Securing funding for your association can be challenging. While the non-dues revenue route is all-too familiar, an often-overlooked source for funding is grants.
There are many sources for grants, the most accessible and obvious being government grants. However, a simple web search for available grants produces thousands of results beyond those provided by local, state, and federal governments.
Even if your association isn’t eligible, consider the benefit of communicating grant opportunities to your membership. For example, what if you sent your members a monthly email outlining various grants for businesses or organizations? Would this add value to their membership? Absolutely. Or your association could offer a grant writing workshop or provide links to effective grant writing resources.
If you’re writing a grant for your association, there are a few basic rules of thumb to keep in mind. Some grants may have detailed applications while others simply want you to submit your request. There are even instances of organizations creating grant requests where no request for proposal existed and getting them funded.
Don’t get overwhelmed. More often than not, grant writing is not a one-afternoon project. It may need collaboration from other members of your organization. Remember, once you’ve established your standard vernacular, each subsequent application will be easier. Just be patient.
The following information is included in most grant proposals:
Proposal Summary: Describe the issues and or problems that will be addressed if your association receives the grant money you’re applying for and your approach to addressing them. Hint: Sometimes it’s easier to write the summary after you’ve drafted the rest of the application.
Introduction: Outline your association’s mission, history, and objectives. The goal is to communicate what your association does and its long-term plan.
Programming: This is your chance to make your association shine. Provide an overview of successful current and previous services and programs offered by your association. Include notable accomplishments, benefits provided, and population served. Consider including a case study (i.e. a written snapshot of a real challenge, solution, and result your organization undertook).
Problem Statement: Provide an overview of the problem detailing the impact it has on your association, membership, community, etc.
Project Objectives: Include the purpose of your proposal with details on the challenge your proposal addresses.
Methods/Design: Describe the approach that will be utilized during implementation and the key players who will be involved (e.g. companies, organizations, and individuals).
Funding Request: This is a very important section. To put it bluntly, name your number, then outline how the funds will be specifically used.
Evaluation and Sustainability: Provide an overview of how you will evaluate the success of the program and your plans for sustaining it in the short- and long-term, regardless of grant status. Include aspects of your organization’s internal support structure (i.e. staffing, budget, etc.).
Budget and Finances: Include any financial information requested by the grantor. Be prepared to provide a detailed budget for the project.
Appendix: Include a list of key personnel involved in the project and attach their resumes or bios.
Grant writing is a step-by-step process. Remember, the trick is to stay cool and not get overwhelmed. Tens of thousands of grants are funded every year. With some practice and organization, your association can be on the receiving end of the bounty!