Grant Readiness Inventory
All nonprofits know that grant funding is a “manna from heaven” kind of situation- no ones knows when or how the funds will arrive, but if the grant writer does their job, grant funds will pour in on a regular basis.
Many large nonprofits (with budgets over $500K) have a certain funders that they get grants from on a regular basis. They also have the staff to pursue new grant funding opportunities.
But what about the start-ups and smaller nonprofits? How do they go about getting grant funding?
It starts with being “eligible” for funding.
Most grant makers will have a list of qualifications published on their website or in the giving profile.
I’ve read hundreds of these lists on behalf of clients and I’ve compiled a list of just the essential items an organization needs to have in place in order to be eligible for the majority* of grant opportunities. And by majority I mean grants from foundations and corporate giving arms; government grants are a different beast altogether!
The 4 Key Categories for Fundability
Appropriate Legal Status
whether that’s a 501c3 or a fiscal sponsorship, you won’t get past the front door if you aren’t legally qualified to apply for grant funding.
Experience with handling funds and tracking expenditures is a key eligibility piece that many organizations overlook. There’s no exact amount of money that an organization needs to have in the bank, but experience with fundraising (via annual event, mail campaign, etc.) is kind of necessary.
Funders don’t want to fork over 10K to a group who has never had any money and has no idea how to report on the expenditures (because, yeah, they are going to want a report).
This is kind of a ‘soft’ item, but it’s key.
The staff, supporters, and yes, Board Members should all be dialed in to the importance and responsibility that grant funding can bring.
Connections, relationships and credibility in the community are essential.
LASTLY, the written pieces:
- clear and concise Mission Statement,
- detailed Program descriptions, and
- goals (with a plan for measuring these goals).
So, there you go, just the essentials for grant eligibility; if you have these items in place you can begin to research and apply for grant opportunities!