Let’s face it, these days, many organizations are hurting financially, and centers are no different. While some have been able to at least maintain their stream of donations and class/activity payments, so many more are ending up in the red at the end of the month. It’s time to start looking outside your normal group of supporters and discover new ways to keep your center going.
If you haven’t yet discovered, grants are a great resource to tap into. The key is locating ones that your center qualifies for, and then writing a formal and complete proposal. Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider your grant options.
How to Find Them
A single search on Google for “community center grants” lists 298,000,000 results, an overwhelming number for those just starting out. In order to get a more manageable list, you need to enter the best keywords describing your community, and how you’ll use the grant in the first place.
Are you looking for funds to help fill your food pantry? Materials for teaching English as a second language for members of your community? Maybe the center is in desperate need of a new roof, or the parking lot needs to be repaved. In order to get the funds necessary, you need to choose the exact projects you’ll be using it for.
One way to come up with a concrete list is to use any giving descriptions you have for donations. For example, if you have a utilities fund, use the description for it in your proposal. Perhaps it’s for general upkeep, landscaping, snow removal, even mortgage payments, those are all great keywords to insert as you begin your search.
How to Choose the Right Grant
Once you locate grants available to your center, it’s important to look at the requirements of eligibility so you don’t waste your time or theirs with your proposal. Be sure to review the types of organizations they give to, the locations they tend to serve, and the people or community they focus on.
According to donorbox.org, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the right grant, such as working with foundations with a mission and values that are aligned with yours, and starting small and local, and then expanding your net wider as needed. You should also make sure that the amount you’re asking for is attainable in their requirements (don’t ask for $100,000 if their max give is $5,000).
How to Write a Captivating Grant Proposal
While some foundations will need you to fill out specific grant forms, most grant proposals are similar in format. The Writing Center from the University of Wisconsin offer six points to consider when developing your proposal:
- Develop a specific, meaningful, actionable plan for what you want to do and why you want to do it.
- Consider how your plan will achieve positive results.
- Locate a granting organization or source that funds projects like the one you have in mind.
- Research that organization to make sure that its mission aligns with your plan.
- Review the organization’s proposal guidelines.
- Examine sample proposals from your department, peers, and/or the organization.
Once you have these points covered, start flowing them together. Keep in mind the tone of your proposal, the audience you’re writing for, and all the requirements the foundation is asking. And we cannot stress this enough: be sure to proofread your document! In fact, an extra set of eyes is especially helpful in spotting mistakes in grammar or a missing requirement.