Locating and Applying for Health Promotion Funds

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Getting Started

Your organization needs funding for health promotion projects and you're the person responsible for finding it. How do you start? Where do you look? What will be required?

This brochure will help you locate, apply for, and hopefully obtain the funding you need.

Since so many organizations compete for the same dollars, your first task is two-fold: become familiar with public and private funding sources; and understand the application processes and requirements of those sources.

Before starting your funding search, ask yourself these questions:

  • Why is the program needed?
  • Who in the community supports the program?
  • Is this an appropriate project for my organization?
  • What public and private sector groups may supply funds?
  • Are the health goals of the community and the funding source consistent with the objective of my proposed project?
  • What makes my program special or unique?

Once you've documented that your project benefits your community; that your organization can effectively deliver it; and your project does not duplicate the efforts of another agency, you're ready for the next step.

Funding Options

It is important to explore all funding options available to your organization before deciding on a course of action. The options may include Public or Private sources of funding, or Grants or Contracts. Keep in mind that some projects may require funding from more than one source.

Here are some definitions that will be useful:

Grants - funding awarded for experimental, demonstration or research projects in which success is uncertain. Most grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations.

Contracts - money allocated to supply specified services to a funding agency. Contracts are usually awarded for programs that originate with the funding source.

Public Funds – money raised through taxes and administered by federal, state and local governments.

Private Funds – money raised and administered by private organizations, such as corporations, foundations and charities. Often available as grants, private funds are awarded for new and/or experimental projects.

Foundation Grants

Foundation grants can be difficult to find out about, and even more difficult to obtain. Typically, foundations have annual reports and funding guidelines available upon request. These documents should be studied and referred to when preparing a letter of intent or application.

Make sure your program will be of interest to the funder. Follow the drections stated in the funding guidelines exactly. Many foundations specify what kind of projects will be funded. However, if they do not, call and ask questions. Most foundations will not fund projects requesting 100 percent funding. Therefore, it is important to seek multiple funding sources for your project.

Choosing the Right Foundation

Your first objective is to select the proper source for funding. Your local library may be able to refer you to a Foundation Center Library or these publications can help:

  • NYS Foundation Directory
  • National Directory of Corporate Giving

Corporate Grants

Corporate funding is even harder to secure than foundation funding. The key to obtaining this support is convincing the corporation that your program complements its business and that the corporation will get something positive out of the project (such as publicity, recognition, etc.) Types of corporate support include: 1) outright gifts and grants; 2) matching gifts; and, 3) gifts in-kind. The most common approach to a corporate funder is through a phone call to the company's corporate contributions or similar office. Corporate grants may require much less formal proposal preparation than a foundation grant.

Government Grants

Government grants are issued through a Request for Proposals (RFP) or Requests for Applications (RFA). An RFP solicits bids for contracts while an RFA solicits proposals for grants. Most grants go to nonprofit organizations. Rarely does funding go to applicants who submit unsolicited proposals (i. e., proposals that do not respond to a specific RFP or RFA). The main difference between grants and contracts is that grants allow more creativity and freedom in a particular project. A contract will have a specific set of deliverables and very little room for flexibility.

How Do You Find Out About them?

Usually, if an organization has an idea for a program, it looks for a foundation. However, if the source is government funds, the idea often comes from a funding agency issuing an RFP or RFA. RFPs are issued to solicit bids for government contracts. Both nonprofit and for-profit groups bid on contracts. RFAs are issued to solicit proposals for grants. Most grants go to nonprofit organizations. Only on rare occasions is funding awarded to applicants who have submitted proposals without previous communication with the funder. Federal RFPs and RFAs are published in the Federal Register. This publication is available on the Web at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_does/aces/aces140.html and it may also be available in your public library.

State and local RFPs and RFAs appear in the New York State Register. This publication is available on the Web at http://www.dos.state.ny.us/info/register.htm. It may also be available at your public library. To obtain further information, write or call the New York State Register, Department of State, 41 State Street, Albany, NY 12231; (518) 474-6957.

Another source of information on state and local funding is The New York State Library, Cultural Education Center, Humanities Reference Service, Albany, NY 12230; (518) 474-5355. Or, visit the Library's Web site at http://www.nysl.nysed.gov

Applying for A Government Grant

Once you have identified an appropriate RFA or RFP, the next step is to request any written material relating to the grant program, such as a "Program Announcement" and an "Application Kit."

The program announcement usually contains the following information:

  • purpose of the grant program
  • eligibility criteria
  • range and number of awards
  • allowable costs
  • evaluation criteria
  • suggested outline for the proposal
  • deadline dates
  • program contacts

An application kit will usually include:

  • grant application forms
  • detailed instructions
  • requirements for coordination with planning agencies

Proposal Preparation

Once you've selected one or more likely sources, you should submit a letter that outlines your project and credentials, describes your organization, and requests necessary forms, instructions and, if possible, a face-to-face meeting.

After receiving the forms and instructions, you should be aware that proposal preparation is a time-consuming effort and that your submission must be accurate and thorough. The effort put into your organization's proposal will better prepare you for any questions that may arise or adjustments that might be requested.

Should you require assistance in preparing a proposal, you may want to contact a fundraising consulting firm, such as the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, Inc., 25 West 43rd Street, NY, NY 10036. Phone: 1-800-462-2372. Many firms that specialize in fund raising for nonprofit groups are members of this organization. For a fee, they can supply feasibility studies, assist in planning, and help in writing the proposal.

The Proposal

The cover letter accompanying your proposal should contain a brief explanation of the project, its relevance to the foundation's or granting agency's interest, and your total funding requirement. Your personal and organizational credentials should also be established, along with an expression of enthusiasm and an offer to supply additional information as needed. The body of the proposal should contain these elements:

Abstract: This is a summary of the entire proposal in a page or less. It should follow the same format as the proposal itself.

Background/Need: What your organization has done in the past; a brief background of the specific problem in your area; and data to support your claims.

Target Population: Who will benefit from your project.

Goals/Objectives: Goals are the prospective outcomes this project will help reach; the objectives are the specific accomplishments you will achieve.

Methods: The specific activities you will conduct in order to meet your objectives. Includes an approach, action plan, and timeline section.

Evaluation Plan: Include both process and outcome measures to be used in evaluating the success of your project.

Management Plan: Describe how your project will be managed, who the key staff members are, what their roles will be, and how activities will be coordinated. This is an important section, which often is omitted.

Budget: Itemize all expenses and provide a detailed justification for each, if possible.

Appendices: Include only relevant documentation, such as: letters of support; data sources; resumes for key staff; and evaluation protocols.

Foundations and government agencies devote a lot of time and effort to developing background materials and application guidelines for those seeking funding. It is your responsibility to understand all background requirements and to faithfully follow all steps in the application process. And don't neglect to establish contact by telephone, e-mail, and/or letter with the individual responsible for your project area. That person can provide any needed assistance, and it is likely that he or she may need to contact you to discuss project modifications or to monitor your progress.

A Final Note

When applying for funding, be aware that organizations that exhibit determination, perseverance and a strong desire to succeed are most likely to receive funding from federal, state and private foundation grant programs.