In preparation for a conference at which we are presenting, we recently polled a group of nonprofits to identify some of their major grant writing challenges. One common frustration was a lack of time to search and apply for grants.
Grant writing does take some time, but there are some steps organizations can take to make grant writing more systematic. One way to combat timing issues with grant writing is to create a "grant readiness kit" for your organization. A grant readiness kit is a compilation of materials designed to simplify the grant writing process.
Some items to include in your Grant Readiness Kit...
A well thought out grant strategy
From a previous grant strategy blog post, you might remember that a grant strategy is a method of researching and applying for grants designed to make your organization more effective and successful. In general, in means that your organization has thought through what it would like to receive funding for, who is most likely to provide that funding, and how it will chase after those grant funds.
Most grant proposals request similar, basic information. Organizations can save time when preparing grant applications by maintaining a central file with this information. The file should include your 501c3 status letter, annual budget, resumes of key staff and the Board of Directors, and identifying information, such as your organization's address and any tax or grant registration numbers (like CCR and EIN).
Writing can make some people anxious, and I'll admit that even I find a blank page daunting a times. By collecting and cultivating boilerplate descriptions and documents, your organization can get a jump start on any grant proposal. Common pieces to have at your disposal include a general description of your organization, its demonstrated impact in its service area (include data, if possible!), and an explanation of why the organization is important and effective.
Processes and Tools
By having the right tools and procedures in place, your organization can save a lot of preparation time when applying for proposals. I advise nonprofits to implement a grant tracking system (an Excel file works great) where they note past grant applied for, submission dates, and results. A central file for all past grant applications can also be a great resource, and with Google Calendar (a free tool), it's easy to keep track of grant deadlines.
Overwhelmed? Don't be.
It may take some time to compile a grant kit, but it doesn't have to happen overnight. Add to your grant readiness kit with every submitted proposal, and soon you'll have a well-stocked resource designed specifically for your organization. As a professional grant writing company, we also provide grant readiness services and can help your organization prepare to write and win grants. To see how we can help your organization, get in touch.
For more details about what goes into a Grant Kit, be sure to download "Is Your Organization Grant Ready?", our free assessment tool.