Grant-Writing Tips

If you represent a non-profit organization or municipality and seek grant funds to preserve or restore a historical dwelling, this article is a must read! 

I have been writing grants over the past 15 years, most of which I had the honor of being awarded on behalf of non-profit programs and individuals, as applied to my previous career. While, in some cases, Old New England Restoration, Inc. may be able to assist representatives of non-profit organizations and municipalities seeking the preservation/restoration of historic dwellings, we cannot assist all. My tips are not limited to historical preservation; they can be used for just about any types of grants.

Throughout my training, with Associated Grant Makers and through the process of grant-writing, here are my top tips:

  1. Research, Research, Research- There is a great deal of grant funding available for countless causes, including the preservation/restoration of historical buildings. If you do not have the privileged use of a grant library, you could consider the following sources:
    • Networking- Building relationships is listed first because it is often what works best for people. Get yourself into the circle of like-minded people or communities that share the values that support your cause. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you learn from others, including grant opportunities.
    • World Wide Web- Online searches can also be fruitful simply by conducting a search that starts with “grant funds for ……. in……….” You may find the most well-known sources come up first. You should, of course look at those, but keep looking. Often, less known granting sources have less competition, giving you a better chance.
  2. Manners Matter- Often, granting sources seek to award funds annually. It is very possible that you will not be awarded funds the first time you apply. It may take 2 or 3 years of applying before actual funds come to fruition. That does not mean, however, your efforts were for nothing. Something is learned through every attempt, and seeds for relationships and future funds can easily be sewn. Nurture those seeds by immediately sending a hand-written note (whether you were awarded or not), thanking the granter for the possibility of applying and for their consideration of you. Little things like this can go a very long way!
  3. Follow Instructions- Read your application packet very carefully. Go through it with a fine tooth comb, and follow the instructions EXACTLY as set forth. Nothing irritates a granter more than considering a request of someone who did not take the time to read and submit as instructed. Be well ahead of deadlines and then confirm that your submission was received. I recall another participant of my grant-writing classes sharing a story about applying for a grant for a very worthy cause. She put her heart and soul into it. She personally knew a few people on the panel who would be making the granting decisions. She was shocked and dismayed not to have been awarded the funds! Had it not been for the people she knew personally, she may not have learned of her error. Yes; I said “error”. It was not about losing to a more favorable agency at all. The truth is, her submission was never even read. The panel had taken a day aside to review the handful of submissions together. The instructions were to mail 7 full copies of the proposal/application; however, she had the number 6 stuck in her head. When going over her check list prior to final submission, she merely skimmed it, and that detail got passed her. When her submission was passed around the table, and one person did not have one, it was instantly disregarded. Of course, she never made that mistake again, and she was successful at a later time.
  4. Present a Very Strong Case- Humans are going to consider your grant proposal, and humans typically judge with the mind and the heart. It is important to appeal to both.
    • Appeal to the Mind- Take the time to gather factual information and data and take even more time to present it. Give a great deal of thought to any projections and related reporting that you may need to give. Be realistic. Granters and people representing granters take the duty of consideration and follow through very seriously. They are not hasty about handing over valued funding. They want to know that the funds will be utilized in the way they were intended.
    • Appeal to the Heart- If you do not come across as passionate or genuine about your cause, you will lose the intellectual edge you may have had. Grants are usually viewed as gifts. If what you are proposing lacks the feeling of worthiness, it will not be felt as worthy. If it is worthy enough to apply, it is worthy enough to make the reader feel that. If your writing style is more matter of fact or business-like, seek the assistance of someone who can help you project the passion that you/ the organization you represent feel. The balance of appealing to mind and heart can be the very thing that wins the grantor over.

In closing, I hope you found this article useful! If you are considering using Old New England Restoration, Inc. for their superior preservation/renovation services, and you represent a non-profit or municipal agency, please do inquire about our grant assistance program. My email is cheri@oldnewenglandrestoration.com. Regardless of this, we hope you’ll check out our website at www.oldnewenglandrestoration.com. Our Capability Statement can be found in the Non-Residential section.

Thank you for your interest! We hope to hear from you!

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