grant writing workshop2

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This presentation will walk you through the basics of grant writing, from researching funders to signing the gift agreement.Presented on April 6, 2011 by Victoria Lebron at Teachers College Columbia University's Gottesman libraries in Russell Hall.


  • 1.Grant Writing Workshop An A - Z Guide for Students Victoria Lebron

2. What is a grant?

  • A grant is a sum of money to be
  • used for a specific project.

3. Why do foundations and individuals give away money?

  • According to the Internal Revenue Code, foundations
  • and wealthy individuals must give away 5% of the
  • average fair market value of their assets per year.
  • Instead of giving money out to just anyone,
  • foundations and some individuals ask for proposals to
  • make sure they are giving it to the organizations or
  • people that most match their mission and goals.

4. Your Project

  • What do you want to do?
  • What makes your idea unique?
  • What need is it answering that is not being addressed through another program?
  • Or, if the project is for you, why do you personally need this money and how will it help you to do something amazing?

5. Research

  • Your project:
  • Make sure you know why you are doing this project.
  • Back up your claims with factual research and reliable, compelling statistics.
  • Funders:
  • Who out there cares about the same things as you?
  • Who do you think would make a good partner in this endeavor?
  • Who has the money to do this?
  • Foundation Center - and how it works
  • IRS Form 990

6. Some Questions to Consider Before Researching Funders

  • Is the grant for a program or you?
  • If its for you, then look for funders that do not only fund nonprofits.
  • If it is for a program, see if you can get non-profit status or a fiscal sponsor (ie, a group with nonprofit status that will submit the proposal and serve as fiscal conduit for the money from the foundation to you. They may take a percentage of what you win in a grant.)

7. Cultivation

  • This is the process of reaching out to potential funders.
  • Make sure you have done your research beforehand: some funders dislike receiving phone calls and prefer letters, for instance.
  • A phone call is ideal because it is a quick and painless way to find out if the funder is interested. Have a script or outline ready before you call.
  • Letter of Interest (LOI) is a good foot in the door, too.
  • Its also very serendipitous to meet a funder through a friend or reference. Work your network!

8. Styleand Substance

  • A good proposal reads well.
  • It is interesting.
  • It engages the reader and also gets to the point.

9. Tailoring Your Proposal

  • Read the mission statement and other written material of each funder if its an individual, take the time to meet with them beforehand to understand what makes them tick.
  • Try to point out how this grant blends together your ideals and the interests of the funder .

10. Format

  • There is a formula to almost every grant.
    • Introduction
    • Mission and Background
    • Statement of Need
    • Project Description
    • Request for Support and Budget
    • Conclusion
  • NY/NJ Common Grant Application:

11. Introduction

  • Who are you?
  • Why are you writing?
  • What are you requesting?
  • Dont mince words - get to the point.
  • Three sentences max!

12. Mission and Background

  • What is your mission statement or personal vision?
  • What are your goals?
  • How did you or your program get to where you are now?

13. Statement of Need

  • Why do you or the program need this money?
  • Use research and compelling statistics to back up your claim.
  • Include testimonies or cite recent articles that relate to the topic. (Wikipedia does not count!)

14. Project Description

  • What is your idea to address this need?
  • What makes your idea or program so unique?
  • Why is this funder the best fit for your idea?
  • What is your timeline?
  • What do you hope to accomplish by the end of the grant period?
  • How will you evaluate your success during and after the grant?

15. Request for Support

  • Here is where you ask for money.
  • Be specific about how it will be used.
  • Ask for a reasonable amount - if the foundation only gives 10 grants of $5,000 per year do not ask for more than $5,000.

16. Budget

  • What are your current finances?
  • What is your projected budget?
  • Where will their money fit in?
  • Do you spend all your money on colored pencils and pop rocks?
  • These are things the funder will want to know.

17. Conclusion

  • This is where you tie up your proposal in a neat little bow.
  • Reiterate how you think this could be a very beneficial partnership.
  • Remember to write thank you.
  • Mention that you will follow up shortly.

18. Submission

  • Read all the directions. Seriously.
  • Be very precise.
  • This is where you will lose points.
  • If you were supposed to mail in 10 copies and you only send one you will be disqualified.

19. Follow Up

  • Typically, it is appropriate to wait a little while before contacting the funder about your submission.
  • One day is too soon; six months is too long.
  • Try two weeks, to allow the funder time to at least begin reading your proposal.
  • Also remember that some funders do not want you to contact them. In that case, you just have to wait

20. The Waiting Game

      • After follow up you may not hear from your potential funder for a while. Sometimes it can take 6-8 months to know whether you have received funding. With government grants it can take almost one year. After your initial follow up, unless the funder specifies that you may not follow up, it is ok to ask about your chances about 2 months in.
      • One way to get an answer is to invite the funder to events held by your program. Even if they do not attend, they will know that you are actively making your program work.

21. Youve Got Money!

  • Congratulations! You have won a grant. Above all, read the gift agreement. There may be stipulations in there that you are not comfortable with. Before you sign yourself into servitude, or promise to do monthly 10 page reports, make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.
  • Keep inviting the funder to events. This will give them a hands on experience of how their money is being used.

22. Reporting

  • At the end of any grant period you will be expected to report on how and when you used the money. Most funders want to know that you have spent the full amount for the grant period. If you can not, for some reason, be honest and tell them why. The worst they can do is ask for the remainder back. The best they can do is say s u re!
  • This is where a budget comes in handy. These dont need to be over-detailed, but they do need to be specific. If you used funding for staff, you may want to make a line item and describe how many staff you had (if it changed from when you wrote your proposal)


  • You may want to keep a calendar throughout the grant period, so if you had any major program happenings during that time you can share the calendar with the funder.
  • In addition, if you have done any events that had photos or program fliers, be sure to include these to give the funder a clear idea of what the program was all about.
  • Testimonials are also great to share in reports.
  • Finally, unless it is stipulated that you may not ask for renewal funds, the report is a good time to ask for a renewal. If the foundation has strict renewal guidelines, then fill those out. Make sure you do your research!

24. After All is Said and Done

  • After all is said and done, and the money is gone, make sure to keep the funder in the loop.
  • Sendannual letters that detail how the program is doing.
  • Invite funder to events.

25. Educational Grant Opportunities

  • Forecast of FY 2011 Education Grant Opportunities:
  • Detailed list of FY 2011 Education Grant Opportunities:
  • Sign up:

26. Want to take another look at this presentation?