By: Lindsey Rowan
“Congratulations! You are a recipient of the 2017 Business Association Grant!” Working for a 501 (c)(3) organization that provides grants and scholarships to candidates for advanced education in its profession, I have the privilege of implementing the smile behind that tri-folded letter. You already have a purpose, need, and in my case, the funding – now what? Though there are a lot of moving parts, below are five summarized steps that have assisted me in launching a grant or scholarship from start to finish.
Determine the application criteria:
Outline anything and everything pertinent that could influence an applicant to apply or move on – leave no gray areas. There are endless questions to consider, but examples include:
- What makes an applicant eligible and an ideal recipient (certain GPA, certification, number of touchdowns, etc.)
- will there be any costs to the recipient(s)
- will the recipient(s) be required to submit testimonial
- is there a specific time frame or location the grant must be utilized
- and what is the application deadline.
Create an application:
Break the application into sections based on the criteria you determined makes an applicant an ideal recipient and build it in a way that forces the applicant to document as such. If volunteer involvement is substantial, create an area to list committee or board involvement with specific organizations and the number of years involved. Always include an application affidavit. Once you’ve finalized a solid application, create an online application (click here for a recommended resource) to ensure convenience for the applicant.
Determine the grading criteria:
The majority of grants and scholarships are graded off of a point based system, with the areas of higher significance carrying a heavier point value. How will essays and letters of recommendations be weighted? Will you be grading or is there going to be a grading committee? Think about the sole purpose of your grant. Is it to assist those in need or award those who exceed expectations? Market the opportunity:
Release the information on your website, in your newsletters, advertise if budget allows, take on a mailing project, send email blasts and/or create Facebook ads to the desired target audience. Don’t fear being repetitive on what you want the viewer to do – apply. I recommend placing “Click Here to Apply” in three different places on an online marketing piece. When marketing kicks off, organization is crucial to ensure an application doesn’t get missed. If application submissions aren’t set to send automatic confirmation, email applicants to confirm receipt as well as when to expect notification of the results.
Evaluate and Notify:
Once the application deadline passes, put your grading criteria to use. Upon completion, create winner and non-winner letters to mail out. Winner letters typically include a certificate for display, steps to redeem or utilize, instructions on how and when to submit testimonial (if required) and any other relevant information. Although no one wants to send non-winner letters, I always try to include tips for obtaining maximum points next time, encouragement to continue applying, and an application for a similar opportunity, if available.
Whether by press release or a news article, I always find a way to recognize the winners. If testimonial was a requirement, I cannot express how important it is to share these pieces with the ones who helped provide the funding to make your grant or scholarship possible. Not to mention, this creates a gateway to inquire on securing the opportunity again. Until the next opportunity comes along, that’s a wrap!