Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Waiting For A Response To Your Grant Request

You've sent off six grant requests asking for $30,000 each. Your organization, Model T Restoration Effort, needs to provide four Model T's, in your organization's museum, with refurbished motors.

You researched what foundations would likely be interested in supporting Model T Restoration Effort's project and mission. These six foundations appeared, after reading their grant guidelines, to be prime candidates. You contacted their program managers (they all encouraged phone calls to begin the grant request process). After talking to the first foundation, their program manager suggested that you also request funds from two other local foundations interested in old cars. He thought they'd enjoy being involved. Most grant donors do not wish to fund the entirety of a new program (or whatever the grant request is for), so it is best to apply to several grant donors for portions of the total amount needed to begin and/or run whatever the grant request is for.  Some grant donors do not mind a grant request coming to them asking for the total amount needed.  If this is the case, they will indicate this in their giving guidelines.  Let's say that that after prospecting for grant donors, we located six viable potential grant donors who do allow applicants to request the full amount needed from them.  This lead you finally deciding to request the full $30,000 from each of the six foundations that you applied to.

Your volunteers and staff know that if you could get these four antique cars operating, it would generate some income (from Model T rides on Saturdays) and it would encourage more interest in the Model T (by the public riding in an actual refurbished Model T car).

Your Executive Director and you and your Board are eager to get those Model T's engines working. Now, you have to wait to hear back.

Each foundation's guidelines are different. Some indicate in their guidelines how long the grant application process is. For instance, the We Love Old Cars Foundation states in their guidelines, "Grant applications are accepted four times a year; March 2, June 2, September 2, and December 2. Within three weeks we will respond to your request to let your organization know whether we accept your request. If we do not, we will indicate in writing why we are not accepting the request. If we do accept your grant request we will inform you in writing, and if there are any other materials that we need to make our decision, we will request them, then. If your grant request is accepted, within the four following weeks after being notified that your request was accepted, you will be notified as to whether we are going to fund your project or not. If we do not fund your request, please know that we are limited to our capacity to provide funds, and in no way are commenting on your project or your organization's work."

This foundation has laid out clearly for your organization what is going to happen and when. If you have applied to a foundation that does not state this kind of information in their guidelines do one of two things. If the foundation doesn't mind phone contact call them and ask what their process and timeline is. If the foundation doesn't want personal contact ask colleagues at other non profits who have requested grants from the foundation what the foundation's process and timeline was in their experience.

Do's and Don't's During Your Wait:

Be willing to follow the foundation's process and timeline. If the foundation requests additional information for your grant request (i.e. a list of each Board member's current or retired job, a meeting face to face with your Executive Director, or a visit to your museum, etc.), get the information that they requested to them in a timely manner. Do not hound your contact at the foundation.

Feel confidence in your organization's success, track record, reputation, collaborations in the community, and the number of grants that you requested and received in the past.

Also, feel confident in the number of requests that you submitted. Submitting six requests for the full amount (because for each foundation it was appropriate) insures better odds. The foundations will likely discuss your request within their own foundations, and then among the other foundations that you also submitted requests to (because as you've read in previous posts, here, they do know and talk to one another). If one organization submits the full amount - then, your project is set. Or, your project is also set if the foundations decided among themselves to each contribute amounts to total $30,000. If, though, one foundation provides a grant for $5,000 and only one other provides a grant and it's for $10,000; then you do have another $15,000 to raise - but you are half way there. You could, then, go to your major donors or other potentially interested foundations/donors and let them know that the two foundations have granted half the money needed; and ask could they match the rest. Receiving even one grant for part of the total amount you need leads to to the strong potential to raise the rest of the money. If potential donors learn of the local commitment to your project (even just one foundation's partial donation towards the whole amount) they will feel more confident in contributing, themselves. This is also a form of community building.

When you receive a grant proposal response; open it with confidence and a strong determination to see the project or program through, no matter what the response will be.

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