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Create Grants That Will Get Funded
1. After you have decided on the grant you would like to apply for, determine the fit with your organization.
- Thoroughly review the grantor’s website or other published materials to make sure your proposed program fits with their established priorities.
- Be sure you look at all the grant requirements and evaluate the time and effort required relative to the funding amount of the grants. Are the grant application and subsequent reporting requirements, which can be extensive, a good use of your staff time and resources?
- Do not waste time applying for grants that are of marginal fit for your organization's mission. Remember that your organization and its programs should drive your funding solicitations, not reversely.
2. Set your timelines
- Determine if they accept proposals year round or only through an established Request for Proposals (RFP) process.
- If grantors use an RFP process, be responsive by following the deadlines.
- Plan to apply early so that you have adequate time to address any unforeseen complications with submitting the application.
- Create a "tickler" system to track when you completed and submitted your application as well as when the review dates may be and when you should receive an answer about your proposal.
3. Follow Guidelines
- Follow the established guidelines for the grant application. For example, if the grantor requires a specific font, word length or template do not ignore those instructions. You may be eliminated from the formal grant review process for that reason alone. Review theLetter of Intent Samples for examples of following and not following these guidelines.
- If the grantor allows, contact the grant manager or program officer for that organization to get clarity on expectations of the grant and to identify if your program idea is a good fit for the grantor.
- Look at the grantor's prior funding amounts and fit your request within their traditional giving range.
- Be accurate, truthful and succinct in your grant application.
- Proofread your grant proposal and have others proofread prior to submission, especially if you are cutting and pasting from other documents.
- Make sure any attachments are accurately labeled, either electronically or with a header if submitted on hard copy. Attachments may include your CV or resume, organizational description or budgets.
4. Prepare for a response
- Anticipate that not all of your grant applications will get funding. Do not be deterred by this. Grantors receive many more grants than they can fund and you will most likely experience rejection. Do not always take it as a reflection of the quality or value of your program.
- If your proposal is rejected, contact the grantor and ask about the reasons behind the decision. However, be aware that some grantors may not be able to provide that information because of limited resources and/or due to a large volume of applicants.
- Submit again in the next grant cycle, if applicable.
Council on Foundations: www.cof.org