Top Fund Development Prospecting Tips

Fund Development is in the number one concerns faced by non-profit organizations in Calgary. In the non-profit sector employees tend to wear many hats, the CEO could be doing the finances, and volunteer managers can be doing the work of fund developers or vice versa. Finding sources of funding, which is prospecting, is the first step in fighting this battle. 


Make a template before you even start your research. This template should contain all the categories of information you are looking for.You should be looking for funder type. When researching donors you want to separate funder type into three different categories: Corporation, Foundation and Individual.

  • Who is the organization’s decision maker? The decision maker is not always the easiest to find. Usually it is not just one decision maker but one or more paid staff that makes recommendations to committees and boards. There is no employee with the “decision maker” title, but titles like Community Investment Manager, Grant Officer, and Donation Officer are usually a safe bet. Executive/Board/Trustee List. It is a good idea to list the names and titles of everyone on the funder’s board, especially if it is a foundation. In terms of foundations the strongest proposals generally go before the board to be approved.
  • What is the funder’s giving history?  Do they have a history of giving? How long has the organization been giving? What is their average grant? What types of organizations do they fund? Do they or have they funded an organization you are partnered with or have a good history with? Have they funded an organization or program similar to yours in the past? These are all important questions for your template.
  • What are the organization’s community investment goals? Most organizations will list what their areas of funding interest are right on their webpage. If you’re lucky they will even list what they do not fund. Looking at community investment goals in tandem with their giving history will give you a realistic idea of whether or not they are a good fit.
  • On their websites, a lot of funders will communicate their suggested process. This is how to best pitch your granting proposal. If you can find the funders suggested process, it is HIGHLY suggested to copy it all down and use that process.
  • Along with the suggested process, contact info is, for obvious reasons, important. Most organizations will have their preferred method of contact with their suggested process.
  • Finally, some basic information on what the funder does in general is important to have in your back pocket as well. If nothing else, it is a good ice breaker when meeting a funder.

Research Tools

If you are looking for new sources of funding but don’t know where to start you can always begin with Google. Wading into the murky waters of Google can be a little daunting with the sheer amount of information that you have to dig through. Narrow your search with keywords like: Calgary, Funding, Foundation, Community Investment, etc.

Once you have exhausted Google (or Google has exhausted you,) try Canadian News Stand. You can search Canadian News Stand through the Calgary Public Library, provided you have the $12 membership. Canadian News Stand is a search engine that “offers unparalleled access to the full text of nearly 300 newspapers from Canada’s leading publishers.”  Try similar keywords with Canadian News Stand as you would with Google, as a lot of philanthropic companies, or funders are profiled in local newspapers.

Once you have recognized the funders you would like to research, there a couple of free avenues you can use to look them up. Google (or other search engines) are a good tool to look up board members or decision makers, as is social media; though with social media privacy settings it has become much more difficult to get any information.

Don’t forget to look for their websites. A lot of foundations and companies have websites, if they have a website, it usually contains a lot of good information with their contact info and investment goals.

Linkedin is a really good tool for searching decision makers; it also has a nifty relationship tool, where you can see if you are connected to anyone they are. While you can research decently with a free Linkedin account, an upgrade to BusinessPlus for $41/month can really help.

There are some free websites that will allow you to research foundations themselves like: and PFC can be very useful.

The free sites are not quite as in-depth and informative as the pay sites. Pay sites like and are incredibly helpful, but are on the expensive side.

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