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The Grant Geek Blog

New Kid on the Block: Developing Your Funding Strategy as a Startup Nonprofit

November 29th, 2017

funding strategies for new nonprofitsThe number of nonprofit organizations in the United States alone is staggering. Voluntary nonprofit organizations in the United States serve nearly every interest and need under the sun. From professional societies and trade associations that seek to improve professional practice and standards to massive relief organizations such as the Red Cross that serve people around the globe to local community-service organizations, nonprofits touch every aspect of American life. While they may run the gamut in size, scope and mission, they all are designated as tax-exempt organizations by the IRS (usually 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6)) and they all require funding—often in the form of grants.

While for professional societies, dues from individual members may help keep the ship afloat, funds from dues are rarely enough to actually move the ship in any significant way. The same is true for philanthropic or service-oriented nonprofits: donations, bequeathments, fundraising drives, and other sources of revenue are often just enough to keep the doors open but too little to enable the nonprofit to launch new programs and services or effectively deliver existing ones.

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Turn your Grant Denial into a Grant Award

November 21st, 2017

Turn a grant rejection into a winGetting a grant denial can be very depressing. You and your team have put in a lot of work and even though you know when you submit a grant that there aren’t any guarantees, you always have hope. The grant denial letter takes that hope away and adds a finality to your plans for the upcoming year, and it can sting a little.

This is where we like to take a step back and rephrase our “Denial” into a “Not Yet.” There are so many things that a person can do when a grant is denied, and the actions they take will result in a more organized program that is easier to implement and more aligned with the funder’s goals. There are many reasons why a grant does not get awarded. The main reason is because the application didn’t score within the funding range. Sometimes, even when the grant does score within the funding range, it doesn’t get awarded. In this case, the funder is sometimes wanting to build a relationship with the applicant; they are following a geographic distribution method; or there just weren’t enough funds to go around for the coming year. It’s easy to want to point fingers when a grant is not awarded, but just remember your proposal will be more implementable with the changes you make and better in the long run. (more…)


5 Elements of a Winning Grant Proposal

November 8th, 2017

competitive grant writing tips

While you may have only one or two grant proposals to write at any given time, those who review grant proposals regularly have dozens to review – and often in addition their regular jobs.

Just as recruiters going through multiple resumes for an open job position do, grant proposal reviewers have a limited amount of time to sift through an enormous amount of information. They must triage applications quickly to narrow the pool down to those most worthy of further consideration. And just as a poor resume will quickly find an applicant discarded, a poorly done grant proposal likewise will find its way to the “no” pile, and fast.

Great grant proposals stand out from poor and even good ones in clearly identifiable ways, and almost all share the common themes of careful attention to detail and strategic alignment of the requestor’s and grantor’s priorities and goals. Learn five factors that distinguish winning grant proposals from those that fail to secure funding. (more…)


New to Grant Writing? Don’t Go It Alone!

October 5th, 2017

grant writing mentoringEven for the most talented writer or the most knowledgeable subject matter expert, grant writing is never something that just comes “naturally.” Whether you’ve already written a couple of grants, are getting ready to begin, or have simply read a few grant proposals, you’ll quickly see that grant writing is significantly different from any other type of writing.

Grant writing uses very specific terminology, relies heavily on formalized structure, and has an often-onerous obligation to address with absolute precision specific qualifications, conditions and prerequisites set by the granting entity. And it goes without saying that grant writing can be a stressful experience, given its important role in securing resources and building capacity for your organization.

Because grant writing does play such a central and vital role, and because organizations that rely on grants often have very limited staff resources, staff members who have limited or no experience writing grants often are called to fill that duty. Grant writing, however, isn’t something one can just “pick up” in a few hours and then be sufficiently fluent to write an award-winning document. A better and proven solution lies in mentoring. (more…)


6 Things You Should Know About Foundations

September 28th, 2017

Applying for foundation grants is different than applying for Federal and State grants. For instance, foundations are often funded by family money, and managed by the family or descendants of those who worked hard to gain enough wealth to establish a foundation. The approval of the grants may be completed by a handful of family members or by a board of directors that meet to discuss the merits of the applications and vote on those they want to fund. In comparison, Federal grants utilize three to five grant reviewers with grant writing experience that analysis each application independently.

Following are some tips that will help you through the process of seeking the support of foundations: (more…)


August Update: What We Know About Federal Programs/Grant Funding Under the Trump Administration

August 17th, 2017

What to expect under the Trump Administration

The outlook related to government grants will be clearer in the next couple of months as the Trump Administration sets a target date of October 1st to approve the 2018 Federal budget to prevent a government shutdown. As of now, the budget is still in negotiation and committees are approving their versions of spending bills to be considered. Nothing has been finalized yet that will give us further insight into the future of government grant programs. However, there are a few things that could be considered positive when comparing what is being approved by committees and the massive slashes that were proposed in the budget blueprint released in March.

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Grant Audit Prep: Don’t Stress, Learn from the Best

July 11th, 2017

An audited financial statement prepared by a qualified CPA is an integral part of administering a nonprofit organization, and can have a profound effect on the future of your organization. Any organization that receives $750,000 in Federal funds is required to have a Single Audit performed, and foundations often require an audited financial statement as part of a grant application. Federal funders need to make sure the organizations are spending the funds with high integrity and honesty as they are responsible for making sure tax payers’ money is being spent in compliance with regulations. Your auditor will review your Federal programs application, Federal Notice of Grant Awards, Contract, Budget and be sure you have spent the funds in compliance with not only these items, but also in compliance with 2 CFR 200. The goal is to have the scrutiny of your finances and programs result in an “unqualified” audit without any “findings”. A “qualified” audit or an “unqualified” audit with several “findings” could result in Federal payments being delayed due to increased review of your payment documentation prior to payment, payment(s) being returned to the funder, and/or your foundation grant application being denied.

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5 Secrets to a Successful Capital Campaign

June 22nd, 2017

creating funding sustainability

A Capital Campaign can be a daunting undertaking, especially after you realize how many thousands or millions of dollars are needed to reach your goal. Take a deep breath, you are not alone. People who have gone before you have found the following “secrets” to be helpful to their success.

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Three Tips for Creating an Awesome Budget (Example Included!)

June 8th, 2017

Have you ever read the last page of a novel first? Not ideal when reading a thriller – but brilliant if you’re a grant writer. Many reviewers will approach a grant proposal “backward,” by reading the budget and logic model first. This offers a snapshot of your project before they dive into the bones of the narrative, which leads us to:

Tip #1: Your Budget Should Stand on Its Own.

​When a reviewer reads the budget for your project, they should be able to understand Who, When, Where and How. This is accomplished by creating a tight, descriptive, easy-to-follow narrative alongside your figures to explain the details. Just as an abstract is a synopsis of your project, your budget should be as well. Your budget should tell a story.

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3 Ways to Get Money for Your District or School

May 24th, 2017

Nearly every type of school is eligible to receive grant funding. Yes, even private schools! Many schools, however, don’t pursue the funding that is available. With teachers bogged down with oversized classrooms and administrators working after hours to ensure compliance with testing and state and local achievement goals, educators often do not have the time or energy to write grants. Developing a grant proposal can take anywhere from 10 to more than several hundred hours. At the college level, professors often seek sabbaticals just to focus on grant proposal writing.

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