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Disability Inclusive Grantmaking is the mission of DFN: inclusion of disability in grantmaking programs and inclusion of people with disabilities in grantmaking organizations.

Recommendations for Grantseekers

The more effectively disability organizations can argue, with concrete examples, the possibility and importance of incorporating disability into already existing program areas, the better are the chances of getting programs funded. This will also help the field by expanding the universe of disability funders and the number of disability grants.

  • Help program officers understand why and how people with disabilities are legitimately included in diversity initiatives.
    • Many foundations have an understanding of diversity as it relates to race and gender. Build on that knowledge to communicate the needs of people with disabilities as an aspect of diversity funding.
  • Demonstrate how disability issues intersect and/or are incorporated into other issues of importance to your community.
    • Illustrate how your organization interacts with others in the community addressing the need targeted in your proposal.
  • Beprepared to provide demographic and other data about your local disability community to support the need for your proposed program.
    • Funders look for statistics and other documentation to demonstrate need.
  • Learn more about foundation program areas and how disability can fit within them.
    • Research foundations online or at Foundation Center collections, and carefully review their priorities and program descriptions.
    • Target specific program areas with your request, and show how your work advances the funder’s program goals.
    • Find a good funding match and be prepared to discuss your proposal.
      • Request clarification if you are not certain that your proposed project fits into the funder’s program area.
  • Plan your communication and then take the risk of initiating increased contact.
    • Follow the foundation’s instructions for initiating contact and writing proposals.
      • Many proposals and letters of intent that may be eligible programmatically are rejected because they do not follow application guidelines.
    • Take care to explain terminology that may not be known outside the disability community.
    • While you may encounter difficulties making personal contacts, try to build personal contacts if possible.
      • Respect the time constraints placed on program officers and their position as spokesperson for an organization that has defined guidelines and priorities.
  • Take the initiative to educate funders about disability issues.
    • Acknowledge the progress foundations have made in learning about disability while encouraging them to go further.
    • Place particular emphasis and care when submitting requests focused on cross-disability projects, which are not as well understood by funders as disability-specific programs