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by Bridget Dierks, Vice President of Programs

Each fall, our major grant rounds open for application. These important programs are very competitive for the funds we have available. Because we want all of the nonprofits that apply for these programs to have the best chance possible, we’ve put together the tips and reminders to consider when apply for grants from the CFO.

The application period for the Springfield Metro Collective Impact grant program ends soon — 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 15, to be exact — and the Coover Regional grant opens on Nov. 7 and runs through Feb. 7, 2020.

Tips for Springfield Metro Collective Impact grant applications

  • The committee favorably views thoughtful efforts which don’t duplicate an existing service. In fact, efforts which consolidate duplicated efforts into one priority program are very welcome.
  • Applications should build partnerships across sectors and impact a community program from different perspectives.
  • Grant budgets should have a clear connection between budget and proposed program. CFO is not opposed to components of a budget including staffing costs, but clarity to ensure the role of the staffed person directly relates to the Red Flag and the eradication of that Red Flag is needed.
  • All applications must have at least three partners. Applications with fewer than three partners will not be considered for this program. The lead agency needs to be a nonprofit — a 501(c)3, school, faith-based organization or government entity — but some of the partners can be small businesses or volunteer groups which don’t have nonprofit status. This can help lead agencies partner with organizations doing good work in the community which don’t have 501(c)3 status.

Tips for Coover Regional grant applications

  • The competition is incredibly intense for Coover regional grants. Many great projects aren’t funded because the round can only grant funds to about 15 percent of the applicants — but thoughtful, quality applications do get through!
  • Coover applications are granted throughout all of southern Missouri. This means your project is compared to agencies which do your same work in other communities. Do your best to be memorable so your program sticks out in our minds.
  • Because Coover grants never fund a second year, it’s important not to ask for funding for a project or program that you cannot sustain in a future year. If your agency asks for funding for something that is unsustainable and will be a financial burden for your agency in the future, the Coover committee will be reluctant to fund it.

Grantwriting tips from our panel of experts

from Sarah Morrow, Missouri Foundation for Health; Heather Zoromski, Darr Family Foundation; and Frank Carnahan, Carnahan Evans Cantwell & Brown

  • It is very important that the concept/program/agency direction you are proposing in the application is clear. Be upfront about the purpose of the money in a grant application, and be clear about the intended goal for your agency. Don’t wrap too much flowery wording around an application and lose the meat of the request.
  • Never provide a surprise when the budget spreadsheet is opened by the grantmaker. Let the budget outline be a summary of what you already explained in the proposal. Don’t describe a program with no mention of staffing and then request only staffing costs — explain the purpose of budget line items throughout your proposal.
  • Application answers don’t need to be particularly long. If you can explain your concept in a concise manner, please feel free to do so. Grantmakers are happy to see a clear path from the agency’s current challenge to proposed solution — if that can be done briefly, it’s a bonus!
  • Each grantmaking agency prioritizes different things with regard to expenses. For example some funding agencies don’t like supporting staffing costs while others prefer it. Things to consider:
    • Do your research in advance. Read press releases on past funded grants for the program to which you’re applying.
    • Always read the grant summary documentation very thoroughly and make sure your application fits within the grant program’s goals without any mental gymnastics.
    • If it is a stretch to apply in a program that doesn’t really fit your ask, don’t waste your time completing that application.

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