What you need to know.
For many nonprofits their first major grant award is the leaping off point between lofty aspirations of serving the community and actually putting boots on the ground. It can be the difference between coming out of pocket for the help and support you provide your community and actually hiring staff, leasing space and transportation and making your goals of serving your community your full-time (paid) position. So what do you need to know before applying?
First you will need to know if you are eligible.
Most State, Federal and Foundation grants require certain things in order to be eligible. For nonprofits, this is most commonly a current 501c3 status. Do you have one? If not we can help get you set up with that but it can take time and another option is to partner with another organization who is. This is called a fiscal sponsorship and can be a shortcut to eligibility… not a permanent one but it can help you start applying while your own 501c3 status is pending.
What stage of the process are you in currently?
Knowing where you are from idea, to growth, to fully-functioning, to mature nonprofit is key. A lot of funders will prefer fully functioning nonprofits but if you know where you are and what it’s going to take to get you to the next step it can help you present your abilities in the best light possible. From there, a well written proposal and a clear definition of the level of need and your vision to address those needs can do a world of good towards getting you a grant award.
Do you have a clearly stated mission?
It’s fine to have several focuses or a wide focus as a nonprofit and we actually often recommend it. Keeping it simple so that instead of looking for the perfect grant for your nonprofit’s uber-specific mission, you can look at all open grants and ask yourself “Do we have an acute need for that sort of support in our community?” and if so apply for all sorts of funding to address those needs. That being said, when it comes time to apply you should have a well defined vision of if funded, what would your approach be to make the biggest difference in your communities of need.
Strong leadership, financials, and experience.
Is it clear who is steering the ship and where the buck stops at your organization? If not funders will notice. Once you are established as a 501c3 you will need to keep great records and have clear leadership. Next you are going to want to demonstrate a track-record with handling programs. How can you get a program grant without program grant experience? Maybe start small and build from there or possibly volunteer at other nonprofits to see how they are approaching things. Partnerships are another way to get your foot in the door…
Even established 501c3 nonprofit organizations are required to partner with other community stakeholders in some grants. Who that is depends on the type of grant you are applying for but it’s still a good idea to get to know those in your community that might be suitable partners for grants. Examples are local school districts for educational grants, law enforcement or public offices for DOJ funding, labor boards, trade schools for Department of Labor or workforce development grants, local magistrates, prisons or jails for reentry type programs. All of these are better defined in the actual RFP (Request for Proposal) or RFA (Request for Applications) which are the official release of an available funding source (grant).
What grants are out there?
Now it’s time to start learning about what grants are out there that you might consider applying for. For this we offer a free email service called the Grant Siren Subscription. You can sign up here: https://beta.grantwriters.net/siren-sign-up/Its a fantastic free resource that could clue you into some of the best large grants in your areas of interest all year round. Our next more aggressive approach is approach is researching prospective grants and putting together a Grant Research Opportunity (GRO) report of grant possibilities. For a onetime fee of $500, our grant writing team will engage in a conference call with you to determine the type of funding you will need to meet your goals. Our team will then use this information to create a comprehensive, customized report of upcoming grant competitions (with abstracts, deadlines, and fundability ratios) for which your organization would be most eligible to apply. Depending on the type of funding you would need, the list will usually range anywhere from 20 grant competitions up to 50. We only put the most appropriate grant competitions on the list. Our mission is to provide you with high-caliber funding opportunities and assist you with honest and reliable feedback to help you make the best and most effective decisions to win funding for your organization. Our solutions provide you with results.
Our philosophy at Resource Associates is to reduce as much risk as possible in the grant development process. If we pick the right grant for the right client and do the best job possible in writing an exceptional proposal, we maximize your potential of securing an award. If we can help you in any step of the process, whether its getting your 501c3 status, researching grants, making partnerships, writing, editing, or submitting proposals or help after the award with program evaluation, data collection, reporting or professional development, Resource Associates is a one-stop-shop that can help you get to the next step and ultimately to and beyond your goals to serve your community. Please reach out to us today if we can be of any assistance. We’re happy to chat with you about your needs and what we can do to help. We also offer a few free resources that might just make the difference in getting you there. We look forward to hearing from you soon.