Before you begin the process of applying for a grant, it’s a good idea to make a list of items generally required in a grant application. Keep this list on hand to use as a reference each time you apply for a grant. Applications to government agencies and foundations are all different, but the information requested by each is similar. There is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ grant application. Each funding request is unique and must be carefully tailored to the giving philosophies of each potential funder. However, if you become familiar with the types of information you will need to provide, the grant writing process will flow more smoothly!
Most grant applications contain some or all of the following components:
Introduction: Identify your organization and the date you established your nonprofit. State the reason for your request, the grant amount, and the time period for which you are requesting funding.
Organizational History and Background: Include your mission and vision statements and paint a broad picture of what your organization is all about. This is often a good place to mention a few past accomplishments and describe how you serve your community – the types of benefits you provide.
Description of the Program or Project: Give a brief preview of the purpose of your request for funding, even if it’s for general operating support rather than for a specific project or event. You will provide more details later on in the grant application.
Statement of Need: You will need to justify your request for funding for your project, program or services. Be persuasive and stress how the potential funder’s financial support will help your organization accomplish its goals. Be sure to mention how your objectives closely match the program objectives and overal giving philosophies of the agency or foundation to which you are applying.
Goals: Include short term and long term goals. If you have one major goal, break it down into components.
Objectives: These must be measurable and include activities or actions that will be completed to help meet your goals. This is also sometimes the place in a grant application to include solutions to the problems you plan to address or challenges you plan to overcome.
Timetable or Timeline: This is sometimes referred to as methodology. Break down the grant period for which you are requesting funding into a realistic timelineto and demonstrate how and when you will accomplish your objectives and meet your goals. This is usually the area of a grant application where you will state deliverables or actual results of the planned actions.
Evaluation: Describe how success will be measured. Be innovative!
Key Personnel: List who will be involved in the program or project and describe the value added by their involvement. A short paragraph is sufficient.
Budget Information: Pay careful attention to exactly what the potential funder wants to see. You will generally include a current operational or organizational annual budget and a specific program or projecte budget. Include a timeline for expenditures. List all of your sources of funding, including other organizations to whom you have also applied or intend to apply for grants. You will sometimes be asked for a balance and expenditure statement or a copy of your most recent audit.
Partnerships: Some funders want to know your organization’s affiliations or memberships and what type of partnerships or collaborations you have established or plan to establish.
As you complete your grant application, look for opportunities to point out to the funder the importance of their financial support and how that support will benefit those you serve and also further the goals of the grantor. However, it’s important not to sound desperate! Plan on creating several drafts of your application! This is actually a great way to organize what is essentially a marketing tool for your organization. Remember that it may take many tries to secure funding. Even the most well written application may be rejected. However, there are unlimited potential funding sources and you should be able to find those that are a perfect fit for your organization.
Keep in mind that, in these challenging economic times, you may find it necessary to submit applications for several smaller grant amounts to different funders, rather than apply for one large grant.