For many rural center directors, the idea of writing grants seems too overwhelming. They feel they have to hire a grant writer. This is true of the large federal and state grants, but not of corporate or foundation grants. The question I often hear is, "Where do I find these grants?" The truth is, these grants are available through local industries, businesses, and people you know.
For example, one of our supporters works for Golden Eagle Distributors, a beverage distributor. He told me about their regional grant program. The application was simple and we ended up with $4,000 for new cribs. We are now applying with them for the statewide grant of $10,000. We had a new van donated from The Solid Rock Foundation, Alice Cooper's (the old rock star turned Christian) project. We received $1,000 from Wal-Mart, $10,000 from Lutheran Women's Missionary League, $1200 from Abitibi Paper Mills, $2,000 from Arizona Contractors, $500 from Women in Real Estate, along with many other foundation and trust grants.
The key to finding grants is to ask any corporation, industry, or business who is in charge of their charitable giving. Call and ask that person if they have a charitable giving program in the form of grants or donations. Also ask your volunteers and friends if their place of employment has a charitable giving program. Many times they give to ministries with whom their employees are involved.
The Internet is also a great place to find foundations. Start with foundations that are specifically for your area or state. Also make sure that you are a good match for their interests. Follow their instructions exactly. Some are simple and unstructured, others are particular about point size of type, spacing, etc. Ideally they will e-mail you the form as an attachment so you can work on it in Microsoft Word.
Finally, don't give up after a few rejections. I applied three times for the van. I also called numerous times to check the status of the grant. Part of the reason I called was to develop a relationship with an individual at the foundation. As with so much in life, relationships are the basis for success.
Dinah Monahan is the Heartbeat International Consultant for Rural and Small Centers. She can be reached at Dinah@hh76.com.