Never Applied for A Grant? Here's What You need to know
What is a Grant?
A grant is a form of financial support provided by the government or other organisations to an entity working to promote and advance a certain cause. Grants can be a key determinant of success for a non-profit organisation. However, to be awarded funding, certain criteria must be met.
Who Issues Grants?
These are issued by the government to address underlying issues within the community. The focus of government grants is usually to fund services or supports that benefit the country or state. An example of this would be grants that fund primary health services to address various health issues within local communities.
Private Foundation Grants
These grants are funded by individuals or groups to support a cause that is usually specific and aligned to the funder’s vision.
An increasing number of corporations today seek to be perceived by the public as socially responsible. They may provide grants to non-profit organisations whose vision and goals are aligned with theirs. For example, a real estate corporation might offer grants to non-profits that support homeless shelters.
Writing Your First Grant Application
Finding Where To Apply
With information readily available online, it is easier than ever to find grant opportunities. With a bit of web research, you might find some leads. You may also review websites of some successful local charities and non-profits to identify their funding source(s) and assess whether similar grant opportunities could be targeted by your organisation.
Doing Your Research
Once you have a list of potential grant opportunities you want to write an application to, it is crucial to do your thorough research to narrow down your list to a few or even one grant. It is always better to give your full time and effort to a grant that you know you can succeed at getting than to half-heartedly apply to all of them. If your grant providers get applications for projects they are not interested in, which they clearly mentioned on their application process or website, those applications will be rejected from the very beginning,
While narrowing down to the grant that is suitable for your non-profit, go through all the requirements and criteria of the grant to ascertain whether you will be able to meet them or not. The most important thing to keep in mind is that your values should align with the organisation awarding the grant. The grant providers will normally list all the types of causes they are interested in and what project they would like to fund.
Be sure to figure out whether the grant is for a specific area, city, state, etc. As in most cases it is, make sure you are eligible to apply based on your area as well.
Know Your Funder
While it is important to do your research on what is required for the application process, it is equally important that you understand the funder’s vision and what they stand for.
Plan Your Revenue Allocation
Before getting into the actual writing of the grant application, you should ascertain how your organisation would allocate the funds if rewarded the grant. Although this is quite basic, for most grants, it carries a lot of weight. Grants are awarded to those non-profits that can satisfactorily prove that the funds given to them will be used effectively and productively. You can better understand how things will proceed if you have a revenue allocation plan from the beginning.
You should also identify the amount of funding on offer, as this would represent the limit to which you are funded.
Be Clear And Never Leave Room for Doubt
When writing your grant application, it is crucial to be clear in your wording. If you leave room for misunderstanding or fail to align your narrative to the required context, your application may get rejected even if you meet all mandatory criteria. Your main focus needs to be on achieving clarity and conciseness while developing a compelling case that is aligned with grant objectives for your project to be funded.
A grant provider reviewing hundreds of applications can only appreciate a concise application.
It Is Okay To Be A Little Informal
Despite grant writing being a technical task, it is okay to be sparingly informal in the sense of telling a compelling story and sharing your project vision with the funder. Successful grant applications always include elements that try to inspire the reader and spark positive emotions.
Get In Touch With Previous Grant Winners
Do some research on whether any non-profit has been awarded the same grant in the past, and get tips on what key factors to focus on when writing the grant application.
Find Grant Writing Courses
Do a little research on what grant writing courses are being offered in your region. Before applying, check whether courses include specific topics on funders you are looking to approach.
Find Grant Writing Examples
Every grant opportunity is unique. You could request non-profits who have had success with funding applications to share insights into particular funders and their assessment approach. You may get access to some good examples.
Enrolling in a grant writing course is also a good way to access specific application examples.
Get Everybody Involved
This is important! Your entire team needs to make a collective effort in preparing the grant application. Specialist team members are generally able to provide specific and valuable information for inclusion to applications. Furthermore, it is necessary to have varied perspectives on how to approach the application, as there normally isn’t one best way.
Pay Attention to Formatting
Grant applications can take different forms. Sometimes, funders require you to fill out a questionnaire. On other occasions, they may just highlight their requirements and let you prepare a response in your own format. Ensure you are approaching the application in a manner that fully adheres with the funder’s stated specifications.
Speak Their Language
When preparing your application, always include phrases and concepts mentioned by the funder in their RFT (Request For Tender) documentation. This is useful for aligning your response to the funder’s concept from the program.
Keep Track of Deadlines
Most funders are exceptionally sensitive about deadlines. Ensure that you are fully aware of timeframes to not miss any key deadlines. Establish your target timeframe for finalising the application well before the deadline itself, and utilise any excess time to review and improve the submission.
Ensure You Have All the Required Files Ready
Funders will normally prescribe a set of documents for you to prepare as part of the submission pack (e.g. your budget). They may require these in a specific format and/or have specific names for each file. Always ensure you thoroughly understand these request conditions, since good applications can be rejected on grounds of non-conformance.
Non-profit Grant Writing Groups on Social Media
Social media can be a great way to connect with groups that focus on grant writing. Try conducting some searches on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Hiring Copy Writing Firms or Individuals
If your team finds it difficult to manage the complexities of grant writing, you can always consider hiring expert copywriting firms or individuals who are experts at technical writing. You should consider those who have experience and a proven success record.
To Wrap It Up
Winning your first grant can take considerable time and effort. Also, you cannot win them all. There can be a string of failures before success is achieved.
For as long as you are clear about your business’s vision and purpose and are able to identify alignment with the funder’s requirement(s), you will be well on your way to scoring a potential win!