I often get questions about whether or not an organization should apply for a government grant opportunity or submit a proposal to a foundation. There are four main things to consider before applying for a government grant opportunity. Taking the time up front to determine whether or not your organization should apply for funding and if that particular funding opportunity is a good fit for your organization’s needs, will save you time and frustration in the long run.
The first, and probably the most important consideration is whether or not the funding opportunity is aligned with the organization’s mission. All too often, organizations see visions of dollars and choose to sacrifice their mission to apply for funding. It is always my recommendation that an organization stay true to its mission. Organizations that sacrifice their mission for money will find themselves struggling to explain what they do and why they do what they do. Additionally, funders are able to see through an organization’s request when it doesn’t align with their stated mission.
When seeking government grants, I also recommend that you take a look at the number of grants that will be awarded through the Request for Proposals (RFP). If only one or two grants are being awarded, there is a good chance that an organization has already been selected for the funding. Along these same lines, look at the amount of the grant awards. For instance, an RFP may indicate that $1,000,000 is available through the funding opportunity and that the maximum award is $100,000; this means that approximately ten awards will be made.
Next, take a look at the reporting requirements. Does your organization have the capacity to meet all of the reporting requirements which may include a single audit, quarterly reports, etc? There are times when organizations discover that the reporting requirements outweigh the financial benefits of the grant award. It is always better to know this before applying and being awarded the funding.
Finally, review the allowable costs. Some grant opportunities will not allow equipment, including computers to be purchased while others will not allow salaries to be paid out of the grant funds. Determine how your organization will use the funds in alignment with the requirements of the RFP. Along these same lines, look at the matching requirements. More and more grants are requiring that the organization provide matching funds—either in the form of in-kind contributions or a cash match.
Next week, we will take a look at the questions we need to ask ourselves when applying for foundation funds.