What Belongs in Your Agency Grant Seeker Portfolio?

How lucky will you be if you are still searching for a required document on the grant deadline date? What type of information will a grant application require or will your grant writer need from you to start preparing your application?

Libby Hikind, Founder and CEO of GrantWriterTeam.com (561 249-4129) recommends,

Organizations should maintain an up-to-date computer and hard copy grant seeker portfolio in a loose leaf binder with sheet protectors,  The portfolio should contain all the documents you might need to apply for a grant.  Locating and perfecting these documents is more time consuming then writing the grant, itself.

Do not wait –  Start gathering documents today. Be ready to apply for grants!

When and if you realize you are missing a document, don't put it off until later. Immediately notify your grant writer or your in-house staff to start preparing or obtaining the document. One of our grant writers will be happy to assist you in the preparation (if it is required by the funding source). Don't procrastinate!! 

Here is a list of copies of original documents you should place in your portfolio to prepare for the grant proposal application process:

  • 501c3 IRS Determination Letter
  • Incorporation Papers
  • Special Government Licenses Needed 
  • Board of Directors List
  • Organizational Chart
  • W9 Form Signed by The Executive Director
  • Current Organization Budget
  • Recent 990 Forms (For the Past 3 Years)
  • Copy of Most Recent Audited Financial Statements
  • Non-Discrimination Policy
  • Business Continuity of Operations Document or Disaster Plan
  • List and Description of Any Current Programs of The Organization 
  • Promotional Materials or Articles Previously Written About the Organization.
  • Previously Written Grants
  • Copies of Measurement Tools Like Pre/Post-Tests
  • Resumes, Biographies of Key Staff
  • Statistics, Articles, Photos, Surveys Documenting the Community Need for Your Program

With all of this information, a grant writer will be able to whisk through the grant proposal process. 

Inform your GrantWriterTeam.com grant writer of which documents you have and which documents you need assistance with compiling. Every application has different requirements. The grant writer will tell you specifically what each application requires.

You will provide your documents to the writer, on an as-needed basis (do not automatically transfer your entire file). For example, some grants may require a copy of your insurance certificate. He/she will ask you for it to include in the proposal. 

Your time and that of the grant writer has value.  Don't waste it on scrambling for documents, when it could be used to prepare a compelling application.  Start preparing the portfolio today, concurrently while searching for grants on GrantWatch.com.

About the Author: This article was written by a GrantWriterTeam Staff Writer in collaboration with Libby Hikind, CEO and Founder of GrantWriterTeam.com.

Preparation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When completing a grant application, the name of the game is preparation. For help writing and preparing grant proposals, contact GrantWriterTeam.com where you will be linked with an experienced contract grant writer for hire. Here are some words of wisdom when preparing your grant proposal.

  1. Be sure to request all necessary information from the funding source. This may include guidelines, annual reports and other documents. You will have access to this information through GrantWatch.com’s grant details page.
  2. Stay local. If you’re a local organization, seek local funding. This is because national foundations are more likely to fund programs that can be replicated nationally.
  3. If you are applying for a grant from a local foundation, check to see if your Board is familiar with some of their trustees. Sometimes, they know each other and a single phone call, describing your need, may increase your consideration for the grant.
  4. Do not wait until the last minute to write your grant proposal. An application prepared in a hurry, looks like it was prepared last minute.
  5. Try to not send more than what the grant application requests or allows. There are some things that may put your application over the top like newspaper clippings of the success of your programs or need in your community, but don’t send what is not allowed. Exceeding page limits can disqualify your application. 
  6. If you are awarded the grant, KEEP IN TOUCH with the funding source. This will cement a relationship and future funding.
  7.  Some grant applications identify required page length, page margins and typeface. Follow the directions.
  8. Verify the required submission method (online, mail, FedEx, fax, DVD, thumb drive, etc.).
  9. If there is no application format, check if your funding source uses the “Common Grant Application.”
  10. Was there a mandatory letter of intent or mandatory attendance at a conference required?  If the dates have passed, do not apply.  

For an experienced grant writer, request a writer at GrantWriterTeam.com. He/she will create a thorough grant proposal and follow all these suggested guidelines to ensure a great impression of your nonprofit or small business.

Our grant writers are winning grants for clients every day. Become a winning organization, too!

Successful Grant Writing

Follow our 3 steps to engage in successful grant writing. Everyone wants the ability to pursue as many grants as possible and win them all! But, you must consider the value of your time and understand that there are many nonprofits, small businesses, or individuals applying for the same grants. Go to GrantWriterTeam and hire a grant writer to help you.

Steps for successful grant writing:

  1. Determine if a grant is a good match for you
  2. Research past winners of the grant, compare and contrast their needs with your own
  3. Hone your writing skills. Take a formal grant writing class. You can sign up at GWI.education and stay tuned.

First, determine if a grant is right for you. Do this by reviewing the size of the grant and eligibility criteria. If you require $10,000 for your programming but the grant is worth $50,000, don’t apply for it. On the reverse side, if you require $50,000 and the grant is for $10,000, apply for a few grants to be able to complete your project.

If a grant requires a 501(c)3 status but you don’t have it, don’t apply for it. That would be a waste of your time and the time of the funding source.

Next, go online! Research past recipients of the grant and consider their programming and goals. It is good to compare your programming with theirs. You might find a pattern in the funding source’s awarding behavior. The funding source could lean toward a method of programming or a goal. For instance, a funding source may say they provide relief to “under-funded” areas but have historically stuck to inner-cities. This would mean if you are in a rural under-funded area, you most likely will not get the grant.

Last, take a formal grant writing class. A good course will teach you some of the following:

  • Research and find grants
  • The fundamentals of a grant proposal
  • Similarities and differences of proposal formats
  • The roles and responsibilities of a nonprofit board of directors and management team
  • Establishing the need for your proposal
  • Writing, editing, proofreading and completing the final proposal document
  • Preparing a budget

For upcoming courses from experienced and world-renowned grant writers, sign up for Grant Writing Institute at GWI.education.

After completing these 3 steps, you will be well-prepared for applying for grants. And if you need help, consult a grant writer at GrantWriterTeam.com. 

10 Grant Writing Pointers

Grant writing for your nonprofit; Easy peasy, right? Well, not really!

You can write the grant in-house with your staff and hire a grant writer for review or hire a grant writer to lead the project and make your ideas come to fruition. Either way you should follow these: 

10 grant writing pointers that will help you win!

1. Research! Get help! Don’t try to write ALL PARTS of the grant yourself. Seek expertise for your response to each question or section from an expert in that area. A grant writer from GrantWriterTeam can also offer valuable direction and input into your proposal. 

2. Gather copies of all previously funded grants, grant applications, and any print materials about your organization. Having these documents to work from means you don’t have to start from scratch. Create a digital file and a hard copy folder containing the organization's:

  • Executive Summary
  • Organizational Background and Description
  • Existing Programs and Resources
  • Board of Directors List with their Expertise, Background and Affiliations
  • Staff Resumes and Staff Budget
  • Financial Policies and Current Management 
  • Facilities Lease, Blueprints and Insurance 
  • Licenses
  • Inventory of Equipment
  • Policies and Procedures Handbooks
  • Current Annual and Program Budgets

3. Talk to your Board. Have as many eyes as possible on your grant proposal. A board member may be able to give valuable additions to a narrative or may possibly be familiar with the funding source.

4, Keep learning about your topic. Continually seek articles and resources of best practices that will back-up and provide evidence for the need, viability and future success of your proposed program.

5. Review your mission statement with your Board before including it in the narrative. A nonprofit’s mission statement is pivotal to the grant proposal and should be updated to represent the scope of what you do.

6. Send a thank you note after every interaction with the funding source. Send the note to the attention of the individual contact at the funding source after you discuss your programming and eligibility and most definitely after receiving a grant. Stay in touch throughout the grant application process and beyond!

7. Write a personalized grant proposal. If space is not an issue, include anecdotes and photographs that demonstrate the need for funding and your expertise. 

8. Give the responsibility of grants to seasoned professionals. Don’t dump it on volunteers. Volunteers seldom have the technical grant writing skills needed. Survey your staff to see who has previous grant writing experience or hire a grant writer from GrantWriterTeam. Regardless of who writes the grant, you need a lead person in the organization to review section by section as the grant is prepared.

9. Apply for grants within your financial management capabilities. This speaks to the funding source's confidence in your organization's ability to mange large funds and your financial management policies. Apply for manageable grants.

10. Share and collaborate to provide services. If your grant application also requires a provision of service beyond your expertise, call up a highly respected neighboring nonprofit and develop a memorandum of understanding (for the provision of those services). You should also forward your emails about upcoming grants from GrantWatch.com, so they can apply and include you in their applications.

Remember, if you need help applying for a grant, request a writer at GrantWriterTeam.com, today! 

About the Author: Libby is the Founder and CEO of GrantWriterTeam and has been writing grants for over 20 years. This article was written with contributions from Sabeen Faquir.

Competitive Nonprofits

What can nonprofits do to be competitive in the grant process? Let GrantWriterTeam.com walk you through the process. 

Let’s face it. You’re not the only nonprofit applying for a grant. There are hundreds upon thousands of deserving nonprofits out there. How do you make yourself stand out? First, focus on name recognition. To boost recognition, create a consistent visual brand. This means get a logo. We suggest that you keep it simple with a symbol and the name or abbreviation of your nonprofit. Put your logo out through social media and make it a part of every staff member’s email signature. 

Here are some sample logos featured on GrantWatch.com's testimonial page:

 


    
If you’re interested in placing your logo on GrantWatch.com, become a subscriber. We welcome new subscribers that give us their logo, through our facebook and other social media pages. We are happy to help get the word out! If you contact us through GrantNews.press, we will also write an article about your nonprofit’s work. This article can be added to the appendix of a grant application.

Write about how your nonprofit benefits the community. What are your interventions for apparent problems in your community? List of all your past, current and future programs. Think about your measurable outcomes. For example, if you are a nonprofit clinic, consider what services you will offer and how outcomes can be assessed. You may have clinicians on staff who can prescribe medicine. In addition, you may have a dispensary that provides free or discounted prescriptions. In these ways, you offer healthcare. Outcomes can then be measured through health outcomes. Did the rate of disease lower? Are there more people who are being treated for their conditions? 

After listing your programs, start thinking about previous and future fundraising events. Uhelpfund is a great place to start a crowfunding campaign and demonstrate to the foundation or government agency how you engage the community to support your programs.

There are many additional great fundraising ideas for nonprofits. Some of them include raffles, recreational tournaments, auctions, yard sales, bake sales, networking dinners, community events, fairs and much more. Remember to display your logo at these events and generate interest in your work through informative flyers, volunteers, and fun giveaways.  

Remember, to be meticulous when completing a grant application. The funding source wants to know that their money is going toward an organization with the capacity to administrate community interventions. Funding sources want to fund sustainable programs. 

For support on grant writing, get a grant writer from GrantWriterTeam.com. They are professional, experienced, and knowledgeable about the nonprofit world. Request a writer and wait for bids to be emailed to you from a GrantWriterTeam specialist. 

A Personal Touch


Did you know grant proposals can include quotes from interviews about your nonprofit? Before scheduling an interview, think about what you want to convey to the funding source. Is it that your interventions helped the community? Is there a need for new programming at your nonprofit? Or, something else. 

If you're a nonprofit looking for a grant writer, select Request a Writer. 

According to Lincoln Arneal of Nonprofit Hub, be sure to talk to more than one person. Sit down with multiple people and get multiple angles of the story. Don't allow for general blanket statements that don't really say anything. Remember to ask probing questions, too. If a question you didn't script arises in your mind, ask! 

Finally, send thank you notes after the interviews. This will keep a lasting relationship and make a good impression for your nonprofit. 

Tell Me a Story: How to Use Interviews to Enhance Your Grant Proposals

By Lincoln Arneal, Nonprofit Hub

James was a grant writer for a nonprofit that worked with children. Passion fueled his work because he knew the work his organization did improved the lives of hundreds of children every year. He applied for grants to help his NPO expand its reach, but lately, he’s run into a bit of a snag. He’s heard “no” a few too many times, and had a major case of writer’s block to remedy the situation. Until he started using more storytelling with his grants.

Storytelling is a great way to liven up your grant proposals, capture your readers’ attention and add more emotional connection to your cause. There are several ways to collect these stories, but the best way is to conduct interviews with people that have benefited from your nonprofit’s work. As a journalist, interviews are a necessary tool to every single story I wrote. They support the angle I was writing about and provide perspective to points made in my article. The same techniques used to get quotes for a newspaper story can be used to enhance your grant requests.

Before you get started, you need to know what you want from the interviews. What story do you want to tell? Are you after emotional stories that demonstrate the impact of your organization? The impact your donors have made to help your mission? How your volunteers have changed the community? The outcome of the stories will change what questions you ask and who you select to interview.

Most of the time you know who has been positively impacted by your organization, but feel free to put out a call for volunteers to assist you with your project. These can be not only people who are on the receiving end of your services, but also those who work and volunteer with your NPO. Try to find a good balance of subjects that have experienced your nonprofit in different ways or through different programs. Make sure the participants know how you plan to use the interview. Have them sign an acknowledgement that allows you to use their stories in your grants and perhaps promotional materials.

Don’t just settle for interviewing one or two people. Try to interview a half dozen to get a good variety of stories and perspectives on your services. Also, avoid providing them with specific questions before the interview. You can give them the topics you want to talk about, but if they don’t know the exact wording of the questions it will help their answers come off as more real and honest.

Mark Goldstein of Communication Mark outlines three questions you should ask every time you interview someone about your NPO:

What need brought you to our organization?
What services did we provide to you?
How did the service improve your life?

These questions will provide a good baseline and starting point to elicit useable answers. They cover the how, what and why for your organization. Plus, these answers will directly apply to what you are going to write in your grant proposal. You will need to ask more probing questions, and figure out how to get them to tell a story on how your nonprofit really benefited their lives. It might not come out on the first question, so be patient.

Those shouldn’t be the only questions. Brainstorm questions that fit the outcome you seek. Don’t stick to a script though. Let the interview flow like a natural conversation. Ask follow up questions and try to keep probing if they make broad, vague statements—but at the same time, don’t be too pushy.

While phone interviews will work, you should do everything possible to do them in person. It allows you to have more control over the interview, read the interviewee’s nonverbals and make a better personal connection during the interview. Listen to what they are saying and adapt the course of the interview based on the subject’s responses, and don’t let any vague statements slip by. It also helps to record or videotape the interview for accuracy and use later.

After the interview, be sure to send a note of thanks to the participant. They were the ones who gave their time and helped you out, so be grateful. A simple note can go a long way to reinforce their positive experience with your nonprofit.

Once you sit down and start writing, you should put these quotes in the ‘needs’ or ‘project goals’ portion of your proposal. By showing how your organization helped the cause indicates the need is real and you have the ability to make a difference. These stories will get beyond statistics and attach a name and story to your cause. If the stories are too long and you can’t bring yourself to cut them down, consider including them as an attachment to your grant proposal.

So get out there and start talking to people. Interviews, if done properly, can make your grant proposals stand out and humanize the work you are doing. You don’t just have to limit using your stories for grant proposals. You can add them to your donor drives, promotional materials and annual reports, but again, make sure your subjects know how you plan to use their stories. Next time you find yourself in James’ situation and stuck with your grant proposal, try using interviews to enhance them. They might just be the story you’re missing.

Sources:

The 5 Steps to a Projected Annual Budget

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A nonprofit requires a projected annual budget. For grant writers from GrantWriterTeam to help you compile your programmatic budget for a particular grant, you will need to provide an annual budget to the funding source to demonstrate that the funds requested will not supplant existing funds.  

Grants are meant to supplement – be in addition to.

A budget is a monetary account of all activities of the previous year or of the upcoming year. a ledger for income and expenditures at an organization. It is a planning tool created, annually. Normally, the budgeting process begins about 3 months before the end of the organization’s fiscal year. This is so that the board of directors can approve of it.

The budget helps an organization to understand how much money is being taken in and where it is going. Essentially, a budget should tell you how much you can afford to spend on the operations of your organization. Make sure you have a computer spreadsheet program or one that comes from your actual computerized accounting program (i.e…QuickBooks, Excel, etc.).

Here is a 5-step checklist to budgeting:

  1. Determine a timeline
  2. Agree on program goals
  3. Develop an income budget
  4. Create a draft budget
  5. Implement the budget

First, decide by when the budget needs to be approved (before the beginning of the next fiscal year). The fiscal year could be different for different organizations. Your fiscal year could begin in February or June or something else. Understand who it needs to go to before the Board of Directors, because that will determine the timeline for getting ultimate approval.

Second, determine program goals. What will your organization do to achieve its mission? How will it convey its vision to the community? You need to prioritize program delivery goals. This means to determine which program(s) you find most valuable and want to fund first. In this step, you should set organizational financial goals and clarify annual goals from the strategic plan.

Third, it’s very important to know what money is coming in. Without knowing how much money you have to work with, you cannot determine how much money you can spend. The income budget is based on current fundraising and revenue activities. Here, you will estimate how much money will be coming in from standing practices, and new activities. Will you be applying for grants? or raising money through crowdfunding?

Fourth, make a draft budget! Assign activities to the goals that you set up earlier. Assign monetary values to the activities as itemized expenditures. For example, if you run a youth-centered organization and are forming a new program for after-school basketball, you would have to consider the cost of time on a school’s basketball court, uniforms, basketballs, refreshments, etc. After you’ve assigned monetary values, review and discuss how the budget meets organizational goals. Make adjustments based on goals, income and expenses. Then, review the final draft.

Fifth, it’s time to enact the budget. Assign management responsibilities. This means to decide which manager will be held accountable for the completion of certain activities and funding. Or, perhaps an entire department or individual will be responsible for ensuring funding. Incorporate the budget into the accounting system. This means that your organization’s activities (planned or not) will function according to the budget. You will then monitor and respond to changes, as needed.

So, now you know how to create an annual budget for a nonprofit. A grant writer from GrantWriterTeam.com can help you create a program budget, should you require one. 

Where to Begin?

Writing a grant on your own? Where to begin? You must clearly follow the application directions and respond to every single question with appropriate data, details and research.  

When you conceptualizing your program – think in terms of the whole being equal to the sum of all these parts:  

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Organizational Background and Description
  3. Existing Resources
    1. Board of Directors 
    2. Staff
    3. Financial Management
    4. Facilities
    5. Licenses
    6. Equipment 
  4. Needs
  5. Program Narrative – Program Description
    1. Goals
    2. Objectives
    3. Activities
    4. Timeline
    5. Program Evaluation
  6. Budget
    1. Proposed Budget
    2. In-Kind Budget
    3. Budget Narrative 
Although the Budget comes last, Libby Hikind, CEO and Founder of GrantWatch.com and GrantWriterTeam.com, recommends the following:
"Start with the proposed budget. Be very clear how you will use the funds to address the programmatic needs.
 
Will the award of the grant combined with your existing resources (in-kind support) be enough to successfully run the proposed program? Only include allowable items in the proposed budget (read the RFP – grant application – very carefully). Perhaps you will need to scale down or scale up your ideas or seek additional funding from other sources.
 
 The budget will become the blueprint for the entire proposal."

Within the budget section, you will list all expenditures so that the funding source may see where and how the grant money will be applied. You will then describe in narrative format the details of why the funds are needed and how they will be spent. Every section of the budget narrative is an individual short paragraph.

Libby Hikind reminds grant writers,

"Throughout the grant, be sure to reference the items in budget.  When the funder reviews the budget and narrative, they will recognize the need for each budget item and its importance and relation to the proposed project."

About the Author: This article was written by Sabeen Faquir, MPH, in collaboration with Libby Hikind, CEO and Founder of GrantWriterTeam.com.

Grant Writing Bid Etiquette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is table etiquette. And there is etiquette for grant writers when bidding on projects

Once your profile at GrantWriterTeam.com is complete with professional references and a resume highlighting your grant accomplishments – and you have accepted your contract with us, you will be able to bid on current, live grant writer requests.  

How to Bid:

  1. Read the writer request to see if it matches your expertise.
  2. Click Bid Now.
  3. Do not include your hourly charge in the first sentences of the bid paragraphs.
  4. Highlight your specific writing skill-set.
  5. Submit your bid!

First, read the writer request. There maybe a veteran’s shelter, a women’s’ support organization, an athletic program or a wide variety of nonprofits and small businesses that are looking for funding. What in your experience prepares you to write for them? It could be your job to not only write a grant or multiple grants for them but to help them search for grants. It’s important to understand with what they are seeking assistance.

If the request asks for help to fund a free health clinic but you have experience writing grants for low-income housing nonprofits, then highlight your experience with writing for low-income area projects. We are looking for highly skilled writers with specialties. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’ve determined a job is appropriate for you, click Bid Now. This will send you to a screen which asks about your pricing structure and abilities plus your expertise. DON’T talk about your pricing structure in the first sentence here. Emphasize your skills.

In the first sentence of each of the bid paragraphs, you should take the opportunity to really highlight your talents and experience. The first time we submit your bid the client will get your single bid. Every day, the client will get a cumulative email with all the bids – until they decide upon a grant writer.  In the chart, they will see your first sentence of each paragraph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, submit your bid. Then, wait for the client to choose you. You are allowed unlimited bidding for the time that you are a paid member. 

At GrantWriterTeam, we have two types of membership: One-week and one-month. Each comes with free membership to GrantWatch for the same time period. You can choose when your membership at GrantWatch should begin – most likely you will want to start it when you have a client. 

About the Author: Sabeen is an MPH and currently writing for GrantWatch.com and its affiliated websites.

What Goes Into a Business Plan?

A major difference between grants for nonprofits and grants for small business is that grants for small business almost always require a business plan. A grant writer from GrantWriterTeam.com can help you develop a business plan. Here, I am going to summarize a couple sections of the business plan. A good business plan has the following sub-documents:

  • executive summary
  • company description
  • market analysis
  • organization and management
  • service or product line
  • marketing and sales
  • funding request
  • financial projections, and
  • appendix.

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary is considered the most important section of a business plan. It is where you explain yourself. What makes you think you will be successful? This summary should be comprised of the following section titles: Mission statement, Information, Highlights, Products/Services, Financial and Future Plans.

Our grant writers are skilled communicators and can help you come up with a clear and decisive Mission statement. 

The Information section should include when your business was founded, by who, and the number of employees you have plus your locations.

Highlights should include information about growth, especially financial. Here, you should write about profit margins.

The Products/Services section obviously explains your product or service.

The Financial section should include your bank and the identities of any lenders. 

Finally, in Future Plans, expound upon where you want to see your company in 10-20 years.

Market Analysis

According to the Small Business Association, (SBA), the following are section titles for the market analysis: Industry Description and Outlook, Information About Your Target Market, Pricing and Gross Margin Targets, Competitive Analysis and Regulatory Restrictions.

In the Industry Description and Outlook, include information about the size and growth rate of your industry. Get into the history of your industry and include major customer groups.

Within Information About Your Target Market, include who is your target market. Remember to have a narrowed market because casting a wider net may not bring in a bigger yield but instead, waste resources. Know your market’s distinguishing characteristics, size, and how much market share you can potentially accumulate.

The Market Analysis also has other sections such as Pricing and Gross Margin Targets where you include your pricing structure.

The Competitive Analysis is where you evaluate your competition.

Finally, Regulatory Restrictions is where you include any laws or regulations affecting your business, and how you plan to follow them.

GrantWriterTeam

A grant writer from GrantWriterTeam.com can help you write all the sections of a business plan to include as part of your grant proposal. Remember to give them the complete and correct information so that he/she may write accurately. Fill out a request for a writer here and call (561)249-4129. 

Sources: