Strategies to Help You Find & Write Grants featuring Melissa Reams

Are you signed up for every grant portal and newsletter you can think of, but are still having trouble finding the right grant for your organization? Maybe you’ve been writing grant after grant with no success. Melissa Reams joined us for a Lunchtime Topic to talk about best practices for researching and writing grants.

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1. The Importance of Grant Funding

Melissa Reams, a seasoned grant consultant from Upstream Consulting, begins by shedding light on the crucial role of grant funding for nonprofit organizations. Many nonprofits struggle to secure the financial support they need to carry out their valuable work. In her experience, she has witnessed this challenge repeatedly, especially in fields like environmental science and public health. Nonprofits often lack the dedicated resources or expertise required to navigate the complex world of grants.

2. The Common Mistakes in Grant Research

Melissa highlights some common mistakes organizations make when researching grants. She emphasizes the need for a clear understanding of your organization’s funding needs. Grants can be highly specific, and knowing exactly what you need the funds for is critical. Jumping into research without a well-defined purpose can lead to a waste of time and missed opportunities.

Another common mistake is not dedicating enough time to research. Quality grant research can take up to 30 hours for a single program or project, and it’s essential to allocate uninterrupted work time to avoid repetitive and inefficient searches.

Lastly, not fully vetting potential matches with grant opportunities can be detrimental. Organizations should ensure that they align with the funders’ criteria, including geographical and eligibility requirements, to maximize their chances of success.

3. Tools and Resources for Effective Grant Research

Melissa Reams recommends using tools like GrantStation, which allows you to search for corporate foundation and government grant opportunities all in one place. It also offers a Grant management system to keep track of applications, deadlines, and documents, making the grant process more organized and efficient.

Additionally, organizations should subscribe to newsletters from grant-related organizations and consultants relevant to their field to stay updated on funding opportunities.

4. Grant Writing Best Practices

When it comes to grant writing, Melissa advises organizations to keep their responses clear and concise. Grant reviewers read numerous applications, so shorter sentences and well-structured responses are more effective. Avoid the temptation to write elaborately, as you would in academic settings.

Data is a vital component in grant writing. Melissa suggests that organizations should incorporate data to support the need for their work. This can include statistics, research findings, and other relevant information that demonstrates the significance of the issue your organization addresses.

5. Building Relationships with Funders

The conversation also touches upon the importance of building relationships with potential funders. While it might seem intimidating, reaching out to funders can be beneficial. Organizations can inquire about the funder’s interest in their work and seek guidance on when to apply. This proactive approach can establish goodwill and trust, increasing the chances of funding.

6. In-House Grant Writing vs. Outsourcing

Melissa Reams highlights the benefits of outsourcing grant writing for nonprofit organizations. For smaller nonprofits with limited resources, outsourcing offers flexibility and can be more cost-effective. It allows organizations to work with experts who can bring fresh perspectives and a dedicated focus on securing funds. Furthermore, it is easier to adjust or cancel a contract with an outsourced grant writer in case of unforeseen challenges.

In summary, securing grant funding for nonprofit organizations requires strategic and well-informed approaches. By avoiding common mistakes in grant research, utilizing tools and resources, adopting best practices in grant writing, building relationships with funders, and considering outsourcing options, nonprofits can increase their chances of obtaining the financial support they need to make a positive impact in their communities.

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More About Melissa

Melissa Reams is the founder and principal consultant at Upstream Consulting, a Savannah-based consulting firm that provides a full range of grant services. After working with nonprofits for more than a decade, she decided to launch her own business so she could help health and social service nonprofits win more grants without all the stress. Since 2017, Upstream Consulting has helped small and mid-sized nonprofits throughout the U.S. secure nearly $10M in grant funds.