Most grant applications get rejected because the organization didn't assess whether they're ready or qualified to submit a proposal.
A grant readiness assessment evaluates your organization's ability to compete and manage grants successfully. It is crucial to complete a grant readiness checklist or evaluation before you apply for any grants, as this will help you identify any areas that need improvement.
This blog post will discuss a grant readiness assessment and why you need one!
What does grant readiness mean?
When an organization is grant-ready, it has taken the necessary steps to prepare for seeking and applying for grant funding.
Grant readiness measures a nonprofit organization's capability to research strategically, conform, apply, secure, win and manage grants. It also requires effective communication and marketing strategies to promote the organization and its work to potential donors.
What is a grant readiness assessment?
When considering whether or not to pursue federal grants or other types of funding, it's essential first to assess your readiness. A grant readiness assessment is a process of self-examination that helps you determine whether or not your organization is prepared to develop and submit successful grant applications.
In some cases, the assessment can be done by a third party using a grant readiness checklist.
Why should your nonprofit conduct a grant readiness assessment?
A grant readiness assessment or grant readiness checklist is essential for your nonprofit because it can help determine your qualifications before applying for a grant.
The assessment will consider your nonprofit's organizational structure, programs, finances, and the capacity to manage a grant. Furthermore, the evaluation will identify gaps in the organization's readiness and recommend how to address them.
"A grant readiness assessment will identify gaps in the organization's readiness and recommend how to address them."
What to assess for grant readiness?
1. Organizational Capacity
A. Check with the specific grant funding organizations to confirm their eligibility requirements.
Secure a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status once your nonprofit organization has been incorporated. If you lack a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt letter, you can request a copy from the Internal Revenue Service.
B. Define your mission statement.
A nonprofit organization's mission statement is its reason for existing – it outlines the organization's purpose and goals.
The mission statement is one of the most requested documents in an application. It should be clear about the population to be served and the type of services to be provided. It should also identify the target area or communities to be reached.
The mission statement should also be aligned with the organization's strategy, which is the plan of action for how the organization will achieve its goals. The system should spell out who will do what and when, and it should have specific milestones and timelines.
C. A nonprofit organization needs a solid governance board and structure to be effective.
Although the IRS requires a minimum of three board members for every nonprofit at the national level, the recommended size to show community support is 8 to 14.
PRO Tip: Having different committees on your nonprofit board can be valuable. Committees can help build consensus and ownership among board members, making them more invested in the organization's work. This can further strengthen your community's support which is vital in demonstrating a community impact when applying for grant opportunities.
D. Be able to show organizational competence and credibility.
You can demonstrate organizational credibilities in several ways, such as having a solid track record, a clear mission and purpose, and experienced staff. You can also build credibility by partnering with other reputable organizations or being endorsed by well-known individuals in your field.
To demonstrate competency, you'll need to show a good understanding of the problem you're trying to solve and a detailed plan for how to address it. You can also highlight any relevant experience or expertise your team has in tackling similar issues.
Also, prepare other required documents, such as organizational background history, to have an overview of the early stages of your nonprofit.
2. Project and Program Structure
Having a straightforward project or program structure in place shows that you've thought carefully about what you want and how you will achieve it. However, there are some things you should prepare before you begin writing grants.
A. Ensure that your existing programs run smoothly and sustainably.
This means clearly understanding your program costs, budget, and staffing requirements. You'll also need robust data to show that your programs are making a positive impact. If necessary, conduct regular analysis of your current projects and program status.
B. To demonstrate well-structured and innovative programs, you must also show adequate resources.
These resources can be in the form of facilities, financial, transportation and workforce to support the organization's current operations and future expansion. It is also essential to bring in highly skilled volunteers who can
C. Align your objectives with your vision and mission statement.
Every successful project or program is built on a foundation of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented, Time-bound) objectives.
But to create a successful project or program structure, you must first align your objectives with your overall mission and vision. A well-aligned system will help you to measure progress and assess results more effectively.
3. Financial Viability
When conducting your organization's grant readiness, it is essential to check that your nonprofit has up-to-date and appropriate financial management systems. There are a few reasons for this.
Grantors want to see how you have managed your general operating funds in the past before they give you grant funding opportunities. Financial statements can provide insights into your organization's overall health and stability. Grantmakers want to invest in organizations that are well-run and financially sound.
4. Alignment with Funders' Priorities
Many foundations and grant-making organizations use a programmatic focus to target their giving. They prefer to fund organizations and projects that align with their specific goals and mission.
An excellent way to learn about a foundation's programmatic focus is to read its guidelines and look for any information about past grants. This will give you a better sense of what they are looking for and whether or not your organization is a good match.
Note, however, that you should never modify your goals and mission only to fit into a funder's requirement—an excellent nonprofit stick to its cause.
5. Community Involvement
Show that your nonprofit has key staff members, active volunteers, in-kind donations, and community involvement. Grantmakers want to see that your organization is well-supported by the community and that you have the resources (both human and financial) to carry out your project.
Active volunteers and in-kind donations demonstrate interest and support for your organization's work, while community involvement shows that you are addressing a need that is important to the community.
"You should never modify your goals and mission only to fit into a funder's requirement—excellent nonprofit sticks to its cause."
Need Help Conducting a Grant Readiness Assessment? Call Grantable!
Are you thinking about applying for a grant? Or maybe you've already started the process but are unsure if you're ready. Either way, Grantable can help.
We offer a grant readiness assessment service that can give you a clear picture of where your nonprofit stands in terms of grant readiness. We will use a grant readiness checklist and provide a detailed report that will offer actionable insights on how to increase your chances of success when applying for grants.
So whether you're just getting started or looking for ways to improve your grant-seeking strategy, Grantable can assist you! Contact us today to learn more.