To Apply or Not to Apply (for a Grant)

Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this?

Let’s say your nonprofit provides financial literacy education to low- and moderate-income people. You find an opportunity to apply for a grant from a foundation that supports financial literacy programs (no support for general operating dollars, maximum of $5000). No, it’s not the $50,000 grant you seek, but your organization is new, your budget is tiny, and that $50,000 grant might be a ways off. You check out the application form and make some notes:

  XYZ Foundation requires info re: applicant’s past financial literacy workshops:
-          the number of workshops,
-          number of participants per workshop
-          who are over 40 years old,
-          making between $35 and $36k per year (for each participant in this income range: the number of children they have in college, where their children go to school, and if they are gluten-free),
-          and second-time home-buyers,
for the last three years.

Or what about this?

You find a grant opportunity (maximum $5000, no general operating support, no support for fundraising).

You skim the application. This funder wants applicants to submit:

1)   a list of foundations that: have committed funding to your project,  are considering your submitted application, and you plan to apply to;

2)   audited financial statements from the last two years;

3)  The amount of money you plan to raise via each of these categories - corporate sponsorships, individual donations, special events, direct mail, and federated campaigns –  during each of the next three years; and 

4)  The total number of individual donor contributions your organization has received, as well as the number of $25 donations, $50 donations, $75 donations, and so on, up to $10,000, for each of the last five years.

Would you apply for a grant in either of these two situations? What criteria would guide your decision? If you do not yet have criteria, here are links to a couple of articles that may be of interest: