How an Idea Becomes a Grant

Do Your Research First

  • Establish the need for your idea.
  • Who, What, When, Where and How?
  • Do the statistics and other information in the field bear you out?
  • Is the implementation of this idea consistent with your organization's mission?
  • Will it advance your organization’s core goals and objectives?
  • Does your proposal duplicate other efforts in the community?

Talk to Other People

  • Are they successful? How could their outcomes be improved?
  • Has it been tried in this area, in other states, in other countries?
  • Is there literature on the subject?
  • Are there other programs that have implemented your idea in some fashion?
  • Are there viable models that can be built on?

Identify Possible Collaborators and Partners

  • Are there other agencies that could make your idea stronger or make it reach father?
  • Who are the “big” providers in the field?

Carefully Read and Analyze Potential Funding Sources

  • Principles
  • Policies
  • Guidelines
  • Timeline

Understand the Funder’s Internal Process

  • The role of the Board of Directors
  • The role of staff
  • Internal merit process
  • Functional time line

Define Outcomes, Measures and Benchmarks

  • State the outcomes you want to accomplish with your idea.
  • State the measures that your idea can achieve.
  • State specific benchmarks that will occur if your idea works.
  • State several milestones in implementing your idea.
  • Evaluate your idea in the context of your stated outcomes, measures and benchmarks.
  • Is your idea still viable?

Structure a Program

  • Staffing needs.
  • Components: Location? What services will be provided? How will clients be identified?
  • Workplan based on Outcomes, Measures, and Benchmarks.
  • Timetable for operation or implementation.
  • Articulate a monitoring, evaluation and sustainability strategy.

Work-out a Preliminary Budget for the First Year

  • What are the sources of income?
  • What are the likely expenses?
  • Are in-kind resources applied?

Write an Implementation Plan

  • What will you do first to put the idea into action?
  • What are the next steps?
  • Who is responsible for them?
  • Are the operations or services going to be phased in?
  • When do you expect full implementation?

Develop a Fund Raising Strategy that Includes Private and Public Funders

  • Leveraging resources are important. It is rare that a Foundation would be sole source of funding a project.
  • Decide which funding source will you approach to support specific parts of your budget.
  • Make sure you understand which funders will support which components:
    • capital expenses
    • core operating expenses
    • program cost
    • staff development

Select Potential Funders and Write your Proposals

  • Use the Philanthropic Center at the Main Library at the New Haven Free Public Library.

Some Potential Pitfalls

  • Do not write all your funding requests to cover the same expenses.
  • Be realistic in developing your budget; do not under-budget the project.
  • Be candid and straightforward about your potential challenges and weaknesses.
  • Follow instructions to the letter on number of copies, format of proposal, etc.

Some Good Things to Remember

  • A Foundation staff person is your best resource; answer questions honestly.
  • Keep your board members informed about your proposal.
  • Allow for things to take longer that you expected.

How Can We Help?

Sarah J. H. Fabish

Vice President for Grantmaking & Scholarships

203-777-7075

Send Email

How can we help?

Denise Canning

Director of Grant Operations

203-777-7076

Send Email