By: Katie George
Grant Writer, Big Buzz Idea Group
Spring has arrived with the promise of fresh and new! We at Big Buzz Idea Group quite naturally love this time of year; the hive is humming and people are buzzing with energy and activity, preparing for the longer days ahead.
It’s that time when New Year’s resolutions, set in the dreary months of winter, are reinvigorated—like dormant trees bursting with leaves to meet the warm sunshine. For some, this means finally getting outside, being active and becoming more physically fit.
For nonprofit organizations, this is the season of renewal and growth, as well, when many are looking to get more “organizationally fit”—as in increasing attendance at annual events, recruiting more volunteers, or providing more training for their board members.
Another viable option for nonprofits seeking to “get fit” is to diversify their funding portfolios by including grant funding into their revenue stream. If you’re not sure how to get started, Big Buzz would like to help by offering a “fitness challenge” so you can decide if your organization is ready to start applying for grants. These questions will assess your grant readiness:
1) Do you have 501(c)3 status or a fiscal sponsorship agreement in place?
2) Do you have an active board of directors with at least 5 members?
3) Do you have the resources (staff, or a dedicated volunteer corps, technology, etc.) to carry out the grant funded program?
4) Does the project in need of funding advance the organization’s overall mission?
5) Has your organization filed Form 990s with the IRS every year it has been in operation and hired an auditing firm to do a professional audit?
6) Do you have the administrative and fiscal tools to financially manage and report on a grant (i.e., the ability to create organizational and program budgets)?
7) Are you developing diverse funding streams other than grants (such as individual donations, corporate giving, major donors, and other fundraising events)?
If you were able to answer yes to all of the above, congratulations! Your nonprofit is indeed ready to push its fitness to the next level and start applying for grant funding, and Big Buzz is excited to now offer grant-seeking support services to help advance your organization into this next phase.
Grant seeking can be daunting and time consuming when first starting to reach out to foundations, and is often misconstrued as the limited activity of writing proposals to obtain funds. That is why we like to offer our clients a more holistic approach of “grant development” rather than just the actual grant writing. This approach includes the above organizational “fitness challenge” with an emphasis on the “3 R’s” of grant development:
1) Relationships—building relationships with foundations;
2) Research—determining alignment with a foundation’s funding priorities; and,
3) wRiting of the proposal by telling your story in a concise and compelling way.
Another important component to our grant development approach is to start small by focusing on local family foundations and not on larger multi-million dollar foundations. It is just like that New Year’s resolution to get physically fit—you probably are not going to sign up for your first marathon on the other side of the country to meet this goal. But rather, a local 5k is probably the best goal to work toward and will set you up for success. Which, of course, is ultimately our goal when working with clients using this approach.
So, are you ready to take the organizational fitness challenge and set new fundraising goals by including grants in your revenue portfolio? Let us know!