Margit Brazda Poirier, GPC, M.S. will share the exact seven steps that helped her raise over $20MM in grant funding for her clients so that you can do it too!

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right. Margit, I got 2:00 Eastern. Is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started?

Margit: Yes. Let’s do it.

Steven: All right. Well, welcome, everybody. Good afternoon if you’re on the East Coast. Good morning, I should say, if you’re on the West Coast. If you’re watching the recording, I hope you’re having a good day no matter where you are. We’re going to be talking about grant funding, specifically seven steps on how to get that grant funding. I love this topic. And a good time of year for it too. I’m Steven. I’m over here at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.

And just a couple of quick housekeeping items, just want to let you all know that we are recording this session and we’ll be sending out the slides as well as the recording later on today. So if you miss something, if you get interrupted, or you have to leave early, don’t worry, we’ll get all that good stuff in your hands before the end of the day today. You can pass it on to a friend or a colleague, whatever you want to do, we’ll get all those goodies to you. So don’t worry if you have to bounce early.

But most importantly, as you’re listening today, please feel free to chat in your questions. We’re going to save some time for Q&A. We’d love to hear from you throughout the hour. There’s a chat box and a Q&A box. You can use either of them. It’s cool with me. I’ll keep an eye on both of those. So don’t be shy. Don’t sit on those hands. We’d love to hear from you. You can even tweet us. I’ll keep an eye on Twitter as well.

And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, just want to say an extra special welcome to you folks, you first-timers. We do these webinars a couple of times a week now these days, actually. We love doing these webinars. They’re always educational, always informative, and today’s is no exception by any means. But if you never heard of Bloomerang, we do these webinars, obviously, but our main business, our main offering is donor management software. So if you’re interested in that or maybe you’re just curious, maybe you’re shopping soon for a new system, check us out, look at our website. There’s all kinds of videos you can watch. You can get a real good sense of the system without ever having to talk to a salesperson. Who wants to be bugged by a salesperson after all?

So check that out if you are interested. But don’t do that right now. At least wait an hour, because one of our good friends, a friend of the program is back at it here. Joining us from beautiful Rochester, New York, one of my go-to’s for all things, grants. Margit, how you doing? Are you doing okay?

Margit: I am doing great. Hi, Steve.

Steven: This is awesome to have you. We’ve been talking about this for months and months. It’s finally a good that the day is here. And a few things that have changed in the world since we were planning this, I don’t think I need to tell people what those things are, but like I said, Margit’s awesome. She is one of our go-to’s for grants. Check her out over at Grants4Good. We’ll give you the links to all those things. She’s also got a really cool grant writing course that she’s been doing since the summer that you’re going to want to check out, especially after you hear the presentation all about grantwriting.com. Check that out. If maybe you want to hone your skills, you can get some personal coaching from Margit. This is her thing. She walks the talk or walks the walk, whatever that saying is. She actually is one of the only 20 approved grant trainers in the U.S. Wow. That’s a pretty exclusive group. So she definitely knows our stuff.

So I’m going to pipe down. You guys don’t want to hear from me, Margit, I’m going to let you bring up your beautiful slides here. Yeah. I’ll stop sharing here so you can bring yours on.

Margit: That sounds good. All right. All right. Well, I am super excited to be here. Thanks, Steve, for that introduction. And yeah, this is great timing. In fact, I think the last time we did a webinar together was back in February of 2020 when everything was different. And so one thing I am going to talk about a little bit as I go through these seven steps to getting grant funding is what’s changed. In other words, how has the pandemic, how has COVID-19 affected the whole grant funding climate? So the whole reason I love to hold this course and teach about grant writing is this, there are so many nonprofits out there struggling just to stay open. They’re struggling to deliver their services to their target audience. They don’t know where to go next and they’re strapped for time. So if I can do anything to make the fundraising part of your work that much easier, that’s what I’m here for. That’s why I teach these courses.

And as Steve mentioned, I have an online course where you can learn a whole lot more about grant writing, but you’re also going to learn a ton in this next hour. So stick with us to the end because one of my favorite parts of doing webinars with Bloomerang and just in general is the Q&A. Is I get to address you guys directly, whatever your questions are. So definitely pop them into the chat or the Q&A. Steve’s going to be monitoring those as I go. And I promise you, I will not be talking for an hour. I’m going to give you the seven steps, I’m going to share some of my experience that I know is going to help you, and we’re going to have plenty of time for Q&A afterwards. So this is your chance to get those questions answered.

All right. So let’s get going. Welcome everybody from all over the U.S., from Canada. I haven’t seen anyone from other countries, but I have noticed that some of our participants write grants that benefit people in other countries. So I’ll make sure to talk about international funding too. All righty. So here’s my title, my website, grants4good.com. And let’s get into what we’re going to do today. Well, what we’re going to achieve today is three key things. It’s the exact three things that you saw when you registered for the course. I want you to leave here after this hour being able to make a difference, being able to do something right away. So this morning I was on a different webinar. I wanted to learn more about digital marketing. I felt, “Wow, that’s going to be a great hour spent.”

Well, the first 20 minutes were really spent talking about the persons themselves, their bio, their business. And then I got a little bit of content out of it, but that’s not how we’re rolling here. So get ready to pay close attention. You’re going to get real actionable steps.

First of all, I want you to know how to find the perfect funder. In other words, how do you select the best grant opportunity for your nonprofit or your project when there are thousands and thousands of opportunities out there? How do you even get started? We’ll cover that.

Secondly, preparing essential documents. There are a lot of documents you have to have in place. And I want to make sure you know what those are so that when that perfect grant opportunity comes along, boom, you are ready to go. You don’t have to waste time scrambling to prepare these typical documents.

And lastly, I’m going to give you some steps, some very specific things that you can do now to help you get grant funding. All right? Sound good? I I’m as excited as these kids here in the picture. In fact, my son just made something like this where it was baking soda and water and food coloring. It was orange food coloring, and it was exploding pumpkins, is what they called it. So we’re going to have some fun today too.

So let’s get just a couple of basics out of the way. I’m sure some of you have joined me on these webinars in the past, but some of you may be completely new to it. So I want to talk about what exactly is a grant. Now, if we were all in person, I’d be looking for a show of hands and, you know, talking to you about what it is, but here’s the answer. Quick and simple, a grant is money that you obtain that you don’t have to pay back. And that’s why it’s different from a loan or a line of credit that you would get from a bank.

Now, most grants are for nonprofits. I do have some clients that are businesses. There are grants for businesses. They just aren’t as plentiful as they are for nonprofits. So almost all the clients, 95% of the clients I work with in consulting and in teaching them, my all about grant writing course, they’re almost all nonprofit organizations like you. Or they’re people who volunteer on nonprofits, or some of them are grant writing consultants. They want to get into the business. Steve, when we were talking earlier, you said, boy, you’d like to learn this. So it’s a great career. If it’s something you’re thinking of doing. You know, get skilled at it.

And the last thing about grants, and this is the tough part, this is what dissuades a lot of people, is grants are highly competitive. There aren’t any hard, fast numbers out there, just how competitive, but I can tell you that if you are writing U.S. federal grants, it’s often the top 1%, 1% or 2% of all the applications to get funded. If you’re writing a foundation grant, well, your odds might be a little bit better than. Sometimes with foundation grants, they may get, let’s say, 1,000 grants in the door and they might fund 20% or 30% of those. So those are better odds. It all depends on the foundation. If you’re looking at Ford Foundation they say right on their website they’ll fund 1% of all of the applications they receive. So this is not to scare you at all, that they are competitive. But instead, what I like to do is give people some pretty specific details about how they’re going to stand out from the competition. So let’s get going.

Why grants? Well, let me emphasize, they are an incredible source of revenue. They aren’t the end-all. And what I mean by that is for a nonprofit to really survive, to thrive, to stay alive in the long-term, is they have to have a whole bunch of different sources of revenue. You’ll probably have fundraiser events, maybe of individual donations. You might have some contracts or some programs where you obtain fees for services. It’s really important not to rely on grant funding alone for your work, but it’s also important not to discard it altogether because I’ve worked with organizations where 20%, 30%, or even 40% of all their annual revenue comes from grant funding. So it’s a huge benefit to them.

These are pictures of some of my clients. I work with a great group that helps veterans get involved in outdoor adaptive sports after they have been injured in their service. I work with Big Brothers Big Sisters and one-to-one mentoring programs. I work with arts and cultural institutions, international organizations, and engineers, and environmental programs. In fact, my master’s in science was in environmental planning. So that’s what I did. That’s how I accidentally got into grant writing 20 years ago today. And now, you know, for the last 11 years, I’ve been running Grants4Good and helping thousands of people throughout the world, really knowing just how they can use grant funds to do their work.

Now, and this is a question I get a lot when I teach courses on grant writing, especially for beginners. People want to know what will they pay for? And there’s this common misconception that grants won’t pay for things like staff, you know, your existing staff or that they won’t pay for kind of the more mundane things like office rent occupancy or insurance that you might have to carry. Remember that last line where we showed you that the veterans that were on adaptive ski equipment. And this was right here in Rochester, New York, where we get plenty of snow? Well, can you imagine the insurance cost to get people out on the ski slope? It’s pretty steep and yet we’ve gotten grant funds to cover exactly that.

So what will grants pay for? Everything on this slide. They’ll pay for staffing. Yes. They pay for existing staff as well as hiring new staff. They’ll pay for equipment like computers or anything else you need. I work with an organization that works with adults with developmental disabilities and they have an employment program that they’ve started their own bakery. Well, we got all kinds of equipment to churn out thousands of pies a month, you know, for this bakery. Grants will pay for training for your staff. Maybe some things have changed. Well, let’s say PPE, they will pay for training for your staff to understand how to use PPE equipment. They will pay for travel if it’s necessary to deliver on a certain project. They’ll pay for insurance like I already mentioned. They can pay for supplies, occupancy, overhead, just about anything. But here’s the catch. When you start funding . . . Sorry. When you start researching the best funders for your organization, you’ll see that they all have different priorities.

Some will say, you know, “We’ll pay for operating costs,” which means they’ll pay for just basically anything you need the money for, for your organization. Or they might only pay for capital costs, things like purchasing equipment, or developing a brand new building, or maybe building an addition onto an existing theater. Those are capital costs.

Program costs. Almost all funders pay for program costs. A program would be something like a one-to-one mentoring program for kids from, you know, kids that are at risk or kids from school districts that have a very high rate of school dropout. There’s a program example. So the important thing we’ll talk about in a few minutes is when you research your funders, make sure that they do pay for the very things you’re looking for. So I always call this my good news slide because there’s so much that grants won’t cover.

All right. Current data. I want to leave you with just a little bit of numbers. Now, I am kind of a numbers geek. I was very into math and science all throughout high school and college. And so here’s some numbers for you. There are over $427 billion given in grants and donations just year alone. Huge number. Now, let me put this into perspective. There are also 87,000 grant-making foundations in the U.S. and thousands of state and federal grant opportunities. So if anybody ever says, “Hey, there’s no money out there.” You know, “I don’t know where we’re going to find grants for our organization,” it’s just not true. Eighty-seven thousand grant-making foundations. Of course, all of those won’t be a great fit for you, but guess what? Some will, and I’m going to show you how to find them. And on the flip side, there’s about one and a half million not for profits or nonprofits in the U.S. that are out there struggling, you know, just like you might be. Not all of them are utilizing grant funding.

So I’m really glad you’re on this call because, you know, after this hour is done, you will be so far ahead of people who have never had any kind of grant training. So, again, thanks for being here. You know, the reason I do these trainings is I just want you to be able to be effective for the people you serve, because if you can’t, guess who suffers? It’s the kids who don’t get their one-on-one mentoring program. It’s senior citizens who maybe can’t get to their health appointments. It’s anybody who is serving what you do. It’s just too important not to teach this.

So I’m going to go through the seven steps in order right now. I wanted to cover that background info because I thought that was really important to make sure we’re all on the same page.

Now, I’m going to just tell you ahead of time, I’m going to provide you with some resources and some links that I think you’re going to want to look at after this webinar is over. Don’t worry about writing them down. As long as you download your handout, Steve sent you out a link to today’s webinar, and there’s a one-page handout in there called Resource Sheet. I put all of the links that I’m going to mention today. They’re all in there. So download that and all you got to do is click on it and you’ll get exactly to where I’m talking about. So keep that handy as we, you know, after this webinar.

So first thing is eligibility. Now, this may sound like common sense, but before you even think about applying for grant, I want you to make sure you’re eligible to apply. If you are a nonprofit, then you most likely are already eligible to apply. You have to have your 501(c)(3) or a similar IRS designation that allows you to apply.

Now, eligibility of a grant really depends on the type of grant you’re applying for. So when you look at the RFP, which stands for request for proposal, this is the document that every federal grant application or foundation will provide you with, whether it’s on their website, or they email it to you, but it’s essentially a document that lays exactly what you need to have in place to apply to them. And with federal grants or state grants, the eligibility can change depending on the program that’s open, the RFP. So some federal government grants, for example, are only for K through 12 schools, some are only for higher education institutions, and some are for nonprofits in general. So it could be anybody that’s a nonprofit.

And the same goes for foundation grants or corporate grants. They will tell you who’s eligible to apply. So before you waste any time on funders and applying, just make sure you’re eligible. And the key thing you need is a nonprofit is a 501(c)(3) IRS determination letter. If you don’t have your IRS, your 501(c)(3) designation that proves your nonprofit, then by all means, go ahead and get it now or find another nonprofit that will sponsor you because most foundations can only issue grants to organizations that have a 501(c)(3).

Now, one way I know this is that before I started my own company, Grants4Good, in 2009, I actually worked as executive director of a private foundation here in New York and it was a pretty sizeable foundation. We issued over a million dollars in grants per year. And when that foundation was formed, in the charter, it clearly states they can only give grants to charitable organizations that have a 501(c)(3) designation and they have to be nonprofit. So you’re going to find that a lot.

Now, in many cases, though, grants can also be given to churches, public, or private schools, municipalities. Those are not 501(c)(3), but many of them are considered nonprofits. So if you don’t have 501(c)(3), don’t let that dissuade you either.

Okay. And eligibility, again, it varies. There’s over 1,000 government grant opportunities per year and I know there are hundreds of provincial opportunities for grants in Canada as well. And there are more than 87,000 grant making foundations in the U.S. And I just forgot the number. Canada has hundreds of . . . no, they have several thousand grant-making foundations as well. So they are all out there. And some of these will be absolutely perfect for your organization.

Which leads us to step two, which program at your organization needs grant funding? Now, this is something that you do need to do before you start researching your funders, and here’s why. I want you to be really focused on what you want funding for before you spend any of your valuable time looking for funders. You know, I see people kind of go through the rabbit hole when they do their grant research and they get frustrated and they say, “Look, this isn’t for me.” You know, “This is taking too much time. I have a pile of other things to do on my desk, and I just don’t have the time for grant writing.” But you do. I’m showing you seven steps that are really going to help you get started on it.

So step two, identify a project or program that needs grant funding. And why a program or project? Well, because of something I said earlier. Funders love to fund things where there’s absolute outcomes. A program that’s going to serve a particular target audience with a measurable outcome. So think about all the things your organization does, delivers, you know, all the stuff that you do that changes and improve the lives of people in your community, or in your world, or in another country. Think of all those programs, and that’s what you’re going to apply for.

Now, the question I said that I always get is, “But Margit, what if all my projects need funding?” You know, let’s say your organization is big and it does 5 to 10 different programs, how do you pick one? What I would suggest doing is, is after this webinar, either on your own, or with a colleague, or staff, or board member, make a list of three to five programs that need funding, whether they’re new programs you want to start, or maybe it’s an existing program that you want to expand in scope. So maybe you have a youth mentoring program that right now only focuses on one community and you want to expand it to more communities or to more schools, or maybe you want to change the program so that it focuses on kids and what kind of careers they might be interested in. So you could always modify and expand an existing program. You don’t always have to create something brand new to get grant funding. And that’s another misconception I run into quite a bit when I teach this topic.

Also ask yourself, are there any outcomes you can measure? And I’ll talk more about outcomes, but of that list of three to five programs, if you want to narrow it down to one to start with, which one is most likely to have really solid results, and can you measure them? Also, which programs could you start now? Which ones are absolutely ready to go? And are there any that are really urgent or time-sensitive? Those most likely rise right to the top. So I would recommend doing that kind of an exercise either on your own or with your staff.

Now, the other thing I would ask you to do is to identify very clearly your target audience. And when I run my . . . Actually, I don’t run it. It’s my all about grantwriting.com course is actually self-paced. It’s online. But I spend quite a bit of time helping people develop their target audience. And the reason why is because these are the people who benefit from your program. And so guess what the funder’s interested in? You already know this, the funder wants to know that their money is making a big, positive impact on the community and on the target audience. So, yeah, they want to give your organization money, sure, but they want to know that you’re going to spend it and that the biggest change is going to happen in your community. It’s going to improve people’s lives, whatever you do is going to improve people’s lives. And they want to know how.

So in order for them to know that, it’s really important to be so specific about the target audience. Talk about their geographical location, where they live. Talk about the demographics, what is their race, their ethnicity? Gender, economic, socioeconomic, you know, income level, education level, anything you can think of or gathered demographic information is important.

Talk about what kind of groups they might belong to. So, for example . . . or groups they could be characterized as. So, for example, are they veterans? I gave an example of one of my clients that’s a veterans organization. Or are they young kids that are in preschool? Is that your target audience? Or maybe it’s senior citizens who are at risk of increased falling. So just kind of give a picture. You want to be able to paint a picture for the funder of who your target audience is. You can even use some case studies or stories, if you like, but definitely use the data.

And here’s the most important thing about the target audience. Why do you have a program to help them? In other words, what is their unique challenge? What are the unique challenge? So one of my clients I work with, they’re fairly small organization, but they really make a big difference in the lives of women who are trying to leave or have left domestic violence situations. So they are trying to leave their abusers, and the organization provides a very unique method of individual and group counseling to help survivors thrive afterwards. And so that unique challenge, you know, you want to talk about what’s going on in somebody’s life that they need your program. It really helps justify why you are conducting a service.

Now, here’s a rookie mistake. This can happen. Don’t get stuck on which program to select for grant funding. Just start with one, because, trust me, when you lay the groundwork for one and you write one grant application thoroughly and extremely well, it gets so much easier. In fact, if you identify one program and you’ve written a nice grant application for it, you can start to cut and paste elements of that and apply it to other funders as well. So the time investment is a lot at first, but it really does get quite a bit easier.

So step three, let’s gather your team. Years ago, when I was really little, there was a show on TV that had all these unusual things that the people would do and it always said, “Don’t do this alone.” You know, that it was dangerous. I don’t remember the name of the show. Maybe some of you do, but this is what I said. This is my motto for grant writing and grant planning. Don’t do it alone. It’s a lot more fun with others, first of all, but you’re going to need a team to help you because you’ll need people to help you gather some of the data for your grant applications. You’ll need people to help you talk about how to plan it, how to get your budget figures together. Your team can help you do all the planning from start to finish. And it’s also really important to involve a team of people because when you get the grant funding, and I’ve no doubt you will, when you get the funds you need, those very people that were involved in helping you are probably going to be involved in helping you implement the actual program too.

So it should be on your team? Here are some suggestions. If you can, you might want to involve the executive director, not absolutely necessary, but they should at least be involved in some aspects so they know what grant funders you’re going to be approaching, and for what programs, they may also be able to help you narrow down, which are the highest priority projects that you should be pursuing right now?

Also, you’ll want to involve a chief financial officer, if you have one. If not, maybe your accountant, or maybe the treasurer on your board of directors, somebody that’s going to be helping and keep track of the money. You might have a development director you want to involve, maybe some marketing staff, marketing folks are key for grant writing because you want to make sure you give out a consistent message about your organization. Maybe there’s program staff. Again, these would be the people that once the money comes in, they’re going to be helping you implement this program. And you might have some partners, maybe you’re partnering with a nonprofit, another organization, in other words, another agency or a business, or a unit of government. So it helps to have some of these people on your team.

I’m going to move into number four, your essential documents. Now, this is stuff to prepare you. And this one is a really big time saver. Now, by the way, these seven steps, I’m talking about these with you, but if you want all seven steps, I’ve got a 10-page guide that you can download for free. It’s on my website Grants4Good. So grants, the number 4, good.com. Just download that guide after we’re off the call and you’ll have all this stuff at your fingertips. But I want to walk you through more of this so I can share some of the experience that’ll help you along the way.

So step four is all about gathering your documents. And this is so key because as I mentioned when we started the call, if you can get some of these things together now and then you find your perfect funder and also you see the grant deadline is, you know, one week from now, and you start to panic because you think, “Oh, my gosh, in one week, how am I going to write the grant applications, let alone gather things like my audited financials, my board of directors list, and so on?” So definitely, definitely gather some of these things now.

I’m going to share with you the types of things that are typical of grant applications. Now, having said that, if some of you have written grants, you already know this. You’ll know that every grant application is a little bit different. But I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and boy, I’ll tell you, I see so many similarities that, you know, it’s really easy to predict what is going to be required in a grant application at this point.

So here are some typical required documents. Now, I know Steve allows you access to the webinar afterwards so you can look at this again and again. Again, my 10-page guide that you can download if you like has all this in there too.

So typical documents, you’ve got to have proof of your 501(c)(3), your IRS letter of determination. Almost all grant applications also want a list of your board of directors with their affiliations, okay? Because they want to know who’s on your board and what kind of skills do they bring to your organization? So are they also attorneys? Do they bring legal skills? Are they marketing experts? Are they banks that can provide funding, lines of credit? Are they people in the community that are representative of the very target population that you serve? And really, that’s important?

What’s also important is do you have some level of board diversity? And this has become particularly important in the last year when the extreme lack of diversity on nonprofits has been brought to light. And diversity can mean a number of things. It could be racial diversity. It could be diversity of income. If you’re serving people with disabilities, you know, have some people with disabilities on your board so they can speak for themselves and others. So that’s pretty key. And that’s sort of a new thing. Well, I wouldn’t say it’s new, but it’s long overdue. Let’s put it that way.

You want to also have some financial documents handy like your IRS 990, your tax return. You want to have audited financial statements or an audit review. I know some folks on the call are probably from smaller grassroots, nonprofits, and maybe you don’t pay an accountant to have audited financial statements. In that case, having an audit review is a far less expensive option, and it will also work. You also want to have an operating budget on hand at all times. So whatever your current fiscal year is, make sure your operating budget is handy because a lot of foundations will need to see that. And you might also be asked for your yearend financial statements or budget to actuals. In other words, last year, what did you project you would spend on every line item, and what did you actually spend on each line item? And, again, your treasurer or an accountant can help you prepare those.

Now, I want to just pause for a moment because just before this call, Steve and I were talking about COVID-19 and, you know, what have been some of the big changes in grant funding due to the pandemic? And there had been some big changes. Now, you know, we’re looking at typical required documents right now that that has not changed. They still tend to need all those documents, it’s so that they can do their own due diligence.

But here’s what’s changed. There’s two key areas of funding that are more available now, one is anything for COVID relief. So, you know, if you need money to keep your youth theater program running virtually because you can’t meet in person, there could be money available for that. So it’s anything . . . Or even specific PPE equipment or cleaning supplies, there’s been money available for that. The second category of money I’ve seen available through many foundations is money that helps bridge the racial divide, that helps eliminate structural racism, that helps eliminate that inequity that has been so glaring with, you know, and racism.

So if your organization is involved in that line of work, and I think many of us are, and/or if you need COVID relief funding, again, many of us do, those are two opportunities that have opened up. I’ll talk a little bit how to find those in a moment. So stick with us on that.

So back to documents, there are also some additional or optional documents that you can sometimes provide in your grant applications. So it might be things like an annual report, a strategic plan. Don’t worry if you don’t have them, sometimes they truly are optional. You might need an organizational chart, letters of support. Well, I would circle letters of support, by the way, because I think this is probably one of the most important attachments. And let me tell you, if you see a grant application that says the letter of support is optional, uh-uh. It’s not optional. Just consider that absolutely required. It can speak volumes for your work.

And by letter of support, what I mean is, let’s say you’re a museum or science center and there’s a particular school district that you work with regularly that has 90% of its kids on free and reduced lunch programs, high poverty area, and you provide a program where the kids come to the museum on the weekends with their families at a reduced rate or for free. That’s an awesome partnership. Make sure you get a letter of support from that school district saying what a valuable service this really is. So I’m just throwing that out there as an example, but letters of support can come from partners, they can come from your, your clients, your target audience, anyone that can speak to the importance of your work. Also, sometimes grants will ask for staff resumes or, you know, brief bios. And they really just want to know that the right people are doing this work, the people who have the expertise are ready to do this.

Another thing that you might want to include is a memorandum of understanding. And what I mean by that is, let’s say your organization works very closely with another partnership, with another nonprofit as a partner and it takes both of you to implement this project. Well, a memorandum of understanding, an MOU is a written document that says what each of you will do. It’s basically just a written agreement. If you have something like that, definitely include it because it shows the funder that, “Hey, they’re serious.” You know, “They’re not just saying they’re partnering to do something great. They actually have it in writing.” So that counts for a heck of a lot more.

And lastly, one of the things you may want to include, especially if you’re applying for equipment or if you’re doing any kind of capital renovation to your building, you’re going to want some cost estimates so that you can show the funder that you’ve done your research, you know what the cost estimate is, and that’s why you’re asking for a certain amount of money. Okay? That’s going to be super helpful to have.

So I know these last two slides, both the typical required documents, these are almost always asked for as well as the additional or optional documents, I would say this is something you can do now. You can start gathering these things. You can start getting those together. And, again, maybe your chief financial officer or your treasurer will have access to some of these.

Now, step five is kind of interesting. I threw this in here because I do get a lot of people who, who say, you know, “Margit, I appreciate learning all about how to find and get grant funding, what about government grants?” They feel like a completely different beast and they’re rather intimidating. So in my online course, I teach, you know, I go into much more detail about government grants, but for the short time we have together today, I want to give you some ways that you can get started on them now so that you don’t have to wait.

To apply for government grant opportunities, here’s the one thing you have to do. There’s some really critical registrations you have to get out of the way and then the doors open wide to get those big government grants. And if there’s one tip I could share with you on this, it’s start early because it may only take you an hour to get these registrations done, to go online and register yourself, maybe a half hour or an hour, but believe me, it could take days or weeks for you to get a result back and for the appropriate federal agency to say, “Congratulations, you are registered.” So definitely, definitely start early.

Now, don’t worry about writing these down. When you download your Resource Sheet, all of these links are in there. Okay? So the only thing I want you to know today, in the time we have is that there’s two key things you need to start to register. One is a DUNS number. Get ready for some crazy acronyms here. The data universal numbering system, a word you will never have to use, but just get your DUNS number by clicking on this link and following the directions. This one’s really easy. I bet it won’t take you more than 20 minutes, and you should hear back from them in a few days.

Once you have your DUNS number, you will need that number to register for SAM, S-A-M system for award management. You’ll want to go into sam.gov. And again, just follow the online form. This one’s going to take you longer. There are several tabs to complete. Set aside a good hour, maybe even a little more to complete this. And the reason you have to do this is the federal government has to have a way to pay you. And when you receive a grant award, we’re thinking positive here. I know you will. When you receive, not if, when you receive a grant award, you will get it through this system for award management. So register sam.gov. The registration is free. Beware of email scans.

Now, my company, Grants4Good, I am registered in sam.gov because I serve as a federal peer reviewer. So I get to review and score grants that are submitted to the U.S. Department of Education and some of the other agencies. And I get paid to do that. So I’m registered in SAM, but I get so many email scams that say, you know, “Your registration is going to expire.” You know, “You’ll need to pay $600 and we will help renew it.” Don’t fall for any of that. This is all completely free. So I want to warn you about that because I’ve had that happen and so have my clients.

So the last thing you can do then is register on grants.gov. This is not hard to do. You use your DUNS and your SAM number. And the reason you register on grants.gov, well you’re about to find out, because grants.gov is where you’re going to find all of your federal grant opportunities. It’s also the electronic portal where you apply for U.S. federal grants. So this is a really, really key website. All right. That’s it for grant registrations.

State grants vary. You know, I’m in New York State and we have something that’s similar to the federal system and it’s called the New York State Grants Gateway. There’s a link there if you just want to check it out. But check out, you know, look for what the what the grant system is in your state because it’s going to be a little bit different for each one.

Now, here’s another warning. Don’t make this mistake. Don’t wait too long to get all your registrations done because sometimes the best federal or state grant opportunity is right there. It’s, you know, you got four weeks or two weeks, God forbid, you’ve got two weeks to finish everything, the last thing you want to do is not be able to apply because you didn’t do your registration. So I would say today, even if you don’t have a federal grant in mind, even if you’re not even sure if you’re going to apply to federal grants, go ahead and do those registrations anyway. There there’s no fee, there’s no cost, and you will be in their system. Then when you’re ready to go, there’s nothing else you have to think of. So I would say do that.

I’ve got a really small youth theater group, small, meaning . . . well, not that small. They work with around 700 kids a year to develop performance musical theater. And they never ever thought about applying to federal grants. They thought, “No. We’re, you know, we have a small budget. Foundations are great.” But let me tell you, I have gotten them grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a U.S. federal agency. They’ve gotten tons of money from them. They’ve also gotten money from the New York State Council on the Arts. So definitely don’t overlook government grants. Don’t let them intimidate you. You can do it.

All right. How’s everyone doing? I’m going to move through these last two kind of quickly, finding your perfect funder. Once you have your perfect project in mind and you know your target audience, right? We’ve already done those steps, now it’s time to find the funders. Oh, two second intermission, hold up. I’ve got a Facebook group. I don’t want this to be the end when this webinar’s over. So if you all want to stay in touch, join my Facebook group. It’s called Get the Grant with Margit. All right? The link is right there. It’s also on your resource sheet that you have to download. So I hope to see you on my Facebook group, and let’s continue. That was our two second intermission.

All right. Here’s my grant success formula. I teach this in great detail on my online course, but here’s the basics. And it’s really pretty common sense. You need the best project plan. You got to match it with funder interest and you increase your grant success. You can be that 1 out of 10 grant applications that gets funded, right? The types of funding sources, government grants, I’ve already talked about, community foundations, private foundations. Those are things like the Gates Foundation, for example. Check out my blog. This link tells you all about why private foundations are so important. And I’ll tell you right now, in a nutshell, it’s because they have to give out 5% of their annual assets every year. So when anyone says, again, there’s no money out there, it is not true. Every foundation has to give out 5% of their assets. You can read about that on my blog and how that works. There’s also corporate foundations, Walmart Foundation, Ford Foundation. So there’s the four categories, really.

Now, these links here are also on your website. You can find federal grants right at grants.gov. You can find private and corporate foundations through different fee-based database tools, but sometimes they have free versions or they have free trials you can do. Now, I’ve gotten really into using Instrumentl, and that is one that I liked so much that I interviewed their founder. And there’s a little video blog or a vlog on my website that you can check out and listen to and it’ll tell you how to do some grant research. And in that hour, I also share a whole bunch of tips on how to find funders and how I save time doing it. I would love to have another hour with you right now to go into all that, but I’m going to keep it kind of swift here.

Also, if you want to learn about community foundations, there’s a link here at the bottom of your screen and in your resource sheet where you can click on it. It’ll show you a map of the U.S. and you just click on wherever you live and it’ll give you the name and address of your community foundation. And some of them give out funds as well.

Other search tools. You can look up a foundation’s IRS 990, which is their tax return. You can find those for free online. You can Google it, or you can go to any of those databases, search tools. Instrumentl has it. There’s one called Foundation Directory Online. They have these, but you can just find somebody’s tax return. You can type in “Gates Foundation IRS 990” and you will see their tax return. And the reason that is so helpful is because it’ll tell you exactly who they give grant funds to last year, starts to give you some ideas of who do they fund, how much they fund? And also annual reports from organizations are helpful to look at.

Now, how do you find the right grants? Well, first of all, you want to make sure whatever you’re doing aligns very directly with the funder’s mission. Do they fund in your geographic area? If this is a foundation that only funds projects in California and you’re in New York, then there’s no point in applying, not if you’re serving people in New York.

Oh, we already talked about eligibility, range of funding. You’ve got to be able to meet the deadlines. So get those things, you know, get all those registrations done ahead of time, if you can.

Foundation or government grants. I want to just say one quick thing about that. Foundation grants tend to be easier for people getting started, but they usually yield smaller amounts of money. Government grants tend to yield more money. Now, that’s just a general rule of thumb. There’s plenty of exceptions, but I encourage you to try for both. I really do.

Now, our last step, step seven, is one that’s often overlooked and it’s so important. You’ve already done. You know, after this webinar, you’ll have already identified a problem or a need. I mean, you know why you’re in business. You’re here because you are solving a key problem in the community. You need to be able to articulate that in your grant application. Now, you need to decide which programs need funding, for what, and how much. And we’ve talked a lot about that. And it can be a new program or an existing program. The important thing is that you understand that funders are really buying a positive impact. And to do that, you need to show them what has to change for the target population that you’re serving. And you do that with outcomes.

So here’s an example of an outcome. Here’s one that I used in an application quite recently for one of my clients. Youth that participate in the mentoring program will stay in school with improved grades and a greater likelihood of graduation. A second outcome, youth will gain exposure to opportunities in the workforce that may determine their future career trajectory. Now, this is for a one-on-one mentoring program that I’ve used as an example already.

So outcomes are really key. And I don’t have time to dive into the logic model and how we use those to create activities, and outcomes, and evaluation, all of those things that funders need to see in your application, but, again, I can point you to a blog on my website that I think is going to help you quite a bit called “Making Friends with Logic Models.” And, of course, I also do teach this in my course.

So really, to kind of start to wrap it up, because I want to make sure we have time for your questions. And I just want to tell you, again, why planning is so important and why these seven steps are so important because when you actually sit down and write your grant proposal for your specific funder, whether it’s a private foundation or a government grant, these are the very typical things that every single grant application asks for. And we’ve talked a little bit about quite a few of these.

Now, I’d love to share 20 years of experience in one hour with you. I want to make you all absolute grant pros. I can’t do that in this short time, but here are the typical things that you can start to prepare right now. Identifying your target population, partnerships, program design, outcomes, evaluation, budgets. People really have a tough time with budgets. That’s why I spend a lot of time in my online course just teaching that part.

But as a next step, before we go into our Q&A, because I want to hear from you, is I’m going to let you know about something that I’m opening up. I’m opening up the doors to my All About Grant Writing online course today, and it’s really just because you guys are here. Steve told me there are 1,111 people registered for this webinar, which is a pretty amazing number, 1111. That’s got to be lucky, right? So just because you’re here, you’re taking the time out of your day, I want to open up this online course for you. Check it out if you’re interested in taking the next step.

If you want to be walked through every step of the process for writing the grant application and if you want a lot more help finding those funders, it’s right there. It’s an eight-module online course. Itself paced. When you buy the course, you download all eight modules at once and you can binge watch it like a Netflix show, or you can spend, you know, six months doing it. It’s totally up to you. You get access for life, which is the beauty of it. So check out allaboutgrantwriting.com if you’re interested in that. Again, as I mentioned very much a step-by-step system. I’m super structured when it comes to getting this stuff done. And when you’re done with the course, you’ll have completed a grant proposal to submit to your best funder. You’ll have saved time because it’s a step-by-step process. And the main thing, the whole reason I developed it is I don’t want nonprofits to have to spend a ton of time doing this work. I just want you to be able to meet your fundraising goals for the year. That’s why it’s there.

So one other thing, as a special bonus, the first five people who register for allaboutgrantwriting.com receive a one-hour custom consultation with me. I want to be able to spend an hour with you to talk about anything. We can plan out your grant strategy for your organization, if you want to, or I can review a grant that you’ve already written. We can go right through every single part of your grant and critique it and figure out ways to improve it. You can just get advice from me on anything for an hour. You know, it could be fashion. I heard house dresses are making a comeback. I know you don’t want to talk about that, but really, I want to be there for you. So the first five people who register for this course between now and Black Friday, right after Thanksgiving, the first five people who register, we’re going to set up a time for an hour consultation. That doesn’t have to happen before Thanksgiving. That can be into next year if you want. But yeah, get on there. That’s a huge value.

Okay. So that is my information. My email is here. If you have any questions for me, you want to know more about the course, just email me. We’ll chat some more about it. Make sure you got your resources sheet. I know I’ve thrown a lot of information at you in this last hour, and I want to make sure I have some time for questions. So Steve, I want to hear from you about all the great stuff going on in our chat and our Q&A right now.

Steve: Yeah. We got some good stuff in here, probably more than we’ll be able to get to. So let’s leave this slide hanging, Margit, so people can see your contact info, as long as it’s okay with you, I should say.

Margit: Yeah. Perfect.

Steven: Yeah. There’s some good stuff in here, but first, thank you. This has been awesome. This is such a good baseline for the topic. I feel like I’m going to emailing this recording to folks for years on years. This is awesome.

Margit: I hope it wasn’t too much. I want to get people started and get them pumped up and know that, “Hey, you can do this. You can totally . . . ”

Steven: Seven’s a good number. Yeah. You, you know, you made it clear, and easy, and not seemed so elusive or scary, which is what I really like about your teaching style.

Margit: Yeah, it was fun to do.

Steven: So definitely check out her course. You said something kind of in the middle, Margit, that I just kind of wanted to hit home because it’s something that I’ve heard from a lot of other people since the summer, which is these grant funders, they’re really looking for that diversity piece, it seems like. I mean, that can literally be a moneymaker for you if you can exhibit the fact that you have a diverse board and you care about these topics. Is that what I’m kind of hearing from you, kind of, you know, avoid that at your own peril?

Margit: Well, I am finding that there are some funders that have really shifted their priority to making sure that it . . . I’ll give an example. There’s a health foundation that I’m aware of that has always been interested in funding projects that relate to health outcomes for people. In the last year, they are prioritizing nonprofits that are focusing on also eliminating structural racism, and racism as a health issue, which it has been proven to be. So, yes, I’m seeing a lot of foundations add on these priorities of, you know, how do we make the world more equitable for everybody to benefit? And so, you know, I feel like a lot of my clients are doing that, except they didn’t realize it.

So, for example, I work with a theater group that when I look at their demographics, it’s not very diverse. And they said, “Well, wait a minute. In theater, we’re supposed to be to understand and empathize with people different from us.” And so they are making a conscious effort to work with various minority groups in the city and partner with other theater organizations so that they can have greater diversity and greater understanding. It’s a really cool project. There’s a lot like that going on.

Steven: Yeah. It seems like every mission can tie it to the topic in some way. A lot of people, Margit, have asked a variation of this question, so I’m going to kind of combine it. And I guess the way to sum it up is how aggressive do you think folks should be when maybe they see that a foundation isn’t accepting applications or they don’t want to be contacted after you submit a grant. Does kind of fortune favor the bold here or is it better to really very rigidly follow the instructors of the foundations if they say don’t contact, don’t solicit? What do you think there?

Margit: Well, that’s a good question. Here’s what I would do. Here’s my number one piece of advice when it comes to contacting foundations. I suggest, whenever possible, contact the foundation before you apply, before you ever send a written application. And the reason why is they receive thousands of applications a year. You make a contact with the program officer or the executive director of a foundation. And even if it’s just to say a quick, “Hi, my name is so-and-so from XYZ organization and I’ve looked at your foundation’s website and I think our missions really align. Do you have five minutes to talk?” And that way you can just tell them about your program and say, “We’re really excited to apply. Do you agree that, you know, we should be applying?” And you’ll hopefully get a yes, a thumbs up. And guess what? All of a sudden your application, when they see something in writing, it just rises to the top because they’ll remember having spoken. So I would reach out before you apply. Unless there’s really something that says, “Do not contact us,” then I would say, yeah, you should honor that.

Steven: Okay. Cool. Yeah. I tend to be a little, I don’t know if reckless is the right word, but maybe a little bolder than I should be.

Margit: Yeah. No, that’s okay. Me too. That’s how I get my clients the grants. I do the same thing. Definitely reach out beforehand. Absolutely.

Steven: That’s cool. Here’s another kind of similar question from a lot of different folks. Some listeners are, their fundraising pie doesn’t have a lot of different kinds of slices there, they’re just getting government grants, or fee for service. Does that sort of undiversified revenue stream prevent you from getting grants? In other words, do people say, “Oh, they don’t have any individual giving. They don’t have any other type of giving. We don’t want to be the first of this revenue stream.” Or is that not something that happens?

Margit: No. That that’s a good question. No. Don’t let that hold you back. And I work with a lot of organizations that come to me when they have never ever gotten a single grant in their whole life. And what I would suggest in that case is start by looking for funders that are in your local area, that are in your city, or county, or state. Start local. Don’t go right to the Gates Foundation. You know, it just won’t work. So start local and you start to build up a resume, essentially. You start to build up some support from local foundations and that kind of money speaks volumes because now it gives confidence to other funders to back you as well. You know, success breeds success. So definitely start somewhere. And if you’re brand new to grant writing, start with the local ones. They’re also typically the easier ones to write.

Steven: That makes sense. Why don’t we do one more since we’re a little over time, but there’s a lot of good stuff in here. Again, a similar question from multiple people is what if there’s no formal application process that you can find or see, but you think or you know that this group is giving out grants? What should you do? Is it just a nice, you know, LOI, and a, you know, an introduction email, or what should folks do here?

Margit: Yeah. If you can’t find a formal process, and some foundations, you know, some of the private foundations don’t have that. If they don’t have a website or, you know, you can’t track down their processes, I’m assuming you have a foundation in mind, find out what their contact information is, their email, their program, director, their address, and definitely send a letter of introduction. I don’t have a template for you in this particular webinar, but that is one of the things I teach in the allaboutgrantwriting.com course, is I want people to be able to format in one page, a crisp, clear . . . And you can do this now, you know, set out a very crisp, clear one-page letter of who you are, how your mission aligns with that foundation, and what kind of project you’re proposing, and then close with an invitation to have a brief phone call. You can email that. I would say email and hard copy is usually good practice. Yeah. I’m glad you asked. That’s a really good question too.

Steven: Well, yeah. There’s always some sharp folks on these Bloomerang webinars. Every week I’m just like, “Man, that’s a good question.” I never know the answer.

Margit: I’m just still psyched we have so many folks here. You know, I want to keep the conversation going. I want people to join my Facebook group. I’ll be on there a lot. You’ve got my email, you know, download page 10-page guide that kind of accompanies this particular webinar. And, Steve, you and I can talk about setting up another date to do one of these because you know me, I could spend hours talking about every single aspect of grant writing, and there’s so much more to it than people realize. But boy, I want you guys just to rock this. You, you know, it’s fun. You’re going to see results for your hard work, right? That’s what we want. That’s what we want.

Steven: That’s kind of what’s kind of nice about grants, is there is that tangible return on something that is, you know, measurable. I like it.

Margit: Yeah. Yeah. It is a lot of work, but it gets easier over time and there’s definitely tangible results.

Steven: Well, this has been fun. We’ll definitely have you back in 2021.

Margit: And hey, I’m sorry, you all. I’m not showing my face here. I didn’t know I was going to have to be on video today, otherwise I would’ve done my hair for you all, but hey, I’m hearing that.

Steven: Yeah. That was my fault. I didn’t tell her.

Margit: But, boy, I just love that you’re all here. So I look forward. By the way, if you get on my Facebook group, I do run some, you know, short mini sessions once in a while on live. So you can see me there and I can see you there as well.

Steven: There you go. That’d be a good consolation.

Margit: Right? There you go.

Steven: Yeah. I kind of got a face for radio, so I’m sorry that everybody had to look at me. But this has been fun. Definitely reach out to Margit because she’s obviously a wealth of knowledge. I know we didn’t get to a lot of the questions. So email her and I have a feeling just kind of scanning the remaining questions, that a lot of it gets covered in the course. So check that out and yeah, we’ll call it there.

So let me bring up . . . I just want to show one quick thing before we adjourn, just going to talk about next week’s webinar. Our buddy, Vanessa, is going to be talking about some email appeal tricks. She’s got a bunch of examples to show of emails, formats, templates, style guides, content ideas for your sort of last minute, December email appeals. So this is definitely a timely one. Vanessa is awesome. One of the best copywriters storytellers out there. So you’re definitely going to want to see this. There’ll be some real tangible examples.

So next week, I think it’s Wednesday. Yeah. Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. So just six short days away, join us. Totally free. And that’d be a good one too. And we’ve got lots of other sessions scheduled, now even into next year since we’re getting kind of close. So we’d love to see you on another Bloomerang session. Hopefully it’ll be that one, but it’s okay if it’s one in the future.

We’ll call it a day there. Look for an email from me with all the stuff Margit talked about, the slides, handout, recording. We’ll get everything to you, I promise. And hopefully we’ll talk to you again on another Bloomerang webinar. So have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a good weekend. Stay safe, stay warm, stay healthy, and we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye now.

Margit: Sounds great. Bye, everyone.

Steven: See you.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. She also serves as the Director of Communications for PRSA’s Hoosier chapter.
Kristen Hay