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Grant Writing Anyone?

Cindy Madaris
Pell City, Alabama, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 37 No. 1, February-March 2001, p. 9

I always thought writing grants was something done by someone who had a good head for finances, budgeting, and plenty of time. I certainly did not fit that description. There were too many rules and technicalities, not to mention the very real risk of being rejected. Grant writing, I was sure, was not my cup of tea. Then I started hearing about the 1999 La Leche League International Conference in Orlando, Florida, USA.

I desperately wanted to attend the Conference. But the dream was financially unrealistic for me. So I began my first attempt at grant writing in the spring of 1999 in hopes of securing funds to attend my first International Conference. With excerpts from a foundations directory (which I later learned was outdated), a Leader Development Seminar session on grant writing, and a lot of determination as my only tools, I was able to put together a decent grant proposal. And I received a grant. Not on my first try, and not without jumping many hurdles, but I received a grant.

Here are a few things I learned that I hope will be helpful to any of you who might be considering writing a grant, not only to attend conferences, but for any reason that might help your Group with a special project or purchase:

  • Start early. Locating those who make financial gifts takes longer than you might think. (Sources of funds can be found on the Internet, local library, foundations directory, university development office, local newspapers, telephone directory, local news, etc.) And many trusts, foundations, and corporations do the bulk of their giving early in the year. By April, many of the sources I contacted had finished donating for the year.
  • Find out from each organization or trust what their grant request requirements are. They often vary slightly, but in the USA most require a copy of the IRS 501(c)3 certification letter and the most recent financial statement.
  • Visit Cynthia Sherar's Fundraising Information Network website. This website contains sample letters and other information that you may find very helpful.
  • Check and recheck the figures in your budget. Have someone help you brainstorm to make sure you are not omitting something important.
  • Be only as specific in the budget as you have to be. Generalities (such as "transportation" or "accommodations" or "educational literature") can make the disbursement of the funds easier.
  • Keep a copy of everything.
  • Follow up with the contact person within two weeks of sending the grant proposal.
  • Submit grant proposals to more than one trust, foundation, and/or corporation.
  • Keep detailed records of all grant funds received and spent and be sure to complete all required reports.

While grant writing is no piece of cake, it can be very rewarding, especially when a check arrives in the mail. And who couldn't use additional funds for helping nursing mothers and babies?

[Author's Update: Cindy writes that as a result of her grant writing, she received $2,000 which was divided among four Leaders who used it for registration, accommodations, and travel expenses from the 1999 LLLI Conference.]

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