So, you have started this amazing new non profit organization which is going to assist a cause that is important to you, right? Now the important question comes in. How are you going to find the money to run your organization? Are you going to apply for grant funding? ask for donations, or conduct fundraisers? Honestly, your answer should be at least two and if the program requires it, all three. You cannot rely solely on any one form of funding to operate your organization and develop your programs.
While grant funding can be an important part of funding your organization you cannot rely solely on this funding to get your organization up and running. Unfortunately obtaining grant funding is not a quick process which can be done in a couple of days. A lot of thought and consideration must be taken into account when you are developing a non profit grant proposal to be sent out. The grant funding process can be a long drawn out process. First, you have to write a grant proposal and research foundations that are willing and interested in funding your programs. This is unfortunately where many non profit organizations develop their first hang up. Most new organizations have no clue how to write an effective non profit grant proposal. This leaves hiring a professional to complete the job for them, which unfortunately will cost money.
However, barring the obvious financial constraints that grant writing can put on an organization let?s talk about other reasons why grant funding might not be the route you initially want to go. Since, the current economic recession it has become more difficult to obtain grant funding. Foundations no longer have the money to fund as many programs as they used to. That by no way means that there is not funding out there at all for your organization; however, it has made the process very competitive. You must research and find organizations which have a history of funding the same type of programs which you are implementing and share the same mission and goals for humanity. Also, you must research and have specifics on how your programs are going to run, who are you going to help, what need are you addressing, how much money exactly are you going to need to run your program for materials, administration, facility expenses, etc. Grant funders like to see who and what their funding will specifically be going to, in fact, most grant funders require that the organizations they providing funding to give them reports on how their specific funds were used. Many organizations also have in house grant fund auditors that will physically require a meeting to go over where their grant funding has gone to insure that the funds have be appropriated properly.
Time constraints are also an important thing to look at when asking for grants. Obtaining grant funding is entirely dependent upon the foundations you send your non profit grant proposal to. So, if their due date for proposals is November 15th and your grant proposal is completed and ready to send and its only March do not expect to receive grant funding from this foundation anytime soon. Most grant funders like to receive all non profit grant proposals by a certain date and then they make their decisions on who they want to fund. Another way to think of this process for example is to think of applying for colleges. Most colleges have an application deadline and can only take in a certain number of students. Take Harvard as an example. Harvard is one of the most prestigious colleges in the United States and it can be argued that they are one of the most prestigious colleges in the world. Unfortunately, not everyone who applies to Harvard gets accepted, in fact, their acceptance rate is only 7% of all students who apply. The world of grant funding can draw many direct correlations to the college application process.
Another important thing to think about when asking for grants is that grant funders prefer to see that there are other sources of capital coming into the organization to help with the programs that have been initiated. In other words, grant funders like to see that an organization is sustainable, meaning they are able to continue their programs once grant funding is gone. This is by far one of the most important things that a grant funder is looking for they want to see that the vital program initiative that you have helped bring to realization continues once they have supported your organization by sending you their support. How are you going to show that your organization is sustainable? First, you need to show that you have broad support throughout your community through fundraising and individual contributions. Begin developing fundraising efforts not only to raise funds, but to get your organizations mission and purpose out to the public as a whole. The more public awareness you develop the higher chance you have of obtaining donations to truly help your specific programs. Nothing is more moving to a grant funder than actual proof of how your organization is currently helping your local community, and not just reciting how you intend to help your community when you actually start your programs.
Grant funding can be an amazing way to get funding for your vital program initiatives in one lump sum, however, be prepared that the entire grant writing/funding process does not happen overnight. There are many organizations which are out there to aid organizations is writing and researching potential foundations which would be interested in funding the program which you have developed. Even in today?s recession there are billions of dollars from foundations and the government that are being distributed to nonprofit organizations. You can be in line to receive some of this funding, but be prepared to work for it they do not just hand it out.