What are we to think about the availability of grant funding in and for the state of Indiana? It's a broad question best approached one grantor category at a time: foundations, state agencies, and the federal agencies each take a slightly different grant seeking strategy.
Corporate, Community & Foundation
Though funding slowed in 2008/2009 in foundation and corporate giving, the streams have started to open again. But funders are more savvy and cautious with their investments. Having listened to many foundations talk about their ideal applicant and process over the last year, I've found that they are looking for mission-match and a return on their investment to the community or audience of interest to their foundation. If there is a good fit, they are giving and giving well.
That said, new ventures will want to look for duplication of services. I have heard many times from community foundations and corporate giving offices alike that they do not want to fund new organizations that will offer the same services as an existing organization. If this is the case for your organization, look for ways to partner with an existing organization and add your unique value as an extension; the result will be synergistic for your audience and your funding search through the state. Within Indiana, family and community foundations are very active.
Research the opportunities carefully and reach out and learn more about the grantor's mission and what they are looking for in an applicant (when such inquiry is not discouraged, of course). All the funders I have met this year from across the state have strongly encouraged applicants to establish a relationship before applying—after all, we are a very connected state. Here are online resources to identify community foundations and other funders in your area.
About one-third of Indiana's budget is federally funded. Some agencies are funded by more than half by federal dollars.
State funding isn’t going to be your pot of gold. But there is funding for community development, health, education, energy, agriculture, and, when it hits, disaster recovery. The key is having the right project with the right budget at the right time. Many times the grant funding goes out for proposal, in which case there are very specific requirements (many times these opportunities are federal dollars being offered as pass-through grants). Other times there are dollars in the budget for special requests and urgent need (this depends on the department of the state, so not all will offer these types of opportunity). With these opportunities you will be given the opportunity to make your request and tell your story without the formal RFP. Program directors at the state level will know about funding availability; get to know the directors responsible for programs within the state agencies that assist or regulate programs like yours.
In FY2013 Indiana has received $1.69 billion in grants from federal agencies. The Department of Education ($767M), Department of Agriculture (USDA) ($539M), and Department of Labor ($108M) were significant federal grantors to Indiana in this fiscal year. Historically, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is also a significant grantor to the state, with over 756 active awards in the state with a historic total of over $6 billion in award actions. These numbers include all awardees in the state. So where does Indiana rank? Not all agencies produce summary reports; however, for HHS we rank 18th; for Education we are 13th. For overall federal grants we are sitting at around 22nd depending on the list you review.
Bottom line: get in there and apply! There are fertile fields—you just have to sow the seeds, find the right opportunity, rally the partners, and make the commitment.
About the Author
Stacy Fitzsimmons is Founder of SNF Writing Solutions, a Planning-Proposal-Project Management consultancy. She has a passion for strategy, process, and implementation and enjoys working with a variety of nonprofit, corporate, and government clients nationally. Stacy is a state and federal grant expert with over $70 million in awards in the last 5 years. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
eCivis is the nation's leading grants management software solution and the ideal platform for improving local governments' and community-based organizations' grants performance. For more information about eCivis, visit www.ecivis.com. For media inquiries, contact email@example.com.
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