Grantseeking Resource Kit: Page 1 Grant Seeking Process Definition Grants are sums of money awarded to organizations by funding bodies for particular pre-agreed upon purposes. Usually annual; sometimes multi-year. Advantages Large and small, established and new organizations can apply. Excellent revenue source for special projects, including seed and demonstration projects. Nominal upfront costs and monetary risks. Work can be done by one staff member or a skilled volunteer. Disadvantages Usually cover project costs and can rarely be applied to annual operational costs. Time limited. When they end, difficult to sustain project. Grant research, proposal development, follow-up and reporting can be very time consuming. Organizational Requirements Skilled staff person or volunteer to do research, develop strategies, write compelling proposals, and follow-up. Ability to provide clear evidence that your programming has potential or demonstrated impact. Compelling cause that matches the interests of the granting bodies. Pre-Proposal Development Initial Preparation • Get your house in order: Agreement on goals and priorities and a definition of project(s) and initiative(s) Demonstration of organizational capacity to achieve and measure desired outcomes Commitment to fundraise and write grants • Develop a general plan and strategy for proposal(s). • Create a task team or committee of experts and community members to help, if you can. Secure advice wherever you can, even from other funders or non- profits. • Allocate staff/volunteer resources to support the process. • Begin to undertake research to identify the priorities and needs of funding groups and bodies. Grantseeking Resource Kit: Page 2 Research Phase Identifying Prospective Grantors • Research includes: perseverance and creativity • Assemble your prospect list: based on your plan and how your project meets funder priorities, identify specific sectors and potential supporters through research. Include foundations, corporations, service clubs, unions, and government. • Figure out up front: Who to contact. Do you have any personal contacts? The best way to approach your contact • Determine your fit with potential funders and think about what aspects of your organization or initiative appeal to the potential supporter. Demonstrate how you will meet the funder’s needs and criteria. • Make a list of the benefits and outcomes for partners. • Develop a strategic plan and approach and create a compelling proposal(s). • Aim to create a web or network of funders and supporters. • Tailor the approach to fit each partner. • Rank your best targets based on the fit between your organization and initiative and the funder’s criteria and interests. PRIORITIZE your process! Research: Questions to Ask What are the organization’s/funder’s: • Donation policies and business/operating interests? • Mission and objectives for giving? • Current and past interest areas? • Past philosophies, values and culture? • Style and method of operations? • Geographic area? • Amount of giving, how often a recipient can apply and how long funding terms last? • Method and style of giving support? • Recognition requirements? • Reporting requirements? • Eligibility and proposal requirements? • Fiscal year end and budgeting process and timing? • Key people and their backgrounds and interests? • Decision making process? • Sample grants in the past? • Contact information? Grantseeking Resource Kit: Page 3 Research Sources Access information from the following sources: • past files and annual reports • organizational brochures and profiles • newsletter • donation policies • information packages for charities • product and service descriptions • employee associations and trusts • newspapers • trade and industry magazines as well as philanthropic journals and newsletters • business and trade associations • Blue Book on Business • various guidebooks and directories, e.g. the Who’s Who publications, The Directory of Foundations, etc. • computer online services • other charities in your community • professional associations including: The Conference Board of Canada The Canadian Centre for Philanthropy Corporate Volunteer Councils, Board of Trade Chambers of Commerce and municipal business association In Kind Canada The Canadian Centre for Business in the Community Community Foundations of Canada Heritage Canada, etc. Developing Relationships with Potential Grantors • Develop an annual networking strategy. • Select and train your own organizational ambassadors for presentations. • Look for people with existing business/community networks. • Make sure ambassadors know about your non-profit and are articulate and persuasive. • Get to know the leaders in your community. Attend local service groups, business and trade associations, churches and faith groups, Chambers of Commerce meetings, sports and cultural events, community events, etc. • Invite funders to events and initiatives. • Put them on your mailing lists. • Invite them to sit on advisory councils or ask for advice. • Work your contacts. Wherever possible, leverage current supporters and friends. Funders leveraging opportunities on your behalf will often garner better results. • Funder consortiums (several funders supporting one project) are extremely successful. Grantseeking Resource Kit: Page 4 • Try to book a meeting in person where you can do a presentation with a volunteer or Board member. Here you can ask questions and lay the groundwork for a submission. • Make direct phone calls or write short TAILORED letters of intent that are presented in a language that the funder can support. • Cultivate, cultivate, cultivate! And be creative! • Treat your potential funder like a partner. Grant Writing Executive summary (not to exceed one page – usually 2-3 paragraphs) Summarizes the request and the case for support with a focus on outcomes: • brief statement of the problem • a description of the project as a solution (#’s served, location, duration, resources required, lives/communities changed etc.) • funding requirements and future funding • organization and expertise Project background and needs section (2-3 pages) • Provides background and a profile of your organization with a clear description of your qualifications and why your service is needed, necessary, and unique. • Provides statistical data that relates to the project and area being served. • The need section should also be hopeful. Build a compelling and positive case that points to your project as a solution. Only promote your program as a model if it is one. Project Description • Describe measurable objectives and your plan. Specifically describe activities, timing and resources required. Provide a measurable list of achievements you wish to accomplish. Program evaluation • Outline systems for accountability and reporting. Emphasize benchmarks that measure progress toward outcomes and goals. Expected outcomes and benefits • Ensure outcomes are hard-hitting and woven throughout the proposal. You may also create a summary section of outcomes. Realistic project budget • Include a budget with a clear description of the project’s future and long-term sustainability and how partnership dollars are spent. Include an income section that is diverse in nature. Grantseeking Resource Kit: Page 5 Conclusion • Summary of the proposal’s main points and outcomes. Attachments • Include Board lists, lists of other funders and supporters, financial statements, annual reports, additional program information as required, etc... Grant Writing Tips • Explain concisely the who, what, where, why, when and how along with how much the initiative will cost (5 W’s). • Tailor all proposals to the unique needs of each funder. Match the funder’s requirements: align yourself to their needs. • Emphasize benefits right up front - highlight what the outcomes and impact will be and emphasize benefits to the funder if this is important. Be compelling - demonstrate your skill at building an excellent case for support. • Use a confident writing style and demonstrate outcomes. • Use outcome oriented, action-based language and be clear and precise. • Use endorsements from other funders and partners. • Use short paragraphs and sentences with clear ideas. • Avoid jargon and terminology specific to your sector. • Use clear language - including language used by the funder themselves. • Be complete and professional and reflect all your research about the potential funder in the proposal. • Outline costs and the need for support. • Number all pages and put a header and footer on each page to identify the document. • Write a compelling and intriguing cover letter. Indicate that you will follow-up with your contact. Implementation • The need for open, creative discussion between donors and development groups - stay in touch regularly. • Allow sufficient time to develop the funding relationship. • Manage expectations if the situation changes. • Deliver on promises. • Meet deadlines • Develop an internal plan and process for regular communication and assessment. Utilize effective project management skills. • Establish accounting and evaluation procedures to allow for measurement of outputs and impact. • Discuss sustainability of partnership on a regular basis. • Celebrate successes and evaluate impact. • Cultivate the funder for multi-year support. Grantseeking Resource Kit: Page 6 Follow Up • Keep excellent donor files of all communication and findings - build organizational capacity. • Thank people for meeting/talking with you and helping you move the appeal forward. • If nothing happens in a few months, send a letter of enquiry or e-mail/call your contact. • If confirmed for funding, commence the initiative and develop a plan to communicate regularly with the donor. Set timelines and meet deadlines. If required, ensure that a funding agreement is signed. • If you are turned down, thank the funder for their time and ask why you didn’t have success. Keep a detailed record for future submissions. • Continue to cultivate your contacts. • Take the time to develop and nurture an excellent relationship. • Follow-up when you say you will. Do what you say. Exceed expectations. • Communicate, communicate, communicate. People hate surprises. • Cultivate, cultivate, cultivate! Building A Long-term Relationship • A small donation at first to test your capacity to work effectively. • If your funder is pleased, they may increase the funding and resources that they provide to you. • Tips to help with this include: Putting the donor’s needs first. If local, offering your funder a seat on the Board or employee opportunities to volunteer (if appropriate). Sharing information and asking for advice. Including funders in your activities and evaluations as often as is feasible. Exploring different forms of support and offering new and innovative proposals to your partners. Creating added value and building in new and creative ways to work together, i.e. helping the funder meet their objectives and criteria. Regularly reviewing the impact of the funding provided.