Thousands of event grants and other funding sources are available each year in the United States alone from a variety of sources. Grantmakers include the U.S. federal government, state governments and a variety of other organizations including pharmaceutical companies. Major companies (Microsoft and Target to name just two) offer grants to local communities, especially in disadvantaged areas. Nonprofits also offer grants and other funding, often through a sister foundation.
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Types of event grant and program funding opportunities
Types of funding include emergency funding, debt reduction, faculty/staff development, fellowships, program evaluation, endowments, scholarships, sponsorships, research and even conference/seminar grants. Overarching the multiplicity of funding available are four main types: Competitive Funding, Formula Funding, Continuation Funding and Pass-Through Funding.
- Competitive Funding, also known as discretionary funding, is simply a competitive process of proposal selection based on the merits of the application, evaluated by a reviewer or team of reviewers, where the recipients are not pre-determined.
- Formula Funding is given to pre-determined recipients and are non-competitive.
- Continuation Funding is where grant recipients are given the option to renew grants for the following year. Some restrict their programs to existing grantees, while others accept new applicants.
- Pass-Through Funding is given by federal governments to state governments for further distribution to local governments.
Although the four types are different, most programs share the restriction that funds received may not replace existing resources. Think here in terms of an MPI Chapter Grant. This would be a competitive grant because others apply for grants as well. If awarded, the funds are designated for a specific purpose, such as membership recruitment. The funds do not replace existing chapter funds; they are earmarked for use with the specific purpose of member recruitment.
Who is the fundraising professional?
The person responsible for any type of fundraising, be it sponsorships, donations or other funding programs has a degree of accountability for the revenue-generation within the fundraising process and are directly responsible for fundraising.
In some instances, this person may be designated as a grant writer. The individual may be an independent contractor or an employee of the organization, both of which are compensated for their services. In other instances, the individual is a volunteer who has similar responsibilities in his or her volunteer role but is not compensated.
Members of the event grant and project funding team
Just as the meeting professional has a framework for competencies to do one’s job, so does fundraising require skills necessary to apply for, execute and comply with the requirements of the specific funding program. Depending on the type of grant or other funding, the team may include:
- the person responsible for managing the grant,
- the individual or team responsible for conducting research and writing the report,
- and the individual ensuring compliance with all aspects of the funding program (this may be the same as the person managing the grant)
Those in academia are well-versed in these types of projects and often collaborate with others both in and outside of the educational institution to which they belong. This post focuses only on the management and compliance issues of the event grant and funding process and not on the research or subject matter expertise aspect.
Why you need an event grant or project funding project manager
In every project that requires adherence to deadlines, deliverables and compliance there must be a manager. This project manager is responsible for setting up the structure of the project, including timelines, action plans, deliverables and compliance measures. The project manager is an essential member of the team and keeps the group focused.
The responsibilities of the project manager are not dissimilar to those of a meeting professional planning a meeting or event. The manager must do/consider the following.
- Ensure there is a strategic, program-centered approach to the project.
- Is the project right for your team or perhaps too big, too small, beyond the scope of subject matter expertise?
- If the project is too big, can we find a partner?
- Ensure uniqueness.
- Does the project align with your mission and vision?
- Research all opportunities.
- Will it benefit your customers/members?
- Connect what you want with the funder’s needs.
- Clearly state your proposal and include supporting data.
- Don’t rely on emotions—determine what will capture the funder’s attention (this is all about the funder).
- Funder must believe that your proposal is something that can be done before agreeing to pay for it.
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Key elements of a event grant or project funding proposal
You will need to describe the program or event that requires funding. Make sure to include the following elements in your proposal:
- The Needs Statement
- Summarizes the problem the action, and the solution
- Needs Statement process
- Define the problem
- Describe implications
- Relate your organization’s mission and the funder’s
- Identify gaps
- Provide supporting data
- Data and statistics
- Key sources are federal agencies, state agencies, foundation website, articles and journal collections and news outlets
- Websites or other resources consulted
- Brief bios of the authors
What should be included in your program design description
Don’t forget to mention what the program’s S.M.A.R.T. goals are, what success will look like and describe the program or event using a narrative framework, as outlined below.
- Use S.M.A.R.T. goals that are:
- Use S.M.A.R.T. goals that are:
- Narrative Framework
- Significance (problem)
- Innovation (context)
- Approach (plan)
- Environment (qualifications)
- Approach (goals)
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Next steps once the funding is granted
What happens if your event grant or project funding request is granted?
- Review the funding requirements and begin essential project management steps, including timelines and related roles and responsibilities.
- Share with all team members
- Set up a reminder process to notify team members of upcoming milestones.
- As project manager, ensure that all financial transactions as they relate to the spending of grant monies is accurately documented and ties directly to deliverables as described in the accepted proposal.
- Set up your timelines early enough to ensure last-minute submissions are included (the more comprehensive your responses, the more likely they are to be well-received).
- Review and complete all compliance requirements, checking them twice.
- The fulfillment of your obligations as a grantee are vital to achieving additional funding.
Project management of a funding opportunity aligns well with the duties of the meeting professional in that the processes of a project manager are like those of a meeting professional designing and producing a meeting or event. Should you be requested to assist with project management in your organization, use this information as a starting point in developing your processes.
In the end, awareness of the conditions upon which the funding is awarded is critical. Non-compliance, even partial compliance, can mean the return of all or part of the funding. Observation of all requirements will ensure a successful funding experience and can certainly lead to more funding adventures.
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