The answer is…sometimes yes, sometimes no, and sometimes wait on a particular grant opportunity.
Now before you go thinking I’m all wishy washy, hear me out.
There are so many grants and funders out there, it can be a little overwhelming sometimes. A grant opportunity may come along that sounds fantastic, but when you start digging into the requirements it’s not such a great idea after all.
Or maybe you’re inclined to apply for everything in sight and then wonder why you don’t seem to be getting any money.
A few minutes of research in advance can save you a lot of time later.
This is what I look for when considering a grant opportunity:
- Deadline. Is it feasible? Can I realistically collect the data, find research, get letters of support, etc. in time to crank out a quality application? If not, I can always keep an eye out for the next cycle, if there is one.
- Geographic requirements. Maybe everything sounds like a perfect fit for my non-profit…til I find out it has to be located in Anchorage, Alaska.
- Type of organization. Funders usually specify if they will fund public schools, non-profits with a 501(c)(3) status, government entity, or other.
- Program requirements. Here is where it gets trickier. Are our programs a good fit for what they will fund or is it too much of a stretch?
- Amount of award. Is it a reasonable amount of money for the amount of work required, both for the application and the implementation?
- Matching. Is there any kind of matching requirement, whether money, in-kind support, or other? If so, can we afford the match?
- Length of application. Can the team and I handle the application in the amount of time available?
- Number of awards expected. There is no set rule for this one, but if there are only one or two anticipated awards I typically pass. If the funder estimates 20-30 awards, I’ll give it a shot. It’s a judgment call each time.
Keep in mind that everything you do affects your organization’s reputation. If you throw something together just to meet a deadline knowing it’s not quality work, you are hurting your reputation with a potential future funder. Better to cultivate a relationship with the funder and take the time to gather the proper resources. Then go ahead, give it your best shot!