Internet research on the topic reveals that Bradley Smith, the President of Foundation Center, wrote about this topic in 2011 in a blog post entitled “Don’t Call us, We’ll Call You”. In this piece, he addresses some of the reasons why non profit foundation grants state that they do not accept unsolicited proposals – the two principal reasons he cites are – one, a desire by funders to limit the volume of requests they are receiving, and two, a desire to proactively choose charities to fulfill their strategic goals. Unfortunately, he did not examine how pervasive the issue is with foundations, and we found no other credible research on the matter. So as such, we decided to do our own.

This is what we learned:

19,988 foundations indicate that they do not accept unsolicited proposals.

Of these, 4,608 of these foundations – 23% – provided no grants to new recipients over the period analyzed. But 15,380 of these foundations – 77% – in actual fact did provide grants to multiple new recipients over the period analyzed.
So, the good news is that the majority of funders that state they are not soliciting new proposals are, in fact, funding new recipients.
There are two takeaway lessons from this.

First; don’t be too quick to write off a foundation that states that they are not soliciting proposals –FoundationSearch provides detailed charts in each foundation profile indicating new vs repeat recipients by year. A review of these FoundationSearch charts offers detailed insight into grant funding provided to new recipients. These funding trends can be viewed by Value of Grants, Number of Grants, and Number of Recipients.

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