This past week, I accompanied one of our overseas workers to an appointment with a foundation. The goal, of course, is that the foundation would consider granting a large sum to the overseas team. This was actually my first time to meet with a grant administrator and CEO of a foundation. I’ll admit — I was clueless. I have a feeling there are many experts out there that have tapped into these grants in the past. The question is — will they reveal some of their secrets so we can mentor one another on how to approach foundations.
I’ll give you an example: This grant administrator & CEO said that typically, grant administrators would be searching for 3 or 4 key issues:
- Does the applicant sync with our foundation’s “mission”?
- Does the applicant have the capacity to apply the funding to accomplish the mission?
- Is there sufficient infrastructure to support long-term sustainability
- (I forget the fourth item :-) )
If you have a resource… of if you have learned some life lessons on how to apply for grants, click on “comments” below. Teach us. :-) It appears that there are plenty of foundations out there. Besides, there shouldn’t be competition among lighthouses, right? :-) Got a web URL from which you learned? A great class? The one I keep hearing about is that I.U. School of Philanthropy. (A gal on staff with our office took that one and really liked it.) Where do you recommend going to drink in knowlege? Many folks say — just visit the local public library. Where would you send us? Thanks for any help you can give.
Our ministry is based on Guam and we have relied heavily on grants. We worked so long and hard to raise initial support to first move overseas, to go back and start all over to raise money for the ministry was quite a burden.
Much begins with getting your heart around the targeted mission you will achieve and building a strategic plan. Secondly, you must get an idea with what your foundation or govt. entity wants to fund. When the two match, you have great potential. Thirdly is to be a great cross-cultural communicator to convey spiritual ideals in a non-preachy way to secular donors.
We established a recovery center for women. While the govt does not want us to evangelize or win the women in need to Jesus, they do want to help women off the streets and to help empower them to live victorious lives. Instead of discipleship, use the term CHARACTER EDUCATION or LIFE SKILLS. Rather than getting them BORN AGAIN, you may want to call that an EXTREME MAKEOVER with a Wholistic Focus: Body, Mind and Spirit.
We left the states 20 years ago with about $1,000 in monthly support and while our support has more than doubled since our initial launch, our ministry budget is far more. Last year with the help of grants, we were able to pay a staff of 20 and cover operations expenses of nearly one half million dollars.
OK Rob! Thanks for the help! Outstanding!
Some, not all granting agencies require a lot of detail.
Often they want to know a lot about your people group, specific subgroups being targeted, plus baseline statistics and how your intended work will alter those statistics. Then they will want to know how you will measure the effectiveness of your efforts (often in quantifiable terms).
Also, they may require extensive documentation as to how their money is going to be (and was) spent. If you have more than one granting agency, you will need to be able to demonstrate that you have kept expenses from the one seperately identifiable from those of the other.
The degree of specificity varies greatly between granting agencies. Generally the bigger they are, the more demanding.
Assistant to the General Director
Fundación Médical El Buen Samaritano
Alhaurín de la Torre, Spain
I understand that the fourth thing most donors are looking for is: What are your evaluation mechanisms built into your plan from the beginning? They are looking for evidence that you know how to learn from mistakes made (and they expect that not everything will run perfectly from the get-go). Hope this is helpful.
I am on a learning curve here as well, so appreciating the question and the comments. I ran across this book (haven’t read yet) and wonder if anyone has read it and found it helpful? It includes a piece on the grant-making process.
Start and Grow Your Faith-Based Nonprofit by Jill Esau
Sounds great, bkm214. And Debbie, thanks for the referral of the book. Bound to help.
Sounds like several of us are still on a learning curve here.