By: Aaliyah S. Ogletree
I know that everyone has heard a lot about the hardship involved during the grant seeking process. I won’t lie it can be tough, but as with any passion it takes tenacity, dedication, and the will to stay the course and find what you are looking for, so that your dreams and goals can come to fruition. Today, we will discuss how to conduct research for grants, how to apply for grants, and where to find valuable resources and information, specifically for individuals. Remember to Explore.Learn.Have Fun. Give Back!
How to Research Grants for Individuals:
First, you need to decide what type of grants you are looking for to support your goals or projects. There are grants for higher education, arts and culture grants, social entrepreneurship grants, entrepreneurship grants, and the list goes on. Once you decide you are on your way!
Second, once you identify the types of grants you need this is where research takes place. You will carefully review the grantor’s guidelines, restrictions, and deadlines. It is during this process where you will be able to tell if you qualify or if you don’t. This allows you to take the guess work and wasted time out of the equation. If you don’t qualify you will be able to move on to the next grant prospect. Do this process until you find the grant that is in alignment with what you are trying to do for best and maximum results.
Lastly, once you find the grant that is best suited for you, please read the directions carefully and follow them accordingly. Yes, I know your not stupid, but a lot of people overlook this very critical step, which disqualifies them from even being considered for the grant. You have to remember that there are thousands of people all over the world applying for the same grant; therefore guidelines are screeners for grantors.
Applying for Grants:
Applying for grants for individuals can be tricky. Most grantor’s require you to be affiliated with a fiscal sponsor. What exactly is a fiscal sponsor? Fiscal sponsorship is a formal arrangement in which a 501(c)(3) public charity sponsors a project that may lack exempt status. This alternative allows you to seek grants and solicit tax-deductible donations under your sponsor’s exempt status. Since most grantmakers give to organizations, not individuals, fiscal sponsorship may help you qualify for more funding opportunities. Thus, you may be able to fund and start your project sooner. Meanwhile, you can work on getting your own nonprofit status if that is your ultimate goal. Some grantor’s won’t require an individual to be affiliated with a fiscal sponsor, but that is very rare.
Next, you will either have to submit a Letter of Inquiry(LOI) before actually submitting a grant. A well-written letter of inquiry can be crucial to securing funding for your project. Many foundations now prefer that funding requests be submitted first in letter format instead of a full proposal. Others are using preliminary letters of inquiry to determine if they have an interest in a project before accepting a full proposal. An effective letter of inquiry is often more difficult to write than a full proposal. The letter of inquiry should be brief—no more than three pages—and must be a succinct but thorough presentation of the need or problem you have identified, the proposed solution, and your organization’s qualifications for implementing that solution. The letter of inquiry should be addressed to the appropriate contact person at a foundation or to its CEO and should be sent by regular mail.
Not unlike a grant proposal, the letter of inquiry should include the following sections:
The introduction serves as the executive summary for the letter of inquiry and includes the name of your organization, the amount needed or requested, and a description of the project. The qualifications of project staff, a brief description of evaluative methodology, and a timetable are also included here.
The organization description should be concise and focus on the ability of your organization to meet the stated need. Provide a very brief history and description of your current programs while demonstrating a direct connection between what is currently being done and what you wish to accomplish with the requested funding. You will flesh this section out in greater detail if you are invited to submit a full proposal.
If you are then selected and asked to submit a proposal then your on your way to getting the grant money that you need to fund your endeavors. Please review past posts regarding how to write a grant proposal.
Best Places to Look for Grants & Resources:
There are a plethora of websites and resources that can help you. Please read below for the best websites that offer great resources and a wealth of information in regards to grants for individuals and organizations.
The Foundation Center– The Foundation Center’s mission is to strengthen the nonprofit sector by advancing knowledge about U.S. philanthropy. The Foundation Center also offers an Online Grants Database of Individuals Online for only $19.95 per month. If you can’t afford that amount, then usually you can use the database at your local library. http://foundationcenter.org/
NYFA– The New York Foundation for the Arts’ mission is to empower artists at critical stages in their creative lives. http://www.nyfa.org/
Grant.gov– Grants.gov was established as a governmental resource named the E-Grants Initiative, part of the President’s 2002 Fiscal Year Management Agenda to improve government services to the public. Today, Grants.gov is a central storehouse for information on over 1,000 grant programs and provides access to approximately $500 billion in annual awards. Grants.gov also provides detailed information about federal agencies, financial contributions, grant opportunities, fiscal reports, planning strategies, and statistics. http://www.grants.gov/applicants/individual_registration.jsp
Michigan State University Libraries(MSUL)– MSUL focuses primarily on funding opportunities for individuals rather than funding for nonprofit organizations. http://staff.lib.msu.edu/harris23/grants/3subject.htm
Don’t Give Up…Be Positive:
Looking for grants can be trying, but if you really believe in yourself, your project, or cause then don’t give up because the rewards outweigh the trying times when looking for funding support. Overall, I hope this article has been helpful and be on the look out for more information to come. Happy Hunting!