In this webinar, Margit Brazda Poirier will show you how to find the right grants for your nonprofit organization’s important work!
Steven: All right, Margit, my watch just struck two o’clock. Is okay, if I go ahead and get this party started?
Margit: Yes, let’s do it. Sounds good.
Steven: All right. Awesome. Well, good afternoon, everyone, if you’re on the East Coast. Good morning, if you’re out on the West Coast. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “Is There A Grant For That?”
This is our 45th webinar of the year. It’s our last webinar of 2019, and we are going to end things on a really high note so thanks to all of you for being here. My name is Steven. I’m over here at Bloomerang. I’m our chief engagement officer. And I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.
And just a couple of housekeeping items before we get going here. Just want to let everyone know that we are recording this session, and I’ll be sending out the slides as well as the recording later on today. So just be on the lookout for an e-mail from me with all that good stuff. If you have to leave earlier or maybe to get interrupted and you don’t see the whole presentation, don’t worry. You’ll be able to watch the recording. I’ll get that in your hands, scouts honor.
And most importantly, though, we love for these sessions to be interactive. So send us your questions and comments along the way. We love for those questions be coming through. We’re going to take some time for Q&A. No, question is too odd. I promise you, we love to answer their questions so don’t be shy, don’t sit on those hands. You can also do that through Twitter. I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed as well for questions and comments.
And then if you have any trouble hearing us or maybe seeing the slides, we find that the audio by phone is usually a little bit better. So if you don’t mind dialing in by phone, try that before you totally give up on us through your computer. There’s a phone number that you can dial and an e-mail from ReadyTalk that went out about an hour so. You might also have one in your confirmation e-mail. So try that before you give up on us. We find that the audio quality is a little bit better by phone typically.
And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, this is a good one for you to join in for the first time. Like I said, we do these webinars just about every single week throughout the year. According to my notes, this is our 45th session of 2019. So I think you know what I mean when we say we only missed a few weeks out of the year for holidays and vacations and things like that. It’s one of our favorite things we do here at Bloomerang. And 2020 is no exception. We’ve got the 2020 calendar completely filled. I’ll be talking about that later on after the presentation. But there are lots more webinars that you can register for in the coming year.
But if you’re also new to Bloomerang, in addition to being a provider of these awesome webinars, we are also a provider of awesome donor management software. So you can learn more about us on our website if you want to check that out maybe you’re thinking of switching in 2020. We’d love for you to learn more about us. So just visit our website afterwards. Don’t do that now. Wait at least an hour because, wow, one of my favorites, her initials say MBP, but she’s really the MVP of grants. I thought of that one. I spent all week thinking of that one, Margit so.
Margit: Oh, that’s great, Steve.
Steven: I can hear people groaning outside my office.
Margit: All right.
Steven: But Margit, you’re awesome and joining us from beautiful Rochester. You’re my go-to for grants honestly. How’s it going? Are you doing okay? I know you’ve been pretty busy. You did some skiing this morning but still made time for this. You doing okay?
Margit: I’m doing great. Yep. Just trying to finish up year-end stuff. I am happy to teach a webinar. And I’m so excited we have so many people registered today. It’s really great.
Margit: And thanks for everybody to come.
Steven: It’s fun. I love it. Yeah, we’re getting close to year end. I know I’ll be really busy but it’s fun to see a full room here. But I just want to brag on Margit real quick. If you guys don’t know her, guys and gals, check her out. Owner and founder over at Grants4Good. Really, if you have any grant issues, you’re in the right place because she’s awesome. She has written so many grants, gotten so many grants awarded. She used to led a foundation. She definitely knows her stuff. And if you see her on a conference schedule, check her out. You’re going to want to see more of her if you see it on a schedule or maybe other webinars.
So Margit, I’m going to hand things over to you. I’ve already taken up too much your time. Give us the lowdown on grants. Go for it, my friend.
Margit: Sounds great. All right, well, thank you for that glowing introductions, Steve. I appreciate that. And again, thank you everybody for coming today. I know this is a really busy time of year for all of us for a number of reasons. And I love that we have these one hour webinars because honestly, in an hour, I can’t teach you how to become a grant professional from scratch. That takes a lot more time than we have today. But my goal today is to get you some really important tips, specific details and resources that you can leave with. And you can learn more. So this is a great seminar for you to be at whether or not you’ve written a grant, whether or not you’ve done this for several years. Or maybe you never have and you just want to see what it’s like and if there’s a grant for something that you need.
So without further ado, I teach this particular topic. Is there a grant for that? Because it’s a question I’m asked so many times throughout the year. It’s everything from, “Is there a grant for, you know, running a program to mitigate . . . prevent teen pregnancy in my organization? Is there a grant for staffing that’s already on our staff? Is there a grant to put a furnace in my home?” Yep, I really get those. I’ve gotten grants for people who want to travel to other countries and make presentations.
So I’m going to address exactly the types of things that there’s grants for and things that are probably not so likely to be funded.
So today’s outcomes are for you to get a better understanding about how you can find the best grants for your work.
Secondly, I want you to know about funders and what they will pay for, how to find those funders.
And lastly, I want to leave you with some very specific steps of what you can do now so that you can be ready to apply for grants.
Okay, so we’re at the end of 2019 here just about. Well, you can start 2020 off with knowing that there’s funding out there for what you want to do. So that’s pretty good news, I’d say. And we’re going to walk you through that right now.
So the nature of grants. We’ll start right in with what is a grant. Now, I was telling, Steve, I just taught this presentation last week to a group in Rochester, New York. And the number one answer is always, “Well, grant is free money,” right? Well, kind of it’s free money. It’s money you don’t have to pay back. But it certainly is money that comes with stipulations. And whenever you get a grant, there has to be a very specific purpose for that grant. More often than not, it has to serve the greater public good in some way.
So yes, it might be something to help children in families that are dealing with poverty. It might be a health or medical or a research grant that’s going to benefit the greater good. It might even be a grant to a business to create more jobs or double their manufacturing in a community that’s already facing economic hardship. So it can be for so many different things. But generally the difference is it has to be for public good, not for self-interest.
There are grants for individuals including college scholarships, research fellowships, but I’ll talk a little bit more about how individuals can access grants too especially for with an arts organization.
Another thing about grants is most, the vast majority are for not for profit, or as I say, nonprofit organizations. I would say at least 90% to 95% are for nonprofits. And there’s also grants for businesses. I do work with some businesses in my consultancy. But ever since I started Grants4Good back in 2009, most of my clients had the nonprofit organizations that are looking for grants. And the good news is some of those have never ever gotten a grant before I met them and they’re doing fantastically well now. So they didn’t have to have a stellar track record in order to get started in grants. So that’s something to keep in mind. If you’ve never written a grant, you can start now.
And some of the other organizations I’ve worked with and still do are really large scale organizations that do receive quite a number of grants including the bigger federal and state grants, which I’ll also talk about today.
The last thing I want you to know about grants is they are competitive, and sometimes they’re highly competitive. So you might ask, “Well, how competitive are they? What am I getting into here?”
There’s no official number, but from what I’ve seen, it looks like anywhere from maybe one in 10 grant applications get funded. Now, I pulled this number because as I look at the federal grants that we’ve written at Grants4Good. Oftentimes the federal agency will specifically say that only 10% or 15% of the applicants will get funded. Or they may say that there’s 12 awards given throughout the country for a particular request for proposals. So this starts to give us a clue.
Now, I have found the odds to be somewhat better with some of the foundation grants. But that’s not always the case, either. If you went to the Ford Foundation site, you would see that they fund anywhere from 1% to 3% of all the grant applications that comes to the door. So those are not great odds. Other foundations fund almost half of the applications they get, so it really does vary.
So one of the goals for today is how do you embark on grant writing and spend your time and effort in this field and do much better than 1 in 10? So I’m going to be giving you some tips throughout the next hour to help you maximize the yeses to get the grants. And minimize those, what I call denial letters that sometimes come through and say, “You have a wonderful grant application, but we don’t have the money to fund you right now.”
So first of all, let’s talk about why even consider grants as a source of revenue. Well, first of all, because they are a good source of revenue, but are they sustainable? In other words, when you get a grant in March of 2020, let’s say how long will it realistically last? Well, the answer is grants are usually for a 12 month cycle. So if you were to receive a check in the mail in March of 2020, you have until early 2021 to spend down the money and then issue a final report to the granting agency. Some grants are multi-year grants, they might be three years, they might even be five years. But most of them are for a year.
So that tells you right away that they’re not sustainable on their own. They’re a great source of revenue, as long as your nonprofit has fundraising events, individual donors, maybe even endowment, but bottom line is as long as there’s other sources of revenue.
But grants are still helpful because not only do they get you money, but they also help you build some partnerships in implementing your programs. This is important because the more people you work with, the greater likelihood that you are going to be able to get more grants. Funders love to see you working in collaboration with others. It may lead to greater grant opportunities. Plus, your work might have greater community impact, which is what we all want. That’s why we’re spending 40 plus hours a week working in a nonprofit working really hard to try to make community impact.
Ultimately, what happens is you start to get a reputation for positive change. And this has happened, especially with my grassroots organizations that just hadn’t done any grant writing yet and just weren’t very known. They started developing this reputation for positive change for making a difference. And that in turn, as you can guess, leads to more revenue, because suddenly, there’s confidence in what you’re doing and credibility, and you have a much better chance of getting the grants. So it’s kind of a nice cycle.
For me, personally, I got into grant writing, and I’ll make this a real quick story. I got into it by accident. I worked for our county’s planning department as an environmental planner and also their health department. And just started writing grants because I had to there were budget cuts, and I wanted funding for our programs. And then as Steven said, I was fortunate enough to be the director of a New York based foundation, and also work with various nonprofits in getting grants. And I’ve just seen the power of grants and what they can do for your organization. Whether you’re in arts and culture, you’re working with kids, and reading or one of my groups. There’s a group of veterans there who I go ski with, because we help veterans get into adaptive sports when they come back with injuries or PTSD. And also we do some alternative energy grants. You name it, it runs the gamut.
The current data is looking really good for grants. Now, there’s over $427 billion given in grants in 2018. That’s the most recent data we have. That’s up about $20 billion from the year before, so things are definitely on the upswing. At the same time, there’s over 87,000 grant making foundation in the U.S. alone, and thousands of state and federal grants. So what does that tell you? Well, there’s definitely money out there for grants. There’s no doubt about it.
There’s a question here that just popped up that says, “Are there funds for small rural communities less than 250 people for emergency response equipment?” Yes, absolutely. And I’m going to show you how to start looking for some of the funders for your very . . . for your specific programs. There’s also one and a half million nonprofits in the U.S. So you’re in good company if you’re here as a nonprofit representative. And that’s why the grants are competitive.
But the good news is that even though those 87,000 foundations, most of them may not be interested in the specific work you’re doing, but there are some that will be. There are some where their sole focus could be emergency response, or funding rural communities, or funding urban areas that are in poverty. There’s a whole range of opportunities there. So the data looks good. We’re in a good climate for grants.
I just have to put this slide in here, because I often get this question. And I do see that there are some scams out there. So, you know, use your common sense, just like anything you see in the internet. If it looks too good to be true, you know, give it a second look. So if it says, “Free money, money you don’t have to pay back, you’re eligible for grant now,” just question that and look into a little bit further. I’m going to leave you today with some legitimate sources where you can find funding, so that hopefully, you don’t end up falling for one of these types of scams.
So one of the things we want to talk about today is what exactly do grants pay for?
And one of the most common questions that I get, especially when I’m talking teaching “Beginner grant writing” webinar or workshop is, “Well, will grants pay for staffing?” And yes, they absolutely will. And the next follow-up question will be, “But will they pay for staff that we already have on staff because we’re not looking to hire new people?” And again, the answer is yes. It just depends on what the specific funder’s interested in.
Now, remember I said there were 87,000 foundations give or take. Well, each of those has some pretty specific requirements about what they will and won’t fund. So the bad news is they’re all pretty different. So it’s going to require some research which I’ll help you with. But funders, most of them will be funding staff, overhead costs. Which is things like keeping the heat on in the case of most of our participants you are going to want to heat, maybe a few people are still using air conditioning. They will fund equipment, training, travel, even insurance costs. The group of veterans that I mentioned that I work with, if we’re going to get a group of folks out there on adaptive equipment on a ski slope, that group has to have insurance. So we get insurance money from grants, we get supplies, we get occupancy.
If you’re in an office space or a building, you have to pay rent you can get grants for that. There are grants for capital equipment for expanding a theater. Just about anything you can imagine that’s going to be part of a budget that constitutes a bigger program that, you guessed it, makes some kind of positive impact in the community. So hopefully that makes logical sense in terms of the types of line items in a budget that a grant will pay for.
So knowing that, here’s one of the first big things we need to first of all find out. We know there’s grants out there for your work for your organization. We know there’s a lot of grants out there. Now how do you start to dial down and find the right grants for your work?
And this is why I find that people get quite frustrated is they may start to do some research on a database, and they may type in “Youth education.” Well, there will be thousands and thousands of hits for youth education grants. But how do you find the right ones for a specific community, for example, in Central California that is looking for youth education in theater? Now, that gets a lot more definite or defined rather. So your challenge is really to make sure that your work equates exactly to the funders mission and interest areas.
And secondly, to see if they fund in your geographic area. So I have a client that works with kids. So to it’s a youth theatre company, they are located here in Rochester, New York, where I’m calling from, and we do get quite a few grants. Most of those funders are here in Rochester because they want to fund local, but some of them are national. We just have to be real careful never to apply to somebody where it clearly says their scope of services is in strictly in New York City, for example, or strictly in California or anywhere else that isn’t applicable. So I know that sounds like common sense. But you’d be amazed how many people will apply thinking that “Yeah, but we’re such a good fit. I know we’re going to get the grant.” And really, that’s one of the easiest ways to start eliminating funders that aren’t a good fit for you.
You also want to make sure that you’re eligible to apply. So when you start researching funders, maybe you have one in mind right now. You could . . . and I’ll share some databases with you. You can start to type in the name of that funder. Oh, I don’t know, let’s take one like the Gates Foundation, you can know which is the biggest one in the U.S, you can type that in. And you can see the number of priorities that the Gates Foundation has.
Now, with Gates Foundation, if you’re not a large organization, or part of a collaborative and, or about to make a really big systemic change in this country or internationally, it’s probably not the best place to apply. So that you see it a group that I just mentioned, would never apply there because they have strong local impact.
So you want to make sure you’re also eligible in terms of are you a nonprofit 501(c)(3), because most foundations can only grant to 501(c)(3) organization. It’s in their charter. There are some exceptions, just like everything.
And same with when you complete a state or federal grant. The beauty of state and federal grants is they typically have very specific RFPs or requests for proposals. And in those RFPs, they will outline very in great detail who is eligible to apply and who is not eligible to apply. And that’s one of the first things I typically do with my clients. Is let’s, make sure we’re eligible to apply so that we don’t spend a lot of time even getting started on this application.
The next thing you want to do when you’re looking to find the right grants for your work is how much money are you actually looking for?
For some groups, a $10,000 grant or $5,000 grant might be a great amount of money. It can really move the needle on their work. For other groups they’re looking for $50,000 or $100,000, because they serve such a large area. Or perhaps you’re undergoing a major capital project, and they’re looking for a half million for a brand new building or to renovate a building or multi million dollars. I’ve experienced all of those. The important thing is to look for the funders that are willing to fit within your range of funding need.
And speaking of money, you want to make sure that you understand what the cost match requirements are. Now, what this means is if you apply, let’s say to a New York State Department of Education grant, and perhaps you have to come up with a 20% match, or a 50% match. What that means is if you’re looking for $100,000, from the state department or from the federal department that you’re applying to, and they want a 50% match, you need to have $50,000, ready to match that. So you can ask for $100,000, but you need to have $50,000 ready. In other words, your project budget would be $150,000, at that point. I know that gets confusing, but that’s why we teach a whole nother webinar on budgets. But check out those cost match requirements. Most grant applications don’t have them. But the ones that do you want them absolutely make sure you can meet those.
You also want to make sure that you have the deadline noted in your calendars. Some foundations don’t have deadlines. Most do. And if you’re looking at a federal or state grant, definitely be aware of the deadlines.
And one thing I can say about deadlines is you really can’t submit them even a minute late. I did have a client once horrible story to share. But the deadline was at 11:59 p.m. on a particular day, and it was for a major federal grants. Well, their computer when they submitted it, said 11:58 p.m. but the computer for the national or the federal office, said 12:01 a.m. True story. And their grant was never looked at. So we did a lot of work and were unable to even be considered for the grant. Now, that’s the closest anyone’s ever cut it, I do not recommend you do that. But be aware of the deadline I only tell you that story so you don’t get into that same kind of bind.
And lastly, in terms of deciding if it’s the right grant for you. Think about this when you do get the grant, are you able to manage the funds and deliver all the final reports. So if you’re a one-person show or a very small organization, just think twice before you write or accept a grant that has a great deal of reporting requirements, or that may be too large to manage. So just give some thought to that. Most people really don’t apply unless they’re already sure they’ve got the staffing to manage it.
So let’s talk about the types of funding sources. Okay, we know what grants can pay for. We know how to start thinking about if it’s the right grant for you. And let’s look at the types of funding sources.
Well, I always like to break them into four categories. So the first one I always think about is government grants. And there’s federal grants. There are 26 federal departments that are grant making organizations. So I mentioned Department of Education already. There’s also the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Department of Justice, Department of Energy, and on and on. Well, how do you find those?
There’s a website called grants.gov. So grants.gov and you can subscribe to their free newsletter, and you will receive either daily or weekly your choice, all of the open RFPs. In other words, every possible grant application that is soliciting applications at this very moment. So you’ll get a better idea of what kind of departments are out there, and what sort of things are they funding?
Maybe you already know what you need. If you need emergency grants, you know, there might be a very specific department you go to. There’s grants for firefighters, there’s grants for charter school, so you may already go to that specific department.
And the exact same thing holds true for state grants. So in your state, if you go to your state’s website, you can start to find out which departments give out grants. In many cases, it’s the Department of Health, the State Department of Education, transportation, those are just some examples that you might want to start searching at your state level. And then there’s also sometimes regional and local grants through your county or city government.
The second category is community foundations. And here’s an example the Rochester Community Foundation. Community foundations are located throughout the country and I’m going to give you a resource where you can find your Community Foundation.
There’s also private foundations. And this is where that 87,000 number comes from all those private foundations. Now, some of them are going to be so specific, you’ll never even apply. They might be strictly for high school track scholarships for college in a town in Central Oklahoma. So clearly that’s very specific, but some of the other foundations like the Kresge Foundation, Gates Foundation, and really everything in between, they have much broader priorities. And so there may be a good fit for what it is that you’re doing.
There are also thousands of corporate foundations. So if you look around in your community, and you look at the businesses operating there, if you have a Best Buy store or a Walmart, a Lowe’s, those all give out grants. If you look at some of the banks in your area, Bank of America, M&T Bank, First Niagara. There’s a whole . . . whoever is in your region. They’re usually grants or donations made through those as well.
But when I talk about corporate foundations, I’m talking about the foundation arm of a corporation. So Walmart Foundation, if you go to your local Walmart store and speak to a manager, yeah, they might have a giving program that’s $500, or $1,000, for a nonprofit. But if you go to the Walmart Foundation’s website, that’s where you’re going to see the bigger national level grants. And the same holds true with Bank of America and some of the other banks in our region in our country.
So one of the ways to really search these foundations, you know, quite obviously, is go ahead and Google them, see if they have a website. Larger foundations tend to have website. Some of the smaller family foundations, some do, but most of them don’t have a website. And they don’t usually have staff either. It might be just composed of some volunteers or their family members.
So this slide is important and I’m glad, Steve, I’m glad that you provide the slides to everybody so that you can go back and you can click on some of these links, and really take your time exploring some of these resources.
So for federal grants, grants.gov is the place to go to find federal grants. It’s also the place where you submit your grant applications, so it may take you a month or more to write a federal grant. But ultimately, you’re going to be uploading and submitting all your things through the grants.gov portal to the specific agency that you’re applying to, whether it’s Department of Energy or transportation.
There are some federal agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts that have their own site and that would be arts.gov. And once you know which of the 26 federal agency look like they’re the best fit for your work, start getting on their e-mail list so that you get updates on their RFPs.
Now, there’s a whole nother webinar on federal grants, so I can’t get into too much detail. But start exploring those sites, I think it’ll be really helpful.
Now, the private and corporate foundations, there are a number of database tools. There’s some that have a free subscription to a point. And then you have to purchase a subscription like I do to get the much more in depth search tool. So there’s so many that I can’t really list them all here, but I can tell you one that is sometimes available for free in local cities and libraries, and that’s called Foundation Directory Online. You can Google that and you can look up some of the IRS 990 tax returns on foundations for free.
Now, why would you want to look up a tax return on a foundation? Well, because it contains extremely valuable information. It will tell you what the assets of that foundation are. If it’s a $20 million foundation or $20 billion foundation. It will tell you how much money they give out per year, and to whom and the size of their grants. So there’s some great information on those tax returns. And you can access those through a number of places. One of those is Foundation Directory Online. The more in-depth subscription will cost and for that, you can sometimes go to a local library. If they have it, they may offer it to the community for free.
And lastly, here’s that resource I promised. You can find out who your local community foundation is by going to this site cof.org/community-foundation-locator. And it’s a really neat site, you’ll see a map, this is just for the U.S, so apologies for anyone outside of the U.S. looking for their community foundation. Click on this, go to your state, go to your community and you’ll find out which community foundation serves your region.
And as a next step, you’ve got somebody to call and start to make some connections with. Now, not all community foundations give out grants, but I found that very many of them do. I know that the one in my community has granted many, many of my clients multiple times and so it’s been a really incredible resource.
If you find that the community foundation that serves your geographic region does not give out grants, then it may still be a good idea to work with them and see if there’s other resources. Maybe they provide project facilitation or board development. They may provide some other things that are really useful for your work.
Now, a lot of the community foundations, I see Heidi, had a question here about more than half the company foundations are restricted to city limits. I found that they are restricted to regions. So they might be restricted to a city but I find a lot of them are regional. So for example, the Rochester Area Community Foundation serves a nine county region. There’s one in New York City that serves that area. There’s one in the Adirondacks that serves multiple counties in New York. So it really does vary but definitely check out that Community Foundation Locator and let me know what you find out.
So here’s some other search tools. I teach an entire lengthy training session just on researching and contacting funders because it is so important. It’s really the foundation for starting your work on this but I want to leave you with just these few tips so you can at least get started.
So here’s some other search tools. Let’s say you’ve gotten . . . you’ve gone and found a database, you’ve gone to grants.gov, you’ve googled foundations that you know of. You can just go to the foundation, look for their annual report. Or here’s another thought, what if there’s another organization similar to yours, maybe another arts organization, if that’s what you’re doing if you’re an arts organization. You can look up their annual report and/or their tax return and see who funded them. Because some of the same funders that were interested in that organization might be interested in yours as well. So that’s kind of a quick cross-referencing technique that I like to share with people. It might save you some time.
Now, I’m going to jump to another critical task. One of the things we promise in this workshop description is how to help you find the best funders. We’ve talked quite a bit about that. But now we’ve also got talk about what is really the most important thing you need to do to get grants. And it’s really all about project planning.
To get a grant, you have to be so specific about what you’re going to do and how. Because funders want to know exactly where their money is going and what the impact is. So with project planning, you first of all have to know what need or problem are you addressing.
So every grant is addressing some major problem in the community. It might be child poverty, it might be hunger, it might be homelessness, it might be water pollution, it could be anything that affects people or places or animals.
But you have to be able to articulate very clearly with data statistics, how big is the problem in your community? And what are you going to be able to do about it? And are you creating a new program to start to solve the problem? Or are you funding an existing program, and perhaps you’re scaling it up to serve a larger area, or to serve more people?
So there’s a number of things you need to look at first. A really, really great project planning tool is called the Logic Model. Now, if you haven’t heard of a logic model, what that is, is it’s literally a chart that flows from one logically from one segment to another. So for example, when I develop a logic model, I always start with outcomes first. I say, “What is the bottom line of what we’re doing? What’s the impact that our work has on the community?” So your outcome might be something to the effect that you plan to reduce the . . . reduce opioid use among adolescents by 30% by the end of 2020. Okay, there’s a specific outcome of something that you want to have happen as a result of your work.
The next part of logic model is how are you going to get there? So it’s a list of all your actions, what specific tasks do you have to do to get to that goal?
Another part of the logic model is your inputs or in other words, what do you need to get to that? So if some of your action items include public outreach campaigns, include counseling services in schools to reduce opioid use. Those are all things are going to require staff time, staff training, possibly publications, materials, maybe funding for advertisements to get the word out. Any number of things could be needed to achieve that outcome.
Now, there’s another part to a logic model that’s, and this is extremely helpful for your project planning purposes. That’s a lot of Ps in one word. Is funders not only want to know what you’re going to do and how, but they want to know, how do you know you’ve made a difference? So that’s the evaluation piece.
So for anyone new to grant writing, evaluation is extremely important to funders. So they know that their funding is making a difference. And it’s extremely important to us because when you’re working in a nonprofit, you want to know that the hard work you’re putting in every day, every week, every year really is making the difference that you hope it makes. So this evaluation piece is really critical. It’s how are you going to measure your outcome specifically? What are you going to measure with? And who’s going to do it?
So logic models too are something that we spend quite a bit of time in our training workshops, and our online workshops. But I wanted to mention it to you today so you could get a feel for what they are. I also have a blog post on grants4good.com my website, if you want to take a look at that it’s called Making Friends with Logic Models. Because a lot of people think of these and they get a little bit intimidated with them. But if you think of it this way, it really is just a really good project planning tool. It’s meant to help you. And it is something that’s required by a lot of funders. Maybe every grant application doesn’t ask for it. But I guarantee you, if they don’t ask for the logic model, they are still asking for all the components of it. They still want know what your outcomes are? How you will evaluate those outcomes? And what your action plan is? So it’s a good starting point.
So the elements of a grant proposal. This is just here briefly, but I put this up here because I want you to again know why the upfront planning is so important. And people have said to me, “Well, Margit, I know all about project planning, we do this all the time in our organization, this is nothing new.” But the kind of project planning that you do for grant applications might be a little bit different.
So here’s all the elements that you might see in your typical grant application. You will need a Needs and or a Problem Statement, backed up by data and also some local, maybe even testimonials. You’ll have to be ready to describe your organization and its capacity to not only implement the grant funding, but to really have lasting impact in the program.
You’ll also need to be really specific about your target population? So who are you serving? In the example I gave you with the outcomes, I mentioned adolescence. I mentioned addiction to opioids. I don’t know if I mentioned the geographic region, but you’ll want to be really specific about the population that you are ultimately helping.
Another typical part of a grant application is, who are you partnering with, and collaboration? So you’ll want to really talk a lot about whether or not you’re working with other organizations, maybe other businesses, maybe your local government. Be as broad as you can with that and make sure you know what people’s roles are. And oftentimes, there’s an opportunity to attach a letter of support from that partner, which will help build some strength in your application.
Another segment of an application is really the crux of it is what is your program design or work plan? In other words, how are you going to do what you promised to do, which is the outcomes and the goals that I had mentioned earlier.
You’ll also usually be asked to describe your management plan or your key personnel. And this is a good chance to really kind of brag about the people your organization and what they’re capable of doing. It’s to show that you have the credibility again to deliver on your promise.
And I already mentioned the evaluation plan how important that is.
And lastly, the budget. Budgets are sticking point for many people, but ultimately, so critical. So if you do want to know more about budgets, get in touch with me. I will be teaching webinars specific to budgets, since this is a really big one.
So one of the things we promised in today’s webinar is, what is the number one thing every nonprofit must do to get grant funding? Well, if I had to really narrow it down, you have to have really smart project planning and match your project with the funder interest and that way you increase your chances of grant success. So that may sound pretty logical, because it is, but you would be surprised how many times people skip some of the steps in the project planning. Or maybe they are pressured by someone on their board or someone on their staff to apply to a particular funder, when it’s really not the best fit for what you’re doing. So just stay true to that quite simple equation of project planning and matching with your funder’s interest. And I think you’ll be very pleased with your chances of success as a result.
Now, the third thing we promised in today’s webinar is, what are some specific things that you can do now to be ready to apply for grants? And I think this is really kind of a good segue to answer a question that I see coming up here from Barbara. And that’s what about letters of intent, which sometimes LOI also stands for letter of inquiry. And this is something that I’m finding more and more foundations rather than asking for a full grant application right away, they’re inviting you to submit a letter of inquiry or letter of intent. And this could be an online LOI or a paper LOI.
But the purpose is always the same. They want you to give sort of a brief description of your project, so that their review committee can first look and see if they’re interested in seeing a full application. And one of the nice things about these is that it saves you some time. And it saves the reviewer’s time. Because if there’s not a great fit, then you’re going to get to no, and you’ve just saved yourself all that time and the frustration of writing a very detailed, full grant application with all of the attachments. And if it’s a yes, then you kind of have a foot in the door already.
Now, this particular question asks about what about those funders that may not . . . as I understand that may not have a public RFP? In other words, it’s a funder that says, “We do not accept unsolicited applications.” Well, don’t be discouraged because sometimes a person on your nonprofit board might have a connection with somebody on the foundation’s board. And if you can get any kind of introduction, that’s going to be helpful. If not, you can still send a letter of inquiry, introducing your organization and really expressing that you might like to try to have a phone call. Or that you believe there is a good fit between your mission and the mission of the foundation. So thanks for asking that question, Barbara.
So what can you do now to be ready? Well, first things first, there’s a whole bunch of materials you can gather. And if you do this upfront, let’s say you don’t even have a funder in mind at the moment. You can still gather these materials now, so that when the right grant opportunity arises, you’re ready a step ahead. These materials include things like proof of your nonprofit status your 501(c)(3). Your Board of Directors list, an annual report, if you have it, those are usually optional. Organizational charts are sometimes required, sometimes not.
I can tell you though, what’s almost always required, and that’s financial documents. So your IRS 990, or your budget to actual from the last year, or and or your financial audit, your operating budget, those are all things that foundations will want to see. And this list is also something that I can send you. I have a 10 page guide on how to be ready for grants and it’s listed in there as well. So I’ll give you some instructions how you can obtain that in just a moment.
Here are some important things that you could do now. So we’ve talked about number one project planning. Well, what I didn’t mention is this is really something that’s valuable to do in a team. So that could be other staff members, it could be pulling in some board members, it might be pulling in a similar organization that you’re going to be working with, get them involved now. So you can start your project planning now. You can use a logic model, if you like. I highly recommend it. There’s a lot of clients where the very first thing we do is complete a logic model, because then we know we’ve got things in place that need to be there for the grant application.
And can I tell you a secret? A really, really good grant application. All it is the best possible project plan put into writing that’s really it. Funders want to be able to read your application and have all their answers . . . all their questions answered. They want to know what you’re going to do, how with what and how will you measure it? That’s really kind of the bottom line.
The second thing you can start to do now is again, gather all those materials that you’ll need to submit it with most or all of your grant applications.
Thirdly, you can start researching and finding the best grant opportunities for your project now, and again, just don’t apply if it isn’t the perfect fit. But you can start researching those grant opportunities. You can go to grants.gov for federal grants. You can look at some of the foundation databases, including Foundation Directory Online and all the others that are out there. You can go to your local library that might be able to help. And you can google foundations. You can look at other organizations that have gotten grants that are similar to yours and see who funded them. So I’m kind of just reviewing some of the things we talked about here. These are all things you can start doing now.
And lastly, I didn’t mention this, but contacting the funder is probably the single most important thing that I found that gets you in the door. In other words, it’s one thing to submit a perfectly written grant application. But if the funder has never heard from you, it isn’t always the best option. Let’s just say this. If you can call somebody and speak to somebody at the foundation, they can hear exactly the passion in your voice, your purpose, they get a much better sense of who you are and what it’s about. If you can’t reach someone, because, you know, I’ve had my clients call funders, sometimes two, three, four times leaving voicemails. That’s better than not trying at all, and you can still apply.
So I’ve also got 7 Steps to Grant Success. This is just a simple 10 page guide that’s going to offer you a little bit more detail than what we could possibly covered today. But it’s a guide to make sure that you are 100% ready to apply for grants. So please, download your free guide. It’s my gift to you today. I hope it launches you right into 2020 and gets you going in this field. Look at . . . you can download that at grants4good.com.
One of the other things I promised today is to talk about what are some of the critical mistakes that I’ve seen happen in my 20 plus years of doing this work. And they’re probably too long to all list here but here are three that I really do want to warn you about.
And the first one is taking short-cuts in the project planning process. And by short-cuts, I mean, you might have sort of a vague outcome, but you didn’t take the time to be very specific about your target audience. Who you’re going to reach, where, when? So be very specific about that, make sure you have a clear idea of all of the actions that you’re going to need to take to achieve your outcome. And that it all looks really feasible and that you can deliver on it.
One of the other mistakes along those lines is in evaluation. So evaluation always requires the gathering of data. So one of the mistakes I’ve seen with clients is I may start working with them and they’ll say, “Well, we don’t really have anyone in charge of evaluation. And we hadn’t been really good about collecting data to see if our programs are working.” And if this is you, you’re not alone because evaluation is time-consuming and it is one of the harder things. And sometimes it tends to fall on project staff, on folks that are already in your organization that have a full workload that might now have to look at data gathering. So be sure to think about that before you apply for the grant so that when you do get the funding, you’re able to do the necessary data collection. And it might not be a lot, it might be attendance at an event. So it might not be a lot of work. Or it might be far more significant than that.
The second critical mistake that I sometimes see is, and I’ve mentioned this already in the last 45 minutes, but just applying to the wrong grants or funders. So applying to something that isn’t the best possible fit, and how do you know if it’s a great fit? Well, we talked about the research you can do. And after you’ve done that research, contact the funder. You can have a brief phone call and say, “Hi, I’m so and so from ABC Organization, and I believe our work really aligns well with the mission of your foundation. Could we talk for five minutes about some next steps and maybe have a meeting?” So, you know, definitely do that work to make sure you’re applying to the right ones.
And the last thing I’ve seen is people waiting too long to get started? So I . . . .it’s not uncommon to have somebody call me and say, “Margit, we know that we’re about to lose some staff. If we don’t get $100,000, in the door in the next three months, we’re going to have some staff cuts.” And that’s waiting too long to get started. Because if you and I were to sit down today and write the most stellar of all grant applications to the perfect funder. We would still have to wait around three to six months before we even hear back about whether or not we get the funding. Now, that’s a ballpark sometimes is less than that. Sometimes it’s a year out. But the point here is that if you need funding for next month, the grant might not be the best way to go. So you want to really plan a year out. So don’t wait too long to get started if this is something that that you really want to do.
So I hope this webinar has left you with the mission to start grant writing, to start getting ready for grant writing and realizing this is a really good source of revenue. And, it’s kind of fun. Now, I know I see some of my colleagues here in the grants world, and they’re like, “Really, Margit, it’s fun?” Well, it is. And it’s fun because we start to see the impact that this has, not only on the organization that you’re with today, but more importantly, on the people you serve. So there’s a great deal of power in writing and getting grants for your work.
So my mission for next year is to continue to empower you to do this work. And one way I’m going to do that, which I will tell you about, farther on down the road, if you’re interested, is I will be developing . . . releasing an online course called, “All About Grant Writing,” in 2020. It’s the complete proven step-by-step system to find and get the grant funding you need. So what I’ve done is I’ve taken the 20 some years of experience and mistakes that I’ve made in the field and compiled them into an eight module course so that you can go through this step-by-step and learn much more about the grant writing process. So if this is something you’re interested in, we can get in touch on that.
The two key outcomes for that is I want you to be able to complete a grant proposal from start to finish and I’ll walk you through the whole process. And secondly, save some time doing it. Because one of the biggest complaints that I hear about people in this work is, “We don’t have the staff or the time to do this.” There’s always other things that take precedence. So you need a streamlined system to do it. And that’s what this online course will provide you next year.
So in the meantime, if you enjoyed and you learned a lot today, please accept “7 Steps to Grant Success” guide that you can download for free on our website grants4good. If you want to know more about grants, you can receive my occasional e-mails that will share some tips and tidbits all about grants. And that may really help you out as you go through next year and beyond. So I’d love to stay in touch in that way.
And I’m going to now thank you for being here today. And I want to get to some of the questions that we didn’t get to yet. So I’m going to say, Steve, you might have seen some . . . I might have missed some questions as I went through presenting. I know I caught a few here.
Steven: Yeah, you got some good ones. There were a couple other ones I noticed but I just want to say thanks real quick, Margit. That was an awesome presentation. So happy to have you here and finished out our webinar year. I told you all this was going to be a good one. But yeah, we got a few questions in here.
Margit: You’re welcome.
Steven: Actually, Margit, I got a couple of people asked about grants for organizations that aren’t kind of typical 501(c)(3). So we had religious organizations, we had business improvement districts. Is that just a matter of finding a certain funder for those types of orgs? Or is there kind of a good rule of thumb for those types?
Margit: Well, I can, let me backtrack like to the business improvement district. I can say organizations that are not 501(c)(3), there are grants for that. And for something like a business improvement district or for economic development, I highly recommend going to your Regional Economic Development Council. Now, that’s what they’re called here in New York State. I know that the names change. It might be Regional Economic Development Committee, you know, could be some derivation of that. But look to your state grants and your regional grants for those because they are out there. There’s a lot of grants out there for economic development.
In terms of faith-based organizations, yes, there are a number of grants for that. I’ve worked with faith-based organizations. It’s just a matter in this case of finding which of the 87,000 some funders are going to fund faith-based. And sometimes, even . . . sometimes there are funders that will specifically fund let’s say, a specific faith, such as Jewish organizations, Catholic-based organizations. And other times, they will fund you just because you’re doing something that helps the greater community, maybe you’re helping families that are temporarily homeless find shelter.
And of course, there are those organizations that will strictly say we do not fund faith-based organization. So it’s really getting back to checking the eligibility requirements and doing your research. So good questions.
Steven: Cool. What about letters of intent? Any general guidance there we had a couple of people asking about, you know, who should write it, who should send it? Any quick words of advice on the LOIs?
Margit: Yeah, with the letters of intent, they usually come with very specific instructions. So that’s the good news. If they are online letters of intent, you can submit those at any time or whenever their deadline is, and just get those in right away. They’re always worth doing.
The one piece of advice I would say for those is you usually don’t have a lot of space. And as everybody knows, it’s far harder to write in a concise manner than it is to write a 10 page document. So if you only have a paragraph or two to really sell your cause to your funder, then have somebody else read it, review it and make sure it’s concise. And it’s just packing a punch, you know, it’s really going to get someone excited about what you’re doing, and they’re going to want to know more. So if you’re in marketing, you’re going to do great at this. So that’s my advice for the LOI, yeah.
Steven: Here’s one from Matthew, can you use another grant to get matching funds? Is that is that something that’s feasible?
Margit: Oh, that’s a good question.
Steven: Yeah, I don’t know the answer to that.
Margit: Well, it depends on the funder. So with federal grants, you almost can never . . . with federal grants, you almost can never use another federal or state grant as a matching source. However, with foundation grants, you can many times. So here’s an example. If we have a project budget, let’s say it costs $100,000 in a 12 month period to deliver a specific program. And we are going to a funder that I know is not going to award more than $20,000. So we’re going to ask for the max. We’re going to ask for $20,000. But they want to know that we have some other matching funds already in hand. In that case yes, it’s okay to have that other 80,000 come from perhaps other foundation grants, maybe from a federal grant or from individual donors or from revenue from your programs. So the key again, is make sure you look at the guidelines or the very specific RFP for your funder. But sometimes, yeah, you can use other grants to match those. Good question.
Steven: Here’s one from JD and I think it might be a good way to end on it. Where can you find good resume examples for grant writer positions or maybe a sort of a fund development manager position? Is there any key items you would recommend for maybe polishing your resume if you’re applying for those roles, or maybe even hiring for those roles, what you should look for?
Margit: Yeah, I think so there’s a number of things you can do. The grant profession itself has a national accreditation. It was just recently nationally accredited. And it’s called if you look up the Grant Professionals Certification Institute, the GPCI, and they are the nation . . . they are the accrediting organization for grant professionals. And if you meet someone who has passed that exam and all the experience requirements, they’ll have GPC at the end of their name.
Steven: Oh, okay, that’s about it. Got it.
Margit: All right, we have it on the slide. I have a GPC and it’s a very long exam, but it is a great thing to have under your belt and to have done and over with. So that’s called the Grant Professional Certification.
When it comes to fund development, you can go to the Association of Fundraising Professionals. And they also have a number of courses where you can get your CFRE which certifies you as a fundraiser professional.
So those are two certifications that you can put on your resume or you can start to earn those. If you don’t have those, it doesn’t mean you are a stellar grant writer and you can just show some examples of projects you’ve completed with clients. You know, show your impact, what you’ve done in your community. Some people like to talk about the dollars they raised, you know, there’s a number of ways you can show impact, whatever speaks to your clients.
I know somebody here who’s interested in starting a business. If you’re interested in doing this for a living, I can’t tell you enough about how much I encourage you to do it. There aren’t that many of us out there. I know in terms of in the country, there are just over 350 certified grant professionals that’s not a lot for a country with 316 million people so and 1.5 million nonprofits. So yes, there’s a lot of work to do out there. And anything we can do to support more grant professionals getting better at what they do is really exciting stuff.
And if you have other questions, do feel free to reach out to me and I’ll hopefully see you somewhere down the road.
Steven: Yeah, well, hopefully you all do reach out to Margit.
Margit: Thank you.
Steven: Grab that freebie from her. We’re going to give you slides from the webinar. But check out those courses, for sure. She’s obviously a wealth of knowledge and you’ll want to keep learning from her I’m sure. But, Margit, this was really fun. Thanks for being here.
Margit: Awesome. Thanks for having me here, Steve. And thank you all again for coming from all over the place to be here today. And for those of you who are tuning in later, it’s never too late to reach out with your questions and have a great rest of the year.
Steven: Yes, I’ll echo those sentiments. Really was just blown away by how many people were not only registered for this webinar, but attended. I think we’ve got over 200 here live. So really appreciate that.
Steven: Especially when it’s such a busy time of year. And we’re going to take a couple of weeks off. Hope you guys don’t mind that. You’re probably pretty busy yourselves. So we’re going to come back with a bang on Tuesday, January, 7th, a special Tuesday edition. We got a lot of webinars for January actually. We’re going to double up on some of those weeks. But our buddy Claire Axelrad is going to join us to talk about major gift fundraising. Good way to start the year, especially as you’re doing all those gifts acknowledgments. There’ll be some parallels there, I’m sure. So we’d love to see you that first full Thursday of January. And if we don’t, there’s some other sessions I’m sure you’ll come back. Hopefully, you will. But we’ll call it a day there.
Look for an e-mail from me with the slides and the recording. And we will hopefully see you again in 2020. So have a great year end and I hope the next 10 or 11 days for you are awesome. And you hit those annual goals, and you get some rest. That’s the most important thing. You all have been working really hard. So have a good rest of your Thursday.
Margit: And Steve, I just . . .
Steven: Yeah, go ahead.
Margit: I just want to say a big shout out for you and the guys, the folks at Bloomerang. You guys are doing a really, really neat service by holding these webinars. There’s . . .
Steven: We love it.
Margit: . . . always something I learned when I jump on one of these. So thank you for doing this. I really appreciate it.
Steven: Thank you.
Margit: You bet.
Steven: It’s fun for me. It doesn’t feel like work.
Margit: All right.
Steven: I got to get back . . . now I have to get back to the real work which is a bummer.
Margit: That’s the best kind. That’s super.
Steven: All right, everyone.
Margit: All right.
Steven: We will talk to you again next year.
Margit: Sounds good. Thanks.