Grant Writing Advice and Tips: The Grant Helpers Blog

Teen Driving Safety Grants

Posted by Paulette Pierre on Tue, Sep 1, 2015 @ 15:09 PM

The autumn season is fast approaching and teenagers are returning to school in droves. Whether still incars high school or heading off to their first year in college, many will be driving themselves to classes. What with adhering to the rules of the road, understanding the dangers of texting and driving, and obeying the speed limit, teenagers shoulder a huge responsibility when getting behind the wheel of a car. has compiled a list of three funders that give grants to organizations focused on teen driving safety. Buckle up!

The Allstate Foundation

As one of the top car insurance companies in the country, Allstate’s main business focus is safe driving. According to the foundation’s website, they have “set a goal to help reduce teen traffic fatalities by 50% by 2015.” Currently, the national foundation is not accepting unsolicited proposals for 2015 but do not let that dissuade you. This does not mean that they do not accept them at all. The foundation funds on a local level so, if you are a nonprofit focused on youth empowerment and teen driving safety, it would help to reach out to your local Allstate office to find out the best way to apply. Personal contact also helps build a relationship between the company and your organization.

The amount of past grants given ranges from $5,000 to $20,000.

Tip: Read through both the Frequently Asked Questions section and the Teen Safe Driving Overview to get a better idea of their program focus

State Farm

Next on the list is another top car insurance company. One of State Farm’s largest funding initiatives is Safety and Awareness. State Farm believes in doing all it can to strengthen and protect those communities in which it does business. According to their website, two of the sub-categories under this umbrella are “auto and roadway safety” and “teen driver education.”

The 2015 funding cycle is closed but the 2016 grant cycle begins September 1, 2015 and runs through October 30, 2015. Applications will be available on their website. Grant requests must be a minimum of $5,000. There does not appear to be a maximum. Funding is released in early 2016. The usual caveats also apply: Your organization must be either a 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), or, 501(c)(6).

Tip: The guidelines appear to be broad in terms of what State Farm seeks in a fundable proposal. To strengthen your application, keep in mind that as an insurance company, they will be focused on specific measurable outputs (e.g., how many students would be reached; impact on the wider community, etc.).

The Toyota Corporate Giving Program

It’s fitting that a major car manufacturer would indeed be at the forefront of funding driving safety. Toyota’s corporate giving program is focused on three key initiatives—the environment, education and vehicle safety—with vehicle safety being a larger portion of their giving. According to their website, Toyota has “given more than $700 million to date to nonprofits across the country.” Toyota’s vehicle safety initiative focuses on programs that have a wide reach and impact multiple communities. This is something to keep in mind as your organization considers applying for funding.

While there is no set grant cycle, it is recommended that an applicant apply at least three months in advance of the company’s budget funding cycle, which is March 30 of each year. There is no minimum or maximum amount for a budget request. It is dependent on your organization’s proposed vehicle safety program.

The online application is very user-friendly, allowing you to start the application and save it as you go along. You can always pick up where you left off without worrying about losing your information. Check out the FAQ page for more information on application guidelines and tips.

Tip: The online application has a printer-friendly version that allows you to first print out the entire application template before you start filling it in online. This can be a huge benefit as it allows you time to think through all aspects of the application and gather all of the necessary documentation before applying online. This type of preparation will lead to a much stronger and more compelling grant application.



First Steps to Grant Funding: Get Started Building Relationships

Posted by Sherry Sherman on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 @ 10:08 AM

relationshipOne of the most important lessons I’ve learned during my grant writing career came during a cold call with a foundation grant officer. At the end of the conversation he thanked me for calling and told me he wished he received more calls from grant seekers. At that point I realized a foundation’s role is to help non-profits serve the community. If an organization is a good match for a foundation, that organization is doing the foundation a favor by reaching out to them. Initiating a relationship with grant-making organizations before applying for a grant can be advantageous. It can all start with a simple phone call.

First Phone Call

Making that first call to a foundation can feel daunting. The truth is many grant officers consider it their job to get to know non-profit staff and would welcome the call. Interacting with applicants helps the foundation make informed funding decisions. Before calling be prepared and do your research. Fully vet each foundation online to verify they fund in your geographic area and fund the type of program you are proposing. Then prepare two or three questions aimed at learning more about their funding cycle and funding guidelines. I will delve deeper into foundation research in a future Grant Helpers blog, with somemore in-depth tips on foundation prospecting.

In addition to gathering information about the foundation, have a brief description of your organization ready. This is the well-known “90-second elevator pitch”—it can be delivered between floors on an elevator. Center the pitch on how your program will help the foundation achieve its mission. I like to pepper my elevator speech with quantifiable program outcomes. Grant-makers are increasingly focused on verifiable outcomes when making funding decisions.

Here are some approaches to keep in mind for the first call:

  • The purpose of the call is to discover if your program is a good fit for the foundation. Learn as much as possible about the organization. Ask for their questions about your organization and its programs.
  • Start the conversation by asking thoughtful, open-ended questions. Listen more than talk. Grant officers will be more forthcoming if their concerns are understood.
  • End the call by arranging the next step in your ongoing communication. Consider extending an invitation to visit your program.

Remember, even if a relationship with a foundation ends with the first call, you are no worse off than before the call. On the plus side, a warm response will place you on the track to submitting a successful grant application.

Grant Denial

A typical response to a declined proposal is to give up, to search elsewhere. But quite often a rejection is one step toward eventual grant funding. How you respond is key. It is a good idea to call the foundation after not getting a grant. The purpose of the call is twofold: 1) to improve your proposal so it has a better chance of funding in the future, and 2) to solidify your relationship with the grant officer. When exploring the cause of the denial, ask for specific reasons. Here are some example questions you might ask, in your own words:

  • How could the proposal have been improved?
  • Would it be acceptable to apply again?
  • What are the next steps?
  • Are there other foundations the grant officer would recommend approaching?

It’s beneficial to remain in touch with the grant officer regardless of whether you will be applying again. Even if a denial won’t lead to funding for one agency, it’s still an opportunity to expand your network of foundation contacts. The grant officer may become a valuable resource for you. I once kept in touch with a grant officer who rejected one of my proposals, and later changed jobs. IN his new position he invited me to apply for a grant at the new foundation, and that application was accepted. There was an excellent quote on the Donors Forum website that sums it up well, “A decline is just one moment in the life with a prospect - it's neither the beginning nor the end.

For insight on communication and grant management after being awarded to build and leverage relationships for more funding, see the blog on Grant Stewardship.

Effective communication is vital to building a positive foundation relationship and requires being thorough and organized, communicating regularly, and being persistent.


Photo Credit: reynermedia

Watch out for “Hidden” Grant Requirements: Part Three – Funding, Reps and Certs

Posted by Roland Garton on Thu, Aug 20, 2015 @ 10:08 AM

Grant writers with a lot of experience  (read: “battle scars”) tend to develop cat-like instincts for the beady, little details in the shaows that can jump out and knock a project off kilter. Two such shadowy nooks dealt with in  this blog are 1) a few financial issues and 2) some “Representation and Certification” issues.

Financial Capacity / Up-Front Funding

The need for up-front funding can catch you by surprise since it’s not usually a documented grant requirement. Many grants provide money up front to get started, sometimes a lump sum for the entire amount. These are great for the awardee. Others provide payment only after work is performed. These are called reimbursement grants. Here are two basic reimbursement arrangements:

  1. Milestone payments, or “fixed-price” agreements, in which you are paid when agreed-upon work is performed or results are achieved.
  2. Cost reimbursements, in which you are paid for the actual expenses incurred performing the work.

There are, of course, many variations and potential intricacies to these agreements. Whatever the specifics, if your award is a reimbursement type award, your organization must have the financial capacity to meet costs up front, and still continue operations while waiting for the reimbursement. Financial capacity, therefore, is an implicit requirement to consider though not necessarily listed among the explicit proposal conditions. When deciding whether to submit a proposal, shine a light on what type of payment will be awarded and make sure you can sustain up-front costs if necessary.

Reps and Certs

Representations and Certifications, or “Reps and Certs,” as they’re often called, assure the funding organization that the recipient is the type of organization serving the audience that the funder desires. Reps and Certs fall into the broad category of “compliance” requirements—one of three general categories mentioned in Part One of this series. Federal grants are justifiably notorious for requiring extensive forms certifying that, for example, the organization is not a foreign firm, or that it is not engaging in unlawful activities. Some funding organizations require certain levels of liability insurance among its awardees.

Most of the time such forms are tedious but not troublesome to complete. But sometimes they house a cloaked demon wielding the scythe of death. One client I personally worked with supported a lobbying firm that dealt with the funding agency. Once the grant team began completing the necessary forms, a lobbying form surfaced. The client had to describe its support of lobbying activities. The proposal was eventually funded, but not until the client obtained a statement from the lobbying firm clarifying its level of involvement.

Though Reps and Certs can get buried in the details of the application, it’s worth the time to review them early on to make sure there are no conditions that would nullify the submission.


Online Registrations

Another forms of Reps & Certs is registration in online databases. Federal grants typically require such registration. is the central one, but federal agencies often require registration in their own database as well. Sometimes it can take weeks to complete registration. Make sure any required registrations are current and active well ahead of the proposal deadline.

Demographic Requirements

Foundations may also impose a host of requirements concerning demographics of agency staff, its leadership, and the populations served. I’ve seen applications where the race and ethnicity of board members is part of the application. I’ve seen others where the demographics of the population receiving services must be described in the proposal text. It’s not unusual to see such demographics expected in the evaluation plan.

The overall take-away from this blog is, as with the other considerations above, to check carefully for such requirements and expose them early on, and make sure you can comply. As for evaluation and reporting mandates, that’s an area I’ll take up in the next installment.


We can help review an opportunity to check for requirements that might cause a rejection. We’ll take a quick look as part of a free consultation, or we can provide a more thorough review and recommendations with our Opportunity Review service, described in our services list and available on our online store.


Photo Credit: Anthony Quintano

Transportation Grant Opportunities

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 @ 10:08 AM

In our home state of Illinois, we have two seasons: winter and construction season. Flip statement notwithstanding, transportation-related projects are huge financial commitments for states, counties, and municipalities. To ease the strain that these projects could have on your budget, check out the handpicked list of grants below.



Fiscal Year 2016 Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program High Priority Discretionary Grant Program

Funds from this program are available for state transportation agencies, local municipalities, and organizations representing government agencies that use and train qualified officers and employees in coordination with state motor vehicle safety agencies. Grants start at $25,000 and max out at $1 million. These grants are intended for motor vehicle safety enforcement and/or outreach and education. Fundable projects include mitigating large bus and track crashes, pedestrian and bicycle safety, seat belt compliance, and much more. The deadline to submit applications is Aug. 31. Our team of experts can help get this proposal submitted in time, even with a tight turnaround. If you are interested in speaking to an expert about meeting this deadline, you can contact us here.


Wisconsin Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) Program

This grant program is only for our friends in Wisconsin. If you are interested in a similar program in your home state, check out opportunities offered by your state’s Department of Natural Resources. Wisconsin public and private agencies and marinas can apply for these funds to construct, renovate, and maintain boating infrastructure facilities for transient recreational vessels at least 26 feet long. The deadline to submit applications is Aug. 28. Grants are either $200,000 or $1.5 million. This program requires a 25% match. For assistance in applying before the deadline or for information on how to find matching grants, contact us.


Energy Foundation

The Energy Foundation supports transportation projects, especially those that reduce energy usage and carbon pollution. Non-profit organizations throughout the United States are eligible to apply. The foundation favors regional projects as opposed to local community projects. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis. The foundation also favors having an initial Letter of Intent before submitting a full application.


Surdna Foundation

This fund hopes to award grant money to transportation systems and transit solutions that give people affordable and reliable transportation options in their daily life. These projects should also have a minimum impact on the environment. Fundable projects should: strengthen and expand the use of transportation project performance standards that improve transportation options, increase access and mobility, reduce vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions, and advance climate-resilient strategies. Letters of Intent are required to be submitted before sending in a full application. LOIs are accepted on an ongoing basis. Last year, grants in this category ranged from $17,000 to over $1 million.


We have a team of experts ready to help you. Whether you are a municipality, school, or non-profit organization can develop programming, find funding, obtain funding, and manage those grant opportunities. Don’t delay -- talk to one of our team members today. Remember, the first consultation is always free, so schedule yours now.


Image by: NSW Maritime

Topics: transportation grants, transportation, grants for transportation

Environmental Grants for Schools

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Wed, Aug 5, 2015 @ 17:08 PM

Reading, writing, and 'rithmetic. That old educational motto has environment3been amended in modern times with STEM, STEAM, Common Core, and more. Schools are teaching a wide variety of subjects these days, one of which is environmental issues. Environment-related topics could range across recycling, climate change, sustainability, and many others. Below are a few grants that could assist your school in funding these environmental programs.

Captain Planet Foundation

U.S. schools are eligible to apply for these grants that range between $500 and $2,500. The deadline to apply is Sept. 30. Fundable projects must be performed by youth and have real environmental outcomes. The foundation awards grants in hopes that the money will be used to provide hands-on environmental opportunities for youth, serve as a catalyst to get environmental-based education in school, and inspire community service through environmental stewardship activities. Preferential consideration is given to requesters who have secured at least 50% matching or in-kind funding for their projects. If the Sept. 30 deadline is coming too quickly, the foundation has a second deadline of Jan. 31.

Hot Planet Cool Athletes

Grant money from this organization wants to ensure the next generation is educated about climate change and its ramifications for the future. Fundable projects must be student led and must take action against climate change. Examples of projects funded last year include a school-wide compost system, building stationary bikes to power electronic devices in a school, creating a new school recycling program, and creating a grassroots community-wide effort to ban plastic bags. This fund has two deadlines: Aug. 31 and Jan. 15. One grant of $5,000 is available during each proposal period. In addition to winning funding, at the end of the year a representative from the top two winning proposals will be selected to travel to Washington D.C. to share the projects with Congressmen and other elected officials.

Green Thumb Challenge Grant

What better way to impact the environment than to update your school garden? The Green Thumb Challenge Grant program will help you do just that. The Green Education Foundation and Gardener’s Supply Company is providing a funding opportunity to help established school gardens. The award is designed to support the continued sustainability of youth garden programs in United States K-12 schools. Grants of $250 will be awarded, and applications are due Sept. 30.

Alternative Fuel Foundation

Any public or private K-12 school or associated parent group is eligible to apply for funding from the Alternative Fuel Foundation grant program. Preference is given to programs that promote the awareness and use of alternative fuels or promote the concept of sustainability. Projects that are student led but have parental involvement and/or community support are encouraged. Typical grants range from $250 to $500, though larger grants will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The deadline for this grant is ongoing.

                            ______________________________ is committed to helping you locate and obtain the funding you need. We have a variety of services that can assist you in whatever stage of the grant process you are in. Talk to one of our experts now, and remember the first consultation is always free.  


Photo Credit: Richard Eriksson

Topics: enviornmental funding, environmental education, grant opportunity, grants for environment, environment grant, environmental grants, grants, school grant, environmental grant, grants for envirvonmental projects

Watch out for “Hidden” Grant Requirements: Part Two

Posted by Roland Garton on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 @ 20:07 PM

As promised in Part I of this series, this blog points out some clues that might indicate a purportedly open Request For Proposals (RFP) is not so open after all. Sometimes a fundrequirementsing agency has a particular recipient in mind for an award, and writes the RFP to favor that participant in the selection process.  Agencies may do this to comply with (and at the same time skirt the intent of) administrative requirements.  Agencies may also issue such RFPs to identify any applicants that might provide even better results than the providers they’re currently aware of.  Whatever the reasons, RFPs with a foregone recipient in mind are often called “wired proposals,” and if you spot one of them you may be better off not to apply.  Here are some indicators to watch out for:

Highly Specific Requirements. I’ve seen technical requirements so tightly defined that they could have been met only by a single organization.  A hypothetical example might read something like this: “Applicant must provide the 8 outreach programs listed in Appendix A to 400 underserved youth between the ages of 13 and 15 in a community whose population has fallen below 20,000 within the last two years.”  Highly specific requirements are the most common sign of a wired proposal.  At times, they take the form of geographic or historical restrictions, e.g., “Applicant must have an office within 20 miles of the assisted living center, and must have a 10-year history of successful engagement with the target population.”

Assumed Knowledge. Esoteric jargon that only insiders would understand, references to existing programs without adequate explanations, requirements mentioned but not fully described...these are all warnings that the funding agency has a specific recipient in mind whose familiarity with the program is taken for granted.  If the grant maker has a formal Q&A process, you can word questions carefully so that responses provide additional information about the funding agency’s openness.  One example question might read something like, “Page XX of the RFP requires that ex-offenders be provided job search training in weekly, two-hour group sessions.  Are alternative schedules acceptable if they meet the end objectives?”

Unrealistic Timeframes. Believe it or not, I once reviewed an RFP with a submission deadline of September 30 and a start date of Oct 1 the same year. Obviously, time for considering more than one proposal was not part of the schedule! This is an extreme case, but short proposal deadlines can be a red flag. The problematic timeframe can be compounded if proposals require lots of supporting paperwork and certifications, thus precluding participation by organizations not already aware of the upcoming opportunity.


We can review an opportunity if you are suspicious about its legitimacy.We’ll take a quick look as part of a free consultation, or we can provide a more thorough review and recommendations with our Opportunity Review service, described in our services list and available on our online store.


Photo Credit: Kate Ter Haar

What to Do When the Funds Dry Up

Posted by Roland Garton on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 @ 20:07 PM

Our company is based in Illinois, a state whose budget woes are getting budgetnational attention. Many of our municipal contacts are faced with a disheartening situation: state funds that have been reliable sources of support for many years suddenly are no longer available. Although such funds are never guaranteed, they have in the past been steady enough to build budgets around them. Now those budgets are in jeopardy. As a result, our consultations and strategy sessions often revolve around replacement funding.

The question is often phrased something like “How can we get the same money from another source?” I call this the replacement mentality, and it’s an obvious response. However, the replacement mentality places limitations on the kind of thinking and planning needed to meet shortfalls. Instead, we encourage our state-strapped clients (municipalities are the most common), to ask different types of questions. Thoughtful, well-considered responses to these questions can lead to improvements, born of necessity, in the organization’s grant strategy. In some cases, responding to the questions prompts an institution to develop an expressed grant strategy for the first time. That in itself is valuable.

Here are some examples of questions whose responses can reveal sources of funding not immediately obvious at first blush—sources that a replacement mentality would likely obscure.

What are our over-arching goals-our most critical objectives? Funding sources usually cannot be developed overnight, so the immediate timeframe may require reduction of activities.  Sometimes state-funded programs are so vital it is more prudent to cut other areas and shift funds to the previously state-funded programs. In the longer term, keeping the mission and priorities at the forefront of planning can help determine which areas are worth the investment of proposal development.

Which of our activities are the most fundable? Replacement funds may not be available for a particular program area, but there may be funds available for other areas not previously supported by grant funds. A replacement mentality could easily overlook such opportunities. 

How can we position our activities to be more fundable? Here is a terrific opportunity for thinking outside the box. Quite often, the project you have in mind can be adjusted to meet one or more funding trends. We get many consultation requests for Parks and Rec grants. Park districts tend think in terms of facilities. But funders tend to think in terms of programs and impacts. So, for example, to better attract grant funds, a park district might list “youth fitness” as a priority, rather than, say, “swimming pool.” As another example, public transportation could be funded by transportation programs, energy conservation programs, safety programs, emergency managment programs, economic development programs, assistance for older Americans, and more.


Two important aspects of this approach are worth noting: 1) Planning requires a good sense of funding trends. Some organizations are aware of these; others need to build such awareness or find experts to work with. 2) Planning also requires thinking about grant funds earlier than often occurs, during strategy and planning cycles. It therefore entails a long turn-around time, but the odds of funding increase dramatically when you are positioned specifically for fundability.

Who will benefit?  Every type of beneficiary for an activity, program, or facility is a potential funding source. Community gardens are a great example of this. They can benefit students, and thus are eligible for education funding. They can benefit at-risk youth, attracting Department of Justice funding. Gardens can also help feed the hungry, an area that’s supported by many foundations.  They can improve neighborhoods and retain residents, especially in rural and underserved populations which is of interest to the USDA, HUD, and others.


If your project impacts youth, think about what corporations benefit from building a relationship with youth. Many foundations associated with corporations are actively trying to become the champion of tweens, in the hope of generating long-term loyalty. Seniors are also a sought-after audience. Pharmacies offer loads of services directed at older Americans, so would be a potential source of funding for a community project benefitting the older population.  Consider your audience and ask “Who benefits from their loyalty?”  Then search for funders with such an interest.

What other opportunities are there? The trauma of funding lapses, while unpleasant, can prompt the kind of thinking that uncovers possibilities otherwise not considered. New partnerships, new sources of funding, and an improved vision are possible by moving from a “replacement mentality” to an “opportunity mentality.”


Photo Credit: Chris Potter

Watch out for “Hidden” Grant Requirements: Part One

Posted by Roland Garton on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 @ 20:07 PM

Granting agencies usually have a list of requirements in order to apply hiddenfor a grant (“eligibility requirements.”) Most also have a list of factors they judge in rating proposals (“evaluation criteria.”) Frequently they also have a list of requirements once you get the grant (“compliance requirements.”) These requirements help assure the grant maker that recipient organizations will fulfill the grantor’s goals to the fullest.

In this blog series, we are going look at some of the less obvious grant eligibility requirements. We’ll also suggest possible ways to learn about and meet certain eligibility requirements.

Truly Hidden Requirements

The most difficult hidden requirements to meet are those that never appear in the guidelines.  One of our clients once received a rejection notice explaining that organizations in their first year are not likely to be funded. Sure would have been nice to know that before developing the proposal! Another client met four of six stated priorities, but was turned down in a letter saying these four were not the top two priorities. Yet the guidelines did not prioritize the priorities. (This was a federal grant, so we contacted the local US representative about the inequity. The congressman was similarly upset and did contact the funding agency, which didn’t help the client but may have improved the proposal guidelines the next round.)

Sometimes the only way to learn of these hidden priorities is to get rejected and read the feedback. But if you are able to develop a relationship with the funding organization (some like to do this; others don’t), it may help to ask if you should be aware of any other considerations beyond those publicized. Another way to determine unadvertised de facto requirements is to review lists of previous winners. Trends or commonalities among past recipients are good indicators of what’s important to the funding agency.

Eligibility Criteria

Examples of obvious eligibility criteria include grantee organization type (municipality, school, non-profit), geographic restrictions, and alignment with funder’s priorities. Quite often mature funding programs will list what types of efforts they will or will not fund. Less common eligibility factors may include demographics of the applicant’s board or staff, demographics of the target population, longevity of the organization (mentioned above), history of funding from the proposed or other funding sources, limits on partnering organization, any past or pending legal actions, any lobbying efforts, and more. In the space of a blog, we can advise to be alert for all such requirements. They may appear in a concise list in the guidelines, and some may be sprinkled less conspicuously throughout the document.

As for type of organization, quite often a bona fide partnership, where different organizations do indeed jointly perform proposed activities, allows any one of the entities to serve as lead fiscal agent. If you are interested in applying for a grant but are not among the organizational structures funded, you may consider leveraging a partnership with an organization that does meet the eligibility criteria, and having them serve as lead.  If you need to develop such partnerships, it may be worth the time investment to do so.

Sometimes a funder has a recipient in mind but posts a public request for proposals in order to meet competitive requirements. These proposals are often worded to give the preferred recipient a strong advantage. We call them “wired” proposals.  Detecting wired proposals is worthy of its own blog, and indeed will be the next in the series.

Alignment with Funder’s Goals, Mission, and Priorities

Ideally, the printed evaluation criteria in a Request for Proposals (RFP) reflect the goals and priorities of the funding organization. However, extensive proposals may have goals and priorities interspersed throughout the request for proposal In a large federal proposal recently, we reviewed the RFP for a client and listed over a dozen key areas to address, drawn from many difference sections of the guidelines (Mission, Need, Goals, Evaluation, Impact, and others). The subsequent proposal was funded, over a million dollars.

Even if a priority is not reflected explicitly in the evaluation criteria, it is important to the funding organization. Scour the guidelines for keys and hot buttons, and respond to them clearly in your proposal.

Matching Funds

Funders often require matching support for a proposed project as a way to demonstrate the applicant’s investment and capabilities in the project. Any matching requirements are usually spelled out in the proposal guidelines. The “hidden” part may come in the form of what can be included as a match. Money is an obvious form of match. Less obvious forms include the value of space, facilities, advertising, materials and supplies, administrative costs, and volunteer support. Funding agencies differ on what they do and don’t allow as a match. For example, some agencies smile on matching funds from other institutions, while others don’t. Some US government grants disallow matches from other federal sources.

Make sure your proposed matches are acceptable, either by adhering to written guidelines where available or by direct contact with the funding organization.

We’ve already written a couple blog articles on matching funds:

The first one suggests possible sources for matching funds. The second one discusses ideas for what you can include as a match.

Stay tuned for more

In the next article of this series, we’ll talk about detecting “wired” proposals. Following that, we’ll discuss reporting, administrative, and financial requirements that might not be obvious in the guidelines, but that could hamper your ability to compete effectively for an award, or manage the award once funded.

We’d love to hear your questions. Please email or comment with any areas you’d like to see covered in our blogs.


Photo Credit: tec_estromberg

Grants to Fund LGBTQ Organizations

Posted by Paulette Pierre on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 @ 16:07 PM

A 2014 CDC Health Survey tell us that roughly 2% of the U.S. populatLGBTQion self-identifies as gay or lesbian. In an update to our series of blog posts on grant funding for special populations, such as veterans and senior citizens, we feature three funders in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer) program area. If you are an organization that speaks to the needs of the LGBTQ population, whether for health, education, or the arts, here are some of the largest foundations that support grant funding for this population:

The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice

Started 35 years ago, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is a public foundation. It accepts both public and private donations in the effort to promote equal rights for the LGBTQ/I communities in the U.S and around the globe. The foundation focuses on not only human rights but also Arts & Culture advocacy, as well as innovative health and education initiatives.

The Foundation offers general operating support anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000 and, in 2014, has granted over $3 million to community organizations both domestically and internationally. There are different funds with different grant cycles and deadlines. Detailed information is available on the foundation website.

Keep in mind:  For most of this foundation’s programs, an applicant organization must have a budget of less than $500,000.

Open Society Foundation

Founded in 1979 by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, the Open Society Foundation is probably one of the best known and largest private foundations working to advance civil and equal rights across the globe. As of 2013, the foundation awarded over $240 million just in the category of “Rights and Justice” alone. While this foundation is a behemoth of a funder, don’t let its size deter you. They may have grants to fit your organization’s needs. According to the Foundation’s website, “The National Security and Human Rights Campaign provides grants to U.S.-based organizations working to promote progressive national security policies that respect human rights, civil liberties, and the rule of law.” Currently, the Foundation’s National Security and Human Rights Campaign grant cycle is open. They are accepting Letters of Inquiry on a rolling basis. There are no deadlines for LOIs and the grant amounts vary widely.

Keep in mind: The Open Society Foundation has set thematic areas of interest and specific geographic locations in which they fund. Read the Foundation’s website to ensure that your program is in alignment with their funding strategies.

Ford Foundation:

Established in 1936, this $12 billion foundation grants funds globally in support of myriad issues—including advancing the rights of the LGBTQ population. According to their website, “The goal of this work is to secure equal rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”  Between 2013 and 2014, the Foundation granted more than $7 million to support these causes, either through general operating or programmatic grants. For this particular program area, the foundation supports only those organizations working within the United States. In fact, approximately 60% of the foundation’s grant funding is focused in the United States.

Grant seekers must first submit an online grant inquiry. Visit their website for more information. Deadlines and award amounts vary widely and are based on the grantee organization’s needs.

Keep in mind: The Ford Foundation has eight major issue areas. Within each issue area exist several initiative-focused areas. Read through past grants the Foundation has awarded to see if there are any similarities between those programs and what your organization is looking to fund.



Where will your organization get its funding for its LGBTQ programs? If you’d like to know about more grant opportunities and get help finding grants specifically tailored to your group, contact We have the resources you need, and the first consultation is always free.


Photo Credit: Sharon Mattheson-McCutcheon

Grants for Veterans, Military Personnel

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 @ 16:07 PM

As we embark on the Fourth of July holiday, the wants soldierto send a sincere thank you to all men and women who have served or are serving our country. It is because of your sacrifice that we are all free.

There are many grants that assist veteran or active duty military organizations in a variety of capacities. Shelter, food, housing, job assistance, and many more items are all fundable through grants. Following is a short list of grants hand-picked to help fund those organizations that aim to serve one of our most valuable commodities – our military members.

DAV Charitable Trust Service

This trust awards grants to non-profit organizations throughout the country. Programs supported by the trust include:

  • Food, shelter, and other items necessary to homeless or at-risk veterans

  • Mobility items or assistance to veterans with blindness, hearing loss, or amputations

  • Therapeutic activities for both veterans and their families

  • Physical and psychological rehabilitation projects

  • Education, training, and career readiness

Priority is given to long-term programs that provide direct assistance to those veterans in need and their families. Applications are now being accepted until July 20 for this grant program. Our team of experts can assist you with this tight deadline if this grant is a good fit for your organization.

2015 Small Business Grant

Very rarely do we find grants to fund start-up businesses, yet is offering just that. Grants of up to $2,500 in cash and in-kind services are available to entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented backgrounds who are hoping to start their own business. Included in the eligible underrepresented backgrounds are military veterans and active duty military. Three grants will be awarded. First place receives $1,000 cash and the Tech Pack ($500 total value). Second and third place finishers receive the tech pack, which includes a website design, a year of website hosting, six months of website monetization coaching, and six months of at-cost credit card processing. Deadline for application is Aug. 1.

Special Housing Adaptation Grant

Another rarity in the grant world is funding for individuals. However, this grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs is for veterans and service members who have suffered permanent of serious service-related injuries. The grants can be used to purchase, construct, or modify a home adapted to their special needs. These grants total $14,093 per individual. Additionally, this program offers grants of $5,523 to disabled veterans or service members who are or will be temporarily residing in a family member’s home. The temporary grants are also to be used to make adaptations necessary to live in the home. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis, with no deadline.

The Fallen Patriot Fund of the Mark Cuban Foundation

These grants award up to $1,500 to spouses and children of United States military personnel who were killed or seriously injured during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Soldiers must be discharged from the military to be eligible for the grant. Applicants must also be 100% disabled per the VA and unemployable as a direct result of the injury suffered. The fund’s goal is to help reduce or resolve immediate financial needs not long-standing financial problems. The fund accepts applications at all times throughout the year.


We are here to help find you the funding your program needs to be successful. Already found that funding? Then we can help you create a winning proposal to secure the grant, proofread an already completed proposal, or assist you in grant management. Check out our full menu of services that are always customized just for you.


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