Grant writing is bound by misconceptions and myths. Here are 3 common grant writing myths that we are going to debunk right now:
Grant Writing Myths–Number 1: Grant Writing is Hard
Grant writing is seen as hard, because it is typically time-consuming. What makes it seem even harder is that many nonprofits that are new to the grant writing world will find grants and try to apply for funding within a week or two. It is possible to complete a grant application within a week or two, but the quality will ultimately suffer. Additionally, this stresses the organization out and puts a lot of pressure on the grant writer. Every grant application is different, so each must be given its own allotted time frame for completion. I would recommend never trying to write even a small foundation grant in less than a month. This will allow you ample time to fill out the application and revise it until you are sure it is how you want it to be.
Grant Writing Myths–Number 2: We Should Send a Standard Grant Application to Many Funders
I have seen this mistake so many times. An organization will write a basic grant application and send it to 20 foundations. The problem with this is that you are not connecting with each individual funder, and you are not giving your best effort to the grant writing process. Funders are very specific in their interests and grant applications. While some will allow you to send in a grant application in any format, most prefer a specific form and want to know the answers to specific questions. I have known a lot of funders who will not even look at a grant application if it is not on their official application form. Additionally, each funder is different, and your should alter your grant application to fit their schema.
Grant Writing Myths–Number 3: If We “Kind Of” Fit the Funder’s Interests, We Should Apply For The Grant
Do not fall into this trap, please. Funders are extremely specific with their interests and goals. They typically have a set rule for the types of organizations and programs that they will fund, so don’t waste your organization’s time writing applications for grants that you do not completely fill the requirements. There are a few ways to see if your organization will completely for a funder’s grant:
- Read the requirements. Many, if not most, funders will post a list of criteria for potential grantees. They will state whether you must have 501(c)(3) status, what kind of programs they will fund, whether or not they will fund overhead, and what their mission is.
- Reach out. If you ever have questions about the funders requirements, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. Give the funder a call and explain your organization and program. Ask if that is something they would be willing to fund. I have done this numerous times in my grant-writing career, and it has saved me a lot of time because there were quite a few funders who looked like a good match, but when I called, they would tell me they actually don’t fund any international projects, etc.
- Look at past 990s. Sometimes there is not a lot of information about what a funder will fund. For instance, I have found quite a few foundation sites that say they are invested in education and to send a basic application to their address. That is it. No contact information, no specifications about the application format, and no extra resources. In this case, it is a great idea to look up their past 990 forms. You can find these on guidestar.org, where you can search for the foundation. Look through the tax form and see what where their contributions were made out to last year. Did they fund any international projects? How large were the donations? This is also a great resource for finding out more information, because you will see the organizations that they donated to last year, and thus, you can reach out to them to see what they did to receive the funding.
Also, don’t forget to check out my grant writing course!