Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The ABC's of grant writing

Raine asked an interesting question: “so you like ask for grants ? is that it?”

Well, there’s a lot to it that I am finding out about. The long story is this:

1) You’ve got to Find the Grants (lots of research)
2) You’ve got to Apply for the Grants (lots of writing & proof-reading & having the info to put in them.)

We’re talking about grants for a non-profit, which is where the majority of grants are, as opposed to an individual or a for-profit business.

This means the organization has done the legwork and has received the Non-Profit 503 (c)(3) designation from the IRS.

My wonderful person that I am working with explained to me that the organization is like a stool, with the organization being the top flat part of the stool itself, and the consumer being the ‘butt’ that sits on it (and in this case rests its weary soul upon it!). The $money$ that supports the organization is the four legs of the stool:

1) Government grants
2) Fundraising
3) Corporate/Foundation Grants
4) Selling things and making a profit for the organization

These four things are the money sources that keep a non-profit going. And they need money all the time, for everything from administrative costs, to paying for the light bill, to food for the consumers (the folks that show up every day and are the reason the place exists!).

I am working on corporate grants for the food program at the Drop In Center. This wasn't too hard as I found the right phrase to put into Google and I was set! I was so excited when I found the pages on the internet where it directs you to apply for a grant from say, the local grocery store foundation!

Sometimes you apply with their form, sometimes you conjure up a letter to ask them for the privilege of being thought of at their next board meeting for a grant – to start the process.

So, now that I have found a few grocery store foundations that may possibly give money, I must start a) filling out the forms they have provided or b) send a letter to tell them of our need. So there is writing involved especially when thinking of what to say in that letter.

Also, there is a lot of grant writing to do, since apparently often only about 1 out of 2 or 3 grant requests actually gets filled. That means a lot of work just to receive the monies needed to run a program.

You don’t know if all or one of your requested grants are going to be filled. It could literally be feast or famine for the Drop In Center’s food program, unless we make a concerted effort to write out about six grant requests to make sure we are safe, in the effort to make sure we get two actually granted. Whew! That’s a lot of work!

There’s a lot of writing and thinking about writing involved in this. I can only do what I can do a little at a time, to wrap my head around all the little parts involved in a large grant package/proposal. But it’s a challenge I’ve accepted. I’ll keep you updated.:)

1 comment:

Raine said...

Wow - thats hecka interesting and it sounds like a good cause. Ok now another question. What's a drop in center LOL