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Grants for Nonprofit Organizations

| February 4, 2010 | 4 Comments

Getting grants for nonprofit organizations is a very challenging process, but there are many valuable opportunities. These are some steps to guide you through this process.

          First, make sure you are eligible to receive grants. Most foundations make grants only to 501 (c) (3) organizations. Check your tax status to be sure you qualify. If not, you may be able to find a 501 (c) (3) organization that is willing to act as a pass through entity so that you can receive grant money until your organization gets its own tax status finalized.

          Second, do your research. Two of the most important points will be finding foundations that have an interest in your subject area and that give in your geographical location. Many foundations give only to limited geographical regions so do not waste your efforts if you are not eligible. Grants are highly competitive and there are many things you can do to improve your odds of getting funding. Research the foundation’s procedures and follow all instructions carefully. Make sure you follow their application process and submit all the documents they require. Answer their questions fully and honestly. Take note of their grantmaking schedule and be sure you do not miss any application deadlines. If permitted, include back up documents that show you are doing valuable work like letters of endorsement, press clips, and fact sheets about the quality and quantity of services and accomplishments you have developed. If possible, it is always very helpful to have some contact in advance with the foundation’s staff. Some foundations are so small that they have no staff, but larger foundations usually have program officers who may be willing to talk with you by phone or even accept a meeting in person. Check the foundation’s website to find the program officer in the subject area pertinent to our organization.

          For example, if you are an environmental organization, look for the program officer for environmental and sustainability issues. If the program officer is willing to speak with you, prepare the major questions you want to get answered. This will usually include asking if they would be likely to consider funding the project you are proposing, and what would be the appropriate level of support to ask for. You do not want to waste time preparing a proposal that is outside of their current interests, or harm your chances by asking for a level of support that it is far outside of their capacity. Many foundations will encourage you to submit a brief letter of inquiry before submitting a full proposal to avoid wasting your time and resources.

          Another helpful strategy is to find a way to get referred to a foundation by a personal contact. Review your own board of directors and supporters. If they have a personal contact among the staff of the foundation you are interested in, this is a great way to enhance your chances. It may help you to get funding or it may help you to get an informational meeting that can provide valuable leads on other sources of funding. Getting grants takes a lot of effort but it can pay off if you proceed wisely.

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Category: Business Grants, Grants For Non-Profit Organizations

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