All organizations need funding to thrive, and nonprofits are no exception. While there are plenty of ways to fund your missions, such as crowdfunding, individual donations and membership fees, applying for grants can help you engage with your community, build lasting relationships and complete larger or more complex projects and goals. If you’re looking to secure funding for your nonprofit organization, it’s important to understand the key parts of the grant management process.
From finding the right grant to writing a grant proposal, it’s easy to become confused and disorganized throughout the process. Below, we focus on understanding grants for nonprofits, how you can find them and some strategies for writing grant proposals.
Receiving a nonprofit grant is a multi-step process. Let’s look at how nonprofit grants work and the different stages your organization must go through before you can successfully secure a grant.
The first step to obtaining grant funding is to search for nonprofit grant opportunities that fit your organization’s needs and could help you accomplish your planned goals. Remember, nonprofits rarely apply for grants that don’t serve a specific purpose.
Before you jump into the search, begin by analyzing your organization’s objectives, needs and any aspects of your mission that may require additional funding. Narrowing down the grants you’ll apply for makes the process easier for both you and the funders involved in the grant process.
When you’re ready to begin your nonprofit grant management process, you’ll need to:
The next step is to consider what type of grant your nonprofit needs. There are different kinds of grants for nonprofits you can source from a variety of organizations. Each grantor or funding agency will have unique motivations for providing their funds to worthy causes.
Some of the most common organizations that fund nonprofits include:
To determine which organization is best to go with when applying for grants, consider which one fits your nonprofit’s needs best. For instance, if you’re looking to start a small, very specific project, you might want to search for local family and community foundations. Comparatively, if your nonprofit has a mission that will require more operating expenses, consider a government grant.
Once you’ve narrowed down why you need your grant and what organization is most likely to provide you with the funds, you may still wonder where to find these types of grants in order to apply for them.
Before you can apply for and secure grant funding, you have to find one that fits your needs and you’re eligible for.
There are plenty of ways you can look for grants, including:
If you’re applying for several grants, keep in mind that not every connection will be fruitful. The grant funding application process can sometimes be long and frustrating, especially when it results in no funding. Still, it’s important to develop lasting relationships, engage with your community and show your nonprofit team how valuable it can be to ask for help.
Other websites you can search for nonprofit grants include:
At this stage, you’re ready to write a grant proposal and apply for funding. While grant writing for nonprofit organizations can seem tricky and tedious, they’re one of the most critical aspects of your funding process. Your grant proposal should make it easy for the funder to choose your nonprofit as the recipient of the funds.
Let’s look at some best practices and tips for writing an efficient grant proposal.
Funding organizations receive hundreds to thousands of grant applications every year, so it’s critical to make yours stand out. By building a meaningful relationship with your potential grantor, you can keep your nonprofit at the forefront when they’re awarding grants.
Before submitting your proposal, contact the relevant program coordinators or managers and schedule a time to chat about what they’re looking for in a grant proposal. Ask them about their selection process or what requirements they have for the proposal. This can help you increase the likelihood that they’ll remember your nonprofit’s name when it’s time to review applications.
Writing a grant proposal involves sharing the story of your nonprofit in a way that makes a personal, emotional connection with the reader while highlighting the grantor’s goals. Instead of making general, over-arching statements, tell the story of how your nonprofit came to be in a way that focuses on your need for funding.
Make it compelling for the reader. Use key terms that align with both your mission and that of the funding organization. Discuss why you’re seeking a grant and how the potential project fits in with your nonprofit’s values and mission. Use facts, research and statistics combined with emotional appeal to set your organization apart from the rest.
When explaining your nonprofit’s need for funding, try to provide a clear sense of purpose. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when writing a grant proposal is assuming the funding organization knows what your mission is and the type of projects you develop. Use your proposal as a unique opportunity to deliver your message in an engaging way, describing your specific goals and things your nonprofit plans to accomplish with the funds.
Discuss how you’ll apply those funds in detail, so the application reviewers don’t have to guess how you’re going to use the money if you receive the award. Make it easy for them to know exactly what your nonprofit does and even provide some background research that supports your reasoning for the project. For example, if you’re asking for funding to host an animal adoption event, include other cases that show the effectiveness of these events in reducing animals in shelters.
Once you’ve spent hours writing and perfecting your grant proposal, you might not be able to look at it objectively. It’s important to allow someone to review your work and look for grammar and spelling errors and ways to improve clarity, detail and specificity.
While you can choose someone from your nonprofit team who’s familiar with your work to review the proposal, you can also choose someone outside your organization or industry to check that you’ve followed all the grant proposal instructions and you wrote a compelling, engaging proposal.
When you’re ready to submit your grant proposal, you’ll need to track your status and progress if you receive the award.
Once you secure grant funding, it’s generally required that your nonprofit organization tracks and records your spending and how you use the funds, down to every last dollar. Doing this helps your funder know you’re using the money as intended and showing them proof their award is effectively helping your mission reach your goal. Tracking grant funds will also help with financial project management and ensure your team stays on track with expenses without going over budget.
One of the most effective ways to track and manage your grant data is to empower your team with the right tools, such as a grant management system that allows you to view complete grant data within a single platform. With this type of software, you and your nonprofit team can ensure you complete all the required tasks surrounding your grant, from pre-application to closeout.
The grant management process and lifecycle involve several essential components that can be difficult to track, particularly if you don’t have the right tools or if you’re managing other tasks in your nonprofit organization. Keeping your grant data organized and properly tracking and monitoring your funds is critical to maintaining a strong relationship with your funder, meeting required deadlines, building your reputation and potentially securing more funding in the future.
At IGX Solutions, we know how challenging it can be to keep all your grant data in one place. That’s why we developed the IntelliGrants platform, allowing various grant-seeking industries to meet their grant tracking and reporting needs. Our intuitive solution will let your nonprofit organization view complete data from a centralized point, manage performance tracking and monitor critical deadlines and grant application statuses throughout the entire grant lifecycle.
The IntelliGrants platform is equipped with scalable, configurable templates that make it easy to comply with your grant agreement and streamline the process so you can focus on delivering your upcoming project or mission. Through our centralized grant management system, your nonprofit can access a wide range of tools that help you maximize productivity and grant writing and applications with confidence.
Once you’ve completed your grant writing and secured your funds, make sure your team has everything you need to make your project a success. If you want to learn more about our full-service grant management software, book a demo online or contact us today for more information.