Laying the groundwork before you apply for a federal grant

By Megan Hill

If your nonprofit is even thinking of writing a federal grant proposal, it’s important you take a step back and make sure you have several items in place first. Once the grant opens and guidelines are released, you’ll probably have a very limited time to pull the proposal — and all its myriad components — together. So do yourself a favor and get organized now.

Boilerplate pieces like budgets, 501c3 letter, board member list with contact information, and financial statements are all important. You’ll also need a rationale for your program and research discussing the problem or need of the client population as well. If your organization has gathered past data on its programs, have that at the ready so you can point to your successes.

If you don’t have objectives and a plan to measure outcomes for your program, be sure to put that together immediately. Without this piece, you might as well avoid applying for a grant. Preparing this in advance — and making sure that all program staff are giving input and are on board with the reporting requirements — will go a long way.

Federal grant applications are complex and cumbersome, so the sooner you prepare, the better.

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