Five Things You Need To Know About Grant Funding

| August 23, 2017

Once an organization obtains its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, immediately the thought goes to funding and how can we find funding to support all the great work we want to do. Before you go off to begin writing grant proposals, here are five things you need to know.

  1. Grant funding cannot be the only source of revenue for the organization!

The idea that “we just need a big grant” to support our work is a myth that is often passed on from board members and others who are well-intentioned but do not quite understand ministries and nonprofits. The truth of the matter is all organizations need a diverse platform of funding sources to include grants, special events and individual donors. Having all your eggs in one basket puts the organization at great risk in the event the focus of one or more funders changes.

  1. Funders are not waiting around to fund your organization.

Again, this idea is a myth, probably started by someone on late-night television. The world of grant funding is highly competitive and your grant proposal needs to stand out to catch the eye of potential funders.

  1. Follow Directions!

No matter how silly directions for a grant proposal seem, it is always best to follow the directions of the funder. There is probably a reason for what seems peculiar to you. And, in the grant funder’s mind, if you are not able to follow directions on the proposal, how can you be trusted to do what you say you are going to do?

  1. Start local!

Individuals who are not familiar with grant funding will often say, “get a grant from XYZ foundation,” with XYZ Foundation being the largest and best well-known foundation in the US. You are more likely to experience success if you identify funders who are local and familiar with the work your organization is doing in the community. Once you are successful with local funders, reach out to regional funders. Know that many national, large funders are only interested in funding programs that are being replicated. Your program is not ready to be replicated until you have proven results.

  1. Know your competitors.

In the nonprofit and ministry world, we want to believe that we do not compete, but instead, we collaborate.  However, in reality, we know this is not always the case. It is quite common for funders to ask who is doing work similar to you, so you need to know who they are and what work they are doing. You will also want to be able to clearly communicate how your organization is unique and the work you are doing is different from the other organization.

Grant funding is a complex process that involves understanding the funder’s point of view, your organization, and the community you serve. Integrating grant funding into your array of funding sources can strengthen the organization’s capacity to serve and serve well.

Category: Non-Profits

About the Author ()

Email | Website | Deborah DiVirgilio is a Certified Governance Trainer through BoardSource and has more than 20 years of experience in providing nonprofit consulting, grant writing and management services for nonprofits, government agencies and faith-based organizations. She is the owner and principal consultant of The Faith-Based Nonprofit Resource Center (formally known as DiVirgilio & Associates). She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Sciences from Wilmington College and a Masters Degree in Non-Profit Management from Regis University, and is Grant Professional certified by the Grant Professional Institute. She has served on the Board of Directors and as an officer of the Grant Professionals Association.