Demystifying the Grant Funding Process
By guest blogger, Roberta Hall
Step 1 – The Basics
Well established non-profit organizations receive a portion of their income through grants provided by government offices, foundations, and corporations. Most organizations seek grant funding as a needed catalyst, a way to meet the financial demands of reaching their goals. Getting started with grant funding can be daunting, no matter where the funds are coming from because all grant funding is competitive – and as the non-profit economy evolves, the competition keeps getting tougher.
Most organizations need help getting through the first hurdles of grant funding. You can attend workshops and classes that teach the basics of grant writing, followed by research to find the right funders; or hire a consultant to create proposals for a fee. Workshops and classes can be a good answer if you can send a person with good writing skills.
Here are some basic rules to follow that will greatly improve your chances of success:
#1 – Make sure your organization fits the giving priorities for the fund you are approaching. Every funder and request for proposals (RFP) has a list of what they will and will not fund. If your goal or idea does not fit the priorities your proposal will get cut in the first review.
#2 – Reach out and contact a representative unless they request no contact. An evolution has occurred over the past decade and funders want to hear from you. Many funders have started to request that you make contact before writing. Having a conversation with a fund representative saves both parties time and energy by stopping you from writing a proposal that doesn’t fit, and by saving their staff from taking time reading a proposal that they can’t fund. First contact should be made by someone within your organization, not by a contracted writer. The conversation you have with a funder representative is the beginning of a relationship – they can ask about your work and get immediate answers. Organizations that form and nurture relationships with funders are much more likely to get (and stay) funded.
#3 – Make sure every proposal you send is well written, polite, meets every request in the proposal process, and offers a level of transparency regarding the organization you represent. If your proposal is written by a consultant, make sure to read it and make appropriate changes. No-one knows your organization as well as you do!