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Need help on grant writing for non profits

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by mpal2, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. mpal2

    mpal2 Well-Known Member

    My friend works for a non profit and her boss asked her to write a grant for a $35K box truck. She has never done this before and no one at her work place can help either. I think they lost their grant writing person and no one else knows how to do it.

    She's looking for pointers on how to even start this process. She's also looking for a class in our local area to learn this skill for the future but that won't help her in the immediate scenario.

    Can anyone post to a helpful website or give pointers on grant writing?
  2. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    I think a lot of writing a successful grant application depends on where the application is going to, and what the granting agency requests. So the first thing I would suggest is for her to look over the information from the granting agency and see what the agency is asking for, and go from there.

    One thing that I would recommend for any kind of grant application is to justify the reason for the request, and to justify the numbers in the request - and to explain any assumptions that you are making in calculating those numbers. I can't count how many grant applications I have reviewed that just plop the request and the numbers down on the page, and then expect the reviewers to figure out the rest. In a really competitive grant situation, this can seriously hurt the chances of a grant application even being considered.

    I don't know what kind of organization your friend is working for, but if I were reviewing this type of application I would be looking for information like:

    - Why is it essential to have a truck? [here I would not be looking for nice generalities about the organization's contributions to society, but for some specific information about why the organization needs a truck to do what it does]
    - Why does the organization need to buy a truck? [as opposed to, say, leasing or renting one when it's really needed]
    - How is the organization going to maintain the truck if it buys one? [e.g. how are ongoing costs like fuel, repairs, and insurance going to be covered]
    - Who in the organization is going to use the truck, and under what conditions? [e.g. if employees need a certain class of drivers' licence to drive a truck that size, how many have that sort of license, and how is the organization going to support employees getting that qualification if they need it]
    - What plans does the organization have in place for e.g. liability if the truck gets into an accident?

    Essentially, what I would be looking for is enough evidence to convince me that the organization has seriously thought about the application and put some effort into researching it, and makes a justifiable case for why it needs what it's asking for. Not that the organization saw some money available and tried to find something that they would like to have (not need) to spend that money on.

    I hope that helps, PM me if you have more specific questions.
  3. mpal2

    mpal2 Well-Known Member

    Thanks. :)

    That is a great place to start. I'll email her your suggestions and let you know if she has anything more specific to ask.

    For the record, she works for a charity that provides food, clothing, shelter, etc to those in financial need in the local community. The box truck is for the donation drives to pick up and/or deliver the donated items.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014
  4. 4rkidz

    4rkidz plotting, planning and travelling

    Hi.. as E.D. a lot of my job is grant writing and I've also done some grant reviewing with the US Justice Dept.. I think the previous post was really good - the key is trying to figure out how they are going to evaluate your application, there will be some type of scoring system so as to reduce biases etc., Also these days having measurable outcomes needs to be included in your application - how are you going to measure success? Finally sustainability was also key for us doing the scoring, how are you going to be able to continue once the grant has concluded, although typically that is more for program dollars - again look into the actual application for the clues as to how they will be evaluating your application.
  5. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    Also worth some time learning what the organizations have funded previously, and for what types of entities.

    And having been on the other side of the table reviewing grant proposals, one of the key questions is how the requesting organization is going to fund needs like this in the future, as well as how they'll handle maintenance and operating costs. A lot of times we didn't fund groups that couldn't clearly explain how they would become self-sustaining. Maybe that isn't an issue for your type of organization, but it might be.

    I always liked grant proposals that showed that the requestor had done the groundwork and investigated how their proposed purchase/acquisition/program had worked elsewhere, and what they'd learned about what might need to be done differently because of different local circumstances. 4rkidz has some very good comments on measurable outcomes.

    Get someone to proof the application, and double check that all numbers add up correctly. You'd be surprised how often we saw grant proposals with gross grammatical problems and budgets that didn't add up. They mostly didn't get funded.