As a consultant and grant writer, I see far too many young non-profits organizations seeking grants that they are not prepared for. Many small businesses aim for the non-profit status in the hope that they can receive grants for their organization; assisting them with the funding needed to get the business off the ground or ensure the success of the programs thereof.
While eventually, grant funding plays a major role in assisting non-profits, this theory is certainly not how it works! An organization must be what I call “grant prepared”!
Grant preparation is often overlooked in the organizational development and planning process. Many young non-profits have no idea what it entails to leverage their company in such a manner. Instead of preparing, they are researching and applying for grants that are rarely awarded to them. I see this a lot in young companies, less than three years.
Organizations that have been in existence more than three years often are in a better position to receive funding through grants, however many of them also struggle because they do not successfully secure grants to run a successful program. Many times they are left feeling just as frustrated with their grant efforts as the younger organizations.
To be successful in seeking and obtaining grants, Non-profits must be prepared to receive them and equipped to satisfy the funding stipulations. This includes educating themselves on what types of grants to seek and ensuring that they are well qualified and equipped to handle the stipulations set by the Grantors.
Grantors are not in the habit of taking risks and will not award to risky looking organizations. An organization that is not qualified or equipped is considered risky therefore are not prepared to receive the funding.
Grant preparation makes up to 80% of the grant writing process. Grant preparation involves a host of things from how strong of a Board they have to the stability of its program(s).
When I begin with a new client seeking assistance with their funding, the first thing I ask them for is a list of pertinent information. This includes information about the board, the history of the organization, financial statements including budgets and other back office documents. If there is anything missing from the checklist, the client is not fully prepared to apply for funding.
Alongside reviewing their documentation, we discuss the various types of funding they may qualify for and the relationship to their programs. This is a very important factor because many seek funding from sources that have no linking mission or support their funding needs. For example, the funding source mission is to support tutoring programs and the organization runs an afterschool program that doesn’t currently have a tutoring program set up but they seek funding to say they will develop one in hopes to gain the funding or expand their organization but have no implementation plan or program developed to implement one.
In other words if they are awarded the funding, they will then put it in place. However this is not how the Grantor will see it- they will have to put other processes to show they have the means to implement such a program.
Furthermore, grant funding is observed and most require a series of measurements to ensure that you are using the funds for the specific stated purpose.
In conclusion, organizations must not only be prepared with their documentation, but they must also have proven developments of implementation and needs assessments to measure outcomes and success. If they don’t have the means, they can’t supply the cause therefore are not prepared to receive the funding. An organization that hires a professional Grant writer will gain more understanding of this theory.
Hiring a good Grant Writer will ensure that everything is considered before researching and applying for grants. A Grant Writer that doesn’t check to ensure that the organization is prepared fully; observed documentation and proven stability to ensure what is needed to apply, accept and use the funding accordingly, is not guiding an organization towards success.