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.
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:
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.
Sponsorship is not a gift – it’s a business transaction. Companies offer sponsorships that support causes they identify with [youth, healthcare], allow them access to a target audience, or because they want to be seen to be supporting an organization.
If you are setting up a fundraising shop or have organized a few ad hoc fundraising campaigns or events and now you want to take a more measured and organized approach to your fundraising you need to do some careful planning to get ready to fundraise.