Grantseeking: The Four Don’ts You Should Do
Already this year, the ASPCA has given 860 grants to 640 different animal welfare organizations across the country – this includes shelters, rescues, sanctuaries, spay/neuter providers and other groups of all sizes and budgets.
Still, some organizations haven’t yet approached us for funding to help support their important work. I encourage those groups to exercise four important Don’ts:
1. Don’t be afraid to ask.
“The Ask” can be daunting for some, but as my grandmother used to admonish me in Yiddish, “Ef mir fricht nisht, mir kricht nisht” (If I ask nothing, I get nothing). Approaching the ASPCA, or any funder, not only puts you on the path toward a possible grant, it begins a conversation with the funder and helps build a relationship.
A common refrain by organizations that don’t seek grants is that the reward is unlikely while the effort is great. While foundations typically approve 5-10% of the applications they receive, the ASPCA’s average funding rate since 2008 is around 50% – excellent odds.
And while some funders’ applications require effort, deadlines and so forth, keep in mind that these requirements aren’t to create barriers or obstacles for applicants, but to simply comply with their own due diligence and processes.
2. Don’t get overwhelmed.
Different funders ask for various information in different formats. It can start to feel hairy (furry?), especially when you’re running day-to-day operations on a tight budget and juggling 50 million other things with no time to spare.
But there are ways to save yourself from that last-minute scramble for information! As funders tend to ask for similar supporting documentation, it’s a good idea to keep those pertinent documents in one centralized place or folder, especially in a digital format. Common requests include your most recent Form 990, annual reports and financial statements, the IRS Letter of Determination and a list of board members. (FYI the ASPCA typically only asks for the 990.)
It’s also a good idea to keep handy in a centralized place other organizational information and stats. Common questions on forms may include your annual operating budget, number of staff and volunteers, spay/neuter protocols and intake numbers.
When you submit an application to the ASPCA, you receive an electronic copy of your fill-in fields. Keep this email so you have this information handy for future applications!
3. Don’t hesitate to contact us.
Never feel shy about following up for a status update or requesting technical assistance – that is what we’re here for! Given the volume, it may sometimes take us time to get back to you, but we make every effort to respond in a timely fashion. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Don’t be discouraged.
Alas, grants are not guaranteed and some programs are more competitive than others. But don’t give up! Applicants are encouraged to reapply. Just consider the reason for the declination (sometimes it can be as simple as having used the wrong application), and feel free to reach out to us with questions. Even a declination can be a relationship-building opportunity.
Got questions for Adam? Share them in the comment box or email email@example.com.
P.S. For bonus points: Here’s an important DO: Do visit us the Grants section on ASPCApro.org for the latest funding opportunities and news!