Show Me the Money! Obtaining Grants…

Understanding the Key Components to Obtaining Grants…

The reasons why organizations seek grant funding are broad as the day is long. This also holds true for the entities dolling out the dough, their missions vary greatly. The non-profit sector seems to work around the clock trying to fill in the gaps for every cause imaginable.

Nationally and globally, there is no lack of worthwhile and meaningful causes to support. Unfortunately, there is a consistent lack of funding to go around. The needs are significant, the causes worthy, and the struggle to survive and succeed is valid. Government budgets have been significantly reduced, corporate giving has become extremely selective, all while the fundamental needs of society have remained the same or grown.

One of the primary ways that non-profit organizations are able to meet the needs of their target populations is through the successful attainment of grant funding. Most non-profits would not exist without it. Many organizations, recognizing that grant funding is fundamental to their existence and success, have grant writers on staff. The competition for grant funding is fierce, which is why it is imperative that organizations have experienced individuals working on their behalf. Researching and writing grant proposals takes a lot of time, but the return can be well worth your while.

Time is precious and always of the essence, for both the grantor and the potential grantee. Having served as the grantor and the grantee, I have spent time on both sides of the process. In an effort to maximize your efforts, and increase your chances of success, I propose you focus on the following three aspects to obtain Grant Funds…

Do Your ResearchGrants application.

You can always assume that there will be stiff competition for the funds you are seeking. Comb through the eligibility requirements to ensure that what you will be proposing aligns with the requirements. If it’s not a match, move on. If it’s a close call, and a possibility, contingent upon a little more research and brainstorming – add it to your stack of options. More often than not, it will be clear early on whether or not a funding opportunity is going to be a possibility. Some grantors require a Letter of Intent (LOI), which will allow them to determine whether or not a full proposal is warranted. Sometimes there are hoops to jump through, and it takes some digging to get the information you need. Be persistent.

Make It Relevant

While some granting organizations are moving toward a standardized electronic application, there are still many forms a grant proposal can take. Regardless of how you apply, stick to the grant guidelines and format specifications. Be thorough, concise and provide all of the information that is requested. Stick to the facts, avoid fluff and incorporate data and statistics whenever possible. Refer back to the funding requirements and make sure you’re hitting on them. If funding criteria is provided, use it as a guide. Put yourself in the reviewer’s position and make your application as compelling and relevant as possible. Make an effort to seek outside review before submittal and allow time for updates.

Fundraiser Thermometer Tracks Goal Reached SuccessBe Realistic

While some grant opportunities allow you to dream and branch out, be realistic. Make sure that your organization has the capacity and infrastructure to successfully carry out the project. If there are match requirements, be certain that you will be able to generate that match, whether it is in-kind or hard dollars. What are the reporting requirements? Ensure that you have adequate personnel to not only execute the project, but track and report on it. Leverage your resources and success stories as much as possible, but be certain that you can back it all up with facts.

Once you have assimilated your intriguing, fact-based proposal that justifies the need for your project, you are well on your way! Allow ample time for review and editing. If relevant, include letters of commitment from collaborators or letters of support from board members. The more you do it, the easier it gets. However, you only get out what you put in. Don’t be discouraged by rejected proposals, you never know who you’re competing against. Keep trying and keep applying – your diligence WILL pay off!