Once you’re interested in a grant, there are a few steps you should take before you organize your team to apply. Determining fit and eligibility should be at the top of your list, as well as any funding restrictions, the total workload required, and due dates. At the end of the day, you want to know whether the grant is attainable and worth the investment from all angles. For those of you new to grant seeking, this blog post’s for you.
Are your agency and your project eligible for the grant?
The number one priority to determine when researching whether a grant is a good fit for your organization is whether both your agency and your project are eligible. First, is the funding available in your geographic area? Is there sufficient amount of the desired target population available in your area to ensure adequate participation in the project? Is there a need requirement—for example, is it required that your target area be within a certain poverty level or crime rate? Importantly, you must ensure that your project matches the funder’s priorities and that you can adequately describe how your project will assist the funder in achieving its goals.
Is the grant funding restricted?
Determine the range of funding available from this source and whether the amount needed for your project falls within the minimum and maximum available. Find out if any match is required, and if so, whether in-kind contributions are eligible as match. Look closely to see if all expenses you will incur—such as travel, conference fees, food, administrative costs, etc.—can be charged against the grant.
How much work is required and when is the grant application due?
Review the grant requirements to see what documentation must be submitted. Is the narrative limited to 5,000 characters, or are they expecting something more extensive such as 50 pages, plus a budget narrative, logic model, and timeline? Determine which attachments are required and whether or not those are readily available. For instance, if the funder requires it, do you have audited financial statements, job descriptions, resumes, organizational charts, etc. available? If the grant is to be submitted online, does the site require registration several days in advance? Does the funder require partners to be involved and that you provide documentation, such as Memorandums of Understanding? Finally, how much reporting is required throughout and after the project—will you be able to collect and report the data as required?
All of these aspects must be determined before deciding whether your organization has the capacity (including time available) to apply.
About the Author
Kathy Parker is the owner/principal of Organized Words, and has been writing and managing grants for almost thirty years. She has extensive experience providing grant consultation, developing budgets, complying with grantor reporting requirements, and ensuring program outcomes are achieved. She teaches grant writing classes and provides a wide array of services, from pre-proposal preparation through grants management. She can be contacted at Kathy@Organizedwords.com.
Many agencies dealing with multiple grant funding sources rely on grants management software to help monitor funding, and increase transparency inside and outside their organization. Read more about why grants management software might be a fit for you: