Read an Excerpt
GRANT WRITING 101
Everything You Need to Start Raising Funds Today
By VICTORIA M. JOHNSON
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2011McGraw-Hill
All rights reserved.
Which Type of Grant Is Right for You?
Tin cup fundraising is antiquated. Modern fundraising gives donors the opportunity to invest in exciting initiatives and programs. Donors want a chance to change their corner of the world.
—Richard B. Ajluni, Director of Major Gifts, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
The first order of business for a new grant writer is to know what's out there. This chapter decodes some of the terminology that is used to describe the many ways grant dollars are awarded. Before we look at the types of grants, it makes sense to review the seven most common purposes for writing a grant proposal. Knowing your purpose will help you to narrow the search for the appropriate type of grant. Familiarity with these purposes also helps you to know what to ask for in your grant proposal.
If a grant guideline says that the organization only funds project grants, you want to make sure that's what you submit. This means that you ask for support of a specific project such as the study of penguins in the Antarctic, the acquisition of equipment for a computer lab, funding of a new art exhibition. A project has an end to it. These sample projects end when the penguin study concludes, the computer lab is equipped, and the art exhibit opens. Project grants are not ongoing. While the computer lab will have ongoing operating costs, your request for equipment is for a specific onetime expense. The purchase happens only once. While the art gallery will always have exhibits, bringing one specific exhibition to the gallery can be called a project. You bring it only once, even if the exhibit is there for a year.
Sometimes funders want to support ongoing efforts. This can be an education program at a zoo, a mentoring program at a YWCA, a job-preparation program with The Salvation Army, and so on. Programs are usually ongoing or multiyear. Funders often like to help implement new programs or expand programs when there's a need in the community. Program grants can help to supply materials, equipment, and brochures and pay for any number of events and activities. Some grants may cover staff costs. The thing to remember is that all the requested funds must go entirely to that specific program. Thus, if you want a grant for the salary of a program mentor and that person works in three programs, then only one-third of her salary can be requested in that grant or whatever portion you determine contributes to that program. As you'll learn in the coming chapters of this book, you ask only for the items identified as allowable expenses for the grant, whether they fund project or program grants.
Every organization has operating costs, that is, the monthly expenses to keep the organization operational. This includes overhead such as rent, utilities, ongoing equipment rentals, and staff costs. The organization still has to justify the necessity of the costs and what impact the funds will have. The funder expects more than just keeping the organization going for a few months. Funders expect results, whether that is hiring a new grant manager to help increase income or paying the rental deposit for an organization to move to a larger facility to increase its reach in the community.
Organizational Effectiveness Grants
These types of grants help organizations to improve their way of doing business. You could request an organizational effectiveness grant to perform a study of your practices, to hire a consultant to help you develop a program, to carry out the recommendations of a consultant, or to implement your organization's internal strategies to improve your efficiency, competence, or outcomes in performing your mission. For example, say that your organization wants to increase revenue, and you're considering revamping your fee structure for the services your organization provides. You first may want to hire a consultant, who will bring expertise that your staff does not have, to guide you in your decisions. Such an expert will ensure that your organization doesn't price itself out of the marketplace, maximizes your income potential, and may even help with your marketing strategy to publicize the new fees.
Funders want organizations to be sustainable, that is, to increase their capability to support themselves. What could your organization do to become self-supporting? That's what capacity-building funders want to hear about. Far too many organizations in the nonprofit sector don't look beyond the current year. They keep relying on the same income that they've always had. (But not guerilla grant writers.) You might request these funds to implement an annual campaign program, to purchase one of the corporate and foundation online directories that will help you to find new funders, or to build a new exhibit in your museum that will bring more visitors and thereby increase your revenue. Staff development (improving skills) could qualify as well.
Capital expenses (anything above $100,000) are for things that have a long life, such as structures, buildings, and major equipment, although specialized vehicles also may fall into this category. Major renovations to buildings, such as adding an exhibit hall to an aquarium, count as a capital expense. The variety of opportunities means that there are a number of ways to request these funds. Some might require an extensive grant application process, whereas others may require a packet of your materials with a letter. Your research will reveal the way to make a capital grant request. Often the grant application is only the first step before a capital grant is awarded. Funders at this level are very committed to the organization and its mission or to the community the organization serves. They often will provide the funding in multiyear payments with checkpoints along the way to be sure that your project is on track. Some funders may require your organization to make the upfront payments and then reimburse you.
Endowment funds are meant to help sustain the organization or a specific program of the organization far into the future. The principal funds aren't spent; rather, only the interest from them is spent each year for general operating costs or earmarked purposes. Obviously, not every organization has endowments. Those that do may use a variety of approaches to grow the fund. They may write grant proposals, use annual appeals, make personal asks, and so on. Universities have alumni pledges. You would write a grant only after you've established a formal endowment program.
Now that you're acquainted with the various grant purposes, I can spring another concept on you. All the purposes just listed can have either a restricted or unrestricted constraint on them. Restricted means that there is a specific use within the purpose that the grant funds are intended for. In the preceding project grant example for the study of penguins in the Antarctic, a grantor may restrict the project grant to cover only the travel expenses for the participants in the study. Similarly, a restricted program grant for the job-preparation program may limit the funds to be used only on equipment purchases. On the other hand, an unrestricted grant to the Antarctic project means that the organization can use the funds for any costs related to that project, such as, travel, salaries, supplies, rental equipment, food, and so on. Whether the funds you receive are restricted or unrestricted depends on your proposal. What
Excerpted from GRANT WRITING 101 by VICTORIA M. JOHNSON. Copyright © 2011 by McGraw-Hill. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.