There are millions of dollars in grant money available in the form of grants from foundations, charities and government agencies if your non-profit can successfully complete the grant writing process. There are four basic steps for successful grant writing.
- Find the right funding organization
- Research the funding organization and previous grants
- Give them what they want
- Submit on schedule
Finding the right organization
There are many on-line directories of funding organizations. Foundation Grants On-line, is a paid site that lists detailed information about each granting organization. Google and Yahoo both have free directories of funding organizations.
For government grants go to http://www.grants.gov . Although this directory takes some time to decipher this is where Economic Recovery funding opportunities will be posted. Your nonprofit will need to go through a detailed registration process to get funding through grants.gov There are also individuals and local charities that can provide funding, often with a less formal grant writing process. Contact your local United Way to find out about possible opportunities
Granting organizations offer grants for specific purposes, to certain types of organizations and sometimes in certain geographic regions. Before doing any grant writing make sure they provide funding in your area, to your type of nonprofit and for the purpose your nonprofit seeks funding.
There is always a give and take policy as far as funding is concerned and nonprofit organizations anyhow require it every now and then as they exist for specific purposes without the government sanctions to finance them and dictate terms as per convenience. For those who are not too familiar with grants can very well take a win rfp training that will teach them the basics of it and help them in understanding the concept better.
Research the funding organization and previous grants
Be sure to visit the funding organization’s website before beginning any grant writing. Once there, carefully read the purpose of the funding organization, grant writing guidelines and suggestions they offer for successful grant writing to their organization. Make sure they offer funding in the city or region where your nonprofit is located, that they will fund the type of projects for which your nonprofit seeks funding and that you understand any other grant writing requirements and funding restrictions. If it is available, look at a list of the previous year’s funding.
Determine if projects similar to your nonprofit’s are likely to be funded in the amount your nonprofit is requesting.
Many organizations require matching funds and some may have restrictions on where that funding comes from. If matching funds are required, determine if your nonprofit can provide appropriate matching funds or in-kind matches. You want to do everything you can to make sure your nonprofit and the funding organization are a match before putting in the time and effort required for grant writing.
Previously successful proposals may be available for you to review. If they are, look at them carefully. If not, review funded proposals to see how they are similar to or different from your nonprofit project.
Give them what they want
Before doing any grant writing you need to make sure your nonprofit have a worthy project. What is your nonprofit’s story? Why should a funding organization give your nonprofit money? Does everyone involved buy into the project? Do you have permission of the head of your nonprofit organization to go after the funding? Look here for tips for proposal writing for foundations. The National Institutes of Health has information on the process of submitting government grants.
The funding organization may require a letter of inquiry prior to the submission of the completed grant proposal. In your letter or inquiry describe your nonprofit’s project, make a good case for the need for the project and request an invitation to submit a complete grant proposal. The letter should not be long and wordy, but do provide enough of a description to make the need, purpose and scope of the project clear.
When your nonprofit qualifies or is invited to submit a proposal, print out the grant writing guidelines and keep them by your side as you begin to write your nonprofit’s grant. Format the grant according to the grant writing guidelines so it will be easy for the decision makers to score your proposal. Make your grant writing active and interesting. The funding organization will be looking over a large number of proposals and easier to read, better written grants will be the ones that get the most attention. If the funding is important to your nonprofit it is wise to team up with one or more other people involved in the project in the grant writing effort.
The first part of your nonprofit’s grant submission may be a form or several forms. Fill them out clearly and completely. The funding organization will scan these forms and reject any grant application that does not have properly filled out forms. Next will be a narrative in which you will describe your nonprofit’s project. This is the heart of grant writing. Make it come from your heart. You will need background information, a description of the project, your nonprofit’s credentials or ability to do the project and a clear statement of why the project is needed. There may be more requirements in the grant guidelines. You will also need a budget for the project and for your nonprofit organization as a whole. If the funding organization requests an audited financial statement be sure to provide it. Finally you will need any supporting documents that the funding organization requests or that will support the need for your nonprofit’s project. Some funding organizations allow an unlimited number of supporting documents while others have a specific and limited list.
Submit on Schedule
In grant writing the schedule may be the most important element. Your nonprofit will not get the grant if you submit after the deadline. Some funding organizations have a single deadline per year for a specific type of grant, others have more than one or provide grants on an ongoing basis. Some organizations will accept proposals for a given project type only between two specified dates while others will accept proposals year round. Be aware of opening dates and submission deadlines before beginning the grant writing process.
Grant writing takes time, so be sure to plan ahead and allow enough time to complete a worthy proposal and get all the supporting material. A hastily written grant proposal is often missing key elements, or is not persuasive or well written. Be sure to have someone else review and proofread your nonprofit’s grant proposal before you submit it. Grant writing is a straightforward kind of persuasive writing, but one that takes time and effort to be successful.