Ready to take your nonprofit to the next level? If you’re preparing to apply for your first grant, use these three handy steps before hitting submit on your grant proposal.
1. Make Sure Your House Is In Order
No idea where the latest version of your budget is? Not entirely sure what audited financial statements are? When was the last time you revised your org chart? The best thing you can do to make sure you’re ready for a grant is to review the guidelines of a grant you want to apply for and see what the requirements are. Check to see how you stack up.
Not exactly sure what grant you want to apply for? That's okay! Use a regional template, such as the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, to do a test run. Go through the requirements and assess how ready to apply your organization is.
Based in DC? The WRAG template is a good place to start.
2. Know Exactly Where You're Headed
In Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll says, "If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there." The same thing holds true for applying for grants. Where is your organization now? Where do you want to be in 5 years? What do you need to do to get there? A good proposal will answer all these questions.
If you’re really stuck, ask why your organization needs the money. Funders will certainly ask the same question, so ask yourself first. What specifically do we need the money to do? The last thing you want to do is ask for less than you really need because you haven’t mapped out your organization’s real needs.
When it comes to your dollar request, don’t guess. Be exact. Write it out so you’ll be ready to translate your organization’s needs into a clear and precise grant proposal.
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3. Make Sure You Can Handle It
As amazing as it is to receive a grant, it is also a commitment to do what you've promised to do with the grant funds. Are you ready for what getting the grant will take?
Is your team in place or are you a team of one? While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a small shop, make sure you have the capacity to implement on everything you’re asking for in your proposal. If your organization is selected to receive funding, the last thing you want is to realize that you’re not quite at the capacity you need to implement what you promised to do. Make sure you are truly ready for ALL the funds you’re requesting.
Those are my three tips to get you on the right track. What do you think are the most important things your nonprofit needs to do in order to get ready for a grant? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Mehron Price is the Founder of Grants on a Mission, a DC based grant writing consultancy. Grants on a Mission provides nonprofits with high-quality support in developing exceptional fundraising strategies. Our vision is to see (and help bring about) a well-resourced nonprofit sector that is able to make strategic decisions based on their missions, not on the next funding cycle. For more information, visit www.grantsonamission.org.