By communicating openly, you can build good relationships with potential partners from the start—and quickly help others move on to other funders.

What to include

In just a page or two, touch on each of the following:

Brief history of the foundation
Help grantseekers understand what motivates you, whether it’s a donor’s legacy, roots in a community, or another event or experience. What aspects of the foundation’s history shape its interests today?

Program interests
If not defined in your mission, what are your broad interest areas (e.g., education, social justice)? Have you identified a niche within those areas? Talk with community leaders, nonprofits, or your local community foundation to identify unmet needs and ways your foundation can add value.

Geographic focus
If a geographic focus is not outlined in your mission, now is the time to consider this important point. Foundations with a narrow focus may find geographic limitations to be unnecessary, but others that intend to focus on a community or region should be specific about that. Being specific will go a long way toward reducing the number of ineligible grant proposals.

Grant restrictions
This is the place to mention who and what you do not fund.

Grant types
Foundations often tend toward one or two grant types, awarding other types as circumstances warrant. For example, if you’re interested in shoring up young organizations in your community, you might offer a series of general operating support grants to stabilize those organizations. If you’re interested in expanding affordable housing, you might consider loans, loan guarantees, or another form of program related investment (PRI).

Grant sizes
Foundations give grants of all sizes, from small to large. Consider how grant size fits into your overall grantmaking strategy.

How to apply
Foundations vary in the amount of information they require from grant applicants—some as little as a letter or e-mail. Because the law establishes few requirements for simple grants—other than knowing a grantee’s tax status—your foundation has a great deal of flexibility in deciding what to require. Before assuming more documentation leads to better grants, consider asking for only what you need to determine if a grant fits your foundation’s strategy. Whatever you request, be specific, even down to a page limit.

Contact person
Even after grantseekers read your guidelines, they may have questions. You might welcome e-mails or phone calls to offer advice. Some small foundations even organize events that help grantseekers learn about the foundation’s people, interests, and how to apply for funding.

Read the full article about creating grant guidelines at Exponent Philanthropy.