If you’re trying to get grants here are the three main things you need to know . . .
> The Essential Mission Match
Most private foundations are simply nonprofits with a stated mission to fund certain types of work. In order for your organization to receive funding, your mission must match theirs. The first step to successfully securing money is “mission-match.” So, do your homework; find foundations with a funding mission that supports the type of work your charity performs.
> A Detailed-and-Deadline-Driven Process
Once you’ve identified possible foundation funding sources, you will most likely submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) introducing your organization to the foundation and outlining how you’ll use the money if it’s received. If the LOI is approved, you’ll be asked to submit a formal proposal. And if you’re asked, be ready! Every proposal is unique in structure, requirements, deadlines and format and will require detailed project and information management to be successfully completed.
> Show Your Outcomes and Impact
If your proposal is funded, most foundations will require periodic reports about how the money is being (or was) used. Successful and timely reporting increases the likelihood that you’ll receive funding in the future. BE SURE to include real-life information about your organization’s outcomes; tell at least one short story about the amazing changes that happened because of your work.
Here are a few final considerations: (1) Genuine relationships with the people running the foundation are invaluable. Pick up the phone and schedule a site visit. (2) Foundations will often help you craft your proposal. Call and ask. (3) Be ready – grants require substantial time, focus, and energy.
Getting grants is hard work. Prepare yourself, your staff and your Board for a lot of work but few (if any) results for months. Most organizations don’t see real results for 6 to 18 months. But if you are willing to invest the time you’ll cultivate a group of valued, valuable partners in your mission.