WCF explains its own grant-writing process

Anita McLaughlin described how the Wyoming Community Foundation (WyCF)

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Wyoming Community Foundation staff presented an information-packed workshop Wed., Oct. 24, on how to apply for its grants.

The audience filled the room at Sublette BOCES, with many nonprofit organizations represented by volunteers and board members wanting to know how to be a successful applicant.

Program associate Anita McLaughlin described how the Wyoming Community Foundation (WyCF) manages about 350 different types of funds from which to draw grant money it awards twice a year and scholarships given annually.

The economy affects not only giving but also receiving, she explained, and WyCF tries to stabilize both aspects. So in the current economic “bust,” grants are vital to many small groups’ survival. The foundation has a Sublette County board of advisors to help with applications, she said.

“The Wyoming Community Foundation has checks and balances with the local board,” she said. “They are community experts and can recommend grants to the statewide board. We need that community buy-in.”

A good grant request does not require a professional writer and is best done by those who are deeply invested in a nonprofit’s mission, which for WyCF grants must meet a community need.

“We love somebody who loves their organization,” McLaughlin said. “That’s all we need. You don’t have to be the best writer; you do have to know all the data.”

Try to reduce a request to a short “abstract” to show a group’s commitment as well as actual data and research – “Even a grassroots group or longtime member can certainly do it.”

After deciding to apply for a grant, “ask the question – why do I need the grant?”

“Frame it in the context of a community need,” McLaughlin advised. “It has to make sense for your organization. … You have to say, ‘my program can do it and here’s why.’”

She suggested having a lot of people proofread the application and also “ask them if it makes sense. Have someone from outside your field read it to make sure. An application represents your organization.”

An application should have the project description on meeting a community need, a project summary “abstract,” the expected outcome and what it means, others you collaborate with, a budget narrative, board member list, project budget, organization budget and fiscal year statements. Organizations are also responsible for a final report.

McLaughlin shared the Wyoming Community Foundation’s new website and walked through the updated grant application, due Dec. 15 with a reply by March 15 and June 15 with a reply by Sept. 15.

Each cycle draws up to 160 applications and about half are funded. McLaughlin said there are many avenues for funding through private endowments, field of interest funds and certain donors. Staff will also take calls from potential recipients and donors.

“Being in a small state, when we say give us a call, we mean it,” said Jerrica Becken, philanthropy associate.

“Our goal is to have your application seen by as many advisor boards, committees and donor advisers as possible,” McLaughlin said. “Just show you care about your organization and we will care too.”

Visit Wyoming Community Foundation at https://wycf.org/ or call 307-721-8300. n

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