Not-for-profit (NFP) associations depend on external funding to maintain their operations and programs. Successful NFP associations diversify their non-dues revenue by leveraging sponsorships, event revenues, and grants to support their budget. One of Redstone’s primary services to our clients is acquiring and maintaining sustainable revenue sources. Our team has successfully applied for several government and agency grants, securing over $25,000 in grant funds over the past few years. We’d like to share some tips for success when considering applying for a grant for your next project or for your not-for-profit’s association’s operations.
1. Stars Align – Not-for-profit associations are prime recipients for grants, as they are often mission-focused with tangible projects that have an impact on their communities. If your organization is interested in pursuing grants as a form of non-dues revenue, develop a plan for grant research and applications and identify key projects that could benefit from the income. The keys to successfully identifying grant opportunities and submitting applications are: a well-articulated organizational mission, strong evidence for how your mission meets the criteria for the grant in question; and a complete grasp of the exact details of your projects and project budgets. Grant providers are looking for clear alignment between the applicant’s organization and the grant’s purpose, as well as specific measures for success for the projects being funded.
2. Phone-a-Friend – Like many scholarships, grants can go unclaimed, either due to lack of applications, or lack of qualified applicants. Although it may be daunting to complete the sometimes lengthy grant application, you’d be surprised at how helpful the representatives from the grant-providing agency or organization can be in helping you prepare the most successful application possible. Don’t be afraid to give the contact on the application form a call or send them an email to ask for clarification on areas of the application that may be unclear, or to seek advice about your application as a whole. They may not be able to provide any guarantees, but they can certainly point you in the right direction!
3. Follow the Money – Most agencies or organizations that offer grants want to make sure that the funds they provide are going to good use, which means they will be following up with recipients on the outcomes of their projects. If you are the successful recipient of a grant, make sure you develop a procedure for tracking your spending and documenting exactly how the grant money was used. Set reminders for important reporting due dates, and reread the funding conditions (e.g. acknowledgement of the source of the funding on your website) and reporting criteria/requirements on a frequent basis to make sure you’re on track. Keep every invoice and deduct it from the total grant money to make sure you stay on budget.
Applying for a grant doesn’t need to be overwhelming. By following the tips above, we hope that your next grant application will be effortless, and that you’ll have a greater chance of success. Think of how rewarding it will be when you receive that grant you’ve been applying for, knowing that the work you put into the application resulted in measurable ROI. There are plenty of grants available for not-for-profit organizations, don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of them for the benefit of your association! Contact us to learn how we can help maximize your association’s non-dues revenues.