3 Things to Ask On Your Next Foundation Call

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You’ve done your research, written a killer letter of inquiry, and put in the hours with follow-up emails and calls (and more emails and more calls). Finally, you hear back and it’s good news! A program officer from the foundation has reached out and she wants to talk about submitting a proposal.

Here are 3 questions you should be prepared to ask in that call or meeting:

  1. What are the foundation’s priorities in the coming year?

The foundation is likely interested in your work, or they wouldn’t have reached out, but what exactly are their funding priorities in the coming year? Do they have a passion for addressing homelessness in the Northeast? Is this the year they are putting a ton of money into education policy? Make sure you know where they’re headed so that you can tailor your request to their specific priorities (or save everybody some time if it’s not a good fit).

2. What amount do you recommend?

If they have, in fact, invited you to submit a proposal, ask them what amount they are thinking. You might even say “We were thinking X, does that sound right to you?” If you go in with a number in mind, be prepared to share why you chose it (i.e., “This amount will get us halfway to our goal” or “‘This amount will pay for a year of after school tutoring for five students”).

NOTE: Foundation’s 990s are publicly available, so look at what amounts they’ve given to similar organizations or projects in the past and make sure the number you suggest is in line with their giving history.

3. Can I submit a draft to you ahead of time?

Many times, the program officer you are talking to is your advocate within the foundation. As such, she feels a sense of ownership over your success. Ask the program officer if she would like to review a proposal draft ahead of time and provide feedback before you submit a final version.

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