The Slushpile Syndrome

There are over 80,000 foundations in the U.S. today.  Both their number and their accessibility have changed significantly over the past several decades. Thanks to the internet it is easier than ever to identify funders and available grants: online access allows easy searching of  databases and automatic alerts keep grant seekers informed on a nearly real-time basis.

These changes are good news and bad news. Since foundations and grant opportunities are so much easier to find many funders are deluged with proposals. The increase in quantity has not been matched by increasing quality of proposals. As a result what has increased is a slushpile of proposals that have no chance of winning a funding award. Unfortunately another result has been a reluctance on the part of some funders to continue to accept unsolicited proposals.

This information is by no means meant to discourage you. Since the devastating economic collapse in 2008 the market has gone on to reach new highs. The result has helped grant seekers in two ways: (1) newly minted millionaires in the tech field have been motivated to start new foundations which means new opportunities for funding and (2) an IRS rule that requires foundations to give out 5% of the greater of their assets or their interest income each year means that there is an ongoing increase in the amount of money awarded annually.

Don’t get lost in a slushpile of applications  disqualified early because due to an obvious mismatch for the funder. Take the time to research each funder, understand their vision, goals and preferences and determine whether your proposal is in line with the funder’s previous awards.