You’ve heard about grants and you’re ready to apply. But is your organization ready?
In this post, we’ll outline the key steps you need to take to determine if your organization is ready to apply for a grant. We’ll also provide tips on how to get your organization ready, if it’s not quite there yet.
First Things First, Are You a Non-Profit?
The first thing that any organization needs to do when applying for a grant is to make sure that they are actually eligible. For most grants, you must ensure that your organization is 501c3 non-profit, or working with a fiscal sponsor who is. For more information on fiscal sponsors, check out this article. This is something you may be able to handle prior to engaging with a grant writer, to save yourself time and money. If you need some assistance with this process, Arula recommends Kim Fisher of Vision Catalyst to help get you started.
Does Your Organization Have a Clear Mission and Goals?
If your organization doesn’t have a clear mission and goals, then it’s going to be tough to show funders why they should invest in your work. So, before you start anything else, make sure that you have a solid foundation in place. This includes having a defined purpose and plan for your organization, as well as understanding what you’re hoping to achieve with grant funding. Next you will need a Board of Directors to approve the mission and goals.
Do You Have a Board of Directors or Other Governing Body?
To be grant ready, your organization should have a board of directors or other governing body. The governing body is responsible for making decisions about the organization’s mission, programs, and budget. They also provide oversight to ensure the organization is compliant with state and federal laws.
Do You Have a Solid Track Record of Accomplishing Your Goals?
One of the main things that grant makers look for is clearly defined goals and a track record of accomplishment. They want to know that you are capable of achieving the goals you have set for yourself, while measuring the progress. There are a few things you can do to build this track record:
- Make sure you have a detailed and well-thought-out plan that outlines your goals and how you plan to achieve them.
- Track your progress and report on it regularly. Grantors will often need quantitative data to show their own boards that their funds are having an effect.
- Make sure your organization is run efficiently and has a strong team in place. This includes creating succession plans, so the organization can continue operating even if key staff/volunteers leave.
Do You Have a Way To Track and Measure Your Results?
If you’re not sure whether your organization is ready to apply for a grant, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have a clear and concise mission statement?
- Do you have a way to track and measure your results, through quantitative and qualitative data?
- Do you have a detailed budget and financial plan?
- Are your programs and services evidence-based?
- Are you willing to commit the time and resources necessary to apply for and manage grants?
A lot of grantors are turning to the “SMART” system to measure grant readiness. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Keep this acronym in mind as you build your program and ways to report on it.
Do You Have Evidence of Support From the Community You Serve?
One of the key things grant reviewers will look for when assessing your organization’s readiness for a grant is evidence of support from the community you serve. This can be shown in a number of ways, such as through letters of support from individuals or organizations who have benefited from your work, or through statements from those you serve about how your work has made a difference in their lives.
It’s also important that those served have a voice in the leadership of the nonprofit. This can be shown through their representation on the board of directors or other governing body, or through their involvement in the day-to-day operations of the organization.
Are You Prepared to Follow the Grant Guidelines and Restrictions?
When you’re applying for a grant, it’s important to make sure that your organization is prepared to follow all of the guidelines and restrictions set by the grantor. This means being able to track any related expenses and ensuring that you’re using the grant money in the way that was intended.
It’s also important to have a good understanding of the grantor’s expectations. Are they looking for specific outcome measurements? Do they want reports on how the money is being used? Being able to answer these questions will demonstrate that your organization is capable of following directions and taking direction when needed.
Are you curious if your organization is ready to apply for grants? Wonder what the grant writing process entails? Or are you looking for resources to help you get started? If you answered yes to any of these questions, please reach out to Arula and we will be happy to offer a no-cost consultation to discuss grant readiness and potential funding sources.