When you work as an executive director at a nonprofit, you have to constantly think of new, fresh ideas to keep your organization running smoothly and hitting its goals. That might mean coming up with new marketing initiatives or streamlining processes to save time and money. It might also mean coming up with creative solutions for financing programs and projects that fall outside the scope of standard operations. In addition to other funding sources, that’s where community grants come in. These are modest cash grants from institutions like trusts, societies, clubs, or other nonprofits with similar interests. They are often limited to specific geographic areas. For example, if you run a wildlife conservation nonprofit, a grant from an animal welfare society would be relevant; but if you set up a branch of the same society in another city, it wouldn’t be applicable. Preparing the best application can be challenging — after all, they are selective and require specialized knowledge about their mission and needs. However, we have some tips on how you can get started right away:
Keep tabs on your community
You’ll need to know what your community needs and wants, as well as where there are gaps in services. This will be key not only in finding potential funders but also in helping you determine what funding sources will be best for your organization. For instance, if your community has a lot of people living below the poverty line, funding that addresses their special needs will be a good fit. If a large portion of the population is elderly or disabled, funding dedicated to their needs will be more appropriate. If there’s a need for more youth services, look for grants for those communities.
Find the best grant opportunities
Before you start contacting potential funders, take time to research their funding guidelines and see who they’ve funded in the past. If you’re unfamiliar with the grant process, try to find examples of past successful applications. That way, you can see what they’re looking for and use that as a model for your application. If you want to narrow down the field, use a database that collects information from all available grant programs. Aside from helping you find matching funders, database services can also help you with the application process. They can help identify fields of interest for which you should be applying. They can also provide tips and suggestions for writing an application that’s more likely to be successful.
Narrow down your options
Once you’ve found some potential funders, take another look at their funding guidelines and match that against your organization’s mission and goals. This is particularly important for matching funders, whose goal is to fund specific types of programs. Using the same wildlife conservation example, some funders might want to help you create brochures that help people understand the importance of preserving wildlife while others want to help you build a wildlife rehabilitation center. You’ll also want to keep in mind the amount of funding you can get from each funder. You don’t want to apply to too many at once, but you also don’t want to miss out on a good opportunity because you didn’t apply. There are some things you can do to narrow down your options, like using a database that tracks how much funding is available.
Finding the best nonprofits for you
Once you’ve researched what funding opportunities are out there, it’s time to narrow down your options even further. We’ve talked about the best way to find funding, but what about finding the best funding? You can start by looking for organizations that have a history of funding in your area. By choosing a group that has funded in your geographic area in the past, you’re already ahead of the game. You may also want to find organizations that have a history of funding your type of organization. That way, you have a better chance of being approved because they’ve seen your type of organization succeed in the past. You may also want to find organizations with a history of giving to the types of people you serve.
The best community grants for nonprofits are those that are awarded to organizations in specific areas. You’ll need to do some research to find out exactly what your community needs. Once you’ve determined your best options, you can start applying. You’ll want to make sure that your application is as successful as possible. That means following the guidelines of each potential funding source and also following their application process.