Grants Training for CEFLS Member Libraries

Original Presentation by Kara Page
Community Environment and Development Consulting
Interpreted by David Fuller

Grants – The Big Picture

It’s important to remember that grants don’t involve any kind of magic, they’re opportunities for your organization. A deal that, while somewhat restricted, does involve numerous rewards. Each grant is an investment and most certainly a gamble, but one that does typically return on its investment.

Step One: Identify Needs

Before you can write a grant and before you can look for funding, you have to know what it is you want to fund. This scoping document and logic model are two tools meant to help you get an initial grasp on the process by putting things into perspective.

Step Two: Find Grant Opportunities

Grant opportunities can be bundled into three groups: small and simple, intermediate, and large. Use the tools above to figure out the scale of your needs so you can find the right solution to fill them. Once you’ve settled your scope, you can use a number of resources to search for the proper grant.

GrantStation: Your Fast Track to Funding

Funder Websites:
TechSoup for Libraries
New York State

Below is a basic example of how a search for funding would go on GrantStation:

GrantStation Search 1

And here’s a sample of a search result:

GrantStation Search 2

GrantStation Search 3

A quick search on Foundation Directory Online shows great examples of individuals who achieved success in your area:

Foundation Directory Online Search

Step Three: Narrow the List

By now, you’ll have a lot of information to sift through. You’ll want to make that more manageable by funneling down your list of potential grants. Consider the criteria and special considerations to choose the very best of what you’ve found. And don’t forget the 990 forms from the IRS, along with its instructions.

Step Four: Get Writing

Start the pre-writing process to make the actual writing easier. Before you start getting to the nitty-gritty, assemble your documents, get a copy of the request for proposal/application, spread out your work area and start writing out notes. Consider scheduling time to make sure that you’re not trying to multitask and you have enough time to let the process happen. Next comes the writing proper. Review the scoping document and logic model you filled out from step one. When writing, focus on clarity and persuasion. You’re trying to convince someone that you’ll use the funds properly. Think about your audience, make sure to use their language. Tailor your message so it resounds to the reader. And don’t shy away from having others read your drafts before sending it out. It’s always good to have a second opinion.

Step Five: Get On That Budget

Probably the most important rule to planning your budget is to start simple and move your way up to something more complex. A spreadsheet is your best friend for your budget thanks to all of the features embedded in it. It will keep things neat and organized on a sheet and you’ll be able to use the mathematical functions to make sure you’re on track. Use the inputs you had on your logic model from earlier. Diligence is excessively important at this stage. Make sure all your numbers match. Check, recheck, and re-recheck your numbers. As you move towards the more complex, consider the overhead and benefits. Include everything; personnel, travel, equipment, the kitchen sink, etc. This is a sample budget so you can get an idea of how everything should work. Keep in mind that, depending on the size of the project and your project’s needs, your budget could look very different.

Step Six: You Win! Now What?

This is very important: celebrate! Go ahead, pat yourself on the back. You earned it. Good job. But now it’s time to shift into project management mode. You’ve got a funded project to take care of now. Track your commitments and reporting. Keep records of your achievements and where the money’s going. Here is an example of a recording method.

That’s A Wrap

There’s nothing magic about getting grants, it’s just methodical. It is most certainly a gamble, true, but it’s often worth it. Remember that grantors are your partners, people who want to use the money for the right purposes – just like you – and that getting their support is a long-term investment. There’s a lot of info to parse through, so feel free to ask any questions you need to. Contact Kara Page at Community Environment and Development Consulting at 518-524-6271 or