North Star Fund hosts site visits across the five boroughs of New York City each year during November and March. These site visits are in-person meetings between grant seekers and North Star Fund’s volunteer grant makers during a grant application cycle.
It may be difficult to imagine what funders want to hear, especially if you are seeking a grant for the first time. Each funder’s approach and expectations can be unique and will vary widely. It’s normal to feel nervous.
To prepare for a successful site visit with North Star Fund, it’s crucial to understand two things. First, North Star Fund supports community organizing and will want to hear about this work in-depth. And second, community organizers—collectively known as the Community Funding Committee (CFC)—decide North Star Fund’s grantmaking. CFC members lead these site visits to learn more information about an organization they then share that information with the rest of the committee to help make these decisions.
If the CFC requests a site visit with you, here are some helpful tips to think about as you prepare to meet with them.
Before the Site Visit
- Schedule your site visit at a convenient time for your organization’s members and hold this time on your calendar until you receive confirmation from North Star Fund staff. Please communicate with your program officer about changes to the time, date, location, and/or other requests, including interpretation and physical access needs.
- Tip: We welcome site visits in languages other than English. North Star Fund will arrange for simultaneous interpretation so that all members of your organization—regardless of English fluency—can participate in the meeting.
- Please do not schedule at the time of an existing event. Representatives from the CFC will be prepared with questions in order to learn about your community organizing work and meet your leaders.
- Prepare 3-5 representatives of your organization to speak meaningfully about your organization’s vision, strategy, campaigns, and leadership development work.
- Tip: The executive director should not be the only one speaking, as the CFC prioritizes a broad base of leadership.
During the Site Visit
- A site visit is about 90 minutes. CFC members will be prepared to lead the meeting, but you can also help us make sure everyone has an opportunity to speak and can cover everything about your work within a reasonable time frame.
- Go deep with your organizing work! Describe your organization’s campaigns in-depth, how members gain skills and knowledge, how members make decisions within the organization, and your organization’s vision for changing the systems that impact them.
- Relax! This is a casual conversation about your organization’s work. There’s no need to prepare a formal presentation or materials.
After the Site Visit
- North Star Fund staff will notify you about the grant decision at the conclusion of the application process.
- If you spark an interesting conversation with a CFC member, you can follow up with individual CFC members after the grant decisions are made.
- Stay in touch with North Star Fund on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or sign up for our newsletter.
Most, but not all, of the organizations we meet with will receive a grant. We look forward to learning more about your work and wish you great success!