Are you in search of funding for your scholarly research or a nonprofit organization?
From locating potential funding sources to writing a stellar proposal, the grant application process requires significant time and effort. Paying attention to small details can maximize your chances of being awarded the funding you need.
Below, librarian Alison Wessel, our resident subject specialist for foundations and grants at the Library, Museums and Press, shares practical tips on how to find funding and apply for the grant that best fits your needs.
1. Start early.
When it comes to searching and applying for funding, give yourself even more time than you think you’ll need. To prepare a quality application, you will likely need to collect a lot of information, obtain letters of support and get approval from your organization. Look into your organization’s deadline requirements now so you’re prepared when the perfect grant opportunity comes.
Share your passion for your work whenever you have the chance. Have your elevator pitch ready and attend events that connect you with fellow grant seekers and grant makers. Funders that may not be ready to work with you now may keep you in mind for future opportunities.
4. Automate your search process.
If you have research or project ideas you may seek support for at some point, it is smart to start searching now so you can be aware of the funding landscape and not miss a great opportunity. Start to identify potential funders and subscribe to their newsletters or RSS feeds and follow their social media accounts. UD students, faculty and staff can create profiles in the Library’s funding database, Pivot, and receive weekly emails with new funding opportunities based on their profile information and saved searches.
5. Consider foundations.
Private foundations are 501(c)(3) organizations that are required to give 5% or more of their assets each year in grants. With more than 100,000 foundations in the US, that’s a lot of money you may be missing out on. Some foundations are quite small and do not have a large web presence, so discovering them can be challenging. Many foundations do not have open calls for grants but instead consider proposals throughout the year. Fortunately, the Library provides a database, the Foundation Directory, to make your searching much easier. Search the database for potential funders who have a history of giving to proposals like yours.
Many funding agencies are now structuring their request for proposals (RFP) to favor collaboration and interdisciplinary research teams. Researchers can connect with nonprofit organizations to increase the impact of their work for the community. Likewise, nonprofits may consider collaborating on a project with complementary organizations that can provide resources and services they do not already have to strengthen their ability to accomplish their goals. Use the free version of the GuideStar database to identify nonprofit organizations in your community.
7. Learn from examples.
When it is time to prepare a grant application, first research if the funding agency provides sample applications for you to review. You can find some sample documents aimed at nonprofit organizations, such as cover letters, letters of inquiry, proposal budgets and full proposals, at Candid Learning.
8. Pay attention to details.
Before submitting your application, make sure you followed all of the directions exactly. Check that you stayed within the page counts, included all of the required supporting documentation, and your budget adds up. As funders filter through numerous applications, their first cut will be those that didn’t follow the directions. Don’t miss an opportunity because you forgot to include a cover letter. Make a checklist of requirements and get a few external reviewers to double check everything before submitting.