Tips for Staying Organized and Tracking Grant Applications
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A lot goes into writing and managing grants. It can be overwhelming but also very rewarding, as winning a grant can go a long way to help your business grow. The best approach to applying for grants is to break it down into smaller stages, and the grant process can feel much more manageable.
To break things down, you will need to stay organized and keep track of your documents, information, application due dates, and more. Here, we have some tips for you to stay organized when applying for grants.
Tracking Grant Applications
If you are applying for multiple grants, keeping track of everything can be tricky. These tips can help you stay organized during the grant application process.
Create a Prospect List
When preparing to apply for a grant, the first thing to do is create a list of prospective grants for which you are eligible to apply. This list can help you track the rest of the grant proposal process for each grant you apply for. Some nonprofit organizations will offer multiple grants simultaneously, so you will need to track the process for each grant application.
A great resource to help you find new grants is Fundid's Grant Marketplace, where you can search for any grants available based on your search terms. Another way to help you find grants is to sign up for our Grant Match Program, which will send grants directly to your inbox that meet your selected criteria.
Track Your Grants
You will need to keep everything in order with your grant applications, so you can create spreadsheets or a calendar to track grant milestones. Fundid has a Grant Tracker Template that can help you track everything, from when you find the prospective grant to delegating grant-related tasks to organize your grants by application due dates.
Keep Up with Deadlines
Grants have clear deadlines, so you must ensure that you always meet them. Since there is a lot of competition for most grants, turning your application in late will usually disqualify your application. A helpful tip is to create application process deadlines for yourself and your team to ensure that everything is on track with preparing the application.
Give Yourself Enough Time to Apply
Applying for grants is a time-consuming project, and it is truly not something you should rush. You need to give yourself as much time as possible to apply for your grants so everything can be detailed and well thought out.
Keep Everything in One Place
You do not want to have to dig through your email or folders to find any piece of information for your grant proposal. The information you will need for grant proposals should all be stored in a single folder on Dropbox or a shared drive so that you know where everything is when you start putting your proposals together.
Use Clear File Names
Make sure that all of your file naming conventions are consistent and clear so that they can be found and understood at a glance. It can be helpful to include the month and year in the name of your4 files, especially if they are things that need to be updated frequently.
Information and Documents You Will Always Need
While the specific documents and information you need for grant applications vary from grant to grant, there are some documents you always need for a grant application. Having all of this information gathered together in a folder is a great way to keep your grant application process more organized.
Articles of Incorporation
If your business is a corporation, you will need to include the articles of incorporation in your grant proposal. Your articles of incorporation are the "set of formal documents filed with a government body to legally document the creation of a corporation."
You will need to provide detailed financial information in the grant application, including:
- Income statement
- Statement of cash flow
- Balance sheet
- Projected financial figures
- Due diligence
- A detailed budget
Here, you will include information about your personnel, including how many employees you have, your payroll information, and tax information.
In the policies section, you will need to include any pertinent policies to the grant, including your non-discrimination policies. If you have any other company policies that are relevant to your grant application, those should go here too.
Your Website and Social Media
The organization that is issuing the grant will want to see more of your company than just your application and the information you share with them. Include your website and social media information so that they can learn more about your company, the people in it, and those who you work with.
If your organization has annual reports that you publish each year, make sure you include those in your grant application. This can help show how your money flows within your organization and can give them a clearer picture of your business.
Photos or videos
If your organization has any documentation of special accomplishments you have, share them. You can include photos and videos of the accomplishments too. These include:
- Press clippings
- Appearances on TV or the radio
- Letters of support from other organizations
- Blog posts from people not within your organization.
All of this information will help show the donor why your business deserves this grant more than other applications and how special your business and team really are.
You will need to include a detailed business plan in your grant application that gives a description of the company, its structure, your services, and your financial goals. We will look more at business plans later in this article.
History and Mission for Your Business
You need to show them what makes your business unique. You will need a document that details the history of your business and its mission. Then explain your vision, why your business differs from the competition, and how the grant will help you improve your business.
Description of the Project
Here, you will need to explain the project for which you need the grant. All the information you have compiled will help you with this part of the grant. You will have to write this information specifically for each grant and project you are applying for, but you can have common elements in each description to make it a little easier.
The last document you always need for a grant application is a cover letter. This is one of the most important documents in your application because it is one of the first things they will read when they look over your application. Make sure you tailor your cover letter to each organization that you are sending a grant application to; they want more than a basic form letter that only a few details are changed here and there.
Common Elements of a Business Plan
The business plan is one of the key parts of your grant application, so you want to make sure it is perfect. While you may need to update your business plan over time since your business can change as the world around it does, the roots of the business plan will stay the same. You will also need to use your business plan to write the executive summary of your business for grant applications. These are some common elements of a business plan that can help you write one.
The executive summary of a business plan is often easier to write when you have completed every other part of the business plan since it summarizes the business plan as a whole. When writing the executive summary, make sure you include your mission statement and the five Ws — who, what, when, where, and why.
In this section, explain your goals and the customers you serve. Provide an overview of your services and how they will meet the customers' needs.
As part of the analysis, you will showcase that you deeply understand your industry and your business’ market. You will use the strengths you highlighted in the description and data to break down the trends in your industry.
In this section, you should include what your competitors are doing. Acknowledge how they are succeeding or failing in this area. Then show how you will do better than them.
A market analysis of your customers is also a good thing to include. Show their income brackets, buying habits, what products and services they need, and other important information.
Sales and Marketing Plan
Here, you will explain what your products and services will be, explaining what you are selling, how long they will last, and if they will meet the customer’s demand. Mention who your suppliers are and other information about how much your products will cost. Also include information about trademarks, patents, and copyright concerns.
Once you explain your products, detail your marketing plan. You need to know how you want to get your products in front of your customers. Break down how you will promote your products and the budget you need to do this.
Management and Organization
Here you will explain how your business is set up. Introduce the managers and summarize their responsibilities and skills. You should also explain if your business will be an LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership, or something else. If there is a board of directors, list their names in this section.
This section is where you break down the financial goals you have for your business based on the research you have conducted. Include your anticipated revenue for the next year, then your projected earnings for the next five years.
Will You Need Outside Resources?
Writing your grant application can be time-consuming, so if you do not have the time to work on your grant on your own, it is best to look into hiring someone who can work on the application for you. The last thing you should do is try to rush through your grant application at the last minute; you are unlikely to be awarded a grant that way. Grants are essentially free money, so there is a lot of competition for them, so you want to ensure your application is well-written and thought out.
Hire a Professional Grant Writer
Hiring a professional grant writer can be a great idea. They are experts at grant writing, so working with one can help improve your odds of receiving the funding for the applications you submit.
There are a few things to look for in a professional grant writer before hiring them. You will want one with experience in your industry, with strong communication skills, and who is excellent at crafting a story.
Many professional grant writers work as independent contractors, who can be found on various online job boards. Make sure you look into their background and ask for references. Set a budget for hiring the grant writer and be firm in it so you do not overpay.
Some digital marketing and public relations agencies also have copywriters who are professional grant writers, so if you already work with a digital marketing agency, talk to them about it before you hire someone outside.
We hope these tips will help you stay organized when applying for grants and tracking the status of your grant applications. If you need a little more help applying for grants, you can join our Business Grants 101 Email Series to get more tips for applying for grants. You can also download our grant application guide for more tips.