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Need help researching the best grants for your nonprofit?
For some people, grant writing feels like this un-conquerable beast standing between you and you organization’s stability. While some foundations do have a long, daunting process, there are others that have a quick one page form.
I got my first grant back in high school over a decade ago. My basketball coach owned a sports apparel company. I wanted to design t-shirts, but I had no capital. After practice one day I showed him some sketches and talked about my business idea. I couldn’t tell if he took 15-year-old me seriously, but he told me that if I brought back a budget he *might* help me out. I talked to my best friend and together we came up with a proposal. I don’t remember whether our projections were good or not, but we got the money and we sold about a dozen shirts. Mind you–this was back in the 90s before social media was a thing. For us, those shirts meant we had a real chance at being business owners. I try to bring that same motivation to grant writing. Most of the folks who need these tips are as privileged to have an adult who believes in their idea enough to fund it. That’s where I come in.
Rather than drive yourself up the wall, use these quick grant writing tips to get started.
#1 Target Small/New Organizations
While it may be tempting to write Oprah a letter asking for $1 million to start your cat tattoo non-profit, let’s take a few steps back. Often, there a smaller foundations and collectives looking for great ideas. Take the Coalition of Black Excellence. Started by a Black litigation attorney, this organization has only been around for a year, but it has already grown to a size that allows them to distribute four (4) grants to non-profits. Another great thing about small and new organizations is their commitment to their mission statement. The Association of Black Argumentation Professionals has provided in-kind professional development services and workshops to entrepreneurs. When you’re looking for operational funding, in-kind donations can help lift some of the burden from nonprofit leaders.
#2 Make SMART Goals
You may have learned about this in one of your intro classes. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Goals that don’t meet one or more of these standards tend to be too abstract, which means you’re setting yourself up for failure.
#3 Search Credible Databases
Instrumentl, Grants.gov, and The Ford Foundation have a database of grants, foundations, and individual donors who want to support organizations with a great cause. Many of our favorite celebrities also have foundations that donate to causes. Go beyond a basic google search and really investigate a potential funder before sharing sensitive information. Pro tip: check the organization’s EIN to make sure they’re legitimate.
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