A Beginner’s Guide to Grant Funding
A Beginner’s Guide to Grant Funding | Grants – What are they?
According to Wikipedia, grants are “non-repayable funds or products disbursed or given by one party (grant makers), often a government department, corporation, foundation or trust, to a recipient, often (but not always) a non-profit entity, educational institution, business or an individual”.
Funding from grants enables your organization to expand beyond operational budget limits, bridging the gap between its resources and its needs. Grant opportunities are a great choice for cash-strapped public safety agencies and local government agencies.
What is Required to Secure Grant Funding?
We will discuss in depth the key points involved in pursuing grant funding. In brief, there are three crucial steps for grant awards:
- Be clear what the grant funds money is for (e.g., a specific project or general operating expenses)
- You need to research prospective funders – either private or public – to find those that are best suited to your organization
- An effective grant application must have at least a 50/50 chance of being funded (which means the funders you’ve chosen are reasonable targets given your experience and past accomplishments)
How can I help my Department put together a Grant Application
Before beginning the grant application process, the first step is pre-registration. The best practice is to complete these steps as you wait for the grant program to open. A federal government grant applicant must meet the following pre-registration requirements:
- Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Obtain a DUN and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS Number)
- Register with SAM.gov
- Register with FEMA GO (FEMA Grants Outcome site for FEMA grants only)
Steps in Getting a Grant:
The grant writing process might seem a traumatic one if you are not prepared for the grant application and management process. You want to have all your ducks in a row before even planning grant funding.
Competitive grant applications take much more than simply being eligible. Grant-seeking needs extensive pre-application work to produce a competitive proposal package from paperwork to board buy-in. Here’s a checklist to go over before deciding whether or not you’re ready to apply for that grant you’ve been eyeing.
A good place is to start is a 7-step guide to the grant lifecycle:
- Define your project
- Research grants that match your project
- Prepare necessary documentation and information
- Create and review your application
- Apply and monitor the status
- Manage your award funds
- Complete the acquisition process
Your organization has three main fundraising options:
- Request donations from individual donors
- Submit proposals for grant funding to foundations and government funding agencies, and
- Hold fundraising campaigns to collect funds
There are similarities in the motivation behind each – to collect funds to support programs and core operations – but the resources required and the tasks involved will vary according to the method. They are not interchangeable ways to generate revenue. While grant funding can be appropriate for some organizations, no organization should rely 100% on grant funding. Grants may not be a good option for some organizations, either because they lack the capability to write grants or because the organization’s top need is core funding.
Grant eligibility varies by program. Notices of funding opportunities (NOFOs), notices of funding announcements (NOFAs), and requests for proposals (RFPs) specify the grant guidelines. In addition to the specific requirements, obtaining grant funding can be extremely competitive because there is always a higher number of requests than funds available. To meet funders’ criteria and requirements, a strong application is therefore essential.
Grant Funding Mistakes Organizations Make:
When trying to gain grant funding, organizations commonly make the following two mistakes:
- Many organizations focus their time and effort on locating open funder announcements (FOAs) rather than researching potential funders thoroughly.
- Before you focus on a grant proposal, you should be certain that your organization is a good match with the funder’s interests and mission and that your organization would be a competitive applicant.
- At a minimum, your application should be clearly written, have no blatant grammatical issues, and be correctly formatted. For most grant applications, you’ll need at least a couple of weeks to draft the application and complete at least one cycle of revisions before submitting it.