With Age Comes Success (In Grantseeking)


State of Grantseeking data has consistently shown that grantmakers are more likely to fund organizations over ten years of age. Funders want to support organizations that have proven sustainability, and organizational age is perceived as one measurement of sustainability. The data from the 2019 State of Grantseeking Survey reinforces this trend.

However, “more likely to fund” for older organizations should not be interpreted as “not at all” for younger organizations. For example, while 93% of organizations over ten years of age reported winning at least one grant award, 75% of organizations ten years of age or less also reported winning at least one grant award.

I advise grantseekers from younger organizations to think of their grantseeking like a stepladder – with the lower rungs representing building relationships with grantmakers, accepting gifts-in-kind that can be leveraged as matching funds, and applying for grant awards from local funders, including private foundations, fraternal organizations and clubs, religious organizations, community foundations, and local businesses. After achieving local success, younger organizations have both a few more years under their belts, and a proven track record to show regional or national funders.

This chart shows that younger organizations, when compared to organizations within any other age range, more frequently report private foundations, community foundations, and corporate foundations as their largest individual award source.

Chart 1

The size of awards varies by both grantmaker type and organization age.

Government funders (who are less likely to support young organizations) tend to provide grants of greater dollar value than those of non-government funders.

Chart 2

And the size of grant awards tends to increase with organizational age, in conjunction with the frequency of federal and state grant awards.

Chart 3

When it comes to grantseeking, age (representing organizational sustainability) is the pathway to success. Young organizations should start their grants program by crafting deft proposals and introducing themselves to local grantmakers. As they grow, they can submit proposals to grantmakers who require matching funds, or a track record of program funding success. With this success – and age – an organization can then turn to larger-dollar government funding.

Looking to get started with grantseeking? GrantStation offers tutorials on the process. Looking for new funders? GrantStation has databases of private and government grantmakers in the United States and Canada, as well as international funders. Looking to develop your personal grantseeking skills? GrantStation offers PathFinder, a free searchable database of resources to help your skills grow. Looking to learn from the experts? Take part in GrantStation’s Online Education webinars, presented by nationally recognized leaders in the field.

And remember – regardless of your organization’s age, there are grantmakers who are interested in supporting your mission!