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Grant ready is a big topic in the Facebook groups I follow. It’s a word that’s thrown out often. I turn potential grant clients away because they aren’t grant ready.
You’ve probably asked, “But what does grant ready mean? “
I remember the first time I heard the term. I didn’t realize anyone had to be grant ready. I thought you wrote a grant and got money. That was how everyone around me acted. I had the great fortune of getting to know the grant writer where I was working that mentored me in the grant process. Yes, writing grants is part of a process. It begins with if your organization is ready for the process- you have everything in place to write a winning proposal- to the final report for the Foundation. It’s a process- not a one and done to-do.
Also, consider that grants take six months to a year before you see a check. If funding now is what you need, grants aren’t a viable option. The benchmark for grant writers is that for every ten grants you write, one will get funded. The first step in grant readiness is determining if your organization is in a position to commit to the grant process.
If you are ready to commit to the process, you will need to figure out if you are ready for grants by looking at four areas of your nonprofit. They are Organizational, Operational, Financial, and Programs.
Organizational means you are a recognized company in your state with Articles of Incorporation and have your 501( c) 3 tax-exempt status. You will have a mission statement and a strategic plan. I have training on these on my website.
Your Board is also critical to grant readiness. Foundations are investing in your organization and want to know the Board is committed to the organization. Here are five characteristics Foundations look for in Boards:
- Be active and meet monthly;
- Take the lead on fundraising and connect the organization with donors and funders;
- Is diverse in expertise and ethnicity who mirrors your target population;
- Has committees; and
- Invest time and money.
Operational means the day to day activities of the nonprofit. Do you have processes and systems in place to handle money? Do you have policies and procedures? Are you partnering with another organization to further your mission?
Financial means how your organization complies with Federal rules and receives income. Here is a list of items you need before you write the grant:
- A budget for the overall organization. Also referred to as Operational Budget, General Operational Budget, or Gen Ops.
- A fundraising plan
- 990 or 990-EZ
- An Audit or Independent Accounting Review
- Money Handling Policy
- Board member’s financial participation
Foundations want to invest in projects that have the greatest impact on the communities they serve. The best way to show an impact in your community is to have a program. I go into detail in a blog post and layout a complete program that is grant ready in my book.
Documents You Need
- Organization’s IRS 501c3 determination letter
- Any registration/certification required by your state
- Organization budget – current and upcoming fiscal years
- Audited financial statements – last 2 years if available (Some Foundations will take an Independent Accounting Review if your budget is under $250,000).
- Most recent IRS Form 990
- Board of directors list: Names, affiliations, responsibilities
- Documentation of support from your board of directors; i.e., what percentage of your board contributes funds to support the organization? (Ideally, 100% of the board should financially support your organization.) Often Foundations will ask for the Board list and ask that the Board of Director’s support is notated on the list.
- Organization chart
- Newsletters (if available)
- Published articles highlighting your organization (if available)
- Criteria for board selection
If you want to go deeper into grants, I recommend GrantsMagic U. Here are some free and paid courses and membership offered by GrantsMagic U:
- THE QUICK-START GUIDE TO THE ONE-PAGE GRANT PROPOSAL– 10 “Magic Wand” Questions to Transform Your Good Ideas … into Grant Proposals that Get Funded! (Free course)
- Grants Newbie Success School!– Hey there, Grants Newbie – I see you! And I know you have a ton of questions about what it takes to get off to a good start in the GrantsWorld wilderness. Got you covered! (by GrantsMagic U- Free for a limited time).
- THE ULTIMATE GRANT PROPOSAL BLUEPRINT – Spring 2020– The Ultimate Grant Proposal Blueprint offers a complete, practical, hands-on, step-by-step approach to corporate, foundation, and government grant-building – for beginners and veterans alike.
In 10 fast-paced, information-rich weekly sessions totaling about 16 hours (released every Monday, March 16-May 18):
- You’ll learn how to build a solid, fundable proposal from the inside out and the bottom up …
- You’ll work with a unique set of tried-and-tested planning tools, worksheets, roadmaps, checklists, and step-by-step, fill-in-the-blanks templates to make your proposals clear, concise, complete, coherent – and compelling …
- You’ll learn literally hundreds of “insider’s tips” from grantmakers and successful grantseeking organizations that you can put to work for your organization – right away …
- And you’ll learn how to organize the details of your work in a way guaranteed to take you to the next level of grantseeking success – no matter where you’re starting out
- Paid course- email me for a code for $100 off.
Other Related Articles:
A New Nonprofit’s 9 Step Action Guide to a Successful Nonprofit – free guide and article
Is Your Nonprofit Ready for Grant Money? – blog post
Grant Ready Program – blog post with free template
I HAVE MY 501(C)3! NOW WHAT?!? Your Blueprint to Starting Your Nonprofit Without Being the Sole Funder– Have you started your nonprofit but don’t know what to do next? Are you spending your own money with no end in sight? I Have My 501(c)3! Now What?!? Your Blueprint to Starting Your Nonprofit Without Being the Sole Funder lays out the plan which sets your foundation the first year and builds your organization with the end goal of funding your mission.