Many grants and funders can be found through the most-famous online hub: http://foundationcenter.org/. Use this "how to" guide as a learning tool to pursue grants. Here are some things to consider about grants in general, but feel free to contact Mike Keating at x3442 or Genna Welsh Kasun at x3138. We'd be happy to help!
Some FAQs about grants:
- What is your project/mission? What is the need in your area driving it? Need is the center behind any good grant. If you can make a case for need (people are starving; your program is good but needs to expand to give people x) you can nail a grant.
- What funders relate to you? Make a list of local, state, regional and national funders (they can be government entities, foundations or corporations) whose goals relate to yours. Consider outside the box, too. For example, our music professor does music, but a lot of his music involves community outreach. Does your organization’s work also involve community outreach? Arts? Culture? List some keywords like this too. Use them to search online. When you are listing each funder, note their typical grant amounts. Some give $5,000 — some $1-2 million.
- Who do you know? Often, who you know gets you to a better pile, but doesn’t win you a grant. One must have a solid proposal and, sadly, often a good connection. Think about regulars who come in to your organization such as board members, trustees, etc. These people can be helpful in making connections. Once you get going, you can make your own connections too, though. One must also call and chat up a person before sending a proposal often. Proceed carefully here. Foundation people are nice, so no worries. Don’t do this until you’ve talked it through with someone you work with.
- RFPs, ARRA, LOI — There are many acronyms to know in grant-writing; what are they?
What do they mean? Here are a few. RFP = Request For Proposal. (This is a document calling for you/your institution to apply for a grant. It is posted by the foundation/government on their site and some other sites, such as the Foundation Center.) ARRA = American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. (This is the grant associated with all the road signs/work. You can get recovery money, but there is tons of reporting to do. I am not an expert in this field. Just thought you should know it exists.) LOI = Letter of Intent. (Often, when you see a funder or grant you’re interested in, you start by writing the funder a letter of intent. This can contain two things: a.) if it pertains to a specific grant, it should introduce the need and your solution (and monetary amount needed to implement that solution) OR b.) it could just introduce your institution and invite them to visit. This is a good way to engage support. Be sure, when they visit, that you have well-thought-out funding ideas to present to them though. Ideally you present your future plans and wait for them to offer funding. (It’s a subtle game.)
- Main idea: Know thyself. You may have to feel your leaders out more to see their future aspirations, but grants require growth (a new idea, a growth on an existing idea, a new program, etc.) and sustainability. Your organization must be able to support the grant idea after the funding runs out. This is key and sustainability ideas must be present in grants. It is, however, a possibility to charge for additional programming (to customers) after a grant runs out. Some nonprofit entities cannot do this, however.
If I were you I would start making a list of potential funders (area societies and national foundations) and their interests, funding amounts and deadlines (you can write one down that’s a week from now and plan on doing a grant to that deadline NEXT YEAR). Let me know if you have questions.
Also, join us for the Grants Group on Friday afternoons (every other Friday at 3:30 in Founders 420). Contact Dr. Jeffery Demarest for more details.