What is another one that you saw in our chat box?
Chandler: Yeah. So Jill also asked, are there any foundations that the IRS won't release 990 data?
Margit: All private foundations, and private is kind of a misnomer, but it's because they started it with private funding, like a family foundation. They all have IRS 990 data that's public. Here's what gets trickier is corporate foundations. If a corporate foundation has a charitable trust arm, like for example, one of our local banks [indistinct] charitable trust. I can find foundation information there about how much they give out in grants.
What I cannot find, though, is if M and T as a corporation gave out money to nonprofits for let's say, a special event, or they sponsored a big 5k race or walk or something like that, that is not public. So that's something that you may not find. That would be money that comes directly out of a corporation's marketing department, most likely for a specific purpose, but for my purposes, it's very helpful to know what the foundation arm gives out.
Would you agree with that, Chandler? Do you have any additional experience you want to share on that?
Chandler: Yeah, I think you've pretty much covered that, hit the nail on the head there. I don't think I have really anything to add. Sometimes there might be some legal restrictions, but most of the time, it's going to be pretty straightforward with who's reporting and who's not. I do have some questions flowing in and I want to make sure that we have some time to get to them.
So this next question has to do with page 10 in the 990s.
Margit: I was just looking at that, too. Barbara says, I didn't hear you speak about the bottom of page 10 in 990s. Did you? I find it helpful at times. Barbara, if you don't mind, can you pop in the chat, what you're referring to more specifically?
Because page 10 could be very different depending on which funder you're looking at and the size of the foundation. So I would love to know a little bit more before we tackle that question. Thank you.
Chandler: Awesome. Well, while she's doing that, Richard O'Hara asks, is there any hope when you read that a foundation does not consider unsolicited proposals or is that pretty much a closed door?
Margit: Great question, Richard. Thank you for asking that. It's definitely a question that I'm sure other people have on this call and webinar right now. Yes, there is hope, but not as much as if they are one that accepts proposals freely. However, I would not negate that. So if somebody does not accept unsolicited proposals, I would still do the same thing I mentioned here.
I would look at who they have funded, how much they funded, what geographic regions they funded. I would get all that data from the 990 or from Instrumentl or both. I would look at what their assets are. I would look at the contact information and most importantly, for unsolicited proposals, I would look at who's on the board because that is going to be the way that you make a connection and you become one of their...
How do I put this? Preferred non-profits that they already fund. I think it's always worth a try, but the caveat is that for this it's more difficult because you do need to make the connection. I can tell you there's a ton of grant proposals we work on with our clients that we receive, even though we've never reached out to anybody, mainly because we can.
Because maybe there is no contact person. Maybe they don't have a website. And we've still gotten the grant. So reaching out to a person is important. I think it's extremely important, but sometimes you cannot and you can still get funding, but with unsolicited proposals, absolutely. You need to do that.
And, oh, this is wonderful. Okay, Barbara, thank you. This goes right into your question. You said the bottom of page 10 often indicates if a funder does not accept unsolicited applications, it's one of those check boxes. So I'm so glad you mentioned this one. I completely forgot about that. And some funders use it as a way of providing contact method or a person and even some brief guidelines.
So thanks Barbara for contributing to that. Yeah, definitely look into that. Good. I'm glad I was able to answer your question, Richard. Thanks for asking.
Chandler: We have one more question from Eve and they ask, are there any recommendations that you have for seeking out grants specifically for startups?
Margit: Yeah, I do. I would say move on seeking grants the same way a nonprofit would do that's been in business for five or 10 or 20 years. Do the same searching for grant opportunities, your only extra challenge. And I work a lot with startups. Your only additional challenge is going to be being known in your community.
So. Funders, they're people, too, right? Just like us. We like to contribute money to organizations we know, that we like, that we trust. You need to become one of those organizations that people know about, that they like, that they believe in, that they trust. And that can take some time. And so to build that kind of trust and credibility in your community and in the grant funding world, you may want to connect with more of the board members on the foundation.
You may want to be more prominent on social media. You may want to connect with more people on social media. You may have to set up some initial meetings and phone calls not to ask for funding, but just to spend five or 10 minutes talking about the importance of the work you do. So, in other words, in a nutshell, you may have to do more community outreach to be known and funders talk with each other all the time.
Once you start to get that first grant, that second grant, it becomes more of a high speed train where those other grants become easier to obtain as you develop that. So I love that question. I love talking about this topic. That's the whole reason I started a grant writing course because you can access all this.
Chandler, I want to -- I feel like a game show host. Chandler, tell us what our audience participants can win. But I do like the fact that Instrumentl has all these little perks and giveaways. Let's jump into that real quick, too.
Chandler: Absolutely. So all you have to do is complete any one of the following actions.
Completing the webinar feedback form, which I'll pop in the chat again real quick, tweeting or posting on Facebook, posting on LinkedIn sharing what you've learned today, and then when you do so, just tag, Grants For Good and Instrumentl and that will get you some extra entries into a raffle for that one month Instrumentl subscription or 50% off of Margit's course.
Margit: And we'll announce the winners on Friday.
Margit: Friday. If you get an email this Friday, it's you. In the meanwhile, though, you can still use the $100 coupon GRANTS100 to purchase the course. If for some reason you are pulled as the winner, then I will refund you the money.
Then you will be the one that gets the 50%. So it's still okay. If you want to purchase the course now, go for it. I don't offer the discounts on a regular basis, so definitely take advantage of it as if this is something that will help you and your organization.
Chandler: We have one final question. And since we have about three minutes left, Margit, I'm going to leave it up to you, but do you think we can handle one more question?
Margit: It's part of a webinar, I think.
Chandler: Perfect. Well, we have a question from Nan Schanbach er and she asks, they ask, how do we use granting trends when those trends are not involved in our programs? Then we might need a little more clarification on what you mean by those granting trends.
Margit: I'm going to let, Nan, go ahead and type that in the chat box, but I'm going to assume that maybe you're talking about the trends I mentioned earlier about a trend towards a little bit more general operating funding. I say a little bit, but a little it's hopefully good and also trends towards increasing equity, in particular racial equity, in our communities. If you are not working in that kind of area, let's just say you're an arts and cultural organization.
What do you do? I work with numerous arts and cultural organizations, youth theater groups, big arts festivals, the works, what the arts actually did the, well, it actually did become a bit of a priority during COVID, getting the arts to open up especially in New York state and it may have in your state as well, but it is often one of the last things to get funded.
Or for example, there was an Institute for science I think that was here, again, it doesn't always receive top billing when there are people going hungry and losing their jobs. Right. I would say the key to this is just to be extremely focused in your grant research because there still are funders out there that solely are focused on stem, science, technology, engineering, math, or that are solely focused on arts and culture in our communities.
I'm just using these as examples. I would say your work in determining the best fit funders becomes even more significant. On the other hand, there is still money available for those types of things. I'm hoping that, the sector that you're in, you can do the research with the 990 and/or Instrumentl and find the best fit funders for you.
And then use some of the tips that I shared in this webinar as well. See trends. Yeah. Okay, good. So I assumed correctly with Nan's question. Good. And you're looking for professional development for STEM educators. Perfect. Perfect. Yeah, I know, you look at something like the American Honda Foundation, they have focused on STEM for ages and they still are, and there are a lot of others, too. So I would do your funding search specifically with STEM in mind, STEM education, teacher training. So yeah, it's out there. Great work.
Chandler: Awesome. Well, that does lead us to the top of the hour. So before we log off, I want to leave one last thing in the chat, and this is our upcoming grant writing virtual summits.
It's going to be a two-day events where we have over six hours of educational content. We're going to be giving away free prizes, free resources. It's really going to be a wonderful event. So we hope to see you there. And I just included a link to the registration form in the chat. So if you're interested to go ahead and click on that, that will be March 29th and 30th.
And other than that, I just want to go ahead and thank again, Margit, for the wonderful presentation today and thank everybody for attending. I hope you got as much out of this as I did. I thought it was extremely wonderful.
Margit: Great. Thank you, everyone, for being here. I look forward to staying in touch with you.
Chandler: Awesome. Goodbye, everybody. Thank you.
Margit: Bye bye.