In This Chapter
* Boning up on grant basics
* Planning the grant-seeking process
* Connecting to public and private sector grants
* Looking at the paper and e-grant submission processes
* Keeping tabs on submission statuses and moving forward after a rejection
Anyone can attempt to write grant requests, but what makes an award-winning grant writer? A curious, needs-driven, community-connected person who's willing to approach the grant-seeking and grant-writing process one day or task at a time. To become a crack grant writer, you need to understand grant-related terminology. You want to organize the grant-seeking and application processes and familiarize yourself with the different types of potential funding sources. You also need to note how each potential funding source wants you to submit your request for funding and then track that request after you submit it.
In this chapter, I start you down the right path to grant writing success by opening your mind and abilities to understanding grant language and how to match needs to available bucks.
Getting the Lowdown on Grant Basics
Before diving into the wonderful world of grant writing, you need to understand a few essentials, such as exactly what a grant is and who qualifies for one. Additionally, being able to understand what grantors want to fund is critical to crafting the right proposal for the right grantor. I explain all these topics and more in the following sections.
Grants, grantees, grantors, and more: Defining common terms
Basically speaking, a grant (or, federally, a cooperative agreement) is a monetary award given by a grantor to a grantee. I use these terms throughout the book, so understanding them is important. Here's how I define them:
A grant award can be used for whatever the grantor wants to fund, which is why reading the funding guidelines is so critical to your chance for success. (Refer to Part II for tips on poring over funding guidelines from multiple types of grantors.)
Some grant awards come with basically no strings attached, but many others require you to use the funds in a certain way. Grantors with lots of strings attached to their monies are almost always government grant-making agencies (local, state, and federal public sector funders). Grantors with few strings attached are referred to as private sector funders. These grantors usually include corporate and foundation grant makers.
So how do you get a grantor to give you a grant and make you a grantee? You send a grant application or proposal (also known as a funding request). A grant application is an advance promise of what you or your organization (the grantee) proposes to do when the grantor fulfills your request for funding. I tell you more about the pieces or sections of a grant application/proposal later in this chapter.
Outlining the pieces of a grant application
A government grant or cooperative agreement application is a written funding request that you use to ask for money from a government agency. Government grant applications are all individualized by each of the 26 federal grant-making agencies. Each federal agency has dozens of agencies under its wing that release Notices of Funding Availability (NOFAs) or Request for Applications (RFAs). Each NOFA or RFA has different funding priorities and guidelines for what you need to write in order to submit a responsive and reviewable grant application. Government grant applications generally require that you write narrative responses for these sections (which I cover in more depth in Part IV):
A foundation or corporate grant application typically takes the form of a proposal. A proposal is a structured document that must follow each grant maker's specific guidelines. Writing a proposal to a foundation or corporation requires the same adherence to the guidelines and incorporation of relevant information as completing government grant applications does. Some foundations and corporate grant makers accept the Common Grant Application formats (see "Getting your request in the door at foundations" later in this chapter for more details).
Determining who can apply for a grant
The types of organizations or entities eligible to apply for a grant vary from grantor to grantor, and in the case of government grants, often from NOFA to NOFA or RFA. Each type of grantor (government, foundation, or corporate) always includes clear, published grant-making guidelines that indicate who or what type of entity is eligible to apply for those specific grant funds. (See the grantor's website or request a paper copy of its grant-making guidelines by phone or e-mail.) Government agencies typically include one or more of the following types of grant applicants in their eligible applicant language:
Most grants go to organizations that have applied to the IRS for nonprofit status and have received the IRS's 501 (c)(3) designation. Foundation and corporate grantors focus predominately on nonprofit organizations and aren't inclined to fund for-profits. However, a few grants are given to individuals (see Chapter 7 for details).
Since I've been writing grant applications, I've seen a growing number of grant awards made to cities, villages, townships, counties, and even state agencies. Although none of these governmental units are IRS 501 (c)(3) designees, they're still nonprofit in structure and can apply for and receive grant awards from the federal government, foundations, and corporations.
Knowing Why You Need a Plan
If you're looking for funding to support an organization or a specific program, the first rule in grant seeking is that you don't write a grant request without first completing a comprehensive planning process that involves your organization's (the grant applicant's) key stakeholders: administrative staff and the board of directors.
Without key stakeholder input on what your target population (the people your organization serves) needs and the plan for closing the gap on these needs, you're fishing without the right bait. You must have an organized funding development plan to guide your organization in adopting priority programs and services and then identifying all potential grantors you plan to approach with grant requests. A funding development plan answers questions such as
When you answer these questions, you can begin to look at the multitude of areas where grants are awarded and begin to prioritize the type of funding you need. I write more about funding development plans in Chapter 2.
Investigating Different Grant Types
Every potential grant-funding agency publishes specific types of funding it awards to potential grant seekers. When you know what you want to use grant monies for (see the preceding section), you can evaluate whether your request fits with the type of funding the grantor has available. For example, if you want money for an after-school program, you can skip applying to a grantor that's awarding building/renovation grants. The following list gives you the scoop on the different categories of funding offered:
Connecting to Public Sector Grants
I probably receive more than 100 e-mails daily and just as many telephone queries weekly. Everyone wants grants! If you're feeling clueless as to how to find potential funding for your organization, you simply need to use the Internet. You can search for potential sources that are interested in what your organization needs in the way of goods and services. Fire up your computer and start searching for the monies that may be waiting for your organization. One of the largest grant-making entities is the U.S. government. If you want to score big in grant awards, start with Uncle Sam.
Conducting a funding search leads you to the money. But before you start your search, you need to know what type of grant money (or grantor) will pay you to implement your idea, project, or program. I introduce you to your options in the following sections.
Excerpted from Grant Writing For Dummies by Beverly A. Browning Copyright © 2011 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Excerpted by permission of John Wiley & Sons. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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