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Tips for Improving Your Chances of Winning a Grant- 40 More Tips in Appendix 1!

1.    Take stock of your own organization. Know what type of organization you work for and the type and size of grants it can manage. If you don’t know who you are, the funders won’t either.

2.    Incorporate as a tax-exempt organization. If you want to get grants from most foundation or government sources, you need to become a 501(c)(3).

3.    If you’re not a 501(c)(3), hook up now—with an organization thatis! If incorporation is a process that’s too costly, too demanding, or not appropriate (say, if you’re an individual artist), find a tax-exempt organization that is willing to be your fiscal conduit—that is, to accept and manage grants for your benefit, sometimes taking a small fee for this service. Check out the financial arrangement in advance!

4.    Find the Foundation Center Library. With main libraries in five cities and more than 200 participating collections across the country, there is a Foundation Library near you. This is your first resource for identifying private funding sources that are right for you.

5.    Get online. If you don’t use the internet now, you should be moving in that direction. The Foundation Center is online, so are all federal and many state and local agencies—and so are many, many foundations. Some websites you can start with are shown in Appendix 6.

6.    Find the right funding opportunity. Don’t submit a scattershot proposal to all the grant makers in your area. Do some research to be sure your program is what a particular grant maker can fund. If the proposed program is not an exact fit with a grant maker’s priorities, you’ll only annoy the funder and risk your chances for the next time.

7.    Read the guidelines. Be absolutely sure that a particular foundation or government grant is appropriate for you. Is your organization eligible? Has this source funded programs like yours? Does this source want to fund programs like yours? Does it want to fund in your community?

8.    Do your homework. Get your hands on foundations’ annual reports, their 990tax forms, their application guidelines. See what organizations they’ve funded recently, and how much they gave.

9.    Read the instructions. Answer every question or cover every topic.Grant makers and reviewers say it is astonishing how often proposal writers do not adhere to the requirements set out in the funding announcement or guidelines. Applicants fail to meet the submission deadline, exceed the specified budget or page limits, present materials in the order they think is appropriate rather than the order requested in the application package, ignore some sections of the application or questions they are asked to address, ignore instructions about format, and make other errors that either lead to outright rejection of the proposal or significantly lower the score.

10.    Get ready to write the proposal when you don’t have to. At slow times in your work day, work week, or work year, prepare a file with all of the documents you will need when you get ready to submit a proposal. Items to include are listed in various lessons; basically, they represent information about your organization, your programs, your management and staff, your participants, and the community.


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