Application Process:
 Make letters of inquiry brief (no more than 2 pages) but informative – stress the need for the project, your organization’s ability to carry it out, and the benefits which will accrue from it.
 Respond promptly if a foundation requests a full proposal based on a letter of inquiry.
 Check the web site of a funding agency thoroughly before e-mailing or telephoning so as to avoid asking questions which are clearly answered on the web site.
 Ensure that you have the latest version of the application and regulations.
 Check the math in the budget – although this is obvious, many applicants make mathematical errors.
 Pay attention to those agencies which require that a Letter of Intent be filed prior to a full application. In nearly all cases, there is a specific deadline for submitting this letter.
 Pay careful attention to the rating and ranking criteria when crafting a proposal. Incorporate the application language into the narrative.
 Be concise but thorough in the narrative.
 If there is a specific page maximum, be sure that you come as close to that as possible without exceeding it. You can rest assured that the other applicants will provide as much information as possible.
 Give a descriptive narrative with specific examples.
 Be crystal clear in your writing. Do not “beat around the bush”.
 Be complete and thorough in the narrative – do not leave the reviewer wondering what you mean. Answer the questions completely.
 Use good grammar and correct punctuation and spelling.
 Re-read the application at least twice.
 Give proper attribution for all information derived from others and cite sources for statistical data
 Answer the funding agency’s requests for additional information completely, cheerfully, and on time.
 Send letters of support with the application itself unless the guidelines state otherwise. However, some U.S. Representatives and Senators will only send support letters directly to the funding agency.
 If there is any doubt whatsoever about whether an application will reach the office of the funding agency on time, send it overnight or two-day guaranteed delivery.
 Send the application directly to the person named in the solicitation, with the correct number of copies.
 Check to see that the application arrived on time.
 Start on-line applications early so that you can get your questions answered before the deadline.
 Keep the user name and password for on-line applications in a handy place where they will not be lost.
 Do your best to stave off performance anxiety as the due date for the application arrives – this will impair your ability to do the best job possible.
 Do your best to be available for site visits when the funding agency wants to come. Only change the date if there is an emergency.
Project Administration
 Sign and return the grant acceptance documents promptly.
 Read the grant agreement carefully.
 Call the funding agency or foundation with any questions regarding the administration of the funds. They would rather have you call frequently than have a mess to clean up at the time of the audit. They are worried about those grantees who do not call.
 Ensure as much accuracy in financial recordkeeping as humanly possible. This is what the funding agencies will check first.
 Begin to implement your project as soon as you possibly can. Funding agencies do not like to give extensions and in many cases will not give them for any reason.
 If you are passing funds through to a sub-recipient, monitor their work closely. Your agency will be held accountable if anything goes wrong.
 Check to see what procurement procedures the funding agency requires for any purchases.
 Check periodically during implementation to be sure that the project is meeting the need and fulfilling the goals.
 For projects involving individual beneficiaries, be sure to get all of the pertinent information qualifying that individual or family (such as income verification) prior to approving or disbursing any benefits.
 Be completely cooperative during a monitoring visit and provide everything the funding agency asks for.
 Answer any monitoring findings completely and promptly. Funding for your next project will depend upon it!
 Keep accurate and up-to-date records as the project proceeds.

Dos and Don’ts Straight From the Funding Agencies-Part II

“Dos” in Searching for Grants:
 Look for organizations in the area which offer the free use of search resources, including Foundation Center Online. This could include community foundations, colleges and universities.
 Call a potential funding source if there is some doubt as to whether it should be included in your search results. When making these calls, go to the trouble of finding out which staff member can best help.
 Check several grant search resources – try at least 3 or 4.
 When doing a search, do not hesitate to contact peers in other organizations for ideas.
 When writing the results of a grant search, develop a clear strategy for action which is realistic and offers the best chance of receiving funding as soon as possible.
 Follow up on letters of inquiry to foundations if no response is received. Many foundations do not reply.

Dos and Don’ts Straight From the Funding Agencies-Part I

This is the first in a series of posts regarding my conversations with funding agencies over the 35 years I have been a Grant Writer. These posts will cover what the reviewers think is the most important pieces to the puzzle of getting funded. This one covers the “Dos” in general and in project design.
• Read through the entire NOFA before starting the application.
 Review the NOFA with an eye toward looking for deal breakers.
 Identify the need before proposing a solution or searching for funds and quantify the extent of the need.
 Gather as much statistical and background data as possible before designing the project.
Designing Project:
 Discuss possible solutions with key people prior to designing the project – get as much input as possible.
 Discuss the project with funding agency staff by telephone or e-mail before starting the application.
 Review the solutions implemented by other organizations which have a similar need – however, be aware of your unique circumstances.
 If necessary, be willing to travel to see other projects which have a bearing on yours. If this is not possible, talk on the telephone.
 Think “outside of the box” when developing a project – the sky is the limit!
 Use common sense in project development – sometimes your own best judgment is the answer!

Historic Preservation Grants

The National Trust Preservation Fund provides two types of assistance to nonprofit organizations and governmental entities. Matching grants of from $500-$5,000 are given for preservation planning and education. Funding is also provided for preservation emergencies. Examples of preservation planning activities may include the services of experts in architecture, archaeology, engineering, preservation planning, land use planning, fundraising, and organizational development.

The Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation provides grants for professional advice, conferences, workshops and education programs which contribute “to the preservation or the recapture of an authentic sense of space”, as stated on the website. Prospective grantees must in general apply for at least $2,500 and no more than $10,000. There are some exceptions to this. Nonprofits and governmental entities may apply for funding for any type of project which meets these general guidelines. Individuals and for-profit businesses may apply only if the project for which funding is requested involves a National Historic Landmark.

The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors is concerned with preserving the inside of historic buildings. Again, grants range from $2,500 to $10,000. Eligible applicants are the same as those stated for the Johanna Favrot Fund.

Heritage Preservation (, a national nonprofit whose mission is to assist museums, provides assistance worth $3,000-$6,500 to undertake conservation assessments. This funding is geared toward any non-profit institution which possesses a collection of items which tell a story. This could include museums as well as zoos, botanical gardens, and historical houses. The collection must be small enough to be surveyed within two days. The site also lists other sources for historical conservation.

Obligations That Come With Grants

Grant agreements can vary in length from the two to four pages required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency all the way up to the thirty or forty pages of a CDBG grant agreement. Since the administrative and fiscal requirements are generally the same from grant to grant, much of the governmental grant agreement is boilerplate material, with information specific to a particular grant inserted in the appropriate places.

If the grantee is a local government, the chief elected official is the person designated to sign the agreement. If a nonprofit is the grantee, generally the President of the Board of Directors is the official empowered to sign. It is a good idea to review the agreement carefully prior to signing. Most grantees have their attorney review it. I have only seen two or three grantees who decided to not proceed with the project after reading the grant agreement. Most of the provisions of the agreement relate to administering the project according to the laws governing that particular program. In addition, the grantee is signing off that the project will proceed just as it was described in the grant application.

Standard information included in the grant agreement is as follows:

• a description of the project with the amount of the grant and the amount of the local match
• contact information for the agency and the grantee
• grant period or timeframe by which the project must be started and deadline by which it must be completed-this is generally at least one year. However, some programs offer multiyear funding. The timeframe will be spelled out in the grant solicitation. In general, most multiyear grants provide for no more than three or four years.
• listing of any information which the grantee must provide to the funding agency prior to beginning the project
• information regarding the penalties to be incurred if the grant terms are not adhered to
• provisions for modifying the project
• listing and description of the various laws which govern the program, including those dealing with environmental review, labor standards, historic preservation, fair housing, and equal opportunity

Once the grantee is satisfied that the requirements of the grant agreement are fully understood, it should be signed and returned to the agency. It is well to complete this process as soon as possible, as the project cannot start until the grant agreement is fully executed-meaning that it is signed by both the funding agency and the grantee.

Free Resources to Search for Foundations

The Foundation Center is the source that I most commonly use when searching for funding from private foundations due primarily to the comprehensive nature of its information. This organization has been in existence for over fifty years and offers information on 98,000 foundations and 1.8 million individual grants. However, this is merely a matter of personal preference. To check it out, go to The following is the free information available from this organization:

• A list of the one hundred wealthiest U.S. foundations
• A list of the amount of funding provided by subject area for each year, and the recipients receiving the largest amount of funding for each subject area
• Foundation Finder- the grant seeker may locate foundations by searching either by their name, location, or their employer identification number, which is assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
• 990 Finder- the searcher may locate a particular 990 by inputting either the 990 form type, organization name, location, Employer Identification Number, and/or year.
• Trend Tracker-the user of the service may specify up to five foundations at a time and receive information regarding how much those foundations have given over a seven-year period. This information is provided in bar graph, line graph, and table form.
• Search for Requests for Proposals- the grant seeker may search by subject or browse all of the requests for proposals listed. The website shows a summary of each RFP with a link to the original posted opportunity.
• Map showing grants by U.S. grant makers to groups abroad-this map is interactive and the researcher may click on specific countries to get information about the grants given in that country. • Common grant application forms used by various associations of grant makers throughout the country
• Research studies showing trends in grant making

What is the most useful component of the Foundation Center in your opinion?

Law Enforcement Grants

There are many sources of funds for law enforcement agencies for such purposes as the hiring of new employees, overtime, and the purchase of equipment. A significant portion of the funding available to law enforcement agencies is passed from the federal government to the states for distribution to local police departments and sheriffs’ departments. In addition, many states appropriate funds from their own budget for this purpose. Generally, one agency plays the lead role in distributing the NOFA (Notice of Funding Availability), and accepting and reviewing applications.

In order to determine the agency which handles the funding for law enforcement in your state, go to the website for that state. Do a search for the state agency which handles law enforcement issues. In most cases, that is the agency which distributes the grant funds. In the state of Maryland, this agency is referred to as the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. However, in New Hampshire, for example, the appropriate agency is referred to as the Department of Safety. In Nevada, the administering agency for law enforcement grants is the Department of Public Safety.

The single largest source of law enforcement funds is the U.S. Department of Justice. There are a number of programs administered by this agency which are channeled directly to local law enforcement agencies. A significant portion of the funds, however, are channeled to the states for distribution.

Being Realistic About Your Capacity to Carry Out a Funding Strategy

Once the strategy has been developed, it is necessary to analyze how your resources match up with the work you will have to do. I advocate doing everything possible to commit resources in order to not miss out on any available funding. In this section, I will be more specific about how you can determine your ability to take on the ambitious project of applying to multiple grant sources. Obviously, if your analysis shows that your organization is unable to carry out the strategy fully, it would be foolhardy to try to do so. You will need to look at the manpower, skills, capabilities, and experience contained within your organization. In addition, your budget needs to be large enough to give you the proper equipment and supplies with which to work. If lack of funds does not allow you to purchase modern technology which will make your job easier, it is more productive to think about how to improve that situation first. Building organizational capacity takes time. Throw away your preconceived ideas and see the big picture.

The advantages of making a structured analysis of capability are as follows:

• Being prudent about committing resources will allow the organization time to develop capacity naturally and without pressure.
• The funding will probably be approved eventually anyway.
• The organization will avoid any missteps which will give funding agencies a poor impression.
• The organization will be able to focus on “first things first” and build its strengths in order to prepare for a productive fund-raising effort/

If an organization tries to take on a major grant seeking effort before it is ready, the following chain of unfortunate circumstances is likely to occur:

• Staff will feel overwhelmed and therefore perform poorly.
• This will lead to a lack of credibility with the funding agencies.
• This will in turn impact your ability to get future grants.
• All of these unfortunate events will cause poor morale among the team.
• None of this has gotten the problem solved.

This can be summed up in one sentence-be ambitious and work hard and do things in logical steps as you are able.

Grants for Individuals

I have found this to be a topic of immense interest in today’s world. I have had an unprecedented number of inquiries from individuals just in the past year. Perhaps this is because more people are daring to “dream their dream” and want to find ways to live it. I think that we as a society are beginning to see more avenues for individual expression. There seems to be a feeling that all things are possible and that the sky is the limit. I see this as a very beneficial thing. However, the grant world has not yet caught up with this new trend. Grant opportunities for individuals are very few in number.

On the face of it, this is probably because funding agencies feel that making grants to individuals raises a heightened risk of funds being misappropriated. The lack of financial controls and checks and balances in this type of situation has caused grant makers to become somewhat nervous and leery. I can well understand this.

The vast majority of grants available in this category come in the form of scholarships or fellowships. A significant portion of the remaining grants is given to researchers who often must be affiliated with a university or other research institution in order to qualify for funds. The only way that requirement can be avoided would be if the researcher was of such significant standing that this affiliation was considered unnecessary.

Most of the grants remaining after scholarships, fellowships, and research grants are deducted from the equation are given to support creative projects, primarily in the arts or in writing. It is very difficult to take the time to write or create art while working full time. However, most individuals undertaking this type of work are forced to fit it in around other obligations, which include making a living. Of course, there are the lucky few who are able to support themselves in this fashion once they become established. I once talked to an author who had written a book which was quite popular in certain circles. He was interested in finding a source of income to support him while he was writing the second book, as he was finding it almost impossible to juggle the intense research schedule for the book with another job. Despite an exhaustive search, he was unable to find a grant to help him. This example shows the scarcity of support for talented, creative individuals.

There are two very simple ways to check the available grants for individuals. gives information on grants available to individuals from the federal agencies which participate in this initiative. The Foundation Center provides a reasonably priced subscription to an online database which deals only with grants to individuals. I am unaware of any search mechanism which tracks state grants for individuals. In this case, the applicant would have to go his or her state web site and review the guidelines for every grant which looks as if it would be suitable for the activity in question.

In order to find grants for individuals on, go to the website ( and click on “Find Grant Opportunities” on the left-hand side of the home page. At that point, click on “Advanced Search” and search by applicant eligibility. One of the choices here is “individual”. The searcher can further narrow the request by specifying either open opportunities, closed opportunities or archived opportunities. One of the reasons to check closed and archived opportunities is to become aware of grant opportunities which may be available in the future. Many programs are only open for applications once a year. It is possible that a very promising program may have just closed the application period, but will become available again. I would recommend that the individual interested in government grants check every two weeks or so. This is due to the fact that funding opportunities may be open for only a short time. The searcher may also specify the funding activity categories or funding type (grant, cooperative agreements, procurement contract, or other).

The individual seeker of grants from foundations may access the Foundation Center’s database by going to The best bet is to purchase a one-month subscription for $19.95. Most people would be able to research and save information on opportunities of interest to them within the thirty- day period. Other options are to purchase a three-month subscription for $36.95 or a one- year subscription for $99.95. Generally, the one-year subscription is most useful to organizations which counsel individuals on a continuous basis, such as university career centers.

This subscription will enable the individual to receive quarterly updates, daily search tips and links to free web resources. There are a variety of search options, including the foundation city and state, the foundation name, the field of interest, geographic areas served, place of support, and a text search. Subscribers to the general database of foundations can also search for grants to individuals.

Heritage Tourism and Historic Preservation Grants

One of the most effective programs in this area is the National Scenic Byways Program. The U.S. Department of Transportation, through the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) administers this program, but delegates certain duties to the states, which nearly always handle this through their own departments of transportation. Two types of assistance are available. Local heritage organizations and local governments may apply for the designation of heritage routes within their jurisdiction as either National Scenic Byways or State Scenic Byways. Obviously, the national status confers a greater degree of benefits. The main advantage is the promotion and marketing undertaken by the federal government or the states, depending on which designation has been given. Applications for National Scenic Byways status are only accepted every few years.

The National Scenic Byways Program also awards grant funds for various activities undertaken by approved byway organizations to promote the byway and attract additional visitors. This could include signage, planning, the development of brochures and other marketing materials, the development of media materials, and other projects intended to make the byway more attractive and more easily accessible. Applications must be submitted online and are solicited once a year, with a pre-application and an application. State staff reviews each application and sends it on with recommendations to FHA. Information regarding the National Scenic Byways Program may be accessed at

Having a Corridor Management Plan is a requirement to access certain types of funding from this agency. This detailed planning document should discuss the various attractions and challenges along the route, and offer a strategy for maximizing the appeal of the byway and attracting additional visitors.

The Preserve America initiative provides designations to communities which
operate exemplary historic preservation programs. Preserve America communities can be municipalities, counties, or neighborhoods within large cities. These communities are eligible to apply for grant funding which focuses on planning and the development of sustainable management strategies. The program aims to provide management capabilities which will ensure that these assets are federally protected from having their integrity compromised in any way and that they are maintained properly. Grant amounts range from $20,000-$250,000. In general, applications for grant funds are solicited once a year. Applications to receive designation as a Preserve America community are solicited quarterly. This designation provides more than just the eligibility to apply for grant funds. Designated communities receive a Preserve America Community road sign, authorization to use the Preserve America logo, and marketing of their community at the federal level.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation plays a lead role in administering this program. However, a number of federal agencies are represented on the steering committee. Visit to learn more about this program.

Save America’s Treasures (SAT) is another federal program which provides funding to assist in heritage tourism and historic preservation. SAT is administered by the National Park Service with input from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Presidential Commission on Arts and Humanities. The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a partner in the sense that it works with SAT grantees in order to locate the required matching funds.

This program only makes grants for two purposes. Funding is provided to preserve nationally significant intellectual and cultural artifacts and to preserve nationally significant historical buildings and sites. In the case of artifacts, the applicant is given the opportunity to make the case for national significance. In the case of historic properties, funds are only awarded to assist in the preservation of sites which have been designated as a National Historic Landmark or which are contributing structures in a National Historic Landmark District or which are on the National Register of Historic Places due to their national significance. Applications are solicited once a year. A maximum of $700,000 per project is granted. The grant must be matched by an equal amount of funding from other sources. Eligible applicants are governmental agencies and nonprofits. For more information on this program, go to