Last week, I had the privilege of attending an event hosted by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Region 9 Interagency Working Group. The central purpose of the Initiative is to increase AAPI community access to federal resources. This event focused on best practices and strategies for finding and applying for grants. Here are some highlights:
- Leafa Taumoepeau, from Taulama for Tongans, stressed the importance of bridging the gap in understanding between a funding source and the target community. Without cultural appreciation and acknowledgement of how a community may be best served, there is a greater risk that money may be spent on activities that miss the mark.
- Chic Dabby, from the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, noted the unfortunate emphasis on what we don’t want in our communities, versus what we do. As an example, she suggested we transform the dialogue from “ridding our communities of violence against women,” and instead, discuss how we may implement a gender democracy.
- The panelists offered a number of helpful approaches to applying for various funding opportunities. When writing a grant proposal, starting with a budget, as opposed to brainstorming potential activities, is key. Creating a budget as an initial step helps to demonstrate your actual capacity, inform program planning, and eliminate over-promising.
- Whether a grant proposal is accepted or rejected, organizations should request comments from the grant reviewer who worked with their application. The most informative tool in applying for grants is determining which aspects of an organization’s application were effective, and which may be improved upon.
While applying for and securing funding is imperative for many charitable organizations, remaining anchored to the organization’s mission and vision is equally important. Organizations should apply for grants that are consistent with their exempt purposes and core values and be careful not to chase funds by straying from such purposes and values simply to appease grant makers. Lastly, founders of a new charitable project thinking of forming a nonprofit should carefully assess their funding strategy prior to formation. Funding is almost never a guarantee, and founders should take reasonable steps to assure that charitable funds do not go to waste for a lack of planning.