Congratulations on starting the grant writing journey! If you are like most approaching the grant writing process for the first time, the task may seem daunting. This book is designed primarily to assist non-profit organizations in applying for funding, although much of the content may be helpful for other entities. I also include a section on additional training opportunities that can enhance and hone your skills as you grow. Throughout this book, I provide you with tips and recommendations from over a decade in writing grant proposals and assisting non- profits internationally. Exercises and summaries of key points in each chapter are also provided. Comments from non-profit organizations have been incorporated to relay real-life challenges and successes at each step of the process, as well as comments from foundations and other donors on the importance of these key steps.
Given my extensive work with non-profit organizations that are pursuing grant funding, there are a few things that I believe are significant to note and keep in mind on this journey:
Remain Committed to Your Organization’s Mission & Vision
Given an uncertain economy and difficult times with raising funds, it has been my experience that there is the temptation for non-profit organizations to ‘chase’ funding - even if this funding lies outside their mission or core program vision.
My experience has also been that organizations that look for grant funders and opportunities that align with their mission and vision (or otherwise do not change their purpose or focus just to receive funding), are the organizations that are the most sustainable over the long term and those that are able to leverage grant funding to make the largest impact possible once the money is received. This book allows you to be strategic about your grant pursuits and not waste time or money chasing opportunities that, in the end, may provide only temporary assistance or recognition.
Have a Clear and Specific Request in Mind
I always recommend that prior to applying for grant funding or creating a grant strategy, a non-profit organization review their annual or bi-annual goals and objectives to see if grant funding could be applied to any of these strategic initiatives. Of course, at times, funding may also be needed for more tangible needs such as capital or equipment requests. Regardless, it has been my experience that those organizations with a specific request in mind (instead of simply looking for general operating funds) typically have the most success at winning grant proposals.
Have a Diverse Revenue Strategy
Grant funding is a good source of revenue for non-profit groups, however, it should not be the only source of revenue. As it was communicated to me once: “Grants are icing on the cake; they should not be the whole cake.” A diverse revenue strategy (that includes multiple fundraising strategies) is recommended for any non-profit organization that desires to be in business for the long-term. Simply put, grants can be unpredictable. An organization may receive funding one year but not the next, or they may receive less than what was requested the prior year.
Natural disasters or other prominent social needs may lead funders to change foci from year to year. Stock market downturns could mean that grant funding that was available one year is not available the next. I have seen a few large non-profit organizations forced to close their doors simply because they relied too heavily on one source of funding (for example, a large grant that fell through unexpectedly) and without having diverse sources of revenue they were unable to continue providing services.
Recognize the Complexity Surrounding Successful Grant Proposals
Over the past several years, grant funds have become more and more difficult to obtain, even for seasoned and successful grant writers. This is partly due to economic difficulties, the lack of available funding, and…