Sunday, July 06, 2008

Some Free Resources...

Not so surprisingly, being in the grant raising field, we at The Grant Plant, LLC receive email from folks from all over the world asking for assistance. Most everyone who contacts us has a great idea that they want to develop into a viable nonprofit to serve their communities. We wish we could help each and everyone with their unique needs, but sometimes we can't. Knowing this doesn't stop us from trying to point folks into a helpful direction. The following is a list of resources that may include one or two great helpful leads for your funding needs...

1. If you are looking for grants for the first time, ever (As with everything in this blog, this information relates to 501(c)(3) nonprofits...for business funding or financial assistance for individuals...see numbers 2 and 4, below...)

For a comprehensive current database of grants available for all causes all over the U.S. and the world, check The Foundation Center's Foundation Directory tool (on their website at: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/ ) The Foundation Center is a very respected and up to date resource for nonprofits seeking grants. They will often provide anyone new to their tools with a free trial subscription to try it out, if you do not want to buy a subscription. You could search which foundations give to your organization's cause this way.You can also find the same Foundation Center database at several local public libraries around the nation, and those can be used at any time for free. Perhaps there is one near you? To find out, go to: http://foundationcenter.org/collections/

Narrow and firm up who may give to your nonprofit by making sure that the foundations you approach not only give to your agency's cause, but ALSO give to the type of program, project, etc. that your organization is looking to fund with this grant, and ALSO gives to nonprofits that serve the geographic region that your nonprofit serves. Only approach foundations who meet all three criteria for your nonprofit. Need to know how to go about raising grants? Read my post, "We Need Money for Our 501(c)(3)..." You can also learn more about how to seek grants on The Foundation Center's site - they have a lot of great tools and education modules for free. Look under their Learn More and Resources menus.

2. If you need help with anything relating to a for profit business; from writing a business plan, to planning out your company's marketing plan, to accounting, etc. you can work with retired professionals in their respective fields at consult on a variety of business needs/issues for free. The national nonprofit is called SCORE. Their website is http://www.score.org/index.html I believe that they work closely with the Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov) who may also be a great resource if you are starting a small business or operate one, and have questions or need help (as I don’t believe they charge for information or assistance, either). If you are looking for funding for your 'for profit' business, read number 4, below, and those posts, too.

3. If you are starting a nonprofit looking for seed money, read the two following posts (click on the links) "Start Up Nonprofit? Need Seed Money? Post 1 of 2" and also read "Start Up Nonprofit? Need Seed Money? Post 2 of 2"

4. If you are an individual (or family) looking for grants to help your financial situation, read the two following posts" "Are The Grants for Individuals?" and "A Bit More for Individuals Looking for Grants"

5. If you are going to start officially forming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, you will need to file your organization with the United States Internal Revenue Service, with the state that you reside in (look under the 'filing a business' or 'registering a nonprofit' menu on your state's 'permits and licenses' website pages or phone one of these departments), and you will want to research whether the county it will reside in requires any kind of registration, licensing, etc. Network with local nonprofit professionals working in the same field as your cause, to build a coalition of colleagues for yourself, to ask them questions when they arise (they've gone through this process), and to get word out about your organization. You'll also want to begin to make a good professional relationship with your nearest community foundation. They will likely know where you should begin to apply for funding (if they, themselves, are not a likely resource - but they very well may be).

6. Where can I research what United States federal government grants are available? Go to www.grants.gov and research your cause, there. They have a wonderful free tutorial that explains how to use their database and search features. Be sure, during your initial research to contact one (or both) of your federal representatives for your state (your federal Congressperson or Senator) if you find a grant or two to apply for. Their office can help your organization apply for the grant (for free) and may be a good advocate for your organization receiving it (as the grants are set annually by the Congress, who determines the next fiscal year federal budget - and this is where these grants come from).

7. I am beginning to volunteer with a nonprofit for the first time, ever; or I have begun working for a nonprofit for the first time, ever; or We have formed a brand new nonprofit and I need to learn the basics about (pick one or all) __ nonprofit fundraising, __ nonprofit operations, __ nonprofit management, __ nonprofit accounting, __ how to create a mission statement, __ how to create our organization's bylaws, __ how to formulate a strategic plan, __ how to serve on a nonprofit board, __ how to work with a nonprofit board, __ etc. (any and all questions about anything relating to nonprofits). I have hand selected each book, based on its reputation (as standards in the profession) in the nonprofit sector, that are included in the Amazon Store to the right, on this web page.  Check it out.  Notice, for start up organizations, Kim Klein's Grassroots series (Chardon Press). If you can't afford to buy these books, but would like to read a few of them, note the name of the book, the author, and the ISBN number and ask your local public library to purchase them for you. These are the best!

8. I need to hire a professional grant writer and do not know where to begin. To find a good grant writer for your 501(c)(3), read my two posts, "What Are the Steps to Hiring A Grant Writer?" and "Top Ten Resources to Find A Good Grant Writer" You may also want to read, "Pricing Grant Writers...What Should We Pay?" and "How Do We Afford Grant Writing?"

9. If you don't know how to apply for grants, for your 501(c)(3), but are about to begin to - you will benefit from my posts, "Top 10 Grant Money Myths...", "Easy Resources for the Grant Writer", "Why Do Donors Give Grants At All?", "How Do I Prepare to Find Foundations Who Will Fund Us?", "What Amount of Money Should I Ask For?", "What Programs, Campaigns, or Items Get Grants?", and "What Does Not Get Funded Well by Grant Money?" If after reading these you'd rather hire a grant writer (!), read my answer number 8, just above.

10. How do I create a budget and what should be in it? If you are freaked out by the idea that you must include a budget with your grant proposal because anything having to do with math or providing financials freaks your beans, read, "The Word "Gets" Is In "Budgets", and "Your New Program or Project Design Must Be Clear Before Applying for Grants"

If you have a question, still, after looking through the above list of free resources; and your questions has to do with 501(c)(3) nonprofits feel free to ask us at admin at thegrantplant dot com. We will do our best to respond to you within the week. (We do not fundraise for individuals or families, so please do not submit questions related to those scenarios, but be sure to read my answer number 4, above, if you haven't. It provides our standard sets of advice and suggested resources for persons and families needing financial assistance.)

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