Business is the heartbeat of our country and many continue to struggle, their pulse is weakening. Let’s face it, the economy is still tight. We are doing more with less; and, perhaps will have to do so well into the future. There are many blind spots that exist in business today. Organizations that discover and master these today will have a sustainable competitive advantage tomorrow. These include use of implementing a comprehensive social media strategy, shifting to a culture of change and innovation, managing internal and competitive intelligence, and leveraging grant opportunities that contribute to the bottom-line, among others. I will to speak about the latter in this posting today.
The political rhetoric and filibustering appears to have no end in sight. We have to move forward, business is what sustains our economy and moves us forward. Often there are grants available to support organizations; if you know where to look. I must emphasize here, this is not “free money.” As an example, when I was considering implementing a Learning Management System (LMS), I discovered government funds available that would subsidize the costs since I could demonstrate how this could increase skills that are transferable and keep people in a job.
Often, businesses, non-profits and individuals are unaware of grants which they may qualify to receive. This is leaving money on the table and could make the difference for struggling businesses in today’s economy. I realize this is a blind spot for many businesses and I joined a grass roots consortium if 40 grant writers at Grant Writing Specialists to provide this skill and raise awareness in the organization(s) I serve. At a deeper level, writing grants is a rewarding way for me to serve my community.
After I meet with the client and perform the initial analysis, I assemble a team that leverages the brightest and best among our consortium of 40+ grant writers that will best meet the needs of my client. Most grant writers are freelance and others may be internal. They often may have limited pool of resources and knowledge base to serve the organization’s best interests. This is why the consortium allows me to ensure a laser focused approach for my clients.
As most of us know, the Obama administration has set up recovery support in the form of stimulus grants. These have been quite popular and these funds are depleting fast. If you are exploring grants you will want to consider a few things to help ensure successful funding.
Above all else keep in mind; grant writing requires rigorous research and solid writing skills—it is like being a super sleuth. Typically, we are seeking funds for corporations, non-profits and/or even government agencies. Successful writers have solid insights into what the organization provides, an understanding of the program, their financing and resources to find funding.
If you are considering a grant here are 5 points to keep in mind that will help to ensure your grant gets funded. That is what it is all about at the end of the day after all.
- PASSION-Have a passion for your program(s) and the impacts they have on the communities you serve. Submitting a grant and getting it funded is requires significant effort on your part. This is where your passion will carry you though. Plus, funding entities are trained to sense the passion and commitment. That is one of the many considerations they have. Remember, when you submit a grant, the entity is looking for a reason NOT to grant you the funds.
- EXPERIENCE-Leverage the talents of an experienced grant writer. A team of writers is best. This will provide you greater exposure to opportunities available to you. It is important to dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s.” Remember it is like a job application. You have to catch the reader’s eye and resonate with their cause. An experienced grant writer will also recommend a variety of funding options and can provide you a Prospectus. They understand the application process and can also help prepare you (item 4) for what is to come in the process.
- OPTIONS-Know your funding options. There are private grants available from individuals, corporations and the government. Businesses can apply for grants that include expand the enterprise and empowerment goals. But, the government typically has a contract with a business instead of a grant. Individuals can apply for grants like scholarships, support for art projects, research, etc.
- PREPARE-Be prepared to open your business up to full disclosure for the funding organization. They will want to have confidence that what you are doing is reputable and worthy of them investing their money. Often, they may request doing a site visit. There are many considerations here, and often the ED may not be the one to lead the tour. Above all else, they want to experience the passion and grasp the need their funds will support.
- CONSIDER- Consider a non-profit status. Having a 501 (c) (3) filing in place will open more avenues. Often finds for business can be limited, therefore the competition is greater. Becoming a non-profit is ensures your legacy will survive you. It also has it’s risks. If you are the founder, you can either be the Executive Director (ED) or serve on the Board of Directors (BOD) for the non-profit. If you as the founder serve as both, this will often be seen by the funding entity as a conflict of interest, especially where anyone on the Board is receiving money. Also, if you are the ED, the BOD could fire you.
I have been in non-profit work for over 15 years. Additionally, I have been in business for over 15 years as well. Don’t add up the numbers if you are trying to determine my age—there is a lot of over lap. The point here is I understand business and grant funders want to understand your business.
The economy has taken it’s toll on a lot of non-profits and businesses doing good things to help the communities they serve. Awareness of grants available will help sustain these programs. It is also a way to create a movement that lives beyond you—a legacy.