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  • Finding grant writer
  • Fiscal sponsorship
  • Framing / marketing
  • Finding a grant
  • Failing
  • Strategy
  • Cycle
  • Budget


Write your case statement. Solid case statement is one of the most important thing

  • mission
  • vision
  • values
  • history
  • need - what need is the organization solving
  • what problem are you solving + proposed solution ("problem statement")
  • program specifics - what you do / who you are
  • budget
    • organization statement
    • project / program statement
  • tagline

Case statement is a living document. Can tweak parts of it for a specific grant.

Money will follow when all of the core concepts are defined.

Sometimes you may want to scope out possible grants to target before fully-developing case statement (for example, find capacity-development grants).


Grant Making Organization

Look at other similar projects that are already funded, see what grants they get.

Foundation Center - Database of grant makers. Accessible for free from community college libraries or from the computers at the Foundation Center in SF. Public online version isn't free.

If you can't find how to apply from the GMO's website: Write a quick PDF of your proposal to someone in the GMO, asking them for more info on how to apply (to find out where is the secret door). Try to find some way in -- friend, friend of friend, someone you met at a conference, etc.

Be ready -- find out when the GMO's budget cycle is, grant dealines, etc.

Try to forge relationships with funders.

Network. Try to talk to GMO people outside of the normal channels (i.e., _not_ via a RFP).


how to frame / market the request.

Give them their words back. Listen to GMO's, pick up key words. Like from their website, when they talk, etc.

Be general and abstract at the same time. Many times there are many people in the GMO's funding decision.

Do market research on the GMO. Tailor the request so that it fits them.

  • Who are they?
  • Why do they exist?
  • Look at their patterns? What day / time are they likely to be more receptive to incoming communications?
  • Use analytics to see if emails are opened.

If you do get a response from someone, follow up in a timely manner.

Email twice (follow up).

Leave a nugget to follow up with. Such as, leave some minor topic out of the first communication so that you have a "reason" to send another email and follow up. Multiple engagements help create relationship, help them remember you, and keep you present in their mind.

Find proofreaders, like friends.


It's expensive.

If you're bringing in someone cold, you're doing a lot of this ground work anyway in order to onboard them. So, may as well follow through and write the grant yourself.

Grant writers understand components of grant. They know how to organize a grant.

They often become more like "project managers" for the process, rather than simply writing the grant.

Grant writers don't get paid from the grant itself. Unethical?

They can help frame the pitch because they are an outsider with a different perspective on the project.


Fiscal sponsor is an umbrella organization that takes on some of the overhead of running a 501(c)3, such as liability, payroll (in some cases), etc. Example is Tides in SF. They take a percentage of all of your funding.

A sticky is that you use the fiscal sponsor's EIN, and so does any other organization under them. These other organizations may be competing or may cause a conflict of interest for the GMO.


Organization Budget

It's group work. Make sure everyone is on same page regarding current financial status of org.

Program Budget

  • Goals
  • Whom do you need to hire (suppliers)
  • Etc.
  • Google "sample program budget" for more info

Breakdown by time. Note that there are 24 pay periods in a year, not 26.

Surplus grant funds can usually be used for other things if it wasn't used for the specifics of the grant. They usually won't take the money back and will let you use it for other stuff. But you have to ask the grantor first!!!

Be sure to build in travel budget.

General operating costs may or may not be funded. Ask the GMO.


Put yourself on quaterly grant cycle. Allocate your resources toward that.

Apply often.

Reuse as much as the above-mentioned material as you can.

Getting in first vs getting in last:

  • Get in first so you're first-seen.
  • Getting in last-minute may help if they still have funds that they _need_ to allocate.


Grant makers panel of Tri-Valley Nonprofit Alliance.