Submitting proposals for funding requires more preparation than just writing and submitting alone. First, your organization must determine if it is ready to apply for funding. Grant readiness is about more than just matching a funder’s geographical and interest boundaries and identifying a grant writer available to write grant proposals. Yes, fundraising requires organizing deadlines, cultivating levels of funders, and developing program timelines, but the most important test of grant readiness is an assessment of organizational and administrative capacity.
Ask yourself these questions before going after grants:
Have you met the legal requirements for nonprofit status? Are you registered as a 501(c)3 charity? You must be a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, registered with the IRS, to solicit foundation funding or individual contributions.
What stage is your nonprofit in? Organizations don’t mature overnight. They go through stages - idea, startup, growth and maturity.
Are you clear about your purpose? Does your organization have a clear, defined, compelling vision and mission statement? Your mission should be unique, define what you plan to accomplish, and be achievable.
Do you have capable leadership? You will need a qualified staff and Board of Directors. An experienced leader and a Board capable of fundraising are signs of strong nonprofits.
Do you have relevant programs and a reputations for successful delivery? How is your program unique in your area? Can you demonstrate that your programs are making a difference? Are your clients satisfied?
Are your operations efficient? Do you have a good support system? Can you deliver on your program goals? Do you have volunteers, transportation and sufficient staff?
Does your organization plan and evaluate programs and operations regularly? Do you have short term and long term strategic plans? Do you evaluate your programs annually?
Do you have adequate facilities? This includes both physical and technological facilities. Do you have updated computer systems, a donor management system, and financial tracking software?
Are your finances stable? Do you have diverse revenue streams? Funders want to ensure all your funding does not come from one, insecure place.
Do you have a track record? Measure the results of your programs so you can produce verifiable results. Seek out collaborative partner relationships for funding proposals. Collect letters of support from community organizations.