How to prepare for multiple "asks"
Some grant applications are very specific, while some aren't, but it pays to prepared for both
By Janet Smith
All grantors ask for application information in different ways and with different expectations of delivery.
Regardless, if it is a police, fire, or EMS grant, a grant application may be deadline sensitive and ask very specific questions in very specific ways, i.e.,.“ Using no more than 250 words, complete this online application by November 15, 2013.”
Or, there are some grant applications that will have a year-round submission policy and list only a few required documents, i.e. “Please write a letter describing what your organization needs and why. Include a copy of your most recent tax return.”
While frustrating for the appliers, these grantors are after all the entities with the funding you need, so they get to ask for your information any way they want.
And, it doesn’t take super shrewd grant application reviewers to discover which appliers took the easy way out with a bunch of cut and paste maneuvers as opposed to those who custom-tailored every answer.
You can strike a happy medium if you’re prepared to apply before you strike a word on an application form.
For grant writers like me who apply for more than one grant funding opportunity at a time per client, we leverage the effort by using only slightly tweaked blocks of concise and persuasive copy for multiple asks.
And, there are a few instances for every application document where it is certainly permissible to do so. The following list offers some tips for being prepared to apply for multiple "asks":
- Assemble and update likely required documents, i.e., your most current IRS 990 Form and all its schedules (Used for not-for-profit responders).
- Find and update your current and projected operating budgets and any other financial information that will support your “ask(s)”.
- Compile a list of your organization’s sources of income.
- Invest in well-written bios (short written snapshots) and resumes (longer explanation of experience and credentials) for all key personnel. (Your grant writer does not have to do this.)
- Document the community’s support of your organization (i.e., letters of support, documentation of local funding and contributions).
- Author or invest in well-written short (250 words) and long (500 words) organization, company or department descriptions.
- Collect action photos that illustrate the unique features of your service area (Rural, urban, wilderness, recreational).
- Assemble thank you letters, cards and emails from people you have helped, organizations you donate in-kind services, and other departments you assist with education and/or mutual aid.
- Create a bulleted list of reasons why your current operating budget can’t fund your “ask”.
- Create a bulleted list of reasons why you need to fund your “ask”.
- Create a bulleted list of reasons citing who and how many people will benefit from funding your ask as well as how you will document the value or use of a funded “ask".
On another note, after a year of storms, wildfires and one community challenge after another; I appreciate the efforts of all EMS responders who work selflessly for others in need.
Stay Safe and Happy Thanksgiving!