(1) You said > “I am new to fundraising, started an organization and do most operations (at this time) on my own.”
I promise that should you take the time and make the effort to read the following articles---while you will still be new to fund-raising after reading them, you will understand the fund-raising process---and that, is the greater part of the battle won:
--- In The Beginning
--- Non-Profit Fund-Raising Demystified
--- Don't Make Your Organization's Statement Of Purpose A "Mission Impossible"
--- Know Your Organization
That’s for starters. And you will, in a matter of an hour or less, learn right away that non-profit fund-raising is simple in design and concept, but it is very hard work. And I know that you are not a stranger to hard work, considering that you started the organization, are running it, and no doubt putting some of your own money into it.
(2) You said > “Are there any better sources than others for foundation info?”
Unless yours is an organization which is national in scope, or could possible be replicated elsewhere, the only foundations you should search for are the ones which make grants in the area you serve. It will do no good to look to distant, uncaring, potential benefactors.
You search via the Foundation Center, your local library, maybe your state’s (if you are in the US) Attorney General’s office has a listing of foundations as ours does in Ohio.
You obtain as many Annual Reports of other non-profit organizations---preferably similar to yours---and directly see which foundation is giving how much, for what purpose, to which charity.
And, most important, you come to grips with the reality regarding the number of foundations available to you, and especially to, at the same time, identify and cultivate individuals as prospects because you cannot live by foundation grants alone or forever. You must work now for “life after grants.” Individuals always give the most money by far to just about any non-profit fund-raising campaign. There are exceptions, of course, but they are few. Individuals generally account for about 85% of all the money given to charity.
(3) You said > “Where can I buy addresses by zip code from?
Getting into any Direct Mail program will take a great deal of thought, and the use of advice from authorities on that fund-raising method. Generally, you might need to make upwards of eight mailings, just to break even---just to mention one reality, should you be putting all, or most, of your fund-raising into the DM “basket.”
I suggest that you begin with your query to the DM Authority, Mal Warwick, and his “Questions? Ask Mal” webpage is:
And this info from :The Nonprofit FAQ, “How Should I Use Direct Mail” is good material.
Look for a reliable and experienced DM House. Search in your area for DM Houses with “MelissaData” by simply entering your zip code
(4) You said > “Where do I start with finding a good grant writer that will understand the organization.
• Contact development offices of a few of the largest non-profit organizations near you (United Way, university, hospital, etc.), and ask to (personally and confidentially) talk to their grant writers. Many times, such professionals are eager to, and are allowed, by their employers, to "moonlight" by producing proposals for other, non-directly-competing, organizations.
• When you contact those non-profits in your area and you find no staff grant writer employed, ask to speak to the Development officer and inquire about any grant writers he or she might have hired on a consulting basis. Many times, such organizations cannot justify a full-time grant writer, and do hire on a part-time, or special project, basis, thus being in a good position to make helpful referrals for your search.
• Contact the nearest chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) in your area to search for a grant writer. Usually, there are many such leads to be found there. Use the following AFP webpage to find the exact geographic location to your area:
--- AFP Chapters:
US, Canada and Mexico
And, Shmuel---I suggest that you pay close heed to what Sy told you. Though you have a business plan, you might want to revisit it, and get local reviews of it to ensure that all of the components are there. I am not saying they are not there, but your response to Sy did prompt my question of the Plan’s depth. You said > “The interesting thing is that you need money to operate, but people won’t give you anything until you ‘prove’ them.”
Now, with a Business Plan---better it should be, and be called a Long-Range, Strategic Plan---for a new organization, no funding source can expect that you “prove” anything when you are new and have no track record. What they do want is “promise” from your new organization---and I don’t mean they want specific pledges of results. It's that you should have sufficient organization and plans for further organization which will make your organization "promising," if anything, promising that you will have a future should they invest their money in your organization.
In the event your "Business Plan" is lacking in some way, maybe the following review will be a guide:
--- The Business Plan maps your “route” toward your mission and vision goals.
You have determined that you will be filling an identified need which no one else is doing.
You know who will benefit from what you want to do, how they will benefit and that there will in fact be users - clients of your programs and services.
Costs, staffing, etc., are all part of the forecast to about three years.
How to “market” the services, and who will pay for all of this, are other big questions to be answered in the plan.
See if the following resource will help. It’s from the Give2Net Articles:
--- “Creating the Business Plan for Incorporating Your Nonprofit
Best of all good luck,