It’s not every day that we receive a gift from a small to midsize private foundation. When it occurs, it usually is unsolicited and unexpected, yet a delightful surprise.
Once you discover that someone connected to your organization has a private foundation, you can use the 990-PF that is required to be filed with the IRS to assist you in better understanding what tugs at the heartstrings of your donor, and also, what the foundation looks like fiscally.
Private Foundations are typically required to distribute 5% or more of their average fair market value of its assets in annual payouts. This information can give you a general sense of what the payout value will be, minimally, overall. It can usually be located on page 1, item I (Fair market value of all assets at end of year) or it is located on Part II, column (c), line 16 (Total Assets/Fair Market Value). Comparing the fair market value to the grants paid and grants/contributions received will help you get a sense of the health of the foundation.
You might also review the list of officers, directors, trustees, and key employees as these are most often the key decision makers at the foundation. Do you see any connections within the listing? Are there any connections between the listing and influential people within your own organization?
Complete grant lists are reported on Part XV, page 11. . Particularly if the contribution you received was unsolicited, this listing will give you a sense of the causes your donor champions. It will provide you with the amount given as well as the purpose of the grant. This lends itself to a better understanding of the number of organizations your donor typically supports, the overall value of the grants made, and the specific areas of interest supported.
Don’t overlook the value of less traditional data that is publicly available to the prospect researcher. The information garnered from the 990-PF can be a valuable addition to prospect research on your donor.
How do you incorporate private foundation research into your prospect research efforts?