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Authored Articles


Funder Readiness

Some nonprofits lament that they are unfairly hearing from funders that they are not good enough to be worthy of funding. They contend that it should be their role to serve the community and unquestionably receive dollars that are simply deserved. While this would be ideal -- and is some of what is being explored in conversations about Trust-Based Philanthropy -- it is unfortunately unrealistic to assume that we will ever move towards funds with no application or reporting. While this may be frustrating, it is important not to confuse funder readiness with funder worthiness

There are countless organizations that are funder-worthy. And funders, whether individuals or foundations, even those with a lot of money, still have to make decisions about where they disburse that wealth. So being worthy, for better or worse, is the bare minimum your organization needs to be. By nature of your taking time to even read this article, one would assume that your organization has a compelling mission, well-received programs, secured stakeholder buy-in, is making an impact, and therefore is “worthy.”  

But to be funder-ready you need to be able to demonstrate:


  • A clearly defined purpose  

  • Programs in support of that purpose 

  • A diverse array of funding sources 

  • The capacity to execute and grow programs 

  • Financial responsibility and solvency 

Institutional funding application processes are designed to confirm you have all these things before they make a grant so the biggest step towards funder readiness is gathering documents and materials to verify the attributes noted above. This typically includes: 

  • Detailed narrative about your mission and history 

  • Clear and concise descriptions of who you serve and how you serve them 

  • Specific financial details that reflect fiscal health, responsible budgeting, calculated risk, and support from a variety of stakeholders 

  • A compelling case for why funding is needed and the impact it will have 

  • How you evaluate the services you provide and how you measure their impact 

  • An illustration and description of the impact you already have had 

  • Ability to demonstrate sustainability 

All of the above can take many different forms and should be filled with a combination of candor, passion, and facts about how you are uniquely working to make the world a better place.  

To examine your readiness and how you can improve your opportunities for funding, contact us at Sobel Bixel: Consulting for Nonprofits.


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