Tip Sheet: Grants

Grants are simply funds provided by a granting organization, such as public, private or corporate foundation or a government department. Grants can be an excellent source of funding for capital improvements and to seed or grow a special initiative. It is, however, a competitive market. Funders are approached by many organizations doing great work. You need to prove that your project will generate lasting, positive change in your community.

Your Fundamentals

Researching and identifying your prospect funders

You need to start with solid research. You can find a lot of information online. Most government departments, public and corporate foundations and even some larger private foundations, publicize their application process online. You can also check out our Find Funding resource. If you want to access a more comprehensive directory, that includes corporate and private foundations, you may consider subscribing to a funding database.


Your first stop should be the funding guidelines. Is your organization eligible? What are the foundation’s funding priorities? You don’t just have to look for ‘heritage conservation’ on that list. If your project has a social purpose, the potential to generate economic or tourism benefit or involve youth, you may be able to expand your list of funding prospects.

Remember, when creating your list of prospects, quality over quantity rules! Don’t throw spaghetti on the wall by simply applying for every grant available. Your time is better spent with a small list prospects that are a good fit

Grant writing is a very different skill from writing donation appeals and creating sponsorship packages. Typically, there is a set application format and it can be complex. If you have researched your prospect well, and you know it’s a good fit, then the effort is worth it.

Here are some key questions that you should be ready to answer in your proposal:

  • How does your project fulfill a need in the community? Here you can draw on research, articles or surveys that demonstrate your case. Even a local survey or consultation, can make a powerful case.
  • What is your plan? You will need think through timing, milestones and deliverables.
  • What impact will your project have on the community? If you are adapting your heritage place into a working farm and education centre, for example, then your impact could be teaching local youth about caring for the environment and sustainable food practices.
  • How will you measure that impact? Be prepared to talk about what quantitative and qualitative data you will track. Impact can be measured by tracking reach and gathering participant feedback.
  • How will you sustain your project? Funders want to know about your long-term plans. If your project is truly a short-term initiative, then explain why. But, if you plan to continue, then consider future sources of revenue and partners who can help you carry out your work.

Don’t forget the Budget! Some funders will jump straight to this part of the proposal. Don’t skimp, just so that you can present a slim bottom line. Funders will want to know that you will have enough funding to follow-through on your plans.

Before You Start - Ask Yourself:


Have you done your research to generate a list of quality prospects?


Can you demonstrate that your project meets a need and will generate positive impact?


Have you thought about your initiative from beginning to end, including how long it will take, what will be accomplished along the way, and how much it will cost?