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Grant Readiness Guide: The Basics, The Financials, and The Story

Grants… so much work!

So here is the deal. I HATE grant writing! Not something you will hear many nonprofit fundraising professionals admit. It is time-consuming and you better have all of your “I’s” dotted and “T’s” crossed to even be considered for the grant. Depending on the research you read only 10-30% of grants written are granted. But if you can get your grant writing game down you can find funding.

Regularly I hear from clients “ I want to write a grant”, and “ I should be able to get a grant for that!” My first question to them is “Are you grant-ready?” The response is often deer in-the-headlights look. Being grant ready is the key to even being considered for a grant.

Being grant-ready means…

The Basics

Below are basic things you need to have in order for most grants.

  1. You are a registered 501c3.

  2. You have a board of directors that is diverse, committed, and engaged.

  3. You are organized like an actual business- good bookkeeping, employee job descriptions, team bios, regular performance reviews.

  4. You have a strategic plan that is realistic, achievable, and measurable.

  5. You have a well written organizational history- why you exist, who do you serve, what have you accomplished.

The Financials

Being able to show your fiscal responsibility can be frustrating because many grantors ask for your financials in various formats. Here are some things you need to have set up.

  1. Annual financial review by a CPA.

  2. Financial audit every couple of years.

  3. Bookkeeping is organized.

  4. Detailed and trackable budgets for programs.

  5. You have a diverse fundraising plan and are executing it.

  6. You have details on your funders, individuals, foundations, corporations etc. Who are they, what are they funding, how much are they funding?

  7. You have a 990 for each year since the inception of the organization.

The Story

Does your statement of need tell a good story? Below are some things to consider when you are pulling your statement of need together.

  1. Clear vision on the community you serve

  2. Compelling statistics about the problem you are solving

  3. Who, why and where are you serving this community?

  4. Who are the people in your story? Clients, Donors, and staff

  5. Do you have strong outcomes you can share?

  6. The community you serve should always be the hero of the story.

So are YOU grant-ready

? If not, putting a strategy around grant writing will make the process less challenging. While I don’t officially write grants, I can help you evaluate your grant readiness and get a strategy in place for your organization to be ready to write your first grant. I can help you find resources and point you in the “write” direction.

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