Take Feedback Into Account
The process of raising money is a tedious one that will always have room for improvement. Ensure that your mission is being presented in a professional and detailed way by asking people for feedback, whether these people are within your organization, or are a friend on the outside.
Any and all feedback is good feedback and will help you to better your proposals and applications for grants. If people around you are better understanding what your organization is all about, then people who do not know your organization will be able to understand better as well and will be more open to granting you money.
What Are The 5 Types Of Grants
When searching for grants, it is important to understand the various areas of assistance in which they provide. It will make the process of targeting specific grants that serve the wants and needs of your organization far easier. The five main categories of grants include:
Each type of grant promotes the success of your organization in a different way. Having a clear understanding of the help you need will allow you to find which grant best serves your nonprofit. You may be wondering, where are these grants coming from? Read on to find out!
Corporate Grants For Nonprofits
3M 3M focuses their corporate grants in three areas: education, community, and the environment. Most of their grants are to invited non-profit partners or through matching employee giving. www.3m.com/3M/en_US/gives-us/
Alcoa The Alcoa Foundation issues grants to nonprofit groups focusing on education and the environment. There is an emphasis on STEM training and resource sustainability. www.alcoa.com/foundation/en
Bank of America BofA provides nonprofit grants and event sponsorships with a focus for 2016 on jobs , housing , and hunger . about.bankofamerica.com/en/making-an-impact/find-resources
Bristol-Myers Squibb Their foundation provides grants to nonprofits focusing on disease prevention and assisting individuals with specific medical needs. www.bms.com/foundation/Pages/home.aspx
Caterpillar The Caterpillar Foundation accepts grant requests by invitation only. They work primarily with large national and international non-profit organizations. www.caterpillar.com/en/company/caterpillar-foundation.html
CitiGroup CitiGroup gives corporate grants to 14 large nonprofits through its Partners In Progress program and for 2016 has also launched a $20 million Community Progress Makers Fund. www.citifoundation.com/citi/foundation/
Emerson The Emerson Charitable Trust supports nonprofits in these areas: arts & culture, civic, education, health, and youth. www.emerson.com/en-us/about-us/corporate-social-responsibility/community-involvement
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Operating Versus Restricted Grants
You can probably guess the difference based on just the wording. Restricted or project grants are awarded for specific purposes. Operating grants give you more flexibility with how you can use the funds. In practice, that often means you can use the grant to fund the work your organization is already doing instead of limiting the funds to a particular project.
Start Small And Local
While you might be tempted to go all in and apply to your countrys largest grants , it might be smarter to start small and local. If your organization has never applied for a grant or doesnt have a large number of donors, then local funding is the best place to start.
Starting with small, local grants helps you build expertise with the application process, and will help you build the credibility that you need to then apply for bigger grants.
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The Process Of Securing A Grant
The process of getting a grant begins with the research. As stated above, the grant writing and preparation process can be tough. In order to reduce stress and unnecessary strain, we highly recommend that you give yourself the proper time to research and prepare your staff or grant writer for the application process. The grant process follows a lifestyle that is follows three phases:
Pre-Award Phase: During this phase your organization will be searching for a grant that you are eligible for and one that matches your mission. This phase is also when you will be registering your business or organization, usually involving the ensurement that you meet all requirements. The final part of this phase includes the actual applying for the grant. The application and proposal process varies from grant to grant, so make sure you complete the application or proposal in its entirety before submitting.
Award Phase: This is the phase in which the grant is awarded. Your organization will receive notice if they were accepted to receive the award. At this point, the funds will be distributed. The actual process of distribution will vary from grant to grant, so make sure you pay attention to how the grant will be distributed.
You are required to ensure that the requirements that were needed for the grant are continually met, even after the grant is awarded.
Finding The Right Grants
This may seem like an obvious tip, but it is important to note nonetheless. Many grants come with specific requirements for their use, so make sure the grant youre applying for isnt designated for something you dont need.
Anthony is double-checking all of the rules and guidelines!
For example, do not apply for a grant that is specifically for capital campaigns involving building construction when you actually need a grant that will provide for the day-to-day operating costs.
On a more macro level, make sure the institution that would be providing the possible grant aligns with your nonprofits mission and values. If there is not a mutual understanding and morality, you may end up losing supporters and risking your reputation.
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How To Search For Grants
Searching for grants online involves methodically perusing various websites. Some of these sites will contain grant databases that utilize keyword searches, while others will simply have lists of potential grantmakers. Still many others will, unfortunately, not have resources easily organized and will require more digging and searching to yield potential funders.
Regardless of where you look, using the strategy of mission matching to determine funder compatibility will result in a stronger funder shortlist. Having a deeper understanding of your organization and its future endeavors will allow you to navigate this search process with more efficiency and precision.
For websites or platforms containing grant databases with keyword search bars, answering the questions below will help you create the best keyword list for your search. Refer to the brief organizational write-up you created and compile your answers in single-word form or two-word phrases to produce a succinct and useful keyword list.
- Geography: Where is my organization located?
- Type of grant: What type of grant am I seeking?
- Type of organization: How would my organization be categorized?
- Problem: What problem or issue does my organization/program address?
- Type of service: What type of service does my organization/program provide?
- Target audience: Who is the target audience served by my organization/program?
Know Who Youre Writing For
When writing a grant proposal, be aware of your audience. The general public will interpret content much differently than technical reviewers, for example, and the level of understanding your readers have plays a huge role in the success of your application. Consider how the members of your audience think and what kind of language theyre comfortable with, then adjust your writing style to fit them. This isnt an easy task, but it makes a huge difference!
A great way to see if your message is being successfully communicated is to test out your responses with colleagues or other people you trust to identify gaps in your writing. You are an expert on your organizations vision, so its possible that something you may think is obvious can be critical information for others and shouldnt be left out.
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Identify Funding Opportunities At Grantsgov
Grants.gov is a free service that provides a searchable database of all federal funding opportunities. Click on Find Grant Opportunities on the left side of the page, then select “Basic Search” to search using a keyword or a combination of keywords to find the right federal grants for your work.
If you already know the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance number or the Funding Opportunity Number , you can also search by those. The CFDA is a directory of recognized numbers assigned by the government to 2,200 federal programs, projects, cooperative agreements, funding opportunities, and other federal assistance programs. Every grant has an assigned CFDA.
An FON is a number that a federal agency assigns to its grant announcement. It’s a number used only by Grants.gov.
Search by agency when you know the name of the government department or bureau that has grants available, or you can match your keywords to the names of the federal agencies.
These methods will likely produce many results that you’ll have to read thoroughly and assess to ensure that they’re the right fit for your identified funding needs. As you find opportunities that match your needs, add details about the possibilities to your grant prospect worksheet. This will help you keep track of the best opportunities.
You might also want to join the Grants.gov mailing list to receive a daily or weekly digest of current federal funding opportunities.
How Do I Get Started Finding The Right Grants For Me
There are a few things to consider when you want to find grant funding for your nonprofit. You might start by looking at your grant readiness.
In order to know if you are a good fit for a foundation or grantmaker, be sure you have done the following before researching available grants:
1. Develop a clear mission statement: grantmakers are going to look to see that your mission aligns with their mission. This will be one of the critical features determining if you will receive funding, so make sure you have a solid mission outlined before looking for grants. Your mission statement can also function as a keyword repository to use to search for grants that target your work.
2. Have a budget in mind: you need to know your budget prior to finding additional funding. You should have your nonprofit budget firmly in grasp in order to know where and at what scale you need to leverage grant funding. Keep in mind that nonprofit budgets should only leverage grants for a fraction of their overall budget. Tracking and managing grants can be challenging without a clear budget picture.
3. Look at similar organizations: as a starting point in your research, look at your peers in your nonprofit industry. See if you can determine what grants they are utilizing to support their programs and operations.
The most common characteristics of grant funds are: geography, type of support, and mission alignment. Read on for more details.
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Prepare To Submit Grant Applications
Now that you have some grants to apply for in mind, it’s time to start your prep work.
As you consider submitting applications to the grants you have found, you’ll need to consider whether you will hire an outside professional or take it on yourself.
Either way, you should have your documentation together. Items you should have handy include:
- Past Form 990’s
- List of programs and partners
- Organizational chart
- List of achievements and awards
You should also consider additional resources that may help you with the grant application process.
For example, Boss on a Budget has a Facebook group named Nonprofit Grant Writing Support Group that is exclusively focused on giving feedback and assistance with completing proposals for grant funding.
The group has weekly tips shared, notices about new funding announcements, and a form to hire a grant writer if you need outside help.
The group has over 9,000 members and is a good resource to pick others brains on how you can improve your grant writing.
There are additional Facebook groups like Grant Writing, The Grant Writers Forum, and Grant Writing Mastermind Group that can also provide tips and feedback.
On LinkedIn, the Finding Grants, Fundraising, and Writing Grant Proposals group is the place to connect with others who might be in a similar position to you.
If you decide you want more formal training on grant writing, you should take a look to see if there are any courses at your local state college or university.
The Benefits Of Grants For Nonprofits
So let’s take a moment to talk about the benefits of grants for nonprofits!
First off, unlike loans, grants don’t need to be paid back. So once it’s awarded, there are a few strings attached to it.
Also, grants can be a substantial amount of money, so things like budgeting, planning events, and organizing virtual fundraiser events can be done with confidence knowing you have the resources to do it.
Grants can also increase your nonprofit’s credibility and result in excellent earned media.
Now, in order to win a grant, you first have to find all of the opportunities available to your nonprofit organization.
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When Is A Nonprofit Ready To Seek Grant Funding
If your nonprofit group is still in its startup phase, applying for grant money probably shouldn’t be the first method of fundraising to try. Without a history of success, you’ll find it challenging to persuade funders that your organization can do what it plans toor will even be around in a year or two. In addition, preparing an appealing grant proposal requires significant time and planning.
The groups most likely to succeed at securing grant fundingand to satisfy funders with their follow-throughare those that have:
- good reputations, or leaders known for being effective, responsible, and innovative
- a track record of managing the financial and organizational aspects of the size or type of project they’re proposing
- an idea for a project that will both capture the grantmakers’ imaginations and make for good publicity
- a mission that aligns with the funders’ goals , and
- a connection between a board member, leader, or other member, and someone on the staff or board of a grantmaking foundation.
Grants Help Diversify Your Revenue Stream
âDiversifying your revenue stream aids you in becoming more financially sustainable. Most fundraising professionals recommend having multiple income streams to minimize risk.
Note: Grants are important but should generally be secondary to raising money from individuals. That is where you should focus your attention and resources.
“It is difficult to put an exact formula to the ratios that small, medium and large nonprofits ‘should’ depend on for grant funding. My own belief, through experience and research, is that any organization should not be more than 25 percent dependent on any type of grant funding.” April A. Northstrom, Pathway Associates
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Accurately Track Grant Applications
Staying organized is crucial if you want to be a successful grant writer. Thankfully, there are lots of tools available to help you store and stay on top of your work.
First off, you need a place to store all of your documents, including past grant applications, current project work, and notes on upcoming opportunities. This will make it easier to pull relevant information from past work, see which applications were successful and which were not, and analyze and understand which factors impacted application performance. Some great online tools for document storage and management are Dropbox, , and .
Its also a good idea to use a calendar to track grant application timelines and make sure that no deadlines get missed. Whether you use a physical calendar or an online planning tool like Trello, organizing your tasks and timelines will help you better understand your capacity and be more realistic when planning for the long term.
Places To Find Grants For Your Nonprofit For Free
Where do I look to find grants for my nonprofit?
Its a burning question so many nonprofits have, and to be honest, I cant say that I blame them!
Getting grant funds is REALLY exciting!
For one, its usually a lot of money. Think about it: what could your nonprofit do right now with a $5,000 check??
Also, getting a grant means a funder places value on your nonprofit and trusts youll put their money to good use. Knowing this makes you stand a little taller and gives you a boost of confidence and thats something we all need occasionally.
Conducting research to find grants and funding opportunities is definitely the place to start if you want to be successful at getting grants and .
It can be tricky, though, AND time consuming if you arent sure where to lookand your time is valuable.
To get the most out of your efforts, you need to know what youre looking for and how to look for it. That clarity will save you a ton of time and effort.
And we have some awesome tips and tricks to help get you started down the right path to making your research more fruitful.
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How To Account For Grants
Accounting for grants can be complicated. Detailed transaction records and accurate data must be kept up to date. Fund accounting can be used to demonstrate accountability for how the revenue is handled.
Most grants are recorded as a contribution, while some gifts still qualify as an exchange. Contributions, for accounting purposes, include:
- Government grants
- Gifts from individuals or corporations
Contributions must be recorded as revenue when the promise to give the gift or grant is made. Tracking all the revenue coming into and going out of a fund along with what the funds are being used for gets tedious and very confusing. It is best to consult with a professional about using an accounting service or software to help with the proper accounting.