Results tagged ‘ grant writing ’
It is a commonly accepted view that youth programs and extra-circular activities positively influence the lives of those who participate. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund strives to support and perpetuate this reality by providing the foundation for youth baseball and softball programs: the playing fields, equipment, uniforms and other essentials. For BTF, it’s all about giving kids the chance to play and providing help to those who make it happen. Although BTF may not rely on statistics regarding the indirect impact of the grants given, the insightful words of recipients best demonstrates the impact of BTF:
“… I was moved into tears realizing how difficult and rewarding this project has been, for myself and so many kids in our community. We could never have done so much in so little time without your support…I will never forget what this grant has done.” – Qubie Vazquez, Tripark Little League
“I want to thank you again for this great opportunity that the Baseball Tomorrow Fund has given our organization. I would be understating the excitement level when I gave the Board of Directors the good news…several OH MY Gods, multiple Whoopee’s, and a few tears.“ – Rich Downs, Baseball Parents Inc.
“The field has given great service in this first year and continues to be the pride of the neighborhood, the delight of coaches and students and the envy of those for whom it is not a home field…“ – Brother Patrick Sean Moffett, Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Prep
Outputs vs. Outcomes
In the world of non-profit and philanthropy, much is discussed about the difference between “outputs” and “outcomes.” As you think about the goals and measurable results of your organization, think about the definitions of these terms as they relate to non-profits:
For a non-profit, outputs are the activities done by the organization. For example, a youth baseball league might provide three coaches training seminars for 50 coaches throughout the season. A league may provide opportunities to 200 players per year.
Outcomes are the reasons why an organization engages in activities. A non-profit youth agency may organize youth baseball teams to increase the physical activity of the kids it serves.
Outputs should be easy to measure, but outcomes may be more difficult. For example, if one of the desired outcomes of your league is to improve children’s grades in school, will your organization have the access and capacity to measure this outcome? How will your organization show that participation in the league directly affected grades?
Ideas to consider when asked for organizational goals by a potential donor or grant-making organization. What are examples of an output and an outcome for your youth baseball and softball program? We want to hear from you!
In addition to other fundraising techniques, non-profit organizations should always consider applying for grants, especially when planning a specific project. Though the application process will differ from foundation to foundation, there are many grant writing strategies to keep in mind when writing a grant. Several years ago, Sue Davies, an expert in the field, agreed to share her insight and grant writing tips with our readers. We thought it was worth another review today. Thank you, Sue!
About Sue Davies
Sue Davies has raised more than $30 million dollars over the past 20 years from individuals as well as foundation, corporate and government sources. Currently, she is the Associate Vice President for Major Gifts at RutgersUniversity. At Rutgers, she supervises a team of 11 Directors of Development at schools and institutes throughout the University. In addition, Ms. Davies has held fundraising positions at the American Cancer Society, BarnardCollege, the New York Academy of Sciences, MercyCollege and elsewhere.
Ms. Davies also serves as an Adjunct Professor at New York University (NYU) where she teaches courses in grant writing and government fundraising. She has presented trainings at: Do Something, the FoundationCenter, Marymount College, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDHMH), the Nonprofit Success Forum and elsewhere. Over the course of her career, she has been a grant writing consultant for numerous organizations, including the: NYCDHMH, Lymphatic Research Foundation, New York Academy of Sciences, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and others. Moreover, she serves on the Board of Directors of Women in Development, a membership organization of 800 women development professionals in New York City.
BTF: What are the benefits of using a professional grant writer?
Sue Davies: Hiring a professional grant writer as a consultant can be helpful when a nonprofit is beginning to do approach foundation, corporate and government sources. Professional grant writers know the “lay of the land” and can provide direction to an organization that it new to the grant writing process.
BTF: Many volunteer-run non-profits cannot afford professional grant writing help. Are there any free resources for people to improve grant writing skills?
SD: The Foundation Center (www.foundationcenter.org) and its cooperating libraries are an important resource for all nonprofits. These libraries maintain extensive databases on foundations, corporations and other matters pertaining to fundraising. They also offer courses on researching foundations and writing proposal. Access to the library’s collection and databases and many of the courses are free onsite. There is a charge for online access to the databases as well as for some of the courses. Guidestar (www.guidestar.org) also provides free access to 990s (tax returns) for nonprofit organizations, including foundations.
BTF: What planning should be done prior to starting the grant-writing process? What type of information should the grant writer look for when conducting preliminary research about the grant making organization? Is it helpful to research the organizations and projects that have received grants from the grant making organization previously?
SD: The grant writer should be looking to make a match between an important priority of the organization and a giving interest of the foundation. Preliminary research should start with the foundation directory which gives a good synopsis of a foundation’s interests as well as a thorough reading of the foundation’s website (if there is one). It can be important to see the actual grants that a foundation has awarded, but that does not determine future giving.
The grant writer should then work with the leadership of the organizations to identify a program or project that seems to fit within the foundation’s interests. Once this has been done, I always recommend that the organizations call the foundation to see if it is possible to speak or meet with the program officer. If it is possible to have a conversation with the foundation, then I would recommend letting the program officer know that you have reviewed the available information and to ask some specific questions pertaining to the foundation and the program area that is being pursued.
BTF: What are the necessary skills to write a successful grant? Is there a certain writing style that should be used when writing a grant?
SD: First of all, a good match with the foundation’s interests and the nonprofit’s priorities is required. After that, comes the writing. The writing should be clear and in the active voice. The proposal should answer the question: why should this foundation fund this organization for this project at this time. Jargon should be avoided and every effort should be made to write the grant so that someone that does not know the organization and its work can understand the proposal.
BTF: What information must always be provided in a grant request? Is there any information that should not be included?
SD: If the foundation does not have a specific application form, I would recommend following some version of the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers (NYRAG) common application form which can be found at (http://www.nyrag.org/s_nyrag/sec.asp?CID=5494&DID=11895).
BTF: Organizations often apply for several grants for the same project. What is the benefit of submitting multiple grants? If applying for several grants, how important is it to tailor a grant request to each funding organizations?
SD: I always recommend that a proposal be submitted to more than one funder as it does increase the chance of the project getting funded. The proposal, however, must be tailored to each funder.
BTF: What are the most common mistakes people make when writing grants? How can they be avoided?
SD: The most common errors that I see in my student’s writing are: 1) assuming that the reader already knows about the organization and program area; 2) illogical arguments; 3) jargon, jargon and more jargon; and 4) whining or overstating that the sky is falling in. Lastly, many grants are not proofread, resulting in numerous typos and other problems that really distract the reader and undermine the effort to obtain funding. Many of these problems will come to light if you have one or more people that are not familiar with your organization or project read the proposal before it is submitted.
BTF: What are the three most important things to keep in mind when writing a grant?
SD: First, foundations are people, so relationship building is key. Second, partnerships advance both organizations’ missions, so make sure to approach funders that share goals with your organization. Thirdly, you will receive more rejections than approvals—don’t forget that you can build a relationship off of a rejection and that re-applications can be successful.
If you are a grant writer and have other tips or advice, we would love to hear from you!
For most grant-making organizations, an applicant’s ability to demonstrate available matching funds to support the proposed project and sustain the program or facility is a key factor of the evaluation criteria. Many grant-making organizations prefer to be one of many sources of funding for an organization or project.
Keep these notes in mind when you are applying for a grant:
- Matching funds may include cash already raised or allocated for the proposed project.
- Matching funds may include donated labor, services or materials relevant to the proposed project – also called in-kind funding. You can estimate the value of in-kind funding by using current cost estimates for the donation (i.e. how much you would have to pay for the item or service if it wasn’t donated.)
- Depending upon the type of project, such as a construction project, it may be very important that the applicant demonstrate available cash for cost increases, overruns or other unexpected costs. Grantmakers will look carefully and think twice if all available matching funds is in-kind with no cash.
- Do not wait until after you submit a grant application to a foundation or corporation to begin your fundraising campaign to individuals. According to data from Giving USA 2012, the Annual Report on Philanthropy highlighted on CharityNavigator.org, giving by individuals represents nearly 9 out of every 10 dollars donated, compared to corporate giving which accounted for just 5% of the total giving last year.
- Think about new and innovative ways to raise funding locally. Consider online donations, fun and casual events like Happy Hours (for adults only, of course), online auctions with donated products and services from local businesses or sponsors, etc. Hold a brainstorming session with members of your organization to make a list of who and what to target. Ask around: see what other non-profits are doing in your community to raise money.
If you only remember one thing: start your local fundraising campaign to individuals and local businesses before applying for a grant from a foundation or corporation.
BTF is pleased to announce a new grant opportunity available to organizations in need of professional grant writing services. BTF grants for Grant Writing Service will be awarded to organizations in pursuit of grants to fund youth baseball/softball programs and facilities.
Beginning November 1, applications will be accepted for grant writing service up to $5,000. No letter of inquiry required.
Applications will be accepted from November 1, 2011 – March 1, 2012. Grant awards to be announced in April 2012.
For more information and to apply, please click here.
Today’s grant vocabulary word is grant report.
Grant (or Interim, Status) Reports: Documents prepared by the grant recipient to provide to the donor the status and results of a project or program.
Submission of reports can be required monthly, quarterly, annually, bi-annually, etc. Information in the report may include, but is not limited to, financial statements, invoices, significant changes or events that have occurred, etc.
Today’s grant vocabulary word is funding cycle.
Funding Cycle: The time structure/pattern of activities involved in the process of awarding a grant, such as the proposal review, decision-making and applicant notification.
Grant-making organizations award grants at set intervals (i.e. annually, quarterly, etc.) or as requests are received.
BTF Grant Word of the Day! Today’s word is challenge grant.
Challenge Grant (or Incentive Grant): A grant awarded conditionally, usually requiring the applicant/recipient to secure additional funds from other sources within a specified period of time. This type of grant award is intended to encourage and facilitate the fundraising efforts of the applicant/recipient organization.
The Grant Word of the Day for June 15th is project rational!
Project Rational: Reasons for the proposed project. The rationale should address the evaulation criteria established by the prospective donor.
Today’s grant vocabulary word of the day is matching grant.
Matching Grant: A grant awarded with the specification that the amount donated must be matched by the applicant on a one-to-one basis or according to some other prescribed formula.