Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thinking Outside the "Grant" Box

One piece of advice I always give to groups who are starting to search for grants is that sometimes you have to think outside the box. There may not always be a grant out there that is a perfect fit and meets all the needs of your group. In those cases you have to be open to start looking for workarounds.

One example is when there is a grant to do the project you have in mind but only schools are eligible applicants. Ask to partner with the school on the project and offer to use your groups assets and resources to enhance the outcomes of the project. (See my blog post from two weeks ago on the value in establishing partnerships for more benefits.) Granted the school will have to be the applicant and will receive the funding but, your project will get accomplished. This scenario can be replicated with; businesses, non-profits, and government agencies.

Next, lets say your group wants to do Project A, but can’t find a grant. However, there is a grant that funds a project (will call this one Project B) that you are already doing and is currently funded. Why not go ahead and apply for the grant for Project B and use the funds that you had for B to now accomplish A.

Finally, let’s say you found a grant but it requires a match (cost share) and your group does not have the cash on hand to meet this requirement. Sometimes you can use in-kind contributions to meet your match. The dollar amount of people’s time, office equipment, supplies and various other resources can be applied to your matching requirements.

As long as you are willing to be flexible and creative you can make grants work for your group.

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