Timing is everything! There are countless foundations out there with millions of dollars to give away each year, but not every day, to just any organization. Knowing when the right time to apply for a grant is essential to funding success. These six tips will help you decide if the timing is right.
Are you a tax exempt charity?
Foundations want to fund inspired ideas and good causes, but you can’t just jump out and start asking for funds. You need to begin by being a registered 501(c) 3 organization. Learn if your organization qualifies to be an official nonprofit organization. (If you’re not sure how to begin the nonprofit incorporation process, Resource Associates is happy to help.)
What makes your mission unique?
How is your program different from others? What essential service or product can you provide to fill a community need? Foundations want to fund organizations with well articulated missions, clear ideas of their purpose, and effective strategies for making real differences to society.
Do you have the structures in place for new funding?
This means physical as well as staffing structures. Your physical space should be able to accommodate a new funding stream along with the staff that will have to deliver on the grant. If you aren’t ready or able to grow, or change a delivery method, then maybe you don’t need to apply for a grant right now.
What do your finances look like?
Foundations give to financially sound organizations. Most funders won’t support a start up organization with no financial history. You need to have rigorous financial systems in place and trained staff who will comply with all regulations and file the necessary paperwork on time. You should be able to show your return on investment each year and be able to show philanthropic dollars have had an impact on your mission.
Does your board have a plan?
Organizations looking for a new grant should have a board in place that is behind this growth and has a plan for the delivery of the project. Boards should have a strategic plan in place and all members of the organization should know their role in the development process.
Do you have a strong track record?
Foundations want measurable outcomes. They want to see that your programs actually make a difference. How have earlier investments been used and what impact has previous funding made for you? Even if you are a new nonprofit, having a strong record of result keeping can provide a foundation with confidence in your future ability to deliver.
If you can answer in the positive for these questions then you are ready to begin the process of applying for a grant! Resource Associates can help you identify grant opportunities that your organization is best suited to win. Take a look at our Grant Research services or give one of our grant experts at call at 505.326.4245.