How To Get Grant Money For Your Nonprofit
January 28, 2016 Lynette Garet Uncategorized 0 Comment
Grant Writing Strategies for Every Nonprofit
In the beginning…
The continuing revitalization of America, in spirit and economically, is evident in the funding available to keep the spirit alive and thriving! More dollars than ever before are available in Grant Money if the funding requests are persuasive and delivered according to the funders deadline and sent to the right funding source.
Grant Money is increasingly important to the overall well-being of Americans when they support the necessary and important work of the growing number of community based and 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations.
The Economic Development Community around this country understands and advocates the importance of Grant Money. Larry Triesch, the City of Long Beach’s Senior Economic Development Officer sums up the importance in this statement. “The private non profit world helps to improve the overall education and work skills of our citizens which contribute to the improved economic condition of citizens resulting in improved purchasing power so vital to fueling the city’s economic engine. When this spending occurs every business becomes a more viable entity able to grow through traditional non-grant supported activities and become eligible for traditional financial support through banks and private investors.”
Visualize your project or idea inside and out. What does it look like? Who will staff it? Who will your customers be? What all do you need in your budget to make it happen? The key to getting it funded is painting a picture of that idea or project for the funder.
Ideas are the first step in getting Grant Money. Take your idea, like a successful business, service or product and find a niche.
Start talking to folks in the community to do an informal needs assessment. How will your project fill a gap in your community? Community Colleges and Universities are a great resource for formal assessments. They may have the information already on hand or can assign a project to collect the data you need.
Think about using volunteers. This can be counted as in-kind or matching funds. Many funders require matching funds. This is a great way to cover that area. You can even have volunteers to write the grants.
Pay attention to the deadline. The greatest ideas or projects don’t get funded if nobody knows about it.
Find the right Grant Money source or sources. At this point, you know more about your idea, business or cause than the process of finding funding. Start connecting with potential funders.
Request their forms. Every funding source has some type of required form or a certain format they use. Request their Request for Proposal (RFP), Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA), or whatever they call it. That is then your Bible for your proposal.
The RFP, NOFA, etc., needs to be dissected and carefully reviewed before you begin. It outlines everything from the point system on how the grant proposal is rated to the order the grant needs to be put in to how many copies and an original need to be mailed to the deadline the grant proposal may be submitted.
There are usually a few areas of the RFP, etc. that are not well understood. Develop a short list of questions and communicate with the designated contact person listed in the application. Within the application, there will be a time and date listed for a bidders conference where questions will be addressed. It is a good idea to attend or request a transcript of this meeting if you are unable to attend.
Now it’s time to refine the idea. You have reviewed the RFP, etc. and know what the funding source really wants so revisit your original idea or project and tailor it to what the funder wants. Use their buzz words.
Writing the Grant
You’ve heard of writers block. This is particularly true when you begin writing a grant. Set aside 30 minutes a day to begin with. Don’t start at the beginning. Create your vision and paint it with words. Put the vision together and then you can edit and fine tune knowing that you are almost finished.
While you are writing and you feel that writer’s block creeping up, write the history of your organization or your personal history in developing this idea or project. List previous grants or contracts you have worked with. Sketch biographies of key personnel, who you can collaborate or joint venture with, draw out an organizational chart of who would staff your project or idea.
This last exercise will lead you into budget preparation. Don’t make it hard. I like to think of it like planning a business trip and a vacation combined. I need to budget for hotels, meals, mileage, consultants, equipment, supplies, postage, etc. Compile a budget with actual costs and then include a budget narrative where the budget line items are explained in greater detail.
The last part of getting Grant Money is politicking and packaging. The last part is as important as the first part. Begin the politicking at the same time you begin writing. Start gathering letters of support for your grant proposal in the beginning. Develop a sample letter of support and include a cover letter with details like who the letter should be addressed to, put a date of when you need the letter of support, etc. Meet with city and county officials, community leaders, state legislators and community members who would benefit from your idea or project. Include these letters of support in the grant proposal.
As far as packaging the grant proposal, carefully review the RFP, etc… Address the application to the right person and make sure you get the Grant Proposal to the funder on or before the due date. Enclose all required forms and supporting documentation. Make sure the grant proposal is in the order specified in the RFP, etc.