Monday, October 29, 2007

Top 10 Reasons Any Nonprofit Should Begin Applying for Grants

First, read my post, Top 10 Grant Writing Myths to get you and I on the same page.

Next...the Top 10 Reasons Any Nonprofit Should Begin Applying for Grants:

10. The nonprofit that you work for addresses a real need in the community very well, and is not replicating another agency's work.

9. The nonprofit is a legal 501(c)(3) (or other legal non profit entity per the IRS); operates ethically, transparently, legally, professionally, and has a track record of successes; has all components operating that are required by law of a nonprofit, for example a professionally/legally functioning board; your organization conducts an annual, professional, independent financial audit; has all of its records and required paperwork filed and available.

8. This nonprofit successfully raises money from the community, demonstrating that many others (such as personal donors, companies, corporations, etc.) deem the organization's work as needed and successfully meeting a need.

7. 70% or more of the nonprofit's revenue goes to your organization's core programs. Eh hem...this is a professionally and ethically accepted standard in the American professional nonprofit world, today.

6. You understand that as your organization can afford it, you will need a marketing and public relations campaign (if you don't already have one going) to be certain that your organization's name, its mission, and its good work are well known by community members such as potential collaborators, clients, donors, future board members. Control the message that gets into the community about your organization. This will increase your fundraising, over time.

5. The nonprofit is conducting a diversified Development Plan that raises money, throughout the year, in various methods to assure ongoing cash flow, grow constituency, and raise money from different revenue streams; rather than relying on one. Grant donors want to see that you understand that they are only partners - not ongoing perpetual sponsors, in your work. Ongoing community support shows grant donors that the community supports your organization and literally has 'buy in'.

4. Begin a grants program if your organization has the time and human resources available to dedicate to the collaborative work that grant writing requires. You should not simply hand the grant writing task to someone and expect them to do it all on their own, especially if your organization is only beginning grant writing. It is collaborative because it requires proof reading, discussions about which programs should be funded by grant money, finding and copying agency documents for applications, etc. Often the executive director, development director or staff, bookkeeper, programs people, and others are necessary to the process.

3. Only begin a grants program after your agency's leadership and key staff have planned for it. You should have raised the now needed money to add to the organization's operating budget to pay for all aspects of the program. Perhaps your organization's begun a new annual fundraising event two years ago to pay for the grant program; knowing you'd begin the program three months from now. Do you want to hire a staff grant writer or do you want to hire a consulting grant writer? What are the going wages or fees in your region? Which local grant writers have successful, professional, and ethical reputations? Which programs, projects, or items do you want to support with grant money? How else are you going to afford them, as grant donors do not want to fund all of major costs? Etc. Read my post, How Do We Afford Grant Writing? if you aren't sure how to.

2. If your organization is a start up, does not yet have its 501(c)(3) status but has applied for and received a seed money grant, you can arrange with another nonprofit that does have its 501(c)(3) designation to receive the grant on behalf of your organization and pass all funds onto your group. These relationships do exist and to be safe require a legal agreement between your organization and the recipient. [I am not a lawyer and am not providing legal advice, here. If you need legal advice, seek professional counsel.]

1. If you are raising money in many different methods (i.e. major donors, newsletter envelopes, special events, annual appeal letter, memorials, etc.) throughout the course of the year, but haven't done much grant writing - why not add another method to your development program?

1 comment:

Maya Norton said...

Hi Arlene,

I wanted to let you know the topic for November's Giving Carnival is:
"What business practices should nonprofits adopt to maximize their resources?"

The link is here and I will be writing as a reminder (as you so kindly did for me).

The deadline will be Monday, November 26th and I will be posting the Carnival shortly thereafter.

Please help spread the word.

All the best,

Maya Norton
The New Jew: Blogging Jewish Philanthropy