Foundation Prospecting

Dear Kim,

I am trying to fund raise for several projects in Guatemala, mostly related to children and women. I am having trouble finding foundations that fund projects in Latin America. Can you suggest a way to identify such foundations?

Thanks,
—Looking North and South

Dear Looking,

As you may know, my area of expertise is in helping nonprofits build a broad base of individual donors to support their work. Thus, I am not the best person to ask for help getting foundation grants. However, here are some suggestions:

1. Visit the Foundation Center, which is a national resource center for nonprofits seeking information on foundation and corporate funding sources. The Foundation Center has Cooperating Collections around the country, and you can find the one closest to you by calling their main office in New York at 212-620-4230 or going to their web site at http://www.fdncenter.org .

2. Talk to people who work in organizations or projects that are similar to the ones you’re seeking funding for to find out whether they receive foundation funding and if so, from whom? Fundraising, whether from individuals or institutions, is all about building relationships and getting to know people who can directly support your work, or who can point you in a direction you might not have thought of.

3. One foundation that funds programs for women and girls internationally is the Global Fund for Women. They may also be able to direct you to other funding sources. They’re located in Palo Alto, CA, and can be reached at 650-853-8305 or http://www.globalfundforwomen.org .

4. Many projects overseas get support from various governmental agencies in the US, Canada and Europe. The European governments tend to be far more supportive of projects like yours. I don’t have any contact information, but again, talk to people you know who are working in Central America to find out what kinds of support they are getting from outside government agencies.

In addition to pursuing leads on foundation funding, I would also recommend starting an individual donor program. This might include developing a membership base within the community you’re working with in Guatemala, as well as asking people you know (and people they know) in the US to contribute. Individuals are more likely than foundations to give repeated gifts over many years, and creating a financial base from the community you’re working with in Guatemala is also a way to build ownership and power within that community.

Best of luck in getting the financial support you need.
—Kim