I work with several nonprofits, and I’ve been busy writing grants. Happily, these grants also have been winning awards. It’s not that I’m so brilliant, it’s more a matter of identifying a project and meeting the requirements for the application process. Peeling back the layers on the grant-writing process opens up a whole new world of money that’s waiting to be claimed. There are government grants, state grants and foundation grants. There are private-enterprise grants and those for small businesses. Grants all require a project, and they may favor specific groups, such as underserved or native American communities.
Nonprofits may not be taking advantage of potential grant funds
Finding grants that are a fit for your organization can be extremely time consuming. Once you log into the federal and state grant databases, you can filter information by a number of criteria, including the funding agency, keywords, etc. Some of these databases are free; for others, there’s a subscription fee.
This is a good time to be looking for grant money
Our county’s 250th anniversary is in 2026, but the National Endowment for the Humanities is jumpstarting the celebration with its “A More Perfect Union” initiative, encouraging projects that explore and tell the stories of our quest for a more just, inclusive, and sustainable society. There is a long list of grants that supports this initiative. In true “teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for life” style, these grants tend to be pragmatic in approach. If you need to restore old manuscripts for your museum, for example, you won’t be able to apply for money for their restoration. You can, however, apply for money to hire scholars/consultants who will teach you and your team how to restore these old documents themselves.
Grants tend to favor projects where there is a clear beginning and an end. Or those that develop new community relationships or reach new demographics. They tend to love projects that target youth or minorities.
The more money involved, the more complex the submittal process
Not surprisingly, if the size of the award is bigger, the application process gets a lot more complicated. There are video overview sessions and preliminary document submittals to make sure you’re on the right track. It’s necessary to get your team involved in this process.
Key to winning grant awards is following the grant requirements
Grant development often includes strict formatting rules. Sometimes the grant is completely online so that word or character counts can be controlled. This can be challenging when you’re coordinating information with a team.
Building a business case for your project to receive funding
Most of all, it’s important to remember that grant writing comes down to sales. You’re building a business case for why you should be awarded money. It’s up to you to tell a convincing story about how your organization will use that money to reengineer processes or enhance your organization.