Do you need grant funding for your nonprofit organization? If you do you are most certainly not alone in your needs. This combined with the fact that because of regular government budget cuts there’s not as many federal dollars available as there once was. And because of our current economic recession foundation dollars are down as well. What you now have are some serious concerns facing your nonprofit organization.
On the other hand there is still a vast source of funding out there for your organization. But, even more so today than ever, in order for you to get your share of the treasure that’s out for you. You must approach the matter of grant getting in an organized and systematic manner.
And you must make the process of obtaining grants a regular and ongoing activity for your organization. Here are some steps you can take to help you get the grant funds you seek:
1. Carefully assess your funding needs by asking yourself a number of very important questions, such as: How much funding do you need? How will this funding be used? Who will benefit from this funding? And, how will this funding be used? Having clear answers to these kinds of questions are a key part of any request for funding, and will help you determine the kinds of grantors you should be approaching.
2. Make a list of your target grantors specific to your needs. You can do this by going to the main branch of your public library. Where you should find some kind of grant research center with a wealth of grant funding directories you can use.
3. If you live in a very small community and your library doesn’t have a grant research center. You should contact The Foundation Center, 79 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10003, (212)620-4230 where you’ll find a wealth of grant directories too, that you can purchase directly from them. Be sure to request a copy of their current catalog when you contact them.
4. Contact each grantor on your list for a copy of their current funding guidelines, and proposal requirements. While all grant directories do list grantors basic funding requirements and rules. You should still always contact them before you apply. Since what’s listed could be actually much different from what they currently do, and your time is too valuable to waste it.
5. Prepare a clear concise attractive development proposal of between 8 to 12 pages. While many large nonprofit organization tailor make a proposal for each program or project they’re marketing to get specific grantor, this can be a very time consuming process if your organization is small or mid-sized, without the staff and support that many large agencies have. Thus it’s better to prepare a standard proposal covering your capital, program, and operating needs. Then target it with a well-prepared submission cover letter.
6. Even in those cases where a grantor does have specific proposal requirements. You’ll find still that most of what you’ve already prepared can be incorporated into your custom proposal quite easily. Allowing you to prepare custom proposals in those situations where it’s needed. This is especially true when seeking federal funding, where your proposal must be targeted to the requirements of the federal grantor.
7. Keep in mind the fact that the easiest kinds of grant to obtain are grants for capital needs items. And grants for unique, exciting, and innovative programs and projects. Whereas the hardest items to get grant for are operating cost items. So you should use grantors primarily for capital and program funding objectives. And secure private gifts from individuals to raise most of your operating cost funds.
8. Set aside a block of time each week, even if it’s only three or four hours. During which time you or a designated staff member will devote to the three key areas of effective grant solicitation. Namely, researching funding sources, preparing, and submitting proposals. Doing this will keep you up to date on who’s doing what, improve proposal preparation skills, and keep those grants coming in regularly.
Yes, you can get the grant funds you need to effectively operate your nonprofit organization. And help all those people who need the help that you provide them. But you must go about getting the grants you need in an organized systematic fashion. And refuse to take “no” for an answer, because the cost of doing otherwise is much too great for so very many.
Berwyn J. Kemp