The grant writing process can be a little tricky for first-time grant applicants. When applying to a specific funding agency like the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association), it's important to follow all of their guidelines to the letter. Generally speaking, however, writing a YMCA grant is very similar to writing any other grant.
The first step is to identify funding sources. The easiest and most popular way is through an internet search. It's a good idea to narrow your search based on your particular agency's needs; otherwise, you will have to weed through many websites. Another source is newspapers and magazines. Once you have identified a potential funding source, make sure you obtain updated submission guidelines. Very often, applicants will find outdated grant information and wind up missing key pieces of information for the grant application. Look at the bottom of the webpage for a copyright date if you are searching online, or check the publication date of any print documents, to be certain you have the most common information. Once you have read over the guidelines, you can begin to put together the application.
Grant applications start with a letter of introduction. This area describes the organization which is applying for the grant and outlines the project for which you are seeking funding. Make this page shine! You need to let the funding agency know how funding this project would benefit your target population, and how the project complements the funder's mission statement and/or stated funding priorities.
After you finish your introduction, the next phase is putting together a budget. Excellent budget preparation is key to a successful and profitable grant application. Depending upon the funding source and the scope of the grant, a grant budget can be simple or heavy in details. For example, smaller grants which are intended for a new computer program or playground equipment may not include salary positions. With larger grants, however, salaries of employees, benefits and project-specific funds must be included in the operating budget. Most agencies have a pre-printed budget form within the application.
With the budget out of the way, get ready to put on your writer's hat. When someone hits this point in the grant application process, it could be a matter of fight or flight. Don't panic Engage the reader in exciting details about your project. Explain why this project is worth funding. It's important to tell the funding agency how you will be able to measure the project's success and impact on the target population. You should also include information on how you will be able to keep the project going once these funds run out, or the reasons for closing the project down once the funds have been expended.
The writing is done and now it is time to put the package together. It is a good idea to make a checklist to ensure you covered every aspect of the application. If you are working with other individuals, have them check over the application to see if there is anything missing - another set of eyes definitely makes a difference.
The package is ready to go; now all you have to do is mail it out and wait to hear back from the funding agency. Not every organization responds right away, so keep your new grant writing skills sharp by picking up another application.