Fund your Non-Profit or Community Project: Find and Apply for Grants

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Tue, Jan 07, 2014 @ 09:38 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo.

I’ve seen the grant process from both perspectives – as a project leader applying for grants, and currently as a member of a grant-giving council. I have found that grants are a great resource to help kick start a project, but receiving them can be a daunting and confusing process due to the paper work, applications, fine print, and competition. However, these obstacles can be overcome by thoroughly understanding the process.

Grants can help fund your community project or organization.

How to I get a grant?

A grant is free money, but that doesn’t mean it’s given to just anyone.  The process of receiving a grant usually involves writing a proposal describing your project.  You’ll be asked to explain how you plan to carry out your project, how you plan to use the funds, and a host of other questions allowing you to showcase your project at its best.  Grants may be awarded by a government department, corporation, non-profit foundation or trust, and these groups usually want to know the specifics of your project before they invest money in your organization.  This can be a confusing and difficult process, so keep reading to find out how you can ensure your project is funded.  

The Idea

Before you even begin the grant writing process, you have to have an idea.  Chances are, you have many ideas about how you could solve problems in your community, and grants are a great way to help you accomplish this.  When thinking of your project, make sure you are realistic; if you don’t believe it is achievable, neither will the people reading your grant proposal.  Narrow down your project by thinking about some of these questions:  What are the goals of your project?  How are you going to carry it out?  Who is going to work on this with you? What non-profits and organizations can you connect with to help you plan this?  What resources will you need, and how much will these cost?  Then, ask yourself again, is it achievable?  Great things start with great ideas, but receiving a grant is also receiving responsibility.  

Once you’ve completed this first step, it’s time to put your ambition into action by locating the resources you need to complete your community project.  

Finding Grants

The first step to receiving a grant is finding one.  This can be difficult because many grants have very specific eligibility requirements. An easy place to begin is by researching grants in the same niche as your community project.  Grants typically support projects with specific goals or ones that involve specific groups of people. For example, one grant may only support projects lead by young people.  Additionally, grants usually have a minimum and maximum amount of funding that can be requested of them.  In order to ensure you meet all of these requirements, it is important to decide on a project, plan and objectives before searching for a grant.

Begin your search for opportunities by contacting non-profits, large corporations, local foundations, and government departments.  Contact organizations that have the same goals as your project and find out what grants they may award or grants they may know about that could help your project.  Once you find a grant that you believe fits your project, study the process for applying for and receiving the grant and begin writing you proposal.  

Writing the Proposal

This is the most crucial part of the grant process.  In fact, there are people who make it their profession to write grants to help non-profits receive funding.  When writing your proposal, be as concise and specific as possible.  It’s important that the people reading your proposal are interested in what you are writing about so you convince them to support your project.  Remember, you will be competing against other organizations and projects for funding, so you want to be convincing in your proposal. 
When applying for a grant, it is important to edit carefully.

The grant application will likely ask many questions, but here are some things to think about when marketing your project:  What makes your project unique? Who is benefiting from the project and how? What inspired you to start this project?  What need or issue are you addressing in your community?  

Make sure you research the goals and objectives of the people you are requesting money from.  Why are they offering this grant opportunity and what do they hope to achieve in the community by providing this funding?  When writing, use language that will appeal to them by explaining how your project aligns with the purpose of the grant.  

Finally, proofread, proofread, proofread.  Make sure your proposal is free of errors and sounds as compelling as possible.  Have someone review your proposal and ask for feedback from people who have been through the grant process before.  

Receiving the grant

If you’re lucky enough to receive the grant, congratulations!  Don’t waste any time on this opportunity.  Begin putting your project into action and keep a record of your budget and spending if you have to report back the results.

Learning from Experience

If you don’t receive the grant, use this as a learning experience when applying to other grants in the future.  If possible, ask for feedback about how to improve your proposal or improve your project.  Don’t give up and continue researching other methods of fundraising your project.  

How can you use NobleHour to make writing grants easier?

Use the NobleHour network to connect with volunteers, organizations, schools and non-profits to see how others are taking advantage of grant opportunities or to find people to help with your community project. Use NobleHour reports to measure the impact of your organization and the volunteer hours you contribute the community. This is useful, especially to demonstrate interest in your project.

 


image source:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/42931449@N07/6812484625, www.planetofsuccess.com/blog/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nics_events/2349631689

Topics: highered, nonprofit, community engagement, scholarships, fundraising, community partners, grants, charity

Six Ways to Throw Holiday Parties with a Purpose

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Sat, Dec 14, 2013 @ 08:49 AM

It’s that time of year. Seems like there are multiple parties every week between now and New Year’s Day. Cookie exchanges, office parties, tree trimming parties, ugly holiday sweater parties, neighborhood get-togethers, family events, New Year’s Eve and don’t forget Festivus for the Rest of Us!

‘Tis the season to be jolly and spread good cheer with friends and family, but how about your community? This year why not have a holiday party with a purpose – one that shares good will to all men, women and children?

Let’s face it. While we may love getting gifts, we really don’t need one more candle, another box of candy, or a tin of popcorn. As the saying goes – it’s better to give than to receive. So in the spirit of the season, here are six simple ideas to truly enhance your holiday parties.

Pajama Program1. Instead of Secret Santa, collect new pajamas and books.

The Pajama Program provides new pajamas and new books to children in need. Millions of children live in poverty and don’t know the comfort and security of a simple bedtime ritual. Many live in group homes or temporary shelters and have never even owned a pair of pajamas. 

Contact the Pajama Program or a local chapter to determine their needs and where to send your donations. Ask your guests to skip the hostess gift and bring new pj’s and books to your party instead. Want to do more? You can also volunteer to read to children at one of their reading centers or help sort donations.   


2. Collect jeans for homeless teenagers. This is a great project for middle school, high school and college students. In 2008, DoSomething.org® partnered with Aéropostale to create Teens for Jeans. Similar to food drives, teens collect new and gently used jeans to donate to homeless youth. Over a million young people under the age of 18 experience homelessness in the US every year.

“We called homeless shelters across the country and asked them what young people entering homeless shelters often requested and found that jeans were one of the most requested items,” said Nami Mody, Homelessness and Poverty Campaign Specialist for DoSomething.org.Teens for Jeans

Teens can bring their jeans to any Aéropostale store. The jeans will be distributed to local homeless shelters. Mody is not surprised by the success of the program and its impact on local communities. “Young people want to take action in their communities, and homelessness is one of the causes they care about the most. The campaign is so inspiring because it's all about young people helping young people.”

You can collect jeans now during the holidays and drop them off at local Aéropostale (and P.S. from Aéropostale) stores from January 12 to February 15, 2015. Each store is paired with at least one homeless shelter or charity in your community. Jeans of all sizes are needed and should be in good condition.

3. Chances are someone in your family or circle of friends will find a new cell phone under the tree this Christmas. You may even have a few old cell phones in your “junk” drawer. Now you can put them to good use. Instead of exchanging ornaments at your holiday party, tell your friends to bring their old cell phones!

Cell Phones for Survivors encourages people to donate their old phones to be refurbished, sold, and turned into funds to help survivors of domestic violence. Simply collect and mail in old cell phones. Sign up at Do Something.org and print out postage paid shipping labels.

HopeLine® from Verizon is another similar program. Since 1995, Verizon has refurbished phones and equipped them with minutes, texting capabilities, and a variety of services before giving them to survivors affiliated with participating domestic violence agencies. Phones can be from any provider. Drop off donated phones at local Verizon stores or ship with their postage paid shipping label.

4. Whether you’re in charge of the office party or planning the end of year club or team celebration, share your joy with others who need your support. Find all those holiday greeting cards you keep buying on sale and never send out or create your own. Ask your guests to send Season’s Greetings to military personnel away from home and family. Or, send cards to your local nursing home, children’s hospital, or shelter, etc.

Every year, Operation Gratitude sends over 100,000 care packages filled with treats and letters to deployed U.S. Service members, their family members, and wounded soldiers. See their website for specific details about what to write and where to send your cards.

A MillionThanks.org asks individuals and groups to write cards and letters of appreciation for the military. Review their guidelines, find a location near you, and send your cards and letters to our troops. Contact your location via phone or email to be sure they can accept your cards and letters.

5. If you’re having a cookie exchange, ask your guests to also bring an extra pair of gloves, socks, a hat or some basic toiletries. When dividing the cookies, assemble extra bags for your local homeless shelter. Fill reusable grocery bags or old backpacks with items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, and hand sanitizer, etc. This is a great way to use all those little hotel shampoo and body wash bottles! You can also find hand warmers in the dollar section of many stores. Don’t forget to add the cookies!

6. This season brings a lot of celebrations filled with our favorite dishes, treats, and traditions. What are yours? If you’re getting together with family and friends to bake or cook your special recipes, have everyone bring duplicate non-perishable items for your Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Day dinners and donate them to a local food bank. Or, check with your local church to sponsor a family in need. Collect items they might need to brighten their holiday. You can also stop by your post office to pick up Letters to Santa. Help bring joy to children around the U.S.

Whether you're celebrating with family, friends or co-workers, give thanks for what is truly important. Remember to share your joy with your community and those in need. How do you celebrate this season of giving? Tell us what you do as a family, with friends and with your community.

Topics: Thanksgiving, Food Banks, Food Pantries, Food Drives., Christmas gift ideas, holiday party ideas, volunteering, community engagement, outreach, community service, youth impact, engagement, high school, service, community, civic engagement, parents, opportunities, connecting communities, involvement, nonprofit, charity, Parties with a Purpose

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