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Addressing Commonly Asked Questions in a Grant Application for Non Profits
Most funding bodies will have an outline of the grant application guidelines, which can vary from highly structured applications, guiding applicants as to how each question should be answered, to those which only suggest a few headings, leaving the grant seeker to determine structure and content.
The application must prove that the
- A significant need exists
- That it’s possible to fix it, and
- That the applicant has the capacity to meet the need in a creative, appropriate and financially responsible manner.
Most grant applications, in some shape or form, will ask for
- A description of your organisation
- A case for support
- A description of the proposed project
- Dissemination activities
- Evaluation strategies
- A budget
- Indications of future sustainability
Description of your Organisation
Describe its principles, objectives, membership demographics, history, what makes it unique to other organisations etc…
The ‘X’ organisation is recognised as a leader in advocating youth welfare, development and education. The aim of ‘X” is to develop the physical, intellectual, mental, spiritual, emotional and social wellbeing of youth aged 6-26 years by delivering stimulating programs that teach teamwork and, leadership. We are governed by an educational system that is based on progressive self-education and a symbolic framework that enables young people to learn through experience and servicing others. We currently have 10,000 members and over 3,000 volunteers who deliver the Youth Program to over 200 groups across the state.
Description of the Program or Project
Give a clear and thorough description of the proposed project i.e. who will be the beneficiaries, who will be involved in development and implementing the project, over what period will it be conducted, what do you want to do, why do you want to do it, how are you going to do it etc…
Explain why the project is important to your community, the specific need you are addressing, how many people the project will serve, age of beneficiaries and why your target group is a priority. Back up with research and statistics from sources like government bodies, research agencies or data you collected from the community needs assessment you conducted. Your application will be stronger if you back your case with local data or from information you collected from consultations with your target group. Include details that have contributed to the need for your project and what would happen if they were not addressed to add more strength to your application.
Example – The London Family Centre (refer to the Population Served section)
Goals & Objectives
A goal states what you want to accomplish and are general expressed in broad, general, intangible, and abstract terms. It is the final impact or outcome that you wish to bring about. Use visionary words to attract the grant reviewer. Use words such as decrease, deliver, develop, establish, improve, increase, produce, and provide.
· To support the social, emotional and mental health and physical well-being of youth by developing and implementing a working garden project
· Provide guidance and support in helping our youth members become constructive community citizens
Objectives outline how your goal will be achieved. Objectives statements do not describe activities, methods, or what is to be done. Instead, they are statements that measure the outcomes of your activities. Funding bodies generally prefer to have objectives stated in quantifiable and tangible terms. A quantifiable and tangible objective makes it easier for the funding body to determine their return on investment. An acronym commonly used is SMART.
Specific – Is your aim or objective clear and well defined and clear to anyone that has a basic knowledge of the work area.
Measurable – The aim/objective should be obtainable and able to be completed within your set timeframe.
Achievable – There should be a realistic path to achievement.
Realistic – Aims and objectives should be achieved within the availability of resources, knowledge and time.
Timely – Is there enough time to achieve the aims and objectives?
What if some of my objectives aren’t measurable or tangible?
You may find that some of your objectives can not be expressed in quantifiable terms. Qualitative objectives relate to more subjective aspects such as perceptions and attitudes and are justifiable as long as you are able to evaluate them.
Words open to many interpretations: know, understand, appreciate, grasp, enjoy
Words open to fewer interpretations: recite, identify, demonstrate, solve, construct, compare
Examples of measurable/tangible objectives:
· To achieve attendance of at least 100 participants aged 14-25 years from several community youth organisations at the National Youth Week from the 9th to 26th July 2010.
- To raise $20,000 from fundraising activities and grants which will enable 10 members from financially disadvantaged families to attend
- Of the 52 children enrolling in preschool programs, 95% will demonstrate improvement in meeting developmental goals and obtaining age-appropriate skills as measured by the Kindergarten Screening Inventory.
- Approximately 75% of parents will report conducting parent-child enrichment activities at home, as recommended by preschool staff.
Examples of qualitative objectives:
· To develop leadership and teamwork skills
· To encourage outdoor recreation and leisure pursuits
· To encourage appropriate government and non-government organisations to improve the facilities, design and safety of the road environment for cyclists.
Each of your stated objectives needs to be matched with a set of clear strategies or actions which should flow naturally from your objectives. For each objective tell the reader the major activities that will take place (with activities written in chronological order), person responsible and the start and completion dates for each activity. You can use a simple bulleted point list. The timeline will build confidence in your project management skills, showing that you know precisely what needs to be done by when. Be sure you don’t promise an unrealistic level of service.
Example of Project Plan
Concrete, often quantifiable results that can be documented or measured at the end of the project. For example:
20 volunteers are expected to attend the event
5 training sessions will be offered by the end of June.
Provide details about the approach you will take to evaluate (formal or informal) the outcomes of the project i.e. surveys/questionnaires, forums, interviews, observations etc…. Make sure it is consistent with your objectives and activities.
Example – Plugged In Project: (refer to Project Evaluation)
Funders are interested to know how your project will be shared with other community groups. It’s another way of publicly acknowledging the support of your funder and of course publicising your organisation’s work. Ways of disseminating the outcome of your project include:
· Professional journals
Outcomes from the XYZ program will be reported in our on line newsletter and quarterly and annual report, which will be available to the general public on our website. In addition, annual exhibitions at the Annual Community Fair will showcase activities offered at programs such as XYZ.
Grant agencies need to know how you will continue your project in the long term - it is a way of determining their return on investment and because they are genuinely interested in what happens to the project. Tell the grantor how your organization will raise money to continue its programs in the future. You should include an outline of your future fundraising plans:
· Fundraising campaigns e.g. direct-mail or special events in support of the project
· Approaches to corporate sponsors
· Government departments and agencies to be targeted
· Proposals written to other grantmaking organisations
Example - Philanthropy by Design (PBD):
Ask for an amount that’s reasonable and matches the scale of the work. Be specific – justify the need for each item. You also need to be explicit about any funds you have received from other funding sources. As a matter of courtesy and as a way of building trust, inform them of other foundations and grant making bodies you have approached and be sure to include:
· The name/s of other foundations and grantmaking bodies
· The amount requested to cover which particular aspect of the project
· When you are likely to receive confirmation of the application