The First Steps To Securing Funding
Before charging into the funding fray, there are a few things you should know.
Hunting for grants - an open mind
The first challenge is to find the grant that is right for your club/organisation.
When you are looking for funds, it pays to take a step back and view your operations in a wider and general perspective. Thinking only specifically about individual things can limit the opportunities. Taking a broad approach to your activities, members and supporters can open up multiple possibilities to apply for many more grants from governments, foundations, philanthropic organisations and councils.
Once you have identified all the areas you might qualify for, you will need to start thinking more carefully. It's important to pick the right one.
Counting the Cost
In the process of applying for a grant there will come a time when you should stop to consider if the amount of effort you are putting in is in proportion to what you are gaining. A grant application from scratch can take up some of your resources - drafting applications, planning programs, running evaluations, reporting - and the more things you have to do the more resources it takes. You could have to carry out special outreach programs, advertise, or organise.
It's important to remember that you don't need to jump on a grant opportunity just because it's there. Think carefully about your resources before making the decision to apply.
However, you need to draw your own line. A resource-hungry grant application could mean disaster, or it could end up being worth it (a wider audience is a good thing in itself, and may pay for itself over time in increased subscriptions or donations).
What does a funding agency look for in a grant application?
Despite the great diversity of the various grants programs and the amazing array of interests and target markets, funding bodies really need to be convinced of two things: that a significant need exists and that the applicant has the capacity to meet that need in a creative and fiscally responsible manner. Below is a list of just some of the things different agencies may be looking for:
- Projects that will affect or involve as many people as possible - a small project may have broader applicability if it can be used as a model elsewhere.
- Realistic projects with strong and dedicated backing and a high likelihood of success.
- Projects that have broad community appeal and support.
- Projects that provide a long-term solution rather than a short-term fix.
- Projects that will make a difference.
- Something new or visionary that is being held back only because of a lack of funds.
The grant-seeking process - in a nutshell
Step 1 - Determine your needs and solutions (including costs)
Step 2 - Identify funding sources (not just grants)
Step 3 - Assign a grant-seeking officer
Step 4 - Monitor opportunities
Step 5 - Match your needs to those opportunities
Step 6 - Inquire
Step 7 - Apply