Sitting in a board member meeting, the whole board and executive director get fired up about a new program that they want to implement in the organization. It is going to be great. It is going to serve so many more people, and, as an added bonus, it will be a lot of fun. As the meeting ends, they decide that all they need to do is talk to the staff and start grant writing.
After the meeting, the board and executive director go to the staff and personnel that are going to be in charge of this new program. They briefly describe the new project and these staff members become fired up as well.
Everyone is excited and the decision is made that the staff members who will be involved with this new project are going to get started by looking online for grants and filling out grants to fund the program.
Does this sound like something your organization might do?
Is this something that your organization may have done in the past?
I know that I have worked with quite a few organizations who have done this exact thing, and it isn’t the best way to start seeking grants. Why? Because grants take a lot of time and planning before you actually look for a specific grant application.
There seems to be the mentality that if you have a project in mind, there are plenty of grant applications out there, and all you have to do is fill them out!
It’s easy, right?
Well, not exactly.
In order to be successful both in the grant writing process as well as with any funding that you may receive, your organization must take enough time to plan before you actually dive into writing grant proposals.
What information should you gather before you start searching and writing grant applications?
Every grant application you seek will ask for information about your organization. On top of the typical questions about your name, tax ID number, etc., will be questions about your leadership and organizational history.
Before you seek for grants, take some time to respond to these questions, as well as any other questions you can think up that refer to your organization:
- Why was your organization founded?
- What is the mission of your organization?
- Who does your organization help?
- What programs does your organization run and what is involved in these programs?
- What other grants have your sought? What were the outcomes of those grants?
While it is great that the organization above is all fired up about this new program they have dreamed up, they haven’t taken the time to really develop their idea.
Take time to think through the program and write up all the details.
- What exactly are you going to do in this new program?
- How many people are you hoping to reach?
- What are going to be the goals and outcomes?
- How does this new program correspond with your organization’s mission?
- Are you going to charge for this program?
As you can see, there are many, many questions that you will need to answer about this new program that were probably not discussed in the initial meeting. These questions, along with numerous others, will need to be explained in any grant application, so take the time beforehand to answer them as an organization. Make sure you have a plan.
In addition to planning out the program that you are wanting to start, think about the budget. This will be an extremely important part of any grant application that you write, and funders want it to be detailed.
How much will the program cost? How much will the individual pieces cost? (For instance, if you are wanting to start a smoothie stand, you will need to think about the cost of the building, flavors, spoons, cups, cash box, etc)
The more time and effort that you put into developing the budget, the more prepared you will be to write the grant applications.
My point is, it is really important to plan before your organization beings seeking grants for a new program. You want to have all the details worked out before you start filling out the forms because that will render a higher-quality application.
Looking for other grant writing articles?
Also, check out my grant writing course!