Join Micki Vandeloo, GPC and Margit Brazda Poirier, GPC for an introductory webinar for those new to grant seeking and grant writing.

Full Transcript:

Steven: Good afternoon, everyone, if you are on the East Coast, and good morning if you were on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “How to Find and Get Grants.” My name is Steven Shattuck and I am the Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang. And I’ll be moderating today’s discussion, as always.

Just a couple of quick housekeeping items before we get going. I just want to let you all know that we are recording this presentation and I’ll be sending out the recording as well as the slides later on this afternoon. So, if you have to leave early, don’t worry too much. We’ll get all that stuff your hands, and if you want to share any of that with a friend or a colleague, we don’t mind that either. Just look for an email from me later this afternoon with all those goodies.

Most importantly, please feel free to use that chat box right there on your webinar screen. I know a lot of you have. Thank you for that already. We love for these webinars to be super educational of course, but also interactive. So, send us your questions and comments along the way. We’re going to try to save some time at the end for Q&A as much as we can. You can also send your questions over through Twitter. I’ll be keeping an eye on Twitter if you are into that kind of thing and want to tweet us. That’d be cool.

And one last bit of technical housekeeping. If you have any trouble with the audio through your computer, we find that the quality is usually a bit better by phone. So, if you can dial in by phone and don’t mind doing that, try that before you completely give up on us. We usually find it’s a lot better sound quality there. There’s a phone number where you can use in the email from ReadyTalk that went out around noon today.

If this is your first Bloomerang webinar, I want to say an extra special welcome to you. We do these webinars just about every Thursday. We bring on great guests and have a real fun time, lots of great educational content. But we also are a provider of donor management software. So, if you are in the market for that, or maybe just curious about Bloomerang, check out our website. Wait until the end of the presentation. Don’t do that right now. You can even watch a quick video demo of the software in action.

But for now, I am super excited. I have got two of the biggest rock stars in the grant world joining us today. This is going to be quite a treat. I want to welcome Micki and Margit for being on today. How’s it going, ladies?

Micki: Oh, wonderful.

Margit: It’s great. We’re excited to be here.

Micki: We are.

Steven: I just want to brag on you two really quickly. I don’t want to take up any time away from either of you because there’s a lot of good info. If you guys don’t know these two, definitely both Grant experts, both have their GPC certification. Micki is President over at Lakeview Consulting, where her and her team have raised over $140 million in grants. Did I get that number right, Micki? That is a lot of money. Good job.

Micki: Yes, you did. We have a great team.

Steven: Margit also has extensive experience over 20 years of writing and receiving grants. All kinds of sources, federal, state, foundation, and corporate. And she even spent time at the foundation, so she’s got both perspectives that she’s going to share with us today. So, it’s going to be a treat. This is actually one of our highest registered webinars of all time, and you’re going to see why here in a second. Margit and Micki, take it away, my friends.

Margit: We’ll get started. Just a brief word of welcome. We are so excited to see people from all over the country, New York, Mississippi, Saskatchewan, California. Welcome, everybody.

I wish we had more than an hour today because we have enough that could take up several days’ worth of teaching. But our goal today, and the reason we developed this webinar is to leave you with some specific tools and techniques you can use immediately. You won’t be grant-writing experts after one hour, but we really want to empower you with as much as we possibly can.

So, just very briefly, thank you again for taking the time to join us today. We really value your time, so we’re going to share a lot with you in a short time. As Steven mentioned, my company is Grants4Good. I started it in 2009, but I started writing grants in the early 1990s and have seen a lot of changes since then.

So, I am looking forward to sharing with you the knowledge I’ve gained in over 20 years so you hopefully don’t have to make some of those same time-consuming mistakes that I made. And my co-worker, Micki, if you want to talk a little bit about you.

Micki: Sure. Thanks, Margit. By the way, I don’t know if you saw but we have somebody from Portugal, which I am so excited about. It is so cool to see everybody from literally all over the world in this webinar and to see you also actively chatting. Awesome.

I’m Micki Vandeloo, and I am the President of Lakeview Consulting. At Lakeview Consulting, we provide grant research, writing, and coaching services to both nonprofit and for-profit clients. So, I don’t know if any of you out there in the audience might either work with for-profits or are a for-profit company, but if you are, welcome, and just know that there are grant writers out there for you. And I wanted to make sure that you knew that I have spent a lot of my career in the manufacturing sector. I, unlike Margit, did not come out of the nonprofit sector. However, I have found that grant writing really combined my writing expertise and my love of logic. So, you will see how that comes through a little later in the presentation.

I am one of the only for-profit grant writers in the country, and I’ve been writing for about 10 years now. I’ve helped a lot of companies in both the manufacturing and nonprofit sectors access grants, incentives, and money to fund their growth. So, anyway, I’m going to turn it back over to Margit. Thanks.

Margit: Thanks, Micki. So, together Micki and I realized we have over 30 years of experience in the field. Again, we’re going to hopefully save you some bumps in the road along the way here.

Let’s get started. So, today’s outcomes are in exact alignment with what you saw in your webinar description. First of all, we want you to leave this hour with understanding a little bit about how to find the best grants for your projects. There are so many grant opportunities out there. It’s hard to find the right ones for your specific organization and the work you do. So, we hope to demystify that in today’s call.

Secondly, we want you to learn about the information commonly required in all grant applications. So, while each grant application is a little bit different, they have a lot of things in common and we want to outline those for you.

Lastly, we want you to leave knowing what you can do now after this call so you can be ready to apply for grants. All too often they just sneak up on us and all of a sudden you have one week to put together a grant application, and that’s just not enough time.

So, the reason we designed this webinar is that both Micki and I were once in the position you’re in. As Micki mentioned, in the for-profit sector, I worked for our local government for 15 years, and also for nonprofits. So, there were many times when I had people saying, “Margit, you have to go out there and get us some grants,” or, “We have a $100,000 shortfall in our budget. You have to find us money.” Well, that’s not easy to do and it’s a lot of pressure. So, we hope you leave here with some tips on saving time and hopefully not having as much stress as you did before this webinar.

We realize that organizations lack the time and staff, and this has been shown time and time again. The 2017 State of Grant Seeking Report, specifically interviewed hundreds of nonprofits throughout the U.S. and the common challenge is always, “We don’t have the time and we don’t have the staff to write our own grants.” So, that’s why we’re designing not only today’s webinar, but also a series of educational webinars that we’ll tell you about a little bit more later on.

Right now, suffice it to know that there is some good news too. The report shows that 75% of the organizations that submitted just one grant application in a year won a grant award, and 91% of those organizations got grants if they submitted three to five applications.

So, what that shows us and what I found in my years of experience is, quite simply, the more grant applications you send out, the more likely you are to get some funding into the door. So, you may not get all of the five grant applications you send out in the next few months, but if you get one, two, or three, you’re doing pretty good, and those are simply the odds that we work with.

What is the nature of grants? For those of you new to this, and the webinar is designed for people new to the grant field, a grant is essentially simply money that you don’t have to pay back. Now it does come with strings attached of course. You have to usually provide a final report to the foundation that’s giving you money. And if you’re getting money from a federal government grant, there are significant reporting requirements. So, it is so-called free money, but it comes with a pretty serious responsibility.

Most of the grants out there are for not-for-profit or nonprofit organizations. Those two terms are used interchangeably. And it looks like a lot of you are from the nonprofit sector. So, that’s why most of my clients at Grants4Good are nonprofit organizations, and it’s also my background. However, there are plenty of grants for businesses, which Micki can allude to more as we go on, and there are also some grants for individuals, but that’s not our focus today.

The important thing to remember from this webinar is that most grants are truly competitive. And this is another stumbling block and a reason why people decide not to pursue grant funding.

How competitive are they? Well, it’s kind of hard to say. Some of the federal grants, 8% to 10% of all applicants get funded for a particular opportunity. Sometimes with foundation grants, you have a 50/50 chance. That’s pretty good.

So, the reason we run these training sessions is we want you to have your grant applications rise to the top, and with the right amount of skill and practice you can absolutely do that. This is not a test that is impossible.

So, some good news about grants. What will they pay for? Well, I teach a lot of beginning grant basics courses and the common question is always, “We need money for staff and we need money for overheads. Does anybody fund that?” Well, the good news is yes. A lot of foundations, a lot of government grants, corporations, they will fund staff and overhead.

Now this isn’t how it was in the early ’90s when I started grant writing. But what I found over the last 10 to 15 years is funders are finally realizing it takes people to deliver programs. They just don’t happen on their own.

I know we’ve always known this, but it’s really nice when the funders are putting money toward those very important budget items. So, yes, they will pay for staff, overhead, equipment, training of your staff or volunteers, travel, insurance costs, even supplies and rent for your building or office. But here’s the catch, not every grant pays for everything.

So, when I talk about grant research in the next few slides and how to find grants, part of your task is identifying specifically what you need funding for so that you can focus your search on funders that will pay for specifically that. So, not all funders will pay for staff. Not all will pay for training. And some will only pay for equipment. You get the picture. This is going to help guide your targeted research.

So, how to find grants, this is the first of our key outcomes. Very briefly, philanthropy in the U.S. is really big business. The most recent data we have from 2016 is that in that year there was $390 billion given out in grants and donations. That’s very significant. When we get our 2017 data, I expect that number to be anywhere from 3% to 4% higher.

There are also over 87,000 grant-making foundations in the U.S., and hundreds of state and federal grant opportunities. So, the good news is there is money out there and you never want anyone to let you believe otherwise.

On the other hand, of those 78,000, not all of them are ones that your organization is going to be able to apply to. Some of them may have formed specifically to give track scholarships to a high school in southeast Arizona, for example. So, that’s very specific and most of the organizations on this call would not be eligible for that grant. I will help you search and give you some tools on how you can narrow down which of the foundations are a good fit for your organization’s work.

So, on the flip side, there are also over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S. And some are going out of business and some are forming. So, every day that number changes. But that’s quite a few that we are competing with.

Before we even start searching for the specific grant funding opportunities, whether you look to foundations or government, there’s something very important that has to happen first. If you do this first, you will save yourself a lot of time and aggravation. And that is, taking some time to conduct very clear project planning. In other words, look at the big picture.

When this webinar is over, you may want to look at these slides and take these questions back to your team, or co-workers, or board members, or even volunteers that are helping you and answer each one of these questions very specifically as it relates to your project.

So, for example, ask yourself and your organization “What needs to change and how?” For example, if you run a mentoring program for high school youth, why are you running that program? Is it because your high school graduation rates are abysmally low? Is it because you have a high rate of poverty or crime in your neighborhood and you want to have people gain workforce skills to break the cycle of poverty? These are just some examples of what you need to change.

You’re the best ones to answer how, because this is a field that you’re in. You’re spending hours and hours at your business or nonprofit solving these problems. So, usually the easy part is knowing what you want to do.

The other thing that funders want to do, and this is why I have these questions on the slide, is they want to know very specifically, “Who is your target audience?” Or if you’re a business, “Who are you marketing to? Who’s your customer?”

So, your target audience, I would challenge you to be as specific as possible. For example, when I mentioned high school aged youth, I might be targeting specifically African-American young men in high school that come from a household that’s at or below the poverty level, and that are between ages of 14 and 18. That’s pretty specific.

So, your target audience might be that specific or it might be broader, but when I mentioned my target audience you all had a picture of exactly who we’re working for in this project. I would challenge you to create that sort of a picture for a funder as well.

Lastly, and this is perhaps the most important question and one that Micki will talk a little bit more about, is your outcomes. What are your outcomes? And why is this so important? When I teach full-day courses or boot camps on this, I tell people over and over again the one thing that funders are really buying when they give you a grant is not a new van, paperclips, or staff time. They want to know what their money is doing to change very people you’re trying to help. What is it doing to change the world and in the broadest sense?

So, even though they may help keep your organization afloat and they may please your board because now you’re getting $100,000 to make up for a budget shortfall, the outcomes that really interest your grant funders are “What has changed for your target audience?”

So, in the example I just gave, what has changed for the young men that are in high school that live at or below poverty line? And that’s what your outcome should be.

So, I’ll move on so we can get into the next phase of this. After you do that first bit of project planning, you can get a little more specific and identify what problem is happening in your community that you’re addressing. Be sure to use very detailed statistics. Give numbers in terms of the percent of poverty rate or the number of people impacted, as well as sharing some brief testimonials or stories about your target population.

I briefly saw a question show up in the chat box about, “What if you have a number of different programs in your organization that need funding? What do you do?” Well, this is a challenge for many. Some of the larger nonprofits that I work with have three, four, or five programs that are always in a need of funding.

That’s when we really have to set some priorities of which ones do we tackle first, or do we tackle all of them and we simply find different funders for each one? One of them may have to do with working with pet therapy for people with disabilities and the other one has to do with workforce development for those same people with disabilities. Well, those are two different types of categories for which we can find funding.

Lastly, ask yourself if you’re creating a new program or if you’re funding an existing program. And yes, grants will help you continue and pay for things you’re already doing. This is a really important point. So many people think, “Oh, no, we have to create a brand new program to get grant funding,” and that’s not true. You can get funded for what you’re doing now. S

My apologies for the very quick review of project planning, but next moving into how to find grants. I’m glad that Steve makes these slides available afterwards so that you can go back and review. There are several types of funding sources out there. I like to categorize them as follows: government grants, which include federal, state, regional; community foundations; private foundations, which are only private because they were started by either a private family or corporate entity, but they are certainly accessible to you; and also corporate foundations.

You can Google each one of these and get more information. After the webinar, if you type in Ford Foundation or a Dollar General Foundation, you’ll find out where they’re giving grants to and how much. You’ll get a lot of information at their websites.

Maybe you don’t know which foundations to look to. Maybe you first have to find a good database or a resource that helps you determine where, “Do I even start?” And that’s why we’ve provided these URLs, these sites, for you to go to after the webinar.

If you’re an organization that is looking for federal grants, is your best resource, and it’s also the portal that you use to submit the grant applications. The good news here is it’s free, you can subscribe to and get a daily or a weekly notification about all the different types of grants that are available and open right now that you can apply to. So, that’s worth doing.

The second thing that’s worth doing is if you are looking to private and corporate foundations, and for this you generally have to have your nonprofit status, your IRS 501(c)(3) status, you may want to go to and look at their website and database. Personally, this is a database that I use to do a lot of my research. I do a lot of cross-referencing and use different databases, but this is one of the larger ones. is also great, and that is free. You can look at foundations and learn about their tax returns. Why would you want to learn about tax returns? Well, they are a great source of information that tells you what the assets are of a particular foundation, how much they’ve given out in the last year, and even for which organizations they gave grant funding.

And this is really helpful information because if you go to the Ford Foundation, their website is pretty thorough, but if you go to their tax return, which is also called an IRS 990 that you can access on GuideStar or Foundation Center, you’ll get much more detailed information, maybe more than you want, about who they gave Grants to in the last year.

And lastly, a really great resource is your Regional Community Foundation. Now most community foundations are grant making, some are not. I’ll give you an example. I’m based in Rochester, New York. And our Rochester Area Community Foundation covers nine counties, a pretty large area. And they give out a couple million dollars worth of grants every year. So, I advise many of my local clients to apply there.

And since you are from all over the country and you may be interested to see if you have a community foundation that you can approach, the website that I provided on this slide is really nice because it’ll provide you with a map of the U.S. I apologize in advance to our Canadian friends who are on the call. It will provide you with a map of the U.S. and the specific community that you can click on and access your community foundation. So, I would invite you to explore that a little bit too after our call.

So, those are some ways you can start to find out where the grant funders are. Well, do you remember the slide that said there were 87,000 foundations in the U.S. alone? You might get overwhelmed with using strictly the databases. And I have seen people get lost spending hours and hours in their databases, and still feeling very frustrated as to knowing where they go for grant funding.

So, I developed a really simple tool that I know myself and many people in my profession use. And it’s a timesaving technique that I like to call “cross referencing.” And it’s simply this. You know your organization well. You know what you do? You know what you need funding for, and you’ve done all the project planning work that we covered earlier today. Assuming you have all in all that information, you can now make a list of, let’s say, 5 to 10 organizations that are similar to yours.

So, for example, I’ll use the earlier example of a youth mentoring program. If I run a youth mentoring program, I might look at some other organizations in, let’s say, the Rochester, New York, community that do something very similar. They might be a school, or they might be another nonprofit. It might be a YMCA, Compeer. It could be any number of organizations that run youth mentoring programs.

And then I would look and research that organization to see who funded them. One tool I would use to do that is I would look at their tax returns. Again, because nonprofits as you know have to also file tax returns in the state where they got their money from. So, that is a useful tool for learning more about organizations that are similar to yours, other nonprofits, for example. This does not work with businesses, but it does work with nonprofits.

You could also look at a nonprofit’s website or their annual report where they thank their donors, their funders, and that can give you information.

So, once you have that list of who their funders were, you might ask yourself, “Could this funder be one that might have an interest in our organization as well?” Then you go to this top box, the red one here at the top, and you actually start researching some of those funders. Now your job got a lot easier. Now you’ve probably narrowed it down to a list of maybe 20 foundations rather than having the database generate hundreds of foundations for you. You may just want to start this way, at least to start getting the practice of researching foundations. So, I hope this is something that’s useful for you.

Lastly, before we move on to the next topic. I want to talk a little bit about how important it is to connect with funders before you apply. I’m guessing you’ve heard the term that, “You have to build relationships with funder,” or, “Relationship building is so important.” But you might ask yourself, “How in the world do I get started doing that? I would love to have relationships with the Gates Foundation, for example, but how do I get started?”

So, to connect with funders it can happen in so many different ways. It could be through your place of employment. It could be networking groups. The most important thing of all, though, is to take a look at your staff and your board members. One of the key roles of your nonprofit board really should be to help you in fundraising. And while many people are uncomfortable doing this, they might not be uncomfortable looking at the foundation that you researched and seeing who’s on their board, and seeing if they know somebody on there. If they do, all it takes is to make a quick introduction to you as staff and invite a meeting.

And I’ve seen this happen locally too. I’ve met funders on the ski slopes before and was able to make an introduction to another nonprofit organization, and then they take it from there. They might meet for lunch. It’s a good opportunity to talk about the program that they’re running, and it’s the beginning.

The reason this is so important is simply because, when I worked for a foundation, a private foundation in New York, we would receive hundreds of grant applications every year. And they were simply paper grant applications, some written better than others. But the ones that really stood out were the ones where I was able to talk with them on a phone, or meet with them in person and hear the true passion and ability to deliver on their programs. That really gave myself and the foundation confidence that if they were to get a grant, they would be able to deliver the wonderful things that they do. So, let yourself speak for your organization whenever possible.

I’m going to move on and let Micki take over. I do see that we have a lot of questions. We’re going to allow some time at the end to address those. And while Micki is addressing the group, I may try to address some of these individually. Thanks for your patience.

Micki: Thanks, Margit. I hope everybody can hear me a little bit better now. This is Micki Vandeloo, and I’m going to talk about information you can prepare to submit a grant application. Why is this important? Well, it’s really important to proactively search out and collect information in a grant application. I’m going to talk about that a little bit in this second and why that’s so important.

So, the first thing I thought I’d cover . . . because how are you going to look for information unless you know what you need to collect the information for? So, again, this is really targeted to the beginning grant writers out there, people that are a little bit more unfamiliar, people maybe that have only seen one or two grant applications.

So, we’re just going to go through the basic elements of a grant proposal. The first element of any grant proposal is your needs or your problem statement. This is where you’re going to talk about . . . this is where you’re going to use that, those statistics that Margit was talking about earlier. This is where you’re going to say, “We have a need in our community because we have this low-income population that speaks Spanish. Through all these surveys, we’ve found out that their biggest barrier to employment is being able to speak English.” That’s an example of a need.

That is where you’re saying this is the need we’ve established in this community. From there, that grant application moves on to your history, your accomplishments. How have you solved this need in the past? What experience do you have? A funder will also typically ask, “What are your current programs and activities?” Again, this is to align that need with what you provide.

What you’re trying to do in your grant application is essentially sell yourself. You’re looking to establish to that funder, “We are very qualified. We know how to do this.”

What is your target population serve? Again, Margit reviewed this a little bit, right? So, basically the target population is who you’re going to serve. In my example before, you’re going to serve low income Hispanic people perhaps in your community. That is your target population. As Margit said, that can be very, very specific or it can be a little more broad. Maybe instead of low income Hispanic people you’re serving all low-income people in your community or all low-income children. So, that target population can vary. Again, all these things need to outline with what the funder fund. So, that’s where that grant research part that Margit had talked about is so very important.

Do you have any partnerships? The grant funder will want you to explain your partnerships. What partners are you going to be using to accomplish this program? What is your program design? So, you’ve talked about what your current programs and activities are, but this is a new program that you’re applying for. So, what makes up that program? How are you going to do it?

What are going to be your outcomes and goals? And we highlight this because this is the key to aligning with a funder. As Margit said, what a funder is funding is outcomes. What are you going to change as a result of this project? And what are your goals for this project?

So, going back to my example before, if you’re going to be teaching Hispanic low-income adults how to speak English through English as a second language, for example, do you have a goal for teaching X number of those people, or X percentage of that population? Those goals need to lead to those outcomes.

I will talk in a minute how to frame this and how to organize this to where it can make a lot of sense not only to the funder, but to you when you’re putting together the grant application.

What’s your management plan? Who are your key personnel? Again, this is establishing your expertise. What’s your evaluation plan? How are you going to measure whether or not you’re successful? And finally, the funder wants to know your budget, and it varies by funder how detailed they want that budget, but they typically want at least staff costs, material costs, travel, if they fund that. It really depends on what they fund as to how detailed, but that will all be in the funder’s budget sheet. They will typically provide a template of some kind.

So, now that we know the basic elements of a grant proposal, we can decide what kind of information we can prepare. So, these are some common items that are used to support a grant application. As you can see, a lot of these things are things that maybe change once a year. For example, financial statements, an income statement, a balance sheet, those are typically generated for your organization at yearend, at your fiscal year end.

These are things that you can, by the way, put into a file, into a binder. I highly encourage you to collect these ahead of time because that’s just going to save you time as you’re putting together the application. As Margit said, sometimes you don’t have a long time to respond to an application, so the more of this you can have done upfront and updated, the better you are.

Current organizational charts. One thing you’re going to hear me say often in these next two slides is your organization charts, your financial statements should be current. Your 501(c)(3) should be the most current one if you’ve got more than one for some reason in your history. If you have vendor quotes, you can’t use a quote for a budgeted item that’s over two years old. You’re going to have to get a more current quote.

So, you can’t just have financial statements from any time. A lot of times, funders want to see financial statements, for example, from the last one to two years. They might want to see a pro forma balance sheet. That’s not something you can collect ahead of time, but you can use the collected balance sheet to create that pro forma balance sheet.

Reference letters, again, that might not be something you can collect ahead of time. You don’t want them to be too outdated, but you can collect some reference letters or testimonials from your participants in your current program, especially if that current program is somehow informing the new program that you’re applying for.

Your logic model, we’re going to talk about that in a second. The strategic plan, if you have a strategic plan at your organization, congratulations. If you don’t, it’s good to know at a minimum your mission and vision, and if you have some sort of goals for your organization, those are the three key elements out of that strategic plan.

So, I’m going to talk a little bit about a logic model. And this, again, can be a whole course in and of itself. It’s an incredibly useful tool. I think it appeals to me because of my strong slant toward logic and my background in engineering.

So, what is a logic model? A logic model is a project design methodology. When you’re looking to design a project, a logic model can help you greatly with designing that project, mainly because it maps directly to the grant application. You’re going to see that. The next slide is going to show you an example of a logic model. And you will see that this is identical to some of these categories that we just talked about on the grant application.

You can do your logic model in various forms. The very best resource for logic models is the Kellogg Foundation. On their website, they have a downloadable logic model template or logic model booklet and it tells how to put together a logic model. It’s a little bit convoluted. They go through the different types, but it can take various forms, and I’ll show you that again in context of the form that I have in just a second.

I find this is a fantastic tool for brainstorming. If you are designing a new project, I am a big proponent of designing that project with a cross-functional team of people that will be implementing the project, that will have some role in implementing the project. When you get those people in a room and you say, “We have this meeting. Now how are we going to meet it?” you’ll see that the logic model helps you focus your efforts on, first, figuring out the resources, then figuring out the activities. It just follows a very logical process.

It is best developed with a cross-functional team. You don’t ever want to put together a grant application in a vacuum, and you don’t ever want to design a project in a vacuum, especially if you want buy-in to your project.

So, this is an example of a logic model. What you’ll see here is you have the need statement up top. Again, you don’t have to have it in exactly this form. If you have a form of this that you’ve used or that a funder requires, for example . . . Some funders actually require you to fill out a version of this. So, it may not look just like this, but this is an example.

So, you start with your needs statement and then you work . . . you can work from left to right or you can work from right to left. So, your needs statement is, again, your overall needs that from the community, from surveys you’ve done, from feedback, from partners, from a community needs assessment that might have been done by your city council or a Chamber of Commerce. So, your needs statement is up top and everything should map back to that needs statements.

Then you simply ask yourself, if you’re moving from left to right, “What activities do we need to do to meet that need?” Again, you can see how this is very valuable in a team setting. And then you’d say, “If we do those activities, what resources are we going to need to do those activities?” So, what people? What materials? What training? Are you going to need food? Are you going to need partners? Are you going to need to hire an evaluation team? What resources are you going to need to do those activities that are going to meet that needs statement?

Then you can do short-term outcomes. Your outcomes, again, are what is going to change as a result of your project. What’s going to change in your community as a result of that project? You can divide those into short-term and long-term, or maybe you only have a one- to two-year program, so you would just do short-term outcomes. You wouldn’t do the long-term. So, you can see this can be modified.

And then finally, what’s the impact going to be? What’s going to be the end result? So, if you apply those activities, using those resources, and you have those outcomes, what do you see at the end of that one, or two, or three, or five years that is going to be the impact of your program?

I think you would find that this is very valuable in helping you put together a project.

I am going to turn it back over to Margit now and she’s going to talk about what you can do right now to get ready for a grant. Margit, are you there?

Margit: Sorry, Micki. I was on mute because I was answering questions. I know this is a section that you were going to cover the next few slides. What you can do now . . .

Micki: Sure. I’m sorry.

Margit: Then I’ll jump back in when we talk about tips for success.

Micki: Keep answering questions then. I will go on. Sorry about that. Now we’re going to talk about what we can do now, what we can do now to prepare for these grant applications. What’s going to save us time? What’s going to get us to a quicker way of preparing for that grant application?

So, again, keep a file with all your organizational documents. Your 501(c)(3) letter is not likely to change year-to-year. You can put in an electronic file on your computer. If you’re a little more old-fashioned, you like to see it in paper, you can put it in a three-ring binder. Basically, keep a file.

Now the one thing I am going to tell you is the advantage to putting it in an electronic file is that most funders will have you upload those documents, especially now that most grant applications are web-based. So, even if you keep a paper copy of it, I would keep some electronic copy in a place where you can quickly access it.

Your org chart, again, hopefully isn’t changing day-to-day. If you’re a new organization, maybe it is. Make sure it is current. Make sure you have the current one in your current financials.

I do also want to advise you to review and update this once a year. And the way I would suggest doing this is put a reminder in your calendar, if you use a task management system, like Nozbe or something like that, put in a yearly reminder. Maybe on December 15 or 20, maybe it’s some significant day, maybe it’s the end of your fiscal year, or the first month of your fiscal year. I do suggest you review all those documents and update them once a year.

Again, if you have a strategic plan . . . and say that was a big if, because if you don’t, you’re not in the minority. A lot of places do not have a strategic plan. I absolutely advocate for strategic plans. If you have them, review them and update them at least once a year. A funder is not going to want to see a strategic plan that says, “You had a goal to do something back in 2015,” or that your mission is something that is now no longer even applicable to what . . . even if that is what you’re doing, if your mission does not meet what the funder wants or your narrative doesn’t match with your activities, they’re going to be concerned about that. That’s going to be a huge red flag. So, make sure you review and update the strategic plan annually so you have current information in your grant applications.

Also, the strategic plan can help you identify projects for a particular year, especially if you do review and update it annually. So, you might have a set of goals for 2018 that has a certain set of projects. So, that might be your trigger to go find some grant funding for those specific projects, or that expansion may be of current projects.

Then you can also now develop a logic model for those services or projects for which you’re going to seek funding. Take that logic model that I just showed you, go on the Kellogg Foundation website, and use one that they recommend. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but it is a good idea to develop a logic model or start developing a logic model before you prepare for a grant application. You’ll find that it will, again, save you a whole lot of time and you’ll be able to simply execute that logic model and talk about how you’re going to execute it and readily have a team to execute it if you’ve developed that logic model.

Also, I highly recommend that if you are going to apply for federal or state grants that you apply for a DUNS number, and apply in SAM, the System for Awards Management. That’s at Both of those processes take some time. And then once you have that DUNS number and at SAM you get what’s called a Cage Code, and that SAM Cage Code is something you have to put into your federal applications.

It can take months to get a SAM Cage Code. I’ve seen it take upwards of six to eight weeks, mainly because if you fill in one item wrong, it sets you completely back in the whole process. So, please, if you’re going to apply for either federal or state grants, do this now. Apply for a DUNS number and apply on

The reason why I say state grant . . . this didn’t used to be the case, but now a lot of nonprofits can access state grant funding, where the states have the budget to allow them, and those state grant sites are increasingly turning into a more application process. They want you to have a SAM registration.

The SAM Registration, by the way, allows you to get paid by the federal government, so that’s why you have to have that to get federal grants. But now, the states are using that as a way to make a nonprofits register to apply for State Grants.

Also register on any application sites you plan to submit to. You want a registration on, for example, if you’re going to do a federal grant. States a lot of times have what’s called a GATA portal. You’ll need to register on that.

Again, I’m working with a local nonprofit that just registered on the state website and it took about six weeks to do that because they had different information on this entity than the State did, than what we had submitted or what was current, so there was just a lot of confusion.

And then finally, common foundation application sites, is one, is another. Now one thing I will tell you is that usually the Cyber Grants registration and the Grant Request registration happens . . . unique to the application. So, when you’re applying, you will get a Grant Request or a Cyber Grants login or you’ll be asked to do a login for that particular grant. But I think it’s also helpful just to make yourself aware of those application sites. Just try to look through them, establish a login, and just get in and look around. Again, one misstep can set you back weeks.

The final thing I’m going to tell you, or final two things, is familiarize yourself with foundation and federal applications and previous awards. So, go on those foundation websites. If you don’t have an eminent grant due date, but you know you’re interested in a grant from a certain foundation, go onto their website and they will show you what projects they’ve funded. You can get a good idea if your project is a good fit.

Government department websites, NSF, if you’re going through federal funding for any reason, definitely take a look through their websites. NSF, for example, has a wonderful searchable database of projects that they funded that you can really get specific about seeing if it’s a fit for you.

And finally, review your budget and business plan to identify upcoming projects. Like I talked about earlier with the strategic plan, look at those. It’s the beginning of the year. This is a great time to do it.

I’ll turn it now over to Margit. Where she’s going to talk about tips for success.

Margit: Sounds good. Well, the time is flying by much too fast for my liking. I hope that you’re getting a lot of information so far. We’ve had some great questions. I’ve tried to get to many of them already. So, let me leave you with a few tips for success, just some things to keep in mind after the webinar.

To summarize, first of all, both Micki and I have talked about how important it is to do your project planning before you really embark upon looking for the right grants, the right funders to support your work. So, I would definitely advise doing that and doing it with a team of people. It’s very hard to do project planning by yourself, especially when you need a team of people to help you actually implement the project. So, that is really truly important.

Secondly, one of the things you can do now is start to gather the materials that you need specifically for grant applications. Those include the types of things, Micki had just mentioned, like your IRS 501(c)(3) letter if you are in the U.S., or your proof of nonprofit status in Canada or other countries. You might want to gather your most recent financial reports to show your organization is financially sound. Your list of board members is important, and things like that.

The third thing you may want to do then is, at this point start, to research the best grant opportunities for your project. Some of the questions I’ve seen in the chat box have asked about different types of databases. There are so many out there that it’s hard for me to answer that question and the price levels all differ.

I know that I advise a lot of my clients who can’t afford to buy an annual subscription to call their local public library. I know in Rochester we have a librarian who will help people who call them, and they also have a subscription to one of the larger databases, Foundation Center, that anyone can access. They might have GuideStar as well, I’m not sure, and I do know they have Grant Station. So, as you can see, there are a lot of databases out there. It’s really hard to cover them all on this call. But you can Google that and do your research and make some decisions that way.

Also, it’s never too soon to start contacting the funders. However, only after you’ve done the research on them. So, keep in mind, just as you’re busy with your daily work, they too are busy. If you have time to get somebody on the phone, it’s really good to ask them a question that isn’t already covered on their website, as you might guess. So, do some research on that first and then you’ll have some very pointed questions for them.

You may also just want to spend a few moments telling them about your project and that you believe it is in direct alignment with their mission and that you’d like to work together.

Lastly, get help if you need it. The reason I have clients in this region and throughout the country is that they don’t have the staff and the time. So, Grants4Good, like Micki’s company, provides coaching services. We help guide people throughout the grants process. But do get help. There are also some free tutorials online. You can Google those. There are, I think, a couple for how to develop budgets, which is a whole other training session.

One of the things that we’re going to be doing is we can share with you some more information about the types of webinars and training workshops that we’re going to be having this year. So, if you’d like to receive that information, you can go to . . . I know you can go to and sign up for the email newsletter. I will let you know when we have those, and we share discount codes as well, if you want to join us on those.

In the very immediate future, we have an in-person three-day boot camp in Rochester, New York. I realize that’s quite a ways away for many of you, but if you do want to attend, you can take a look at that in more detail.

Micki and I will also be developing a webinar that anybody can access. It will be a similar to the in-person boot camp here, where our goal is really to empower other nonprofits and businesses to do this for themselves. So, it does require skill, but it’s not a mystery. We can all do this given the right amount of training and dedication to the process. So, that is our goal and our reason for running these educational seminars.

So, with that, I’d like to leave you with our contact information. Both Micki and I will do our best to get back to people within a few days. We encourage you to go to our websites and you can learn more about how we work, and our clients, and just more upcoming events and webinars that might interest you or your colleagues.

So, before we get to questions, if anyone needs to leave, I just want to extend my heartfelt thanks for taking the time to join us today. I know we covered a lot in a short time, but I’m very excited to see how this goes for you. Please do keep us posted on how your grant research and your grant writing projects are going. We’re eager to hear about it. Thank you so much.

Micki: Absolutely. I think we’re ready to take some questions. We’ve had several that Margit answered. There are three that I see here, and I can take a stab at two of them, and then maybe Margit you can jump in on the third one.

One was, “Do you have an example of a strategic plan?” I do not because they really vary, but I can tell you that many organizations have their mission and vision and usually their goals on their website. So, one thing I can recommend is that you look for that mission and vision area. It’s usually in the About Us section of the website.

Also, you can Google and find out the elements of a strategic plan. I think Forbes runs some articles that might give examples of strategic plans, or examples of mission and vision statements. So, unfortunately, I don’t really have some great answers for that one. Margit, did you have anything on that one?

Margit: I think you’ve covered it pretty well, Micki. I think that’s a great resource. Sometimes we just have to do that research and find those examples. I’m scrolling down. I do see a question that I think is going to apply to a lot of people on the call and I want to make sure we address this one to everybody. The question is on, tips on applying for foundations that don’t accept unsolicited proposals. This is a great question. Micki I both teach this stuff for half-day or full-day trainings and we definitely cover this question.

Just very briefly, when you do your foundation search, you’ll find that some of them say they do not accept unsolicited proposals. Well, does that mean the door is shut to you? No, not necessarily. The thing that I advise people to do in this case is to research the foundation, see who’s on their board, and see if you know or anyone on your board know somebody on their board, and make that connection. Then you’re invited to apply possibly.

If you don’t know anyone their bored, and chances are you don’t, you can still send a letter. Don’t waste your time putting to get a grant application. That won’t be worth your time. But you can send a one-page letter of inquiry letting them know that you realize they don’t accept unsolicited proposals, but you would like to at least talk about your project or invite a phone conversation. So, that’s one. Anything else you want to add to that, Micki?

Micki: I agree. You are wasting your time. If you don’t contact them and you just throw a grant application out there, I don’t recommend that. I also don’t recommend just going out there and not really doing grant research. I call it “shotgun grant research,” just going out and saying, “They might want to fund us. Let’s send a grant application.” That is a huge waste of your time and I don’t want to see you waste your time.

I see a couple of more recent questions on the logic model, somebody asking if I had a specific one I could share. The one that I shared in the slides, which you’ll get a copy of, that’s probably the best one. Again, I recommend you go to the Kellogg Foundation.

Thank you for sharing the link, Jennifer, to the Strategic Planning for Nonprofits.

“What about smaller organizations which have never applied for grants. What are the chances of receiving a grant?” If it’s a well-written grant, higher than if it is not. I guess that’s probably not a great answer. It just depends. You really want to find funders that are a fit, and that goes back to that project planning and good research. You’re going to increase your chances of receiving a grant that way. If you are a small, new organization, that might preclude you from a lot of grants, by the way, because a lot of funders want to see a history of financials. So, that is my answer. If you have anything else on that, Margit . . .

Margit: Just briefly, I work with quite a few grassroots or startup organizations, and some of them rely almost entirely on grants within the first couple of years. We’ve had a lot of success with those, and here’s how: We stayed local.

So, for example, when the organization was in Buffalo, New York, or Rochester, New York, we only approached funders in that city because they have the most vested interest in these smaller grassroots organizations. We wouldn’t dream of approaching the Ford Foundation, for example, or the Kellogg Foundation. They’re just too large, and they only have an interest in organizations sometimes doing national-level work.

So, I think the trick to that is if you have a small organization that serves people locally, approach your local funders and you’ll get started. Once you get started, you’ll build that momentum and then you can start going after the larger grants from national organizations.

Micki: That’s a great point.

Margit: We’re nearer end time. Steve, I don’t know if you want to say any final thoughts.

Steven: Well, mostly just thank you. This was really awesome. I think this is going to be probably our definitive webinar on grants. So, thank you to both of you for sharing all your knowledge with us.

Micki: Thank you.

Margit: You’re welcome. Thank you.

Steven: Thanks to all of you for hanging out with us for an hour. I know you’ve got things to do and it’s always good for you to join us for an hour every Thursday. So, thanks for listening in.

I am going to send out the recording and the slides a little later on this afternoon, so just keep an eye out for an email from me. Hopefully, you can join us again next week. We’re going to be covering newsletters. We’ve got Steven Screen, great guy, super smart, and newsletters are his thing. I’ve seen him speak at a couple of conferences. In fact, I saw him speak last November and I said, “You’ve got to come on my webinar series because this was the best newsletter presentation I’ve ever heard.” So, if you send out newsletters, which I bet most of you do, come back next week, one week from today, 1:00 p.m., Eastern. Again, totally free.

And if you’re not quite into newsletters, that’s cool. We’ve got a lot of webinars on our schedule and you can register for. So, hopefully we’ll see you again, either next week or sometime in the future.

We’ll call it a day there. Like I said, look for all those resources from me later on today. And please do reach out to Micki and Margit, especially about those webinar series and some of the other things they’ve got going on, obviously a wealth of knowledge there. I’d love for you to get in touch with them beyond today.

So, we’ll call it a day. Have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a safe weekend. Stay warm out there, and hopefully we’ll talk to you again next week.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.