Lots of internet sites provide lists of foundations and announcements of upcoming foundation or government funding opportunities, and you may run across some promising opportunities there. Learn about the serious research tools available then use them in a well-considered, strategic way to find appropriate funders. The CFDA is a free online database of all federal domestic assistance programs including grants, loans, and other types of assistance.
The CFDA is searchable by keyword, type of assistance, target population, as well as other fields. To avoid frustration, start with rather broad search words and phrases. You can always narrow your search later. When using phrases, enclose them in quotation marks.
You can use this resource to search for grant programs, and it is also the portal through which many grant applications must be submitted. To register with Grants. Instructions on registering with CRR can be found on the Grants. Registration is free and does not commit your organization to making a specific application for funds. State, county, and municipal grantmakers rarely have a structured, user-friendly way of letting applicants know when a grant competition will open — or even that a grant program exists.
For the most part, to unearth the possibilities, grantseekers have to become detectives. A few words of advice:. Non-governmental funders include private foundations, community foundations, corporate foundations, and federated grantmaking organizations such as United Way. Establishing a relationship with a foundation prior to submitting a proposal is a basic strategy that is worth the time and effort. Like the search for government funds, the starting point for private funders is a list of key words and phrases.
While there is no single, free database of information on all foundations, using the primary resources discussed here will help you conduct thorough research. But they also support a nationwide network of cooperating collections — public and government libraries or nonprofit information centers that make their databases and other information available to the public at no charge.
You can find the closest cooperating collection by visiting the Foundation Center website at http: You can use basic aspects of their database for free; all you have to do is register. This is a free and easy way to identify foundations within a specific geographic area. This user-friendly database includes only funders that have staff and who accept proposals, or who occasionally issue calls for applications. If they do, study them. You may be able to find details on their missions and giving interests, past grants including amounts and purposes, application guidelines, names of officers and staff.
Read everything on the website. The more thorough your research, the better equipped you will be to make contact with the foundation. These are called PFs, are public information, and are an indispensable research tool. Once you complete the free and quick registration, you can access three years of tax returns for free. State and Regional Directories. Organizations and publishers have developed state-level foundation directories for most states or regions.
Some are in print format, some on CD, and some are free online. They can be found at Foundation Center Cooperating Collections and are often available at local libraries. Use a web search engine to look for a foundation directory for your state. Use the available research tools to search for private grant makers that align with the mission and priorities of your organization, and that fund in the geographic region you serve.
Start by using a good database, and then use the PF tax returns to fill in the blanks where necessary. Even the most extensive databases available do not show every grant that a funder has made, to whom, and in what amount—and that information is critical.
Information about grant awards is found in Section XV page 10 or Many foundations attach a list near the end of the PF. Do you see grantmaking trends? Can you find connections with foundation officers or staff members? The more you know about a foundation, the better prepared you are to talk to its staff and board members and, ultimately, to submit a proposal.
All the planning and research paid off and your organization has been awarded its first grant. Welcome to the world of grants management. As you might imagine, government grants come with more red tape than foundation or corporate grants. For government grants , your top executive officer or board chairperson must usually sign and return a documents accepting the grant award and agreeing to reporting and fund draw-down requirements, as well as any other special requirements that have been attached to the funding.
This is strictly a business transaction—there's no need to send along a warm letter of appreciation. Be sure to return paperwork by the required deadline. Corporations and foundations sometimes require that officers sign a letter accepting the grant award, but often they don't—a check simply arrives in the mail with a letter of congratulations laying out the expected reporting requirements.
If you're expected to return a signed acceptance document, do so promptly and be sure to include a letter expressing appreciation, acknowledging any reporting requirements, and inviting the funder for a visit.
While this is a business transaction, it's also a starting point for building an ongoing relationship of trust, commitment, and support. Establish both an electronic and hard-copy file for each grant your organization receives.
Since so much business done electronically, be sure that e-documents and emails are organized for easy access—and be sure electronic documents are backed-up in case of a failure in technology. Place copies of signed grant documents in a hard-copy file, and keep the file updated with subsequent correspondence related to the grant. When an e-document is of particular importance, print it out and file it here as well. To establish your organization's ability to receive and manage grants, it's necessary to establish adequate accounting practices and systems.
A primary concept in grants management is that each specific grant award should be accounted for as an "independent cost center. This is a basic protection against co-mingling all funding into one big pot and losing track of what money paid for what expenditure.
Using an "independent cost center" approach helps to ensure that grant funds are spent for the intended purpose and can be fully accounted for at all times. While this article can't provide a basic overview of bookkeeping or accounting, the strength and clarity of your organization's fiscal systems will play heavily into the ability to manage grants. If a strong accounting system is not in place, and if there's not an expert on staff, seek guidance from someone who knows what they're doing.
If your organization doesn't have a high-quality accounting software package, get one or retain an experienced bookkeeping firm. Strong financial management is essential to the health of your organization and there's no way to manage grants effectively if the fiscal house isn't in order.
In the euphoria of receiving grant funds, staff members can forget to review the grant proposal to refresh their memory on the specifics laid out in the narrative and this can lead to problems. It is not unusual for three to nine months to pass between submission of a proposal and receipt of an award. Nobody's memory is that good. Upon receipt of an award, call a meeting of the executive, fiscal, and program staff who will be involved and review the grant document to ensure a common understanding of exactly what is must be done.
If the grant included a thorough Methods Section with a detailed time-line assigning responsibility for major tasks, that will be extremely helpful. If the proposal didn't include that, now's a good time to hammer out those details. By reviewing the proposal thoroughly and making sure all elements are implemented as planned, you'll be laying the groundwork for success and avoiding major problems that are inevitable when grant implementation drifts off course from the original plan.
The Grantsmanship Center is working with our Senior Grants Management Consultant, Henry Flood, to publish a series of in-depth articles on grants management. While all grants management requires checks, balances, documentation, fiscal controls, and the like, there is no doubt that grants from government agencies are especially demanding.
If you have received a grant from a federal government agency, be sure you study that agency's rules and regulations regarding grants, and that you also study the Office of Management and Budget OMB Circular that specifies the administrative rules regarding grants to an organization such as yours i. If the agency doesn't provide you with a grants management document or booklet, ask if they have one and if so, get it. If you don't understand something, figure out who can provide you with accurate information and call them.
If you are overwhelmed, retain a consultant to determine exactly what you need to do and to help you get the necessary systems set up. Almost all grants require that financial and program progress reports be submitted according to a schedule. With the hectic work pace that often accompanies receipt of a grant award, it's critical to establish a system for recording when reports are due and then reminding responsible staff of upcoming deadlines.
If staff members realize that reports are due within a week, or are past due, it's not possible to do a high-quality job and poor or late reporting will damage your organization's credibility with the funder.
Even if a funder does not demand reports, provide them. It's good business practice, enhances credibility, and helps to build a solid relationship with the funder. You can establish your own reporting calendar in this situation, but take it seriously and make sure you provide information at the six and twelve month points at a minimum.
If you've never done a grant report, and the funder hasn't provided a format, include the following information:. Reports, like any other important documents must pass up a chain of command for sign-offs before being submitted. When establishing the reporting calendar, schedule in time for submission of drafts to supervisors, draft revisions, and final sign-off. An Outlook or other electronic calendar can be used to schedule reports and remind staff members of deadlines, and a master reporting calendar can be established on a spreadsheet.
Just be sure that someone is minding that shop. Most grant proposals include some sort of collaboration with other organizations. These partnerships are usually critical to implementing a program and sometimes involve the sharing of grant funds through subcontracts.
When the funded proposal includes partnerships with other organizations, it's critical to make a strong start together and avoid misunderstandings. A grant award increases your organization's capacity to serve the community and shows that funders are willing to invest in its work.
Some funders request that their grant contributions be announced to the public, but even when they don't, it's a good idea. Let the public know what's happening, highlight your organization's commitment to the cause, and publicly thank your funder for the support.
It's a good investment in community relations, and funder relations, and may even help build future support for what you're doing. Wondering where to start? Bring us to your community Strengthen your organization, serve more clients, and empower your community. Is your organization eligible? Jerry Bertrand Experienced as trainer, consultant, and coach On-site trainer for 16 federal agencies, 7 state governments, and various local governments Focus: Social Enterprise for Nonprofits.
What is a Grant Proposal? Print What is a Grant Proposal? Identifying the actions that have the highest likelihood of producing the desired change, documenting why you expect the approach to succeed, and committing to exactly what your organization will deliver within a set time frame. Imposing accountability on yourself rather than expecting some outside watchdog to do it. Communicating fully and honestly with staff members, beneficiaries, board members, the community, contributors, major donors, and grantmakers.
Claiming and celebrating successes, and acknowledging, examining and learning from failures. Getting the Grant Print Getting the Grant Compelling description of the situation your organization will address This section of a grant proposal may be called the problem statement, statement of need, or something similar.
A strong statement of the problem will address the following: What are their qualities or characteristics? How many people are affected and where do they live? In what ways are they affected and to what extent? How do you know? Be clear about this.
Quantify the problem using hard data and cite your sources. Your understanding of the target population is critical. Why is the problem significant? There are urgent and compelling problems all around us. Why is it important to address this situation now? If there is credible research on the subject, discuss it. It can sometimes be useful to shown how the local problem compares with the state or national situation.
Why is the problem occurring? Identification of the causes of the situation will lead you directly to possible solutions. Remember to ask those affected by the problem why they think it exists. Their direct experience is invaluable and can help challenge preconceived notions that you, your team, or even a potential funding partner might have about the situation. As you explore the problem and its causes, a helpful question to ask is: How do we know this?
Well thought-out plan of action! Who — Who will be in charge of getting the work done? What are their qualifications? Who will be served or affected? How many people will be involved?
Are there any specific criteria for people to be involved in this project? Discuss any collaborative efforts that will be part of the program.
What — What will be happening? What are the specific strategies that will be used? When — What is the timeline for activities? Where — Where will the work take place?
How — How will the work be accomplished? What resources will be used to get the job done? Plan to evaluate Nearly every funder will ask for a description of how you will evaluate the grant-funded program.
Start by making a chart with four columns: A few more points about the budget: Typically, grant proposals include budgets for one year time periods.
If you are submitting a multi-year request, calculate each year separately and include a summary that shows the multi-year total. Remember you are projecting a budget. Therefore, you want to think not just about what the line items would cost today, but what will they cost when you actually incur the expense.
Will salaries go up? The value of donations should be calculated in the total program budget and then indicated in the other funding column. Value should be based on what you would actually pay in your community for that item if you had to pay cash for it.
Be certain that there are no expenses in your budget request that are unexplained. Some funding sources will ask for a budget narrative, which gives you an opportunity to explain each item, how you calculated it, and how it is important to your proposed program. Attachments Sometimes funders require that you send additional attachments along with your proposal. Get rid of excess words. Write so that anyone can understand what you mean.
Have someone who is not familiar with your organization or the proposed program read the grant proposal. Can they understand what you are saying? A grant proposal is not the place to dazzle others with your vast vocabulary. Avoid acronyms or jargon. Make your point at the beginning of each section and at the beginning of each paragraph. This prepares the proposal for skimmers. Remember, reviewers usually have many proposals to read.
They appreciate your getting to the point. Remember that reviewers are human, and the more interesting we make our proposals, the more likely the readers are to read them thoroughly. Find the Right Funding. Find the Right Funding Once you understand your organization's mission and priorities, you're ready to begin identifying funders that might be a good fit.
There are no shortcuts to finding the right funding source. Nothing can replace thorough research. Look beyond the obvious funders to find a wider group of prospects.
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