What emotions does “grant writing” bring to mind for you? Stress? Fear? Confusion? We get it! Grant writing may not be the most exciting part of rescuing, but doing it can make life-saving differences for your animal rescue! We’ll lay out some tips and tricks to keep in mind as you start applying for grants.
Let’s start off by defining what a grant is. A grant is a sum of money given by a government or other organization for a particular purpose. A grant is money you are given that you do not have to repay. Basically, free money given to a great cause, aka YOUR animal rescue!!
So, a grant sounds great, right?! They are! Here’s how you can get them:
1. Make grant writing an integral part of your fundraising strategy.
Include applying for grants right in there with your other fundraising efforts, like online giving, donations, and events. The more diversified your fundraising program, the better! Make a plan for how you will find grants and who will write them. If you don’t feel you have strong writing skills, then find a volunteer that enjoys writing or maybe has grant writing experience. You could put a call out on social media looking for someone to help with grant writing or reach out to your local universities to see if any students want to gain this type of non-profit experience! Then, once you start receiving grants, create a system (who writes them, when to apply for them, etc.) and set monetary goals.
2. Find ALL the grants!
Alright, so grants are about to be engrained into how your rescue functions! Now you have to go out and FIND them! There are multiple resources for finding grants. One resource is the handy-dandy tool called Google. Yep, try Googling different grants that are specific to your rescue. Are you a dog only rescue in Georiga? There’s a grant for that! Are you rescue in Texas specifically doing Trap Neuter Return? There’s a grant for that! Be specific in your Google quest to find grants specific to your rescue. The Animal Grantmakers is also a great website to check out. Outside of the internet, reach out to local charity groups in your rescue’s area. Nationwide grants are great, but these will bring nationwide competition. Try to find local charities that give grants within their local communities.
3. Make sure the grant fits YOUR organization.
Mr. Google did a great job, you found more than enough grants to fund your program for years to come! However, you are a cat rescue with a new TNR initiative, and the third grant on your list is for rabbit rescues providing free spay and neuters. Yes, both grants are for helping control stray populations, but last time I checked, cats and rabbits are not the same species. 😉 Make sure you read through each grant and that it fits what you are trying to do. My advice, if you read the grant and think, “Ehhh it kind of fits our org, but I’m going to have to spin what we do multiple times to make it fit,” don’t apply! Spend your and your volunteer’s time applying for grants that fit YOUR organization! You’re going to come off as more genuine in the application if the money being given is the right fit for your organization.
4. Don’t apply the “one size fits all” approach.
You’re going to come up with a great list of grants that will truly help your organization! Make sure you take the time to read each one and personalize your answers per the grant requirements. You can and should have a template explaining who your organization is and what you are all about. However, don’t hit copy and paste on every grant. This is FREE money we are talking about, take a few extra minutes to tweak your language to fit what the specific grant is looking for. Make sure you specifically answer the criteria they are looking for!
5. We’re all pretty bright around here, so use the SMART methodology.
SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-based. When answering questions thinking about answering in this way. For example, if the question is what will you use this money for? Don’t say, “To help cats in my hometown.” Too basic! Instead, your organization is going to track the cat colonies reported to be living behind the local grocery store, supply traps and training to local volunteers, do TNR for six months, track results, with the end goal being to reduce the cat colony population size by 50 percent!! There is a SMART goal, which is also a run-on sentence, but hopefully, you get the idea. 😉
6. Think outside of the box!
You’re more than likely going to have some competition when applying for these grants, so think about how YOUR rescue is going to stand out from the rest. Dress up the application. Create full-color brochures. Use photos of current work. Include captions with photos. Use charts and graphs. Share victories and heartwarming stories. 🥰 Here at Pawlytics, we LOVE Canva, and highly recommend checking it out to help you create compelling graphics.
7. APPLY (on time!)!
You’ve done all of this work, now go APPLY! Set reminders on your calendar for due dates. Maybe even set reminders of the upcoming deadline or set the due date a couple of days early so you apply on or before the deadline!
8. Thank the people who gave you money!
You got the grant! All of the animals you are going to rescue are rejoicing!! Remember to say THANK YOU! Final impressions are important, especially if you plan to apply to the same grant in the future. Keep the organization in the loop on how your project they funded is going. They gave you the money, so keep them excited about the AMAZING work YOUR animal rescue is doing!!
Now go get SOME GRANTS!!
Grants are free money! Taking the time to apply for ones that truly will help your rescue could make the world of a difference for the animals depending on you!