The Truth About Grants
No organisation can function without a steady income stream. Even Not For Profit (NFP) organisations that maintain most of their activities through the help of donors and volunteers need to have a secure funding background, because eventually bills will arrive. The current funding landscape is changing rapidly and increasingly NFP organisations must find innovative ways of self-funding, as government grants and assistance dry up.
We like to advise clients on having a Funding Mix that secures smooth operational funding from varied and secure revenue sources; preferably some social enterprise that forms the funding backbone of the organisation. This is required while also having a list of priority projects that can be aligned to grant opportunities as they surface from donor agencies. That way, as opportunities come forth, projects from the list can be put forward for funding.
Grants are a great way to fund new projects and attract seed funding from donor organizations and foundations. While a variety of grant opportunities are available, most funding is aligned to priorities that the donor prefers to fund. There is also an element of chance to whether the application/project appeals to the assessment board. Grants are not the answer to quick funding, as they might take months to be assessed and submitting a grant is not a guarantee of success. Some flexibility in the project deliverables is also required as these will need to be aligned to the priority outcomes of the fund, obviously without compromising the integrity or the mission of the project or beneficiary.
How We Make It Happen
The client gives us a list of projects that need funding.
Projects are ideally loosely-packaged, with the main operating documents compiled. These include objectives, a rough budget, staff list and target beneficiaries established. Most donors will not fund operational costs like salaries, insurance, rent, loans etc. However, most expenses can be claimed if they are part of a project.
Identifying Funding Opportunities
We offer clients a quarterly update of available grants that match their projects, a cost included in our retainer. Each client receives a breakdown of upcoming funding opportunities that are matched with their priority projects. The list details the grant, funding body, maximum value, deadline, project most aligned to grant and the approximate number of hours required to compile an application (please see the generic grants available table below). Clients then confirm if they are interested in going for the chosen opportunities. From confirmation to submission please allow 3 weeks at least. At all stages discussion and collaboration between the grant writer and client is encouraged.
Aligning project objectives, outcomes and deliverables to the fund priorities allows us a greater chance of gaining funding. We like calling this ‘Packaging the Project to Grant Priorities’. If possible, we will hold a meeting with the stakeholders identified. This will provide us with all the necessary buzzwords and jargon, as well as help start materialising the project. This can also identify any initial hindrances that might be expected.
Applications might require several project planning documents (a budget, project staff list, stakeholder map, timelines, Gantt chart, event running list etc.).
Support letters for the project in need are to be collected by the client. We request that any letters or emails showing appreciation for the client‘s work are collected and saved for this aim.
We will require access to organisational details as needed in the application. Most will already be available; however, we might require data of a sensitive nature, like bank account details and statements. The nature of our work requires a degree of trust from both parties, as we also share our intellectual property. This reciprocal understanding will be formalized with a Non-Disclosure Agreement.
Most organisations will have most of these documents available and updated. However, if an application requires attachments like: an organisation chart, duty statements for positions, financial policies and procedures (systems manual), a business plan, operational risk management plan or minutes of board meetings etc., and they are not available, we will be happy to help develop them. The time spent on developing and finalizing such items will be billed at the same rate.
Once all the grant application building blocks are in place, we can start writing – which, depending on the detail required in the application, can take anywhere from 2- 16 hours. I like to add as many information matrixes and visual tools as the application allows. This will help to accentuate the proposal we’re submitting from other competing applications that might be repetitive and text-laden.
Obviously, not every application has the same resources or time allowances for its completion, but one can be certain that investments at the application stage offer a high return.
At #MakingItHappen we look forward to helping you fund your projects through grants - whether from local, state, national, international or corporate social responsibility donors. We will find the best fit for you and your goodwill projects.