Q. What are the three things grant applicants can do to better their chances of receiving funding?
A. Compartmentalize. Be specific. Avoid asking for general funds to do general things or operational tasks. View your agency like a department store and asks for grant funds to support the efforts of one of those departments. Grants are about requesting a specific amount of money to address a specific problem with a specific solution that will help a specified target population.
Second, don’t view grants as financial band aids. Few grants are awarded to participants who are running out of money, are victims of budget cuts or are in the red because of some kind of finacial mismanagement.
Third, view grants as seed - or start up - money to be used for starting up an existing program expanding an existing program that will continue long after the initial grant period expires. Funders don’t want to think that the only way your program will exist as long as they keep throwing money your way. So, for example, if you are asking for grant funds for a new technology lab – your ask would be greatly enhanced if you could tell them: we have a roster of volunteer experts to maintain the equipment, furniture has been donated, we have another donor who will pay for software site licenses, and we have a list of volunteers who will staff the lab and make sure equipment is used properly. All we need now is the money to buy the computers and hardware and we’re off and running. Funders love to be the last piece of the puzzle.
Q. Why are you at ALA this year?
A. We’re convinced ALA attendees will find the book of interest on three levels. First, as a book that fills an unmet need; that is, its approach is offbeat, easy-to-follow and accessible to all. It doesn’t read like a textbook nor does it feel like it’s written in a foreign language that can be deciphered by only a select few. One of the most common pieces of feedback we get is, “I didn’t know the subject of grant writing could be so entertaining.” On another level, attendees will find the book of value for their own cause. Who at this conference isn’t looking for additional funds and supports for their special project or program? And if everyone here is applying for the same grants, then who is going to stand apart from the pack? How are you going to beat your competition? Reading RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE will help answer those questions. Third, this is the way for attendees to help other nonprofits and worthy causes in their community. Put this book on your shelf and promote it as a resource that makes a process known only by an elite group of grant writers available to every one.