As more and more organizations seek grant funds to support their work, I receive questions about “the world of grants.” To clarify misunderstandings and misconceptions, today, we will focus on some frequently asked questions regarding grant writing. I’m sure if one person has asked me, many people can benefit from learning it as well. We’ll continue on this topic next week as well when I address other commonly asked questions on grant writing.
F.A.Q. #1: “I am starting a nonprofit, can I get grant funds?”
This question is one that I receive often and unfortunately, my response often disheartens those asking it. Grant funding is difficult for new, emerging nonprofits to receive. There are several reasons for this. First, many funders want to see three years of financials before they will consider giving an award. Second, most funders want to know about your results and accomplishments. New organizations do not have this data.
So, the natural question becomes, well, if I can’t get grant funds, how can I get the funds we need to get started. I always recommend to those who seek my assistance that they get local support from those individuals who know of their organization, their board members and by engaging in fundraising activities.
However, there are some funders that will provide start-up costs and will support the work of new nonprofits. It is important to take time to identify these foundations and to understand their requirements.
F.A.Q. #2: “How long do I have to wait to hear something?”
Waiting is one of the most frustrating parts of seeking grant funds. Many foundations do not acknowledge receipt of a grant proposal simply because they are small and do not have staff. Typically, organizations can expect to engage in 6-9 months of active grant seeking before they see the fruits of their labor in the form of money.
Unfortunately, many foundations do not notify you if they are unable to fund your request and those that do, will often just send a form letter that is sent to everyone. If your request is denied, it may be helpful to learn more about why your proposal was not funded. This can be done by contacting the foundation and asking how you can make your request stronger next time.
Next week, we will cover part II of frequently asked questions that I receive.