Applying for a Grant: First Steps
Receiving a grant can make a significant difference in an organization’s ability to make change in their communities. Applying for and writing grant applications can be a complex process to start, so here are some suggestions for first steps.
Finding a Grant:
The first step in applying for a grant is finding the right grant for your organization. Look for grants that align with your organization’s mission and fit the scope of projects you are looking to accomplish. Keep in mind that grants can have a long-time frame, from the time you apply to when you receive funding. We recommend using search engines like GrantWatch or Guide Star to identify foundations or organizations that fit your criteria.
Follow All Directions:
The number one thing to remember for writing a letter of intent or applying is to follow all directions exactly. If the granting organization requires you to submit a certain size envelope, get that envelope. If they require a certain number of recommendations from community members, provide the exact number requested. more. Grantmakers and foundations often weed out applications that do not follow directions or submit on time. Although this seems like a given, granting organizations generally don’t send reminders on submission dates.
Write a Letter of Inquiry or Fill Out an Application:
Successful grant writing begins with expressing your organization’s interest in receiving a grant. Some grants require a letter of inquiry or intent, also known as an LOI or an application. Which one will depend on the organization. The information that is required for a LOI or an application will differ, but there are best practices your organization can use. The University of Massachusetts explains “It is assumed that you have already thought through your proposed project (including a budget!) and are just presenting an abbreviated description”. Use the LOI to show what your organization could accomplish. We suggest checking out Grant Watch’s 11 Tips for Writing an LOI to jump start your grant writing.
Create a Plan for Reporting:
Grants often require reporting on how the grant was used. In your LOI subsequent steps, it’s essential that you not only demonstrate how your organization will use the grant, but also how you will record what the grant money allowed your organization to accomplish. Many grants have specific metrics they require your organization to report on, but the difficulty can lie in how your organization plans to collect and track the information internally. Using a CRM to gather and record this data can be beneficial for long term reporting as well as tracking results incrementally. Best practices include creating a calendar and tasks for those who need to submit data for reporting and complying supporting documents as they are created rather than when reporting is due. Reporting can be the most time-consuming pat of the grant process. Creating a plan to collect data internally will make the process go smoother.
Grants are a great way for organizations to receive larger sums of financial support and create lasting change. Correctly applying for grants can be difficult, but the long-term impact will be worth the effort. Want to learn more about non-profit management? Check out the Julep blog.
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