What is a Grant?
A grant can be a source of funds for many different kinds of projects and groups. They are donations of money given to groups or individuals to meet specific, agreed-upon goals. Grants may come from charitable foundations, corporations, clubs, or government agencies. They take time to apply for and receive - often 3-12 months between application and, if approved, delivery of the money. They are most often given by small, local foundations that care about local citizen efforts. They can be as small as $500 and are more frequently in the range of $2000-$15,000. They most often pay for specific projects or programs, rather than ongoing operating expenses. In the end, one grant will never pay for all your needs.
A grant can be compared to a deal between two colleagues with similar interests, but with different resources. Foundations and other grant makers are organizations like non-profits and schools. They have missions and goals just like you do. When a funder awards you a grant, they are doing so because what you plan on doing with the money fits in with their own goals and initiatives and often with their founder's stated wishes.
Grants may be able to help your group raise significant sums of money with less work than other fundraising alternatives, but there are a few statistics you should know. Individuals give more than 70% of our country's donations to charity each year, while foundations give less than 10%. In addition, many foundation grants are not renewable year-to-year. So if you decide to approach grants, you should do so as part of a diverse mix of funding that will keep you or your group operating for the long-term.