Grant writing is super easy…until you need to sit down and actually do it. In theory, it’s nothing more than selling your organization to people who have available money when you don’t have it, but it’s actually a pretty detailed process. Finding the funders that support your mission is a job all in itself and can take hours or even days to sift through. You go through a lot of funders that are not the right fit to find the handful that are. THEN you have to compile information to give to the funder to be considered which could take another an hour or a few months, depending on what is being asked for. It can be exhausting, especially if you don’t have all you need before you begin. Putting together grant proposals piece-by-piece without having all that you need makes this process nearly impossible and frustrating. So, before you even consider applying for a grant, make sure you have four things squared away to make your responsibility as a grant writer a lot easier.
1. Your organization needs to be legit. We’d like to think that most people are honest and don’t try to hurt others, but there are people out there that take advantage of the system. I know this comes a shock to some people so I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself off the floor and gather your self………………… Ok, back to it. The organization you’re looking to fund has to be legit in the eyes of the law. This basically means you’ve filed the right forms with the IRS (for non-profits go to http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4220.pdf and for-profits need to go to the Division of Corporations). You can’t just dream up a project on your own and email funders for money and expect people to back you, no matter how good the idea is. They are looking for real organizations with staying power and by being established by the eyes of the law, you can accomplish this.
2. Speaking of ideas…you need one. Your passion is awesome and it is the first thing you need for everything you do, but you need to have your ideas organized. I’ve come across many organizations that have the enthusiasm and the drive to get the job done; the only problem is they’re all over the place. There comes a point when the 16 projects you’re trying to get going need to be prioritized and some are going to need to be put on hold. Always dream big, but work towards achieving your dreams one step at a time. We live in a get it done yesterday society, but if you want success, you need to give the necessary time and attention to what you’re doing. Narrow down the projects list to one main project and elaborate on that. Think it through – what all is needed? what is the goal? what is the purpose? how will it be rolled-out? Funders don’t want to award funds to organizations that don’t have their stuff together. You have to have a well-thought out and focused idea, so pick one project and stick with it.
3. Budget. This is another fun part for any organization. Most people aren’t that thrilled to put together and maintain a budget, but you need to have one. Not to sound like a broken record (or an mp3 that’s on repeat) but funders want to know that you are serious about what you’re doing. Put yourself in their shoes.
Hypothetical Example: Let’s say some random stranger comes up to you and asks you for $10,000(which you have to give) to work on a public garden. How did they come up with number? Pulling it out of the sky won’t work. They only way to justify the need is through a budget. Don’t know how to put one together? See my post on budgeting http://otheroptionsfunding.com/?p=73.
4. This is probably the most important of them all: DON’T BE GREEDY. The first reaction to this is just to ask for more than what is needed, but don’t take advantage.This is a good opportunity to form a relationship with a funder for years to come, but if you ask for an unsupported, outrageous amount, you won’t get very far. Even if you need more money but the funder is a good fit and awards less than what you need, apply anyway. You can find the remaining funds somewhere else.
Writing grants takes time, patience, and the willingness to write them. As long as you start off right, you’ll be able to better your chances for a successful campaign.
Don’t Lose Hope,