Friday, November 17, 2006

Grant seeking

I attended the grant seeking basics for non-profits seminar at the Martin Regional Library on Thursday. I was pleasantly surprised – no - make that astounded to discover how many foundations are out there and how much money is available. Robbie Sittel, Foundation Center Coordinator at the Tulsa City County Library led the class.

TCCL has a foundation directory on-line at the Central Library downtown. It permits searches for grant money based on city, state, foundation name, keywords, and more. It also searches IRS form 990, used by foundations to report disbursed monies, and that’s a powerful tool for finding possible grants. (A caveat would go well at this point. I am not a financial guy. Frankly, I do not understand much of the 990 form, but I know people who do. This may be an essential for mining this information for possible grants and donors.)

Ms. Sittel took us on a tour of the Foundation Center website and gave us voluminous information about using this site and others to ferret out grant opportunities. The Center has a bulletin that highlights new grants and it’s possible to subscribe to receive notices via e-mail. I’m wondering if it would be possible to subscribe to the page via Bloglines or some other service.

The Foundation Center is only one such resource, of course. There are many others, including:
A searchable database of government grants.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
Information on government sponsored grant programs including formula and project grants, direct loans, and others.


US Dept of Education


In addition, there are books and periodicals.

Some of the government grant applications are very stringent. Everything must be submitted just as the agencies request otherwise it will be rejected. Some programs, like the Community Development Block Grants, are very competitive and have a complicated, difficult application process.

For research assistance, the Tulsa City County Library has a government documents librarian who can be very helpful when trying to locate information on a given community. The librarian can sort out information from the US census, for instance.

I’ve said this before, I know, but it bears repeating. TCCL is a wonderful library system, one of the best I’ve ever used. And the staff is outstanding. If you need to find something, not just a book but perhaps some obscure information, ask a librarian. It’s their JOB to find things and they’re very good at it.

Finally, there’s this: When I first agreed to try writing a grant proposal, I felt like I was walking through a minefield while blindfolded. Had I submitted something it probably would have been rejected simply because I didn’t know what I was doing or how to do it right. This short course has made me more aware and more confident of success. I can’t thank Ms. Sittel and the Tulsa City County Library enough for providing this information. This isn’t the only class offered, of course. Many others are available. They can be found at:


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