Ready or Not . . . for Grants?

Is your nonprofit organization ready to pursue grants? Being ready involves more than simply having a need for additional funding. Here are some very helpful ways to measure your readiness:

1) Have you registered as an IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity? This is a must when it comes to foundation grant funding. That’s because foundations are required by law to distribute their funds only to those organizations whose work has a charitable purpose and has the IRS seal of approval.

2) Where is your nonprofit in its life-cycle? Fully functioning nonprofits don’t just appear full grown. Nonprofits go through typical stages: the idea stage, start-up stage, growth stage, and mature stage. Foundations are looking for nonprofits that are already “on their feet,” for the most part. A newly organized nonprofit usually has a ways to go before pursuing grant funding.

3) Do you have a unique and compelling mission statement? You need to be “different” than other nonprofits competing in the marketplace for grants.

4) Do you have capable leadership? You need qualified staff and an effective board with strong credentials.

5) Do you have relevant programs with a good reputation for service delivery? Can you demonstrate that your programs actually make a difference for those you serve?

6) Do you have an efficient operation and good support systems? In other words, are you all talk and no action, or do you really deliver on your promises to achieve your mission?

7) Does your nonprofit engage in organization planning and evaluation on a regular basis? Do you have a long-range plan? Do you evaluate your programs to see if they are really working?

8) Do you have adequate facilities? This includes basic physical facilities but also technical ones. You need to have the tools that you need to function well?

9) Are your finances solid and do you have diverse revenue streams? Foundations want to be reassured that if they give you a grant, you won’t have all your eggs in one basket…especially theirs.

10) Do you have a track record? If you’re a new nonprofit, make sure that your leaders have plenty of experience. Solid organizational planning can compensate somewhat if you are newly organized.
William W. Larson