Finding Grant Funding for Non-Profits in Tough Times

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently indicated that experts are suggesting the recession has made a much deeper mark on philanthropy and annual giving than expected.  Even though times are tight, grant money may still be available for whose those who understand and state their needs carefully, are willing to persist through the arduous grant-writing process, and who are willing to pool resources with other non-profits.
Forming partnerships or collaboratives with other entities who have the same interest and focus gives you access to funding and resources you might not have working alone. Community health centers are excellent examples of non-profits who network and team up with one another to access funding. The federal government gives preference to networks of CHCs rather than individual CHCs.
For several years, the federal government has provided grants of about $1 million or so to collaboratives because such groups have a greater impact in a region and increase the economy of scale. For example, a group of seven Mississippi CHCs formed a collaborative called Mississippi HealthSafeNet to focus on capturing Health Center Controlled Network (HCCN) grants funding health information technology.  This network of CHCs applied for and received multiple HCCN grants and shared several million in funding.  There most recent technology grant was $1.4 million that helped them start their own network data center.
The government isn’t the only source for money, though. Private foundations and corporations continue to provide funding for savvy organizations who know where to look and how to ask. Typically, private foundations or donors don’t give as much as the government, but they also don’t have as many stiff requirements and may provide funding more quickly. One of the best places to find private or foundation funding is www.foundationcenter.org/, which regularly posts contact information on any number of private foundations, endowments, and other donors.
Third, look to your community as a funding network. It may require a little more work, but networking in your community has the potential to pay major dividends both financially and with respect to building community ties. Approach your local hospital and educated them about the savings that can be achieved by funneling non-emergency cases from their emergency department to your health clinic. Look for other big employers in your town like Wal-Mart and make sure they understand the services you provided to keep their community and their workers healthy and productive. Make sure they understand the cost benefit and ask them to share in the cost. Support from these local businesses could be anything from donations to actually providing onsite space to conduct clinics for employees. By developing a community funding network, you immediately have the benefit of a ready source of funding and volunteers to assist in supporting  your financial needs.  Keeping the community healthy and well is an economic investment!
Before you ask for money, you need to be able to explain why you need it. Be ready to explain the services your health clinic provides to the community. Let potential funders know how the money you’re requesting will be used to ultimately benefit a population in the community that may not have adequate access to care or need a special service you can offer.
When you begin to promote your cause, make sure you emphasize the positive. The focus in healthcare today is on preventive medical care so make sure you highlight the benefits and effects your preventive care programs have on the population and community at large. For example, a health information technology  grant could might allow you to provide new diabetic, dental, or body-mass screenings for the population you serve to keep them healthy and working in the community
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Asking for money is never easy. However, if you’re organized, know what you want, and are willing to work with other like-minded non-profits and for-profits in your region, you can find the money.
Linda J. Pepper, Ph.D.
President
Pepper Consulting Services, LLC