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Get your donor research right with our FUNCAP tool

In the vast realm of donor funding, with close to 300,000 foundations worldwide and many more institutional funders, embarking on donor research can feel like navigating a labyrinth without a map. However, with a well-crafted research strategy in place, you can effectively navigate this complex landscape and identify the right funding opportunities for your organisation’s needs. Our FUNCAP tool will make it even easier for you.

What is important before you start your donor research?

Before you start your research, we recommend being very clear on the following points (your research criteria):

Activities: Which activities and sectors do you need funding for?
Countries and Regions: For which countries or regions do you require funds?
Amounts: How much money do you need to raise?
Donor Type: Which donor types are you considering (institutional donors, foundations, funds, UN agencies, banks, …)?
Donor Base: Where shall the donor be based (in Europe, in US, in DACH region, in Africa, in Asia, in one country only)?
Exclusion: Which donors do you absolutely exclude (certain industries, certain countries, …)?

For our team, the most effective approach involves sitting down together to brainstorm the research criteria before each round of research. This collaborative session allows us to pool our collective expertise and insights, ensuring that our research strategy is comprehensive and well-informed. By aligning our efforts and setting clear objectives together, we maximize our chances of success in identifying the most suitable donors for our projects. Also make sure that you align your research criteria to your Fundraising Strategy.

Where and how to manage your research data?

It is crucial that you have an easy to use tool where you can manage your research data with your team. Otherwise valuable information might be lost along the way. We have developed a tool for this, our so-called FUNCAP tool: an Excel document that captures data across all phases of the grant funding cycle starting with donor research or identification.

  • Step 1 – Donor Identification: In a first step, define your research criteria. Then carry out your research and enter your potential grant makers in the Excel list. Afterwards rank them into cold – medium – hot.
  • Step 2 – Cultivation: Then take your hot (and in a second step your medium) matches and start your deep dives. Then, do your relationship building and your engagement activities (LinkedIn, email, phone calls, conferences, personal meetings, send them your pitch deck etc.).
  • Step 3 – Solicitation: Your engagement was bearing fruits! Are you now invited for proposal submission? Well done! It is now time to make sure you use the right templates, submit a project that fits the interest of your donors and coordinate the proposal wirting team.
  • Step 4 – Stewardship: Congratulations! Your proposals were successful and you signed a grant agreement. Now it is time to keep your donors happy: make sure you submit all reports (financial and narrative) on time, involve them in your projects and send them a nice surprise every now and then.

Our FUNCAP tool can be used for all 4 steps. You can download it here: DOWNLOAD.


With a clear research strategy and the aid of our FUNCAP tool, navigating the vast donor landscape becomes more manageable, ensuring you can pinpoint the right funding opportunities for you.

By defining research criteria and effectively managing research data, you can streamline your donor research process and cultivate meaningful relationships with potential funders, ultimately driving impactful change in your communities.

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