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What are grants?
And are you ready for them? Part 2

by Larissa Golden Brown

What are grants?
Read the first part of this two part article What Are Grants Part 1

And Are You Ready for Them

Are you ready for grants? The top 10 questions to ask yourself

Now that you have a more realistic perspective about grants, it's time to see whether you are ready to apply for them. Ask yourself:

  1. Are you a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, or a public agency or public school?

  2. Do you have a mission statement that succinctly identifies an important community need and shows you want to address it?

  3. Do you have at least one program or project that makes sense as part of your mission, and has written goals for the coming year?

  4. Do you have an overall organizational budget for your upcoming year?

  5. Which parts of your budget do you want to raise grants for, and why those elements? How much do you expect to raise from grant seeking?

  6. Can you wait 3-12 months to start receiving this funding?

  7. Do you have records of your actual revenue and expenses for the past two years, including if possible an audited financial statement?

  8. Do you have an active board of directors, who meet regularly and help drive the organization's direction?

  9. Do you have at least one person who is willing and able to commit some time each week to grant seeking?

  10. Can you explain the specific reasons you want grant funding at this time?

If you couldn't provide positive, confident answers to these questions, you or your organization may not be ready (or willing) to compete for grants. If you could, congratulations! You are already more prepared than many of your competitors. However, there is still more work to do before you start typing up grant proposals. For example, you will need to do some research on local funding sources and their proposal guidelines and deadlines. Then from those many opportunities, you will pick only the funders whose interests best match your group's specific needs.

These tasks are the meat and potatoes work of grant seeking, and to do them you may want further help. Get it from sources like books geared toward beginners and local grants experts who may be willing to sit down with you and share advice. To find an expert, try contacting the local branch of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Talking to people who work in grant seeking will give you a good idea of what the process is really like.

A professional will be impressed if you can clearly answer the ten questions above. That's because, though all your grant proposals should be different, they will all contain the kind of material suggested by the ten questions. Putting that material together for the first time can be laborious. In fact, it's usually more trouble than it's worth to apply for just one grant. However, if you make an up-front investment of time in organization and research, it will be just as easy to apply for ten grants as one. Efficient grant seeking - the kind that doesn't waste volunteer time - is an ongoing, repetitive process. It doesn't take a full-time effort to get results - even a few hours a week could be sufficient - but the work does have to be steady and conscientious. Good luck!

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About the Author:

Larissa Golden Brown is co-author of Demystifying Grant Seeking: What You REALLY Need to do to Get Grants, a hands-on, affordable book for beginners to grant seeking.

The book can be purchased through:

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