Steve Sanders - Nuts & Bolts of Grantwriting

United Way of Kern County
Professional Development Conference for Nonprofits
March 4, 2014
Presented By: Stephen L. Sanders
Chief of Staff
Kern County Superintendent of Schools
Today’s Presentation
1. Importance of Mission
2. Type of grants
3. How to position an organization to
obtain grants
4. “Nuts & Bolts” of effective grant
5. Tips & Suggestions
6. Resources / Questions & Answers
Why Start With “Mission”?
• Everything you do as a staff and board of directors should
be focused on fulfilling your mission – the ‘soul’ of your
• Effective leaders point to a clear sense of mission and
the discipline to carry out that mission as paramount to
• A focus on mission helps avoid the biggest death trap for
nonprofits – the chase for money and a willingness to
“sell your soul”
Common Types of Grants
1. Planning Grants: research, data collection,
Seed $ / Venture Grants: Initial funding to get a
project going
Management / TA Grants: Usually consultant time
and support to further a NPO’s mission
Capital Grants: Equipment, buildings
Program Grants: $ to operate a program or
Operational (Core) Grants: Support core
operations, infrastructure, unrestricted program use
How Are Grants Made Available?
 RELATIONSHIPS – Invitation to Apply
 Request for Proposals (RFP)
 Open Grant Cycle
 Announced via websites, bulletins
 Letter of Intent generates interest
 As part of a community initiative
 Sponsorships (Corporate)
Four Factors to Successful Grant Writing
1. The quality of the nonprofit organization and its
programs (reputation & effectiveness)
2. The critical importance of the project (need) and
the innovative nature of the proposed services
in addressing the need
3. The appropriateness of the funding source and
competition levels
4. The skills of the grant writer in making a
succinct, compelling case with measurable
Is My NPO Ready for Grants?
• Are our mission, purpose and goals well established? Do
we plan strategically?
Do we have solid financial procedures in place to track
and monitor funds?
Do we have the staff and expertise needed to do what we
Are we willing and able to jump through the funders
“hoops” to fulfill our contract?
Have we talked to clients, board and other stakeholders
about our proposed work?
Does our mission align with this funding opportunity?
Know Yourself & The Funder
 Can we collaborate with other organizations to make our
proposal more complete?
 Are we duplicating other efforts in the community?
 Can our project be sustained beyond the current level of
funding / grant cycle?
 Is our budget realistic and have we set our proposed
project up for success? Do we have measurable
 Is the funder interested in our issue? Do they fund in our
Criteria for Seeking Potential Funders
1. Mission of the funder
Web sites, brochures, annual reports
2. Funder’s Program Focus
Watch for shifting priorities
Research who they have funded in the past
3. Geographic Areas of Support
Always start local and move outwards to state and then federal
Always be aware of geographic limitations
4. Understand the funder’s budget & assets
5. Develop long-term relationships
6. Measure results & be open and honest about success
Grant Writing – Getting Started
 Choose a coordinator / point person
 Decide early who needs to be involved
 Assign tasks and set deadlines
 Include fiscal staff from the start (have an idea of budget
before you start developing your plans)
 Look for things to gather right away (board resolutions,
letters of support, IRS letter of determination)
 Develop a draft proposal early and have someone from
outside the agency read it
 Plan to finish the proposal early
Key Documents to Always Have On Hand
Make sure the following are updated frequently:
• Background / history of the NPO
• Past accomplishments, data
• News coverage, awards, recent successes
• Statistics / needs statements
• List of current board of directors
• Audit / most recent financial statements
• IRS Letter of Determination
• Staff job descriptions / resumes
Parts of a Typical Proposal
1. Executive Summary / Abstract
2. Introduction / Organization Background Info
3. Needs Statement (Problem Statement)
4. Project Description / Program Proposal
5. Goals & Objectives (Logic Model)
6. Evaluation Plan
7. Future Funding (Sustainability)
8. Budget & Budget Narrative
Essential Elements: Needs Statement
• Presents the case for support to a funder and is
the foundation of your proposal.
• Your organization must be convinced about the worthiness of the
• All stakeholders should be on board
• Must be agreement on the methods used to approach the issue
• Used to convince the funder to read the entire
proposal and to focus results
• A poor needs statement can ruin an otherwise
good proposal
• Make sure the need being addressed is in line
with mission of the organization
Essential Elements: Needs Statement
Present evidence / data that supports the need
(emphasize community needs vs. organizational
 Explain how you will solve the problem in innovative
and proven ways
 Explain why your organization is uniquely positioned
to address the need
 Explain who will benefit from your service and how
you will measure success
Practical Tips for Needs Statements
 Use statistics that are clear and support your ask
(data must be relevant)
 Any assertions about need should be well
documented and accurate
 Quote authorities but back it up
 Limited anecdotal stories add human touch but
use sparingly
 Give a clear sense of urgency to your ask
 Need must have a clear relationship to your
organization’s mission / purpose
Some Data Sources
 (US Census
 Ed Data (education-
related data)
 KC Network for Children Report Card
 -
Essential Elements: Project Description
 Detail regarding the proposed project / program
including background, detail and proposed
 Explain how the proposed project will address
the needs outlined in the needs statement
 Explain collaborations / partnerships that are
key in making the proposed project a success
 Identify organizational and staffing capacity
Essential Elements: Goals & Objectives
 Goals & Objectives and the strategies to meet
them are vital to your proposal
 GOALS: broad, brief statements of intent that
provide focus or vision for planning; a focus of
 “All children in Kern County will be born healthy”
 OBJECTIVES: are meant to be realistic targets
for the program / project – precise, measurable
and timebound
 “By 2015, 20% more women in Kern County will receive
comprehensive prenatal care.”
Goals & Objectives
General intentions
Specific / Precise intentions
Tangible / measurable
Cannot be validated as is
Can be validated
Goals & Objectives
 Develop SMART Objectives:
 Specific
 Measurable
 Achievable
 Relevant
 Time-bound
 Build costs of evaluation into your proposal
 Be honest with funders about results and use
them to improve services
Goals & Objectives
 When writing objectives, answer 5 key
1. What key areas are you trying to change?
2. Who will be impacted by the services?
3. What is the direction (+ or -) of change you
hope to achieve?
4. What is the degree of change you are
5. What is the time frame for that change?
Logic Models
 A logic model is a tool that produces a basic
program “picture” that shows how the
organization’s program is intended to work
 It is a visual representation of your proposal that
illustrates the connection between your planned
work and your intended results.
 Is read from left to right
Logic Models
Include the
organizational and
that you
dedicate to
What the
will do
with the
The direct
product of
that will be
number of
changes in
client /
behavior –
ways in
which your
clients will
Essential Elements: Evaluation
“If you can measure it, you can fix it.” (Gene Voiland)
Evaluation is all about measuring the return on
 The better you demonstrate results, the more
funding you’ll attract
 Make sure you have the expertise needed to
adequately measure results
 Use results for program improvement in addition
to attracting new funding
 Build evaluation costs into grant proposals
Essential Elements: Budget & Budget
Make sure you understand the type of budget requested by
the funder:
1. Overall Agency Budget: covers the budget for
the entire organization
2. Program / Project Budget: Covers revenue and
expenses for the specific program
3. In-kind / Cash Match: Identifies cash or in-kind
4. Budget Narrative: Explains the numbers on the
budget in more detail in narrative form
Essential Elements: Budgets
• Start with a realistic budget that is honest about
projected revenue and expenses
• Most Budgets include following major categories:
• Personnel (salaries and benefits)
• Professional Services (contracts, outsourcing)
• Equipment
• Supplies
• Overhead (utilities, rent, phones)
• Travel / professional development
• Outreach
• Make sure to explain any unusual items
Budgets – Food for Thought
Start grant proposals with a draft budget so
you know what your capacity is
• Never “pad” your budget in hopes of
getting more – be open and honest about
• Always be able to justify your numbers
• Make sure the budget is aligned with your
proposed program and activities
• Double-check your math!
Other Elements / Thoughts
• Develop an Abstract / Letter of Intent that you
can use to seek potential funders without writing
an entire proposal (see DTM sample)
• Use Beale Library, online foundation searches to
narrow results
• Frequent for information
and resources
Grant Resources
• Online Alerts And Search Engines
[email protected][email protected]
Grant writers must convince funders of:
1. The credibility of your organization
2. A program description that outlines the need for the
proposed project
That there is sufficient community interest in the
program and the proposed outcomes
Your ability to measure its success in real ways
The costs and projected revenue sources
Why you believe this funder’s interests may be met by
investing in the project
What is the return on investment?
Questions / Tips From the Audience

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