Falling Forward: Grantseeking Questions for Autumn 2013


Summer is (almost) over and I am dusting the sand of my shoes and thinking about this autumn’s grantseeking.  Here are the questions foremost in my mind.

  1. Will foundation giving see an uptick in the last quarter of the year?  The conventional wisdom is that grantmakers will benchmark their allocations against an 18-month trailing average.  With some economic recovery over the past year (felt in some places more than others) will there be a rising tide to lift our boats?
  2. Will foundations “play it safe” and keep giving level?  I have heard several foundation leaders say that the big lesson from the Great Recession is to work contrary to #1 above and keep giving closer to the 5% minimum and use the good times to rebuild assets.  Now, we know the old axiom “if you know one grantmaker, you know one grantmaker” is true — everyone has their own approach.   The trends may be telling us that grantors may still be in a conservative mood when it comes to giving.
  3. Are more foundations beginning to implement “cycling”?  I myself see more foundations implementing cycles of giving — e.g. two years on, one year off.  This means that we may find ourselves working to replace grants, leaving our overall results fairly steady over last year.
  4. Will there be new “hot buttons” emerging in your industry sector?  For example, in the field of youth education and development, I saw more giving for college access and retention programming in Spring 2013 and I expect this may be a trend that will affect fundraising for many of my youth-serving clients this fall.  What are the trends in your sector?
  5. Will corporate philanthropy continue to flourish?  The irony of our recession is the rise of corporate giving (with the caveat that many corporations increase donations of products or services).   I myself am quite excited by some of the prospects for increased support and involvement with nonprofits and plan to follow this trend in the fall, particularly as we try to engage donors and prospects now for 2014 gift/volunteer allocations.

I hope the summer has refreshed and rejuvenated you, dear reader.  What is on your mind as we turn the corner into what I hope will be a season of promise?


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