An 8-Step Beginner’s Guide to Nonprofit Grants

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Grants are free money.” Well, that’s false. Grants are not free.

They’re very expensive in time and resources. It doesn’t matter if it’s a federal grant, state proposal, county level partnership, or even a simple PTO (aka, Parent Teacher Organization) grant. All grants have invisible associated costs, specific technical structure, and a winning formula in order to be successful.

For example, I will use the foundation I believe embodies an ideal funder. Oregon based organization, Meyer Memorial Trust (aka, MMT), has been great to my nonprofit. In addition, they created a great website with exemplary resources.

Here’s a checklist that shouldn’t take any more than an hour to skim through and to discuss with your key leaders/personnel:

  1. Research the Foundation/Organization – Find the specific purpose of their philanthropy. MMT declares their mission immediately on their website. This is significantly important because the grant writer can learn how and why certain organizations were funded and for how much.
  2. Research the Grant – In your head, quickly see if you can answer ALL the questions on the application. If you cannot articulate the answers, more than likely you may not have a solid proposal. And DO NOT create a new project for the grant. That’s called, chasing the money.
  3. Meet or Speak with a Representative – Try to speak with someone to assess your organization. Not all will participate. If you do receive this opportunity, don’t misconstrue this as a direct consultation. Have clear questions to justify your desire to apply.
  4. Align Current Programs – Determine whether or not you can achieve the grant goals. Grants are designed with a specific purpose. Current programs can be great transparent examples to be used to strengthen your application.
  5. Analyze Your Outcomes with Grantor’s Expectations – Show them that your outcomes align. Reinforce that you meet their criteria. If your outcomes aren’t aligned with the expectation of the grant, reevaluate and search for another grantor that’s potentially a better fit for you.
  6. Allocate Time – This will take a lot of time. Set aside at least 10 hours to complete. Don’t expect it to be done all in one day. After you believe it’s done, walk away for a couple of days and come back to refine.
  7. Have someone Review it – Do not sugarcoat your answers. You may have eloquently written a nice response, but you may not have answered the question. Share it with a supporter. They’ll give constructive criticism while providing great insight.
  8. Don’t Over Ask – Build up your request amount depending on your organization’s capacity. If this is your first application, keep it small. The more you ask for, be prepared to show the need and justification.

This a very simple instructional for nonprofit grant seekers. An 8-Step Beginner’s Guide to Nonprofit Grants will allow you to choose the best grant for you and your organization. Make the best decision for your ROI and ROT.

If you found this useful, please share with others. Any suggestions, send us an email at Ultimately, we want you–the reader–to be successful with this endeavor.

I write this because my business is personal because this service is for the advancement of all humanity. My failures and successes are for your gain. No strings attached.

Nathan A. Webster, MBA
Mr. Social Entrepreneur
Consulting | Marketing | Websites

Author: nathanwebster
From a US Marine to nonprofit executive director, I've been fortunate to do a lot of stuff. My quick history is I’m a brand marketer with a background in social good. In the process of running a small educational nonprofit, I learned the value of storytelling and digital branding. That’s how I got involve in marketing, websites, consulting via my podcast as well, and being an adjunct business professor at the local community college.
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