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Special Interest Group Archive: Grant Writing

These are the notes from meetings dating back to 2015.

January 18, 2017

The first Grant Writing SIG met on January 18, 2017

Notes from the meeting

Questions and Answers that came up during our discussion:

  • Q: Do grants have monetary criteria?
  • A: Sometimes the giving organization will tell you.  --  it is project-specific -- determining the amount of money you need for a project is your very first step. --  there are ways to put a budget together to work the requirements of a grant into cash.
  • Q: Why do grants ask the same question over and over? 
  • A: You might be writing grants for an audience that might not be in your field, so you have to communicate your purpose clearly. There are no "magic words" to get your grant fulfilled. Everybody talks about how great they are, instead talk about what you are going to do. -- When trying to figure out what will be the most persuasive, ask yourself: what is the funder's interest?
  • Q: Can I get professional help with this grant?
  • A: There are professionals who are experts in the Consolidated Funding Application, such as Choice Words (see links at right.) Keep in mind that once you get a grant, you will need to manage the grant. Both government and corporate money come with strings and requirements attached.
  • Q: What grants are available for organizations that don't have a tax-exempt status yet?
  • A: In the case of a historical society, the municipality may be willing to work as a sponsor for money. They would work as a pass-through agency with no net gain or loss. 
  • Q: How would having other grants help?
  • A: Foundations want to know that you can manage money well, so showing past experience is helpful. Once you get the money, the grant writer becomes the middle-man between the money and the program. 
  • Q: Is this grant right for us?
  • A: READ THE FINE PRINT - Not all grants are right for your organization. If you are under pressure to create a program just to apply for a grant, it might not be the right time yet. Don't count on that money coming, if it doesn't arrive, you will need to have a contingency plan. 
  • Q: Should I apply for a grant to help with my capital project?
  • A: Think of capital and materials as a component of your overall project. The people you serve are the ones who will benefit from the grant, so talk about how that new roof, computer, or shelving will work towards benefiting the people. Also, put all the components of the project in the right place - staff time (can be part of the matching funds), volunteer time, travel time, etc.
  • Q: How should I search for grants?
  • A: The foundation directory (link at right) is a good resource. There are tricks to using it, a good search can be complicated. --- look at what your counterparts or other organizations in your town are doing, and find those funders. --- state grants might be available --- try a Google search like this: "[organization similar to mine] receives grant." --- look at the financial reports on GuideStar to see who funds what kinds of organization. 
  • Q: How will this grant change our organization?
  • A: Reminder: a new grant might create more new work for the staff, don't forget to include that into their workflow. Sustainability is also an issue. If the new grant creates a job, how will ongoing expenses be absorbed into an existing budget? Plan 2-3 years in advance to be prepared for the bigger budget in years ahead. 

Thoughts on grant writing from Eric:

Get used to rejection.

Writing is the last thing you do when you're grant writing.

Think of grants as contracts.

Grants are not a simple revenue source - sometimes you have to say no.

Grants are about projects, they have a beginning, a middle, and and end. 

Include your goals to be used for demonstrable objectives & outcomes.


$10K budget + $5K grant = $15K budget. The grant money is extra revenue.

$10K budget (includes) a $5K grant = $10K budget. The grant money is part of your income.

$10K budget (includes) $2.5K of grant + $2.5K revenue = $12.5K budget, AKA the sweet spot of grant maintenance. 

(remember: you are showing the funders only the project budget, not your operating budget.)


What did you think of this meeting? Share your thoughts with this evaluation



In Attendance

Alice Graves SENYLRC Staff

Anna Herscher 

Carolyn Bennett Glauda  SENYLRC Staff

Dawn Jardine Red Hook Public Library

Eric Roth Mohonk Preserve - Daniel Smiley Research Center

Grace Zimmermann Somers Historical Society

Julia Hickey Women's Studio Workshop

Laura Wolven Orangeburg Library

Lisa Hewel Walden Josephine-Louise Public Library

Lynn Alouesa Town of Plattekill Historical Society

Matthew Thorenz Moffat Library of Washingtonville

Nancy Gilman Town of Plattekill Historical Society

Nikki Shayer Marist College

Sarah Imboden Franklin D. Roosevelt Library

Sharon Fetters St. Thomas Aquinas College

Shirley Anson Town of Plattekill Historical Society

Southeastern NY Library Resources Council
21 South Elting Corners Road | Highland, NY 12528
Phone: (845) 883-9065