Sanders: Your wish is granted

For many the thought of writing a grant application causes hands to be thrown up into the air and cries of “but I can’t do that!” are heard loud and long. I’d like to put your minds at ease and give you my perspectives as a successful grant writer.

Applying is just a series of simple steps. No one will be trying to stump or confuse you. The granting organizations have money to give out and they like to have the funds requested in a certain format. That is all there is to it.

The first step is identifying your project. You may have an entire building to renovate and you would break the work into smaller projects or you may need work with only one room.

Then you will look for possible grants. Your state historical society is a good place to call for basic information. Grants are somewhat competitive because the grantors only have a set amount of dollars to spread around during each grant cycle. Therefore you may receive a portion of what you request, the entire amount or nothing at all. If you find a source that almost perfectly describes your project but the information says the funds are available for some town in New Mexico and you live in Oregon, do not waste your time writing the application.

“The granting organizations have money to give out and they like to have the funds requested in a certain format. That is all there is to it.”

Read through the guidelines and the instructions. When you find a good fit, I’d advise to print it out and read it over more carefully, noting what you need to gather up before you begin to respond. First, and often the most time consuming, is getting a professional to give bids. Some grants say they require three estimates. If the work is highly specialized such as re-pointing the grout in a 100-plus-year-old building you should call your state historical society and ask for referrals. One reason is they know who is reputable and will do the work to standards. Another reason is there may be only one or two companies within a reasonable distance who can do the necessary work. In that instance you would only need one or the two estimates.

Applications differ but you will find common questions. Gather up the IRS determination letter if you are a 501(c)3, a non profit. Make a list of the board members, their addresses and affiliations. The latter is to show if there could be bias on the part of a board member.

Even for non-federal applications you usually are asked for a “DUNS number.” Google that term, follow the directions and keep the number for future reference. Questions about being in a flood plain may be asked. A call to your county courthouse, in my case the county auditor, got me in touch with the person who knew and produced a letter stating the applicant property was not in the flood plain. Keep copies of pertinent documents together in a binder.

Above all when you have questions, please call the granting agency as they welcome inquiries. Do not rely on acquaintances to accurately know the answers. What is the secret to writing grants? Sit down and do it.❖