What to Do Before Applying For a Grant

November was a busy month at Magnolia Grants! Between having grants fund, working on a few grants for Performing Arts and After School Programs, and formulating some strategic plans, my clients are all starting to gear up for 2019!

Something that came up for one of my clients though, is that they know they need grant funding to get to the next level (that’s a given), but the big question that comes up is, what do you want this money to fund? Grantors want to know that they are funding something impactful, even if it’s operating costs, and they want to know that it is specific and that the goals set up are measurable and attainable. When I meet with clients, these are generally some of the questions I ask before even writing a grant:

  1. Where do you see your organization in 1 year, 5 years? What are your big dreams? I’ve been on a board, I’ve worked for a nonprofit, and we’ve always worked most seamlessly when we had a plan going forward. Say you’re a performing arts organization that wants to hold more original plays- let’s start by figuring out if there’s a demand for more plays, playwrights with scripts, and a budget for your program, and how you think this dream correlates with your mission and vision.

  2. What are some of your successes? Have you been able to grow your organization? Do you have a strong donor base? These are all signs of stability, and things grantors want to know about when funding you, and a big part of the narrative. We should also be working this in to show we already have a track record of being successful.

  3. How do you plan to measure your success? I wrote a grant recently to get some 5k supplies. It seems really simple, but if you have a successive track record of volunteers getting off course because they don’t have walkie talkies and are not able to communicate, for example, and demonstrate how this will make things run smoother, and then keep track of how much time was saved, volunteer anecdotes and other success indicators, that is huge.

  4. Make sure to prioritize! Do you have a summer camp you want to host and it’s already January? We may want to start looking at local funding for that, and looking for it right now. Rather than focusing on largest to smallest grant, let’s look at soonest and most immediately impactful.

These are just the tip of the iceberg with grant applications, but something I love doing is helping nonprofits really hone in on their goals. I create demographic analyses, help with survey building for efficacy and do big picture strategy with nonprofits to really help them get off to a great 2019 start. I have a couple great new product ideas coming up in 2019 that I’m excited to share!

Janet Gonzales