We all have that closet we’ve been meaning to clean out, or that book we just haven’t gotten around to reading. So, the last thing we want to add to our massive to do lists is to submit a grant application (especially if you’re a community volunteer). Grants are amazing opportunities to create momentum, move projects forward, and implement change in your community. Besides limited time and resources, the major reason why people do not apply for grants is out of fear – either that they are not capable of writing a competent proposal or that their grant application will be rejected. The following are 5 common excuses people use to avoid writing a grant proposal and reasons why you should move past them and start working to fund projects.
1. There’s no money out there.
It’s true that each year, funding can vary due an array of factors such as the economy, governmental policies, and organizational priorities. However, that does not mean there isn’t any grant funding to go after. According to the Foundation Center, in 2015, 445 grantmaking foundations gave out over $170 million in New Hampshire alone. And in 2017 grant money increased by six percent nationwide. The key is to be persistent in monitoring grant announcements, build relationships with funders and be creative with how your proposal aligns with the funder’s mission.
2. It’s just too complicated to write a grant proposal
The hardest part of the process is not writing the grant application itself, but developing a plan for the proposal. Most funders say the applications they reject are because the grant writers did not follow the funder’s guidelines. Carefully reviewing what the funder is asking for and answering the questions in a cohesive narrative is the basis for a great application. Give yourself enough time to think through your proposal, collect the statistics that support your argument and the activities you’re trying to fund. And then find other people (who are not competing for the same grant) to review your application before you submit it. If you’re hesitant to show your application to others, the only ones who review it will be those who are deciding if you get the money.
3. I’ll need to have money to match the grant
Some grants do require a monetary match, especially many federal grants and those that distribute large amounts. If your organization or community doesn’t have the funds or the political will to put up any needed matching funds, then it is best to not apply for these grants. But the good news is there are many smaller grants out there which are much easier to manage once awarded. Start by applying to grants with either no match requirement or with a volunteer in-kind match, which will help build your confidence and get you accustomed to the process. But make sure to save grants, which require a monetary match, in a spreadsheet to possibly apply for in a future funding cycle.
4. Only large organizations or previous applicants get awarded grants
One of the reasons organizations continue to get awarded grants is because they have demonstrated they are good fiscal stewards and can manage grant funds well. While your chances of getting the grant on the first try may be less, use the opportunity to develop relationships with the funders so they’ll know who you are on the next try. Or you could find grant projects that reward collaboration and use it as an opportunity to partner with organizations that have a better record of receiving grants. Also, have your organization go for smaller, less competitive grants to develop a good track record of managing finances and implementing projects to impress larger grant funders.
5. I’ll apply next year
If you don’t have the ability to pull a well-thought-out grant application together by the time you need to submit, then don’t submit something just for the sake of it. But if there is adequate time for planning, then you should at least try. Getting started is half the battle. And if you do miss a deadline, spend time planning and organizing for the next round, where you’ll feel more confident. In the meantime, if you have a chance to become part of a grant review committee, do so. The best grant writers are grant reviewers.
The simple answer is you may not get the grant, but you have to start somewhere. The worst thing you’ll hear is no. Want to stop making excuses and learn more about grant writing? Join us to learn about how to get over your fears and what are the elements of a great grant proposal at our Grant Writing Workshop.