Searching, Identifying & Beginning the Grant Writing Process

November 10, 2016

Before thinking about writing grants, it is important to ensure you have a streamlined process for searching, identifying, selecting and then prioritizing grant opportunities. Here are a few ideas for beginning the process of grant writing.

How does my organization find the right grants?
As we talked about in a recent blog post it is important to have a grasp on the different tools available to search for grant opportunities.

In the process of searching for grants, begin general and then scale back from there. Attempt to use general descriptors of the grant you’re looking for. If the results seem overwhelming, or appear too extensive to sift through, narrow your search by being more specific regarding the type of funding you are looking for. For example, to narrow your search, you can include more descriptors in the key word search, or be more specific with regard to your geographic region or type of funding (general operating, capital campaign, etc.).

Which grants are the BEST match for my organization?
When searching for a grantmaker that is your best match, there are a number of questions you should consider:

  • What is their most frequent gift size?
  • In what counties and cities do they prefer to give?
  • What causes do they fund most often?
  • How much do they give?

Most of these questions can be answered by reading a grantmaker’s 990 form. Here is is a how-to on reading 990 forms by the Foundation Center: Demystifying the 990-P

What are their funding restrictions?
Here are common restrictions to be aware of:

  • Geographic
  • Type of organization they fund (may only fund 501c3 nonprofit organizations)
  • Some grantmakers may not fund organizations that receive federal dollars
  • General operating support

Focus inward: What does your organization bring to the table? Why should a grantmaker choose to support your organization?

  • What is your mission and does your project align with this mission?
  • Does your program have the capacity and requisite staff to take on the project you seek to fund?
  • Is your project sustainable, and what plans do you have in place to continue the programming once funding ends?
  • What is your history with taking on grant projects, and can you show that you have been successful in the past?
  • Do you have letters of support from partners in your project, or with organizations with whom you have worked with in the past?

Once you find a number of grants, how we move forward with taking them on?

  • Find an effective way to organize your grants – whether by deadline, geographic location or program.
  • Grant writing should be a team effort. Make sure you have the right people in the room to help you define the scope of the project and help you to envision how it would look in action once implemented.

Get support from those you work with in prioritizing, and make sure your efforts always remain grounded by your mission.