A site visit can give your foundation valuable assurance that a project is primed for success. Although site visits aren’t necessary for every grant you make, there are occasions when a site visit can be very helpful. When your foundation is funding a new or complex project, contemplating a grant that is significant in size relative to your grantmaking budget, or making a long-term or multi-year commitment, a site visit can give you a more thorough understanding of the organization than is possible to obtain through an Internet search. Pixels can’t convey the personalities and passion of the people responsible for the organization’s success, or the physical setting where your project will take place. However, because site visits can be somewhat stressful for nonprofit staff and inevitably raise expectations of impending support, they should be reserved for those organizations that you are seriously contemplating funding.
There are several benefits of taking a firsthand look at a potential grantee organization. A site visit can clarify and confirm information you’ve already unearthed, answer specific questions, and settle any remaining doubts. Moreover, a site visit:
Conducting a successful site visit starts long before you arrive at your destination. Before you reach out to the organization and request a site visit, be clear about its purpose. What information do you need to obtain once you get there? Are there specific people you would like to meet (board members, staff , and actual clients)? Do you want to tour their office or program facility? Are you interested in seeing programs in progress?