FAQs or Ask Our Trainers

Here are answers to some of the questions training alumni have asked The Grantsmanship Center. If you're enrolled in The Grantsmanship Center's Membership Program, click here to send our trainers your question .

First, the technical answer. A grant is a sum of money “funders” or “grant makers” provide to an “applicant” or “grant seeker” for a specific purpose. Grant funding does not have to be repaid–it is not a loan. In some cases, however, if a grant is not used as intended, the funds must be refunded to the grantmaker.

From a grantsmanship standpoint: a grant is a tool nonprofits use to address important issues within their communities. A grant proposal is actually a call to action. It’s a request that a funder join the nonprofit as a partner in achieving specific results. At its best, a grant proposal is a compelling  and well-supported argument for change.

There are many types of grantmakers–federal, state, county, and municipal governments; corporations; private foundations; public charities; trusts; religious institutions, etc. Each grant maker has its own specific interests and requirements.

There are many types of grant seekers–private nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, public nonprofits such as municipalities, Native American tribes, and even individuals and for-profit businesses. Eligibility to receive funds under a specific grant program, or to receive funds from a specific funder, vary widely. Different grant programs and funders have varying requirements for eligibility.

To receive a grant, funders generally require that applicants submit some type of application or grant proposal. The complexity and demands of proposals vary greatly.

To apply for a grant, you’ll need to research funders that seem like a good fit for your organization and then follow their directions exactly to submit a request for a grant. To be successful, you’ll need to submit the right request to an appropriate funder.

501(c)(3) nonprofits are charitable organizations that operate in the public interest and have been granted tax-exempt status from the federal government. 501(c)(3)s do not pay federal income tax and people who contribute to these organizations can often receive deductions on their federal income tax.

If you’re interested in starting a nonprofit organization, check out the National Council on Foundations how-to advice.

It’s possible to apply for and receive a grant without any formal training. However, if you’ve tried and failed to secure grant funding, training will help you avoid common mistakes and incorporate best practices into your work so you’ll significantly improve your chances for success.

Step one for getting a grant: You need to identify appropriate funders for your work. Sending a generic grant request to every funder who shows up on a Google search is NOT a winning strategy. This is called a “shotgun” approach and usually gets little to no response. To succeed, you need to reach those grantmakers whose interests align with yours. We show you how to find those funders. It’s not rocket science, but there are quite a number of “dos” and “don’ts” so it’s easier and much quicker to have someone show you than to figure it out yourself.

Step two: Write a clear, logical proposal that meets the funder’s guidelines and clearly explains exactly what you’re concerned about, the results you want to achieve, why it’s important to address the issue, and the approach you’ll use to produce positive change. You’ll also need to explain other things like your credentials for the job, the budget, how you’ll evaluate the outcomes, etc. Daunting? It can be. That’s why we help with the process to make it something you can understand and get a grip on.

Since 1972 The Grantsmanship Center has provided the model (used all over the world) for how to write effective grant proposals. You want to do things to improve the world and we’re here to help you do it! For specifics and some free advice check out Getting the Grant 101. Sign up for our mailing list to keep in touch.

Grantsmanship is a philosophy, a code of ethics, and a set of skills that, when practiced together, produce positive change. It’s the approach upon which we base our trainings and publications. Grants are about much more than your organization’s bottom line. Grant proposal writing is a form of social advocacy and is, at its heart, about making positive change.  To learn more please read our Mission.

The short answer is no. Templates and samples can be helpful as a reference, but effective grant proposals are tailored documents that address a specific issue, with a specific approach, written for a specific grantmaker. If you’d like a bit more detail on the topic read our article Sample Grant Proposals and Grant Proposal Writing Templates.

A few suggestions:

  • Most states have an association of nonprofit organizations. Check out this map at the National Council of Nonprofits to find the one for your state. They may be able to provide you with information about funders that focus on your geographic area.
  • Visit a library that is part of the Funding Information Network of the Foundation Center. Network sites provide free access to the Foundation Center’s funder research database and provide helpful materials and services.
  • Create a free account on GuideStar. Browse their database of private and corporate-sponsored foundations’ 990 tax forms to see what types of organizations and projects they fund.
  • Look into state, county, and local government sources. Often near-to-you government departments make grants with money they receive from tax revenues, other allocations, or money passed through from the federal government. Unfortunately, these opportunities are seldom well catalogued in a searchable database. You’ll probably need to do some digging and networking to find them.

The go-to site for learning about federal funding opportunities is Grants.gov. You can use the “Search Grants” function on this site in lots of different ways, including filtering by applicant eligibility.

As a reference, it can be helpful to look at past federal grant proposals that won funding.

  • Check federal agency websites. For example, the Department of Education, Department of Labor, and Department of Housing and Urban Development provide numerous examples of winning proposals.
  • Ask the program officer of the grant program you’re assessing to provide you with a copy of a funded proposal.
  • Ask your congressperson to get a copy for you. Be specific about the program title and ask for the top-rated proposal from the last competition.
  • Ask someone you know who won a grant award in the same program in the past couple of years.
  • Submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for a winning proposal. Eight federal agencies participate in FOIA online, and most federal agency websites include instructions on the specific process they require for a FOIA request. You’ll find extensive information at foia.gov, as well as links to the FOIA pages of each federal agency.

The Grantsmanship Center also offers Competing for Federal Grants a 5-day training that will show you the ropes.

Any administrative decisions and systems involved in applying for grants (pre-award) or fulfilling responsibilities after winning a grant (post-award) fall under the topic of “grant management”. It is important for your organization to meet generally accepted standards as well as requirements specified by the funding source.

Pre-award grant management involves issues such as: determining indirect costs, budgeting, securing matching funds, establishing and documenting collaborations, preparing job descriptions, specifying expected outcomes, and much more.

Post-award grant management involves issues such as: purchasing, accounting, program implementation, coordination with partner organizations, handling facilities and equipment, evaluating, reporting, and much more.

If you’re interested in learning more about grant management, check out our training Grant Management Essentials or our digital publications written by grant management expert Henry Flood.

  • A quick Google search will turn up a wealth of information about the value and benefits of participation in the arts. In addition to Americans for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, organizations ranging from Princeton University to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies have stepped up to provide data and research.
  • Some years ago, the Urban Institute and the Center for What Works collaborated on the “Outcomes Indicators Project.” In addition to 13 other topic areas, that project developed a set of “candidate outcomes” for the performing arts. Take a look for some helpful ideas on benefits you can consider when proposing program outcomes.
  • The economic benefits of the arts have also been researched and documented. Information provided by the New England Foundation for the Arts is just one example of data on the “creative economy.”
  • With a few modifications, The Grantsmanship Center’s proposal writing model works well for arts-related grant requests. The Center’s textbook, Grantsmanship: Program Planning & Proposal Writing, lays out the model step-by-step, and includes a section on how to adapt the model for various types of proposals, including the arts. We also offer a brief publication on adaptations to the model that are required for various types of proposals. Check out our publications.

Most people take our flagship course, the 5-day Grantsmanship Training Program, but we have a range of courses of varying lengths and topics. Check out all of the Center’s training programs or take a short quiz to identify which course is best for you!

Yes, we agree, five days is a real commitment. It means time away from work and maybe even travel. Here’s the good news: this is active learning that produces results. You return to work invigorated and with a stack of useful tools plus loads of great new ideas.

An ongoing, independent evaluation proves that the 5-day Grantsmanship Training Program produces results. Among other positive findings: graduates averaged 47.5% increase in knowledge and skills; and a six-month follow-up study of 135 graduates (assessed as representative of all graduates) showed they had won grants totaling over $21 million. 100% said the training helped them win; 80% attributed success substantially to the training.

If the Grantsmanship Training Program doesn’t fit your schedule, check out our two-day Essential Grant Skills training. It covers all the content of the 5-day training but uses fewer exercises. Keep an eye on our Training Schedule. When you join our mailing list you’ll be among the first to know about newly scheduled classes.

Does your organization have a bunch of people to train? Or can it coordinate with another local organization and fill a class? If so, sponsoring training is a great idea! As a sponsor, you can select the site and timeframe, and even get some customized content.

We add classes all the time and as far in advance as possible. We’ve always got a number of new sites “in the works” waiting to be finalized.  Join our mailing list to be among the first to know when training is scheduled in your area.

Local organizations all over the U.S. host our training. We often schedule training where it can benefit the largest number of people, which sometimes means larger, centralized cities. But many factors go into the hosting equation. If you’re interested in hosting, click here to find out more about the requirements and benefits.

Have multiple people to train? Consider sponsoring a private training! We bring customized training straight to you!

We are currently developing dynamic, high quality training (no canned, talking heads with PowerPoints). If you need training right now, we recommend that you sign up for our in-person training. Join our mailing list and we’ll let you know as soon as online grant training classes go live.

We recommend that you register for class as early as you can to be sure you get a seat, but your seat is only reserved when we receive your payment. Get in touch if you have special situations and we’ll do our best to help. Don’t miss out because of red tape. If your organization needs a purchase order or other documentation to submit payment, please contact us at: registrar@tgci.com or 800-421-9512.

To receive a refund you need to let us know, in writing, that you are withdrawing at least 10 business days before the start of class. For five-day trainings, the Center deducts a $100 administrative fee from the refund; for two-day trainings, we deduct a $50 administrative fee.

“No shows” and withdrawals made less than 10 business days before the start of a training don’t receive refunds.

Email your withdrawal notice to registrar@tgci.com.

We provide training, educational publications, technical assistance, and consulting services. Sorry, but we have no money to award—we are not a grantmaker. So no matter how worthy your project or compelling your story, we will NOT be able to fund any organization or individual.

The Grantsmanship Center can help you learn to identify appropriate funders, plan effective programs, write competitive grant proposals, and win grant awards from those who do make grants.

If you’re struggling to find funding for your organization, we encourage you to  attend one of our trainings. Join our 135,000+ wonderful alumni who are making positive change.

Tight budget? Check out the valuable and free information in our PowerPack of articles on our homepage.