Category Archives: foundation applications

Organize Your Approach

by Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed. MLIS

money backpack briefcase

You are getting ready to write the grant, you may have a notebook filled with notes from encounters you’ve had with stakeholders about the direction for your project and your funding priorities.

Now is the time to organize your thoughts in an outline as you develop the structure for your project. Sometimes the foundation will share a winning application with a fledgling applicant. Don’t steal the words, but certainly use it as a template for what you write. Here’s a template I have used for sections to include in the narrative but check the grantor’s application guidelines very carefully. Each grant narrative is a unique opportunity to explain your school’s priorities and needs.

Organize/structure the proposal.

  • Abstract (consider writing your abstract last; it will allow for more concise, project specific information)
  • Problem Statement or Significance of Project
  • Project Purpose (overall goal and specific objectives)
  • Research Design or work plan (activities and timelines)
  • Applicant qualifications and capabilities
  • Evaluation Plan – assessments
  • Budget (summary and justifications – refer back to the design/work plan)
  • Sustainability (how will you pay for the program when the grant is gone?)
  • Appendix (everything else)

Follow the grantor’s instructions for formatting to the letter. A common mistake grant seekers make is to send in an application that has 25 pages when the instructions said not to exceed 15 double spaced pages. The double spaced part is important too – they mean it and will not read one that is single spaced, you’ll have to wait until next year to try again.

If they want the application signed by the superintendent, the principal will not be enough, they want the superintendent, and it proves the district is in support of this effort. Many grant writers venture off on their own to write a grant. They think the end will justify the means, that they will be a hero for taking initiative. Not in this case. Be sure all those in authority in your district are informed about your school’s project and the rationale for your grant approach. Work with your principal, she may want to include people in the loop that you might not have thought about.

Many grant seekers make another mistake by running all over town collecting letters of support from various dignitaries. Unless they specifically request 3 letters of support from members of the community, don’t look for those supporters, their letters will annoy the grantor. Toward the end of the process, after many phone calls have been made to the foundation to tighten the narrative, and cross every “t”, a phone call from the superintendent thanking the foundation for giving you the opportunity to apply might be a nice touch.

This is the time you may want to bring your school district business manager into the mix. He or she has done a million budgets; they know what one is supposed to look like. If successful, your grant funds will have an impact on the district’s general budget, you want to make sure they know what you’re up to. You’re also looking for sustainability. Who will pay for your project when the grant ends? You business manager may have some ideas about this important piece of the puzzle.

Use the form the grantor provides for the budget, now is not the time to be creative. There is almost always a separate page called “budget justification”. This is the place where line by line you explain in greater detail how the funds requested will be spent. Don’t estimate, get quotes from suppliers, explain that you have sent three requests out for bid, the prices you are quoting are the lowest of the three. I will go into much more detail about building budgets in future articles, this is a broad brush stroke of the process. The bidding process will require an article all its own for instance.

Foundation and corporate grants generally will not pay for staff. So if you’re putting salaries in the budget, you should have prior approval from the foundation for that expense. Likewise, building projects, if you’re writing a grant for construction of a building, this needs to be pre-approved. Building projects are the single most difficult appeal to make, they are better left to the city budget.

Advertisements

Completing Foundation Applications – The Right Way!

You will be asked to apply for foundation grants in one of several ways:

1) A foundation may have its own on-line application.

2) A foundation may have its own paper application.

3) A foundation may use one of several standard applications.

4) A foundation may have no application and simply want you to write a letter.

More and more granting entities provide on-line applications. You simply go to their individual sites on the Internet and fill out the application while you’re on line. Normally, you can print these applications out to work on your narrative and budget, but you will actually submit the application with the information you fill out on line. This type of application certainly helps when dealing with deadlines. You won’t need to worry about getting a certain postmark or the grant application getting to the foundation on time.

Many foundations have their own paper applications. You can usually download the application from the foundation’s website and print it out. When the application is complete, you simply mail it or FedEx it to the foundation. Be sure to allow plenty of time for the foundation to receive your proposal before the deadline. Overnight mail does not always reach its destination when promised. You may get your money back from the post office, but your grant won’t be considered if it does not meet the foundation’s deadline.

Many foundations use a common grant application. The problem is that a host of these common applications exist, and you need to be sure to use the right one for the organization to which you are applying.

You can find a list of many of these common applications at:

http://foundationcenter.org/findfunders/cga.html

or by Googling “common grant applications”.

Finally, some foundations don’t even use an application. You have to write a letter to them requesting funds. When you write that letter, however, I recommend that you include most of the information you would have had you completed a regular application. You’ll just put it in the form of a letter.

Foundation applications are usually the shortest and simplest. You should be able to complete several in just a few days if you have all your information gathered and organized.