Land a foundation grant by following the rules
Research and meet the requirements of each grant application for the best chance at funding
By Janet Smith
Applying for a foundation grant requires meticulous attention to following the rules. And your organization isn’t the only party in the equation that must color within the lines. Foundations and other grantors are held to rigid standards that preclude them from self-referral, related party transactions and any possible perception of unfairness. Thus, the good ones work hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison of grant applications a reality for their selection committees and boards. Regardless of whether you are applying for equipment, training, scholarships or operating funds, being prepared to respond in the manner requested by the foundation or government fund is key to being granted your funding request.
Let’s take the Peyton Anderson Foundation, for example. The website states that the Foundation is looking for the following funding projects to benefit central Georgia communities:
“Projects whose purpose has measurable and lasting results. Sustainability is important, therefore be able to provide evidence of your program’s effectiveness both short and long term.”
If your EMS agency is looking to solve a problem or to thwart a downward trend in performance by buying certain equipment or technology, you will have a good chance if there are measurable factors for success. For instance, should your organization wish to purchase Road Safety devices for your fleet of ambulances, you could show an overall knowledge of your organization’s crash-related or aggressive driving history and statistics. And you can use case study examples of other like organizations using Road Safety devices, intimating how these organizations improved patient and crew safety as well as less wear and tear on the ambulances. By so doing, you help prove your own Road Safety project will have “measurable and lasting results.”
The take-away instruction related to specifically addressing this Peyton Anderson project goal is to start measuring now, long before you apply. Your efforts will impress those members of the grant selection committee who are looking for tangible evidence of the organization’s commitment to gauge the impact of the new technology you are asking them to fund. Also, research the success of other customers. Most likely, Road Safety itself can assist with great examples of successful Road Safety campaigns.
Another attractive project characteristic for Peyton Anderson’s attention is stated as:
“Projects that demonstrate collaboration with other non-profit organizations to provide innovative, efficient approaches to solving community issues.”
Your Road Safety application, for example, could be substantially strengthened by evidence of the following examples of your commitment to community. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you working with a local automotive club (AAA, Harley Davidson Foundation, car clubs) or the highway maintenance contractor in your service area to promote safe driving habits?
- Do you work with your local juvenile court and traffic court system to provide the EMS perspective about DUIs, street racing, texting while driving, etc.?
- Are you receiving any funds from other charitable organizations to assist you in your efforts to keep the driving public's safe in your service area?
If you can say yes to any or all of these types of questions, you strengthen your application for Peyton Anderson funding. If you can only answer no, perhaps researching and engaging in like activities well before you apply is a step in the right direction for you to achieve your funding aims.
Finally, our example foundation Peyton Anderson states,
“Grants will be made only to those applicants who have completely executed a proposal form furnished by the Foundation and have supplied the required documentation.”
Thus, it is vital to not only look at what the foundation needs in terms of supporting information but how they want you to submit the information. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard EMS providers say, “We have the information but we don’t capture it the way they want it.” If you’re under a tight application deadline, recalculating data to meet the foundation’s needs can be cumbersome, if not impossible. So, instead you should research the application terms early so that a compliant submission is hassle-free.
Be mindful that you might be asked to share the names and support (financial or otherwise) of your organization’s biggest funders and fans. (The company you keep and those who like your organization are important to the process of getting new funds and fans.) And be prepared for an impromptu site visit or a telephone interview from your reviewers. Reviewers may just want to see if you appear as you have written, or they may need to clear up any questions that arose after your application was read by the selection committee.