Before you can write effective proposals to foundations, you need to gather information about your organization and its goals.
This information will enable you to present your organization, its vision, and its work to potential donors — and to help funders understand how public radio can help them achieve their own goals.
Some of the following questions are easily answered. Others may require some digging in files or annual reports. When it comes to questions about your organization’s future, your most important resources are your senior and program staff. Even if you have been at your station for many years, it is very useful periodically to schedule time to talk to your senior staff one-on-one about your organization’s top priorities and goals.
As you answer these questions, gather the information in one place. It will be essential for virtually every foundation proposal you write.
- When was our organization founded and by whom?
- Why was our station founded? What was the need that our founders were trying to address and the dream they were trying to achieve?
- How is our station governed? Do we have non-board organizations of friends/advisors and what do they do?
- What is our service region?
- How many listeners do we serve? How can they be described? Are there any constituencies that we serve in particular (e.g., Latinos, Native Americans, youth, etc.)?
- How many members do we have?
- How many paid staff do we have?
- How many non-board volunteers do we have? What do they do?
- How is our station perceived within the community and among our peers?
- Do we offer educational/training opportunities to volunteers (e.g., experience as volunteer programmers, technicians, internships, etc.)?
- If we are associated with a university, do our staff teach courses and/or offer other opportunities to students?
- Does our station work or partner with other groups/organizations in the community? If so, in what ways?
- How does our station fit into the media landscape in our region? Do any other media outlets in our area provide similar or competing services? Specifically, how do we provide a service that other media outlets do not?
Achievements, Priorities and Plans
- What are the biggest milestones or successes that our station has achieved?
- What were our most important accomplishments during the past year?
- What are the biggest challenges that we have faced in the past 3-5 years and how did we deal with them?
- What are the biggest challenges that we expect to face in the next 3-5 years and how are we planning to address them?
- What, overall, does our station want to achieve? How, other than our mission statement, can this be described?
- What are our top 3-5 goals for the next five years? See Understand Your Project for questions to ask about project implementation.
- What 3-5 programs or attributes make our station “indispensable” to the community it serves?