Q. Do you need program funding and are you concerned about the complexity of writing a grant?
A. Grant writing can seem daunting and complex. Admittedly, the process requires rigorous attention to directions, details and deadlines.
Before getting started, here are some guidelines:
Be Accurate and Thorough
You can improve your odds for funding by submitting a well written grant. Thoughtful and concise grants submitted with all of the requested attachments and documents are more likely to be awarded.
Your submission is a snapshot of your organization. The proposal should showcase your expertise, point to your serious intentions and capacity for stewardship.
Poorly written submissions that do not include all requested documents and attachments and/or submitted after the deadline are disqualified.
Outline of the standard steps.
Begin by allowing three to four months to prepare the grant. Depending on the Foundation, there may be several steps to be completed before submission.
Start by researching potential Foundations and/or corporate philanthropic organizations.
Analyze their mission and specific guidelines. It is imperative that your mission and program meet the specific requirements of the funder.
Based on the eligibility guidelines, create the “Letter of Inquiry”. Make sure the “Letter of Inquiry” is submitted by the deadline.
The Foundation will ask for a full proposal if they are interested in learning more about your program/organization.
Carefully review the RFP and collect the required supporting financial documents.
Deadlines MUST be met…, no exceptions. If you miss a deadline, you are automatically disqualified and must wait until the next funding cycle.
Keep in mind that you are building a relationship with the Foundation and a reputation in your community. How your organization operates reflects on your ability to execute programs and manage your organization. Missing deadlines and a sloppy submission may reflect negatively on your ability.
Write the grant. Double check all information to make sure it is correct and current.
If you have any questions, the Foundation staff is often willing to help. A phone call may quickly resolve many issues.
Review and edit.
Final review, edit and submission. Grants are usually submitted electronically and must be submitted within the stated deadline.
Site Visit – After reviewing your proposal, the Foundation may request a site visit to gather additional information. A site visit indicates a higher level of interest but is not a promise for an award. Prepared for the site visit so that you put your best foot forward.
The Foundation representative should leave the site visit with a better understanding of your organization, be confident of your competency and your commitment to excellence.
The awards announcement may take up to six weeks from the submission date (maybe even longer).
If an award is made, an agreement is drawn between the Foundation and the non-profit outlining how, where, when and to whom the funds will be distributed. In the agreement, a reporting schedule will be defined.
Reporting – Foundations closely monitor how their money is spent, and specifically, the successes and the challenges of the program. Reports are submitted on a schedule. Make sure you meet all report deadlines.
Please keep in mind there are no guarantees. There are many organizations submitting proposal each funding cycle. A “no” today is not necessarily a “no” for future programs.
Please, do not be disheartened if your proposal is declined. Do seek feedback from the Foundation. The feedback and pointers can provide invaluable information for future grants.
Best wishes and good luck. Kathi
Always believe in possibility and in yourself.