Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tips for government grant success - part #2

In May, I wrote a submission to Charity Village's Village Vibes newsletter on some of the basics that associations and charities should concern themselves with when considering an application for a government grant in support of their programs. Since then, I have been approached by various non-profit board members of differing organizations looking for advice. In the hunt for offering valuable counsel, I thought it worthwhile to elaborate and in some instances, come back to some of my original points.

Some of the most basic principles of general grant seeking and grant writing tips apply for government grants, as long as the previous rules and tips are acknowledged and followed. The more general but also crucial tips to successful grant seeking and writing are below:

  • Seek out programs that are as closely tied to your program’s cause or initiative. The more focused and specific your program to their grant guidelines, the more apt the funder will be to award your nonprofit the grant. You will discover this through your research of potential programs and grants.

  • Pay special attention to amounts, deadlines, restrictions, locations, etc. Missing one small detail could easily cost you a grant.

  • Make sure to spend plenty of time on the grant. Most grants seem simple enough, but the funders do not want a hastily completed grant proposal, and yes, they can always tell.

  • If you do not have the time to spend on delivering a well-written grant, hire a professional grant writer whose specialty is drafting and submitting winning grants. This could take a lot of work and worry off a busy nonprofit’s shoulders, and could be well worth the investment. Grant writers have often worked in with an organization that offers grants, giving them the benefit knowing what is generally expected.
  • Make sure to apply knowing that the funds will not be awarded retroactively, and the application process can take anywhere from a couple months to a year. Plan accordingly.

  • Make sure to include all attachment documents that the guidelines ask for. Typical ancillary documents include: federal nonprofit proof, fiscal year budget, and other sources of grant/fundraising income.
  • Know that most government grant sources will ask specifically for follow-up proof on how their money is being spent and what the positive outcome has been. Be prepared with ways in which to measure the success of the program, and talk about it in the grant.

  • Lastly, know that all grants-especially government grants-are very very competitive, and that you may not win every grant for which you apply. Applying for grants is a learning process. You will win some and you will lose some, and learn what works and what does not in delivering a successfully awarded grant.

  • Grant application is a lengthy and delicate process, but necessary for the sustenance of non-profits. These tips and the aid of a non-profit professional will ensure that your organization is prepared for any proposal.
    Mark Buzan is Principal of Action Strategies, a GR Consultancy for non-profits. If you have questions on how Bill C-4 impacts on your organization, please contact him. Subscribe now to his Lobbying tips newsletter at www.actionstrategies.ca/Action_Strategies/Newsletter.html

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