By now you’ve likely heard that Rasmuson Foundation, like many funders, has significantly reduced its grantmaking for 2009 in light of the recent economic conditions. As announced by President Diane Kaplan, there may be no new Tier 2 awards (over $25,000 strategic and capital requests) made this year and the average size of a Tier 1 award ($25,000 or under capital requests) will be approximately $15,000.

While it is unlikely that large grant awards will be made this year, now is an excellent time to both maintain or develop relationships with funding organizations. The basic tips for cultivating funding relationships apply now more than ever:

Keep funders apprised of developments in your field – the more information you make available, the more your organization will stand out.

Funding organizations, including Rasmuson Foundation, understand that their success is dependent on your success. Make sure to communicate your successes at any time during grant cycles.

Invite funders to participate in events.

Recognize your supporters – whether it’s the first time individual donor, or the large foundation, everyone likes to be thanked.

In this unusual economic time, Rasmuson Foundation remains interested in learning about what your organization is doing, cultivating important relationships and addressing those sticky issues that require careful consideration and time.

Here are some question and answers that nonprofit leaders may find helpful in terms of working with the Foundation.

Q. Should I still send in a Tier 2 Letter of Inquiry for my organization’s capital project?

A. It is unlikely that we will need a formal Letter of Inquiry at this time. The best approach is to contact Rasmuson Foundation directly and speak with a program officer.

Q. What if I have already submitted a Letter of Inquiry or a Full Proposal for a Tier 2 request?

A. Your organization should have received a mailed letter or phone call explaining the status of your application and any further steps that are required. If not, please contact your program officer directly.

Q. Should my nonprofit organization or tribal government keep the Foundation informed about our upcoming projects?

A. Absolutely. Although it’s unlikely there will be Tier 2 grant awards made in 2009, we expect grantmaking will resume in the coming years and want to be fully prepared to distribute funding to worthy projects. The best way to ensure your “place in line” is to develop a relationship with the Foundation now and keep us informed about developments in your capital project as it progresses.

Q. What’s the best way to keep the Foundation informed?

A. Give us a call, make an appointment to meet with program staff, invite us to visit your current site, include the Foundation on your email list, meet us for coffee, etc.

Q. When is the best time to approach Rasmuson Foundation?

A. We invite you to contact program staff during any phase of development. However, it’s useful to have all your grant components drafted and a clear idea of other funding sources. If your organization anticipates making a funding request, it’s best to come to the table with the majority of your funding secured.

Q. What about the Small Tier 2 (under $25,000) program for capacity building or non-capital items?

A. There are limited funds available for Small Tier 2 projects. Contact a program officer to ascertain whether your project is a good fit before submitting an application.

Q. When should I submit my Tier 1 grant application?

A. Tier 1 grants are awarded on a rolling basis. Please be aware that Rasmuson Foundation review will take approximately 90 days for complete applications. If an application is successful, grant monies will be available 90 days after a signed grant agreement and payment request are submitted and any contingencies are met. Contact Program Associate Aleesha Towns-Bain with questions about the Tier 1 process.

Q. Are there grants available through the Arts and Culture Initiative programs?

A. Yes, but there are some changes and reductions in program funding currently available. Specifically:

Rasmuson Foundation Arts in Education programs are still administered through the Alaska State Council on the Arts. Funding levels remain the same and all grant programs are full-funded through June 30, 2009.

November 1 is the deadline for Creative Ventures applications for projects that take place April 1, 2010 through May 31, 2011. Applications will be reviewed on a competitive basis. No late applications will be accepted.

March 1 is the only deadline to apply for Individual Artist Award. Fellowship Awards will continue to rotate eligible artistic disciplines on a two-year cycle. These remain competitive grants. No late applications will be accepted.

The Effective Organizations grant program is on hiatus. New applications will not be accepted in 2009. Current participants in the program will continue with their work.

Management Assistance and Cultural Leadership grants are still available. There is limited funding in 2009. These grants are awarded on a rolling deadline, but take at least three months to review. It is to an organization’s advantage to submit an application early.

Harper Arts Touring funds are still available. Please submit application 90 days prior to the proposed activity.

The Museum Art Acquisition program is still administered through Museums Alaska. Michael Hawfield is the contact for information regarding that program. Please refer to the Rasmuson Foundation website for a listing of Museums currently participating and to see whose work has been purchased through the program.

As with the Tier 1 and Tier 2 grants, it is advisable to call the Foundation. Program Associate Victoria Lord is available to answer all arts and cultural grant program related questions. The guidelines are available on this site.

How have you developed relationships with funders in years past? Post your ideas and links here.