How to find the Best Fit Grants for Your Nonprofit
Here’s how to do it:
Make Sure You Meet the Priority and Mission of the Foundation: Does the Priority of the Foundation Meet the Nonprofit’s Priority?
Take the time to really read the priority of the Foundation or the Federal Agency that has a grant out. See if it fits with what your nonprofit’s project is all about. Another thing to look at is the mission and vision of the Foundation. This should really fit with the aims of your nonprofit. If it is completely off and you have different values based on the mission and vision, this may not be the best foundation to approach. Remember, applying for a grant – especially with a Foundation – is about developing a long-lasting relationship. Be sure you get along for the blossoming long-term relationship.
Make Sure to Follow the Eligibilities
Look at the eligibility and the ineligibilities first. Be sure that if you are applying for a project that it does not get automatically rejected due to it being ineligible. That is the worst! They will throw it out before even looking at it, and it will irritate them. Remember, once again you are trying to develop a relationship with a foundation and if you hand in a grant that is completely ineligible, it is like they spoke to you for an hour and you weren’t listening. Pay attention and listen by reading the requirements.
Make Sure You Have All of the Required Documents
The second thing you have to make sure you have is that you have all of the required documents. If it says you have to attach a copy of your IRS tax-exempt status AND you are still going through the process of receiving nonprofit status, then you are not eligible. Furthermore, they may ask for an organizational chart, a list of your board of directors, a copy of your annual operating budget, or a multitude of other items. Pay attention to these and make sure you attach them!
Be Sure the Budget Ceiling is Enough for Your Project
One big flaw that I often see is that a nonprofit gets super excited about a grant application because they fit the priorities perfectly, and see that it is a perfect fit for their project. However, the one item that is not a perfect fit is the budget ceiling. For example, a foundation may only give out grants for a maximum of $5,000 per nonprofit, yet there is NO way that your nonprofit could run this particular project for $5,000, but you say you can. What happens then is that if you get the grant you will most likely not be able to meet all the goals and objectives that you promised in your grant application. This is never a good thing. In some cases, it makes it worse than not getting the grant. So what can you do to solve this? Well, you will have to drastically condense your grant project or just make this funded project a sub-project under your entire project. That can be fine if you are getting grant funding from other areas. Which brings me to…
Make Sure You Identify if There is a Match and if There is a Match, That You Have the Resources to Meet It.
If there is a matching amount required, you must raise funds or in-kind to match the grant. For example, there may be a 50% matching required for a $5,000 grant so you would have to raise an additional $2,500. Check and see if it is a cash match or in-kind. In the event you can utilize in-kind that means you can use things that amount to a value of $2,500 and not necessarily cash. That means if your nonprofit’s rent is provided by a corporation, cellphones provided by a company, or volunteers tracking their hours for your project then you may be able to include this value as your match.
Make Sure you Follow the Narrative Outline
Most Foundation proposals will tell you what they want to read. For example, they may ask for the target demographic, the needs, the goals, milestones, and the budget. Make sure you use each of these items as headers and answer each area with sufficient information.
Make Sure You Follow the Directions
If there are only four maximum pages, then don’t be cute and go for five pages for brownie points. You won’t get any, and in fact, you may get your grant proposal tossed out because you went over the page limitation. Also make sure you follow the page requirements of margin widths, font sizes, and other technical requirements.
Use these tips as you review Foundations and grant guidelines and be sure they are in line with your mission, programs, and projects!