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Grant Application Policy and Guidelines

LWVO Grant Application Policy and Guidelines

This policy is intended to guide the LWVO Board of Directos and Development Committee in writing successful grant applications.

Guidelines for identifying donors

The Development Committee is responsible for identifying and communicating with prospective donors. This includes conducting prospect research, maintaining records of who has given grant funding to LWVO in the past, and submitting letters of inquiry to new funders if needed.

Use the following guidelines to identify organizations from whom to request grants.

  • Choose organizations whose interests align with the League's goals and priorities. Research potential funders and send applications only to organizations receptive to funding the League's mission. If the organization funds only (for example) arts and culture projects, it's not worth anyone's time for LWVO to submit an application.

  • Choose organizations that are local in focus (Oakland or the Bay Area). Many grantmakers fund projects in a restricted geographic area and do not accept other requests. Moreover, LWVUS policy requires that state and local Leagues wishing to submit applications to organizations that are national in scope contact LWVUS first.

  • Solicit organizations that have funded LWVO in the past. Assuming the funder's priorities have not changed, prior grant support is the best predictor of new support.

  • Avoid submitting grant applications to organizations that fund other local Leagues or the state League. At the very least, try to coordinate with that organization to make sure you're not competing for resources.

Guidelines for choosing a project

The Board of Directors, with input from the Development Committee and the membership, selects projects for which to request grant funding. Projects that meet the following criteria are most likely to result in successful grant applications.

  • Voter education and voter service projects: Most funders grant to 501(c)(3) organizations only. Choose a project that would be funded by the League's Education Fund.

  • Discrete, self-contained projects: Most funding organizations give grants for particular projects rather than general organizational support.

  • High-impact, high-priority projects: It's common for grantmakers to emphasize measuring the outcomes or impact of their projects; they want to know that their money is being spent on the most effective projects. Choose projects that are critical to the League's mission, meet a well-defined need for the community being served, and reach broad audiences.

  • Clearly-defined, planned, managed projects: Grantmakers like to see applications that include details about the project timeline, budget, and outcomes. A general plan should already be in place for how the project will be implemented, including audiences served, partnerships with other organizations, estimated costs, projected event dates, etc. In addition, the project should have a designated project coordinator to help the grant writer gather this information, and to demonstrate that someone is responsible for seeing the project through.

Writing a successful grant application

The Development Committee, with assistance from the project coordinator, is responsible for writing and submitting grant applications. Grant applications that do the following are the most likely to be funded:

  • Demonstrate likelihood of success. Include information that shows how the League is qualified to accomplish the project goal successfully. For example, note in the application when the League has done something similar before, or has won an award for a related activity, or has unique connections with partnering organizations.

  • Demonstrate and fill a need. Make sure your application clearly delineates a need, then describes how the project will fill it. For instance, if you were applying for a project to produce multilingual voter education materials, include information in your grant application about the most commonly spoken languages in Oakland and then describe how you will provide materials in those languages.

  • Quantify the impact of the project. Grantmakers often ask for a description of a project's "impact" or "outcomes"; what they're asking for is numbers. Include numbers in your project description wherever you have them available. For example, state how many events you plan to have, how many people you expect to reach, how much of a percentage increase you expect in voter registration, how many languages you plan to publish in, etc.

  • Play by the funder's rules. Contact the funder in the format they ask for. For example, if they provide a form to include with your application, use the form.

Following up

When funding has been received, the Development Committee, with assistance from the project coordinator, is responsible for doing the following:

  • Acknowledging grant support. It's good practice to thank grantmakers for their donation. In addition, many donors wish to be acknowledged, sometimes with language that they specify, in any printed materials produced in conjunction with the project.

  • Meeting reporting deadlines. Most grantmakers request interim and/or final reports to demonstrate successful completion of the project.

  • Communicating with other interested parties such as the President, Treasurer, VOTER Editor, and Board of Directors.

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