No doubt this is THE single most frequent question I receive when I talk to smaller and newer nonprofit organizations. As with so many of the other myths and utter fabrications that abound about the category of nonprofits, the idea that grant funding is sitting, waiting to be harvested by any, come one, come all, so long as the grant is written and submitted is simply not the case in real life.
There is an art and science when it comes to finding granting opportunities, preparing the application with all the associated materials ( budgets, board members, program metrics and results) along with a stunningly written narrative, as well as getting it done alongside all the other work of your organization. The people who review and decide on these applications have seen thousands of applications, and have also seen every mistake, every sloppiness and omission.
Bottom Line: Not Until You Are Ready
Below is a short list of some items you need to address to be Grant Ready:
- having at least a three-year track record
- documentation of your services and demonstration of their impact and outreach
- demonstration of fiduciary responsibility and stewardship, evidence of sustainability
Some other things funders look for:
- Do you have a development and marketing program?
- What is the make-up of your board and organizational leadership?
- What are the percentages and levels of support from your board members?
- Have you organized fund raising events, and other development efforts?
- Has someone given a substantial amount to the organization, either an individual or institution?
This is what funders look for, and it’s what your competition will already have for the same grants.
Larger grants go to grants organizations that have already received and managed smaller grants. It’s a building and relationship creation process for every step.
One of My Favorite Sayings
People fund success, not causes. Having a great cause is not enough, being able to effect change with the funder’s support is.
No doubt you do good and valuable and important work, but until you can demonstrate that you can do the same, no, better, work with someone else’s funds, you are not ready.
I don’t think it helps to prepare for anything, grants or otherwise, without the ultimate goal of winning. And winning takes groundwork, thought and practice. Preparing to successfully apply and receive grant funding is no different.
Therefore, with proper planning and preparation, Yes, I will be happy to write you a grant. Get in touch by email here or by voice on 310 828 6979.
Cindy Lauren is the Principal of Lauren Associates – non profit consulting
As well as advising Executives and Boards on all aspects of nonprofit management, the firm specializes in developing fundraising solutions for all sizes of organizations.
Image Credit: … by Giulia van Pelt on Flickr.
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